Why is Lucky Star the Symbol of Otaku Culture?

Okay, so I might have said some controversial things on this blog before. I’ve lashed out against the fansub community, criticized major anime news organizations, and advocated the right to lolicon. But I don’t think I have ever said anything so blasphemous against the otaku community as what I have to get off my chest this week.

Are you ready? Here we go…

(Takes in a deep breath)

Lucky Star is not the second coming of Christ.

It’s not even a particularly good show.

(Ducks for cover)

Okay, still with me? Good.

Lucky Star is just not a good show. This slice-of-life comedy involves four girls spending most of the time sitting around and shooting the breeze. Their conversation centers around eating pastries, going to dentist, playing video games, watching anime, reading manga, and other mundane aspects of young geek life. It’s like an otaku version of Seinfeld… except without 99% of the funny moments.

Now don’t get me wrong, the show is not necessary terrible. The comedy is completely hit-or-miss, and when the show hits, it hits hard. The scene where Tsukasa attempts to use a cell phone (pictured below) is probably one of the funniest sequences ever to be animated. As is the cosplay cafe scene, which I will mention again later on in this post. And for the most part, the ending “Lucky Channel” sequences, which are completely separate from the main story line, always deliver some great bouts of comedy.

But the laughs come too few and far in between for this 24-episode series. I remember screening the first couple of episodes to my anime club a year ago when they were just starting to come out in Japan. During each episode, the audience sat there in complete silence, laughing for maybe only one or two sequences in the show. There was even a little hint of frustration and anger over the series because the dialog-intensive nature of the show required us to read a lot of subtitles, which ultimately resulted in very few laughs.

But we continued to watch it every week at the anime club. And when school was over, I continued to watch the show for the rest of that summer. And when the series was finally released in America yesterday, I already had my Special Edition box set in the mail from Amazon with overnight delivery included. Why? Because it is the “muthaf*cking second coming of Christ” Lucky Star!

Well, maybe not Christ exactly, but the show is most certainly billed as being the second coming of Haruhi Suzumiya. And in the world of otaku fandom, is there a deity worshiped more than Lady Haruhi?

That’s the one aspect of this whole mess that is completely understandable. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a good show. It was better then good, it was amazing. A completely original story line with great characters development was the kind of kick in the pants that the otaku community needed after years of having the same old crap being thrown our way. In my opinion, Haruhi Suzumiya was the best thing to happen to anime since Evangelion back in mid-90’s.

Haruhi Suzumiya came out of no where and blew us all away, and the show’s production company, Kyoto Animation, exploited her success with the release of Lucky Star. Such tactics included casting Haruhi’s voice actress, Aya Hirano, as Konata, the new lead character in Lucky Star. Lucky Star also makes many references to Haruhi through out the series. But the “Second coming of Haruhi” tactic that drew me in came from the March 2007 issue of the newly created “Pretty Girls Only” magazine, Comp Heroine.

As you can see, the cover features the two “Heroines” of these shows, Haruhi and Konata, striking a pose together. Inside the magazine, you will find that the first three articles include a lengthy preview of Lucky Star, a “one year anniversary” tribute to Haruhi Suzumiya, and a 4-page photo spread of the fornmentioned voice actress Aya Hirano. One of Hirano’s pictures included a shot of her surrounded by every Haruhi / Lucky Star publication available at the time.

The magazine is clearly trying to show the reader that Haruhi and Lucky Star go hand-and-hand. It sybolizes Haruhi passing the her great torch to Konata for the next leg of the otaku relay. Bandai Entertainment is trying the same tactic in the US by putting a Lucky Star teaser trailer in their Haruhi release that starts off with the message, “If you like watching Haruhi. then you have to see this…” The trailer is the cosplay cafe scene I mentioned before. Along with being one of the only funny moments in the show, this clip is the most obvious Haruhi reference in Lucky Star.

And God, does this “second coming of Haruhi” promise work! It has given birth to one of the biggest hype machines ever in the history of the medium.

I had picked up the Comp Heroine issue a couple of weeks before Lucky Star premiered.  I had not heard anything about the show up until that point, but just the cover alone completely convinced me that if I liked Haruhi, I was going to also like Lucky Star. Lucky Star became my most anticipated series that season, and just like that, I became part of the hype machine. And even after the show premiered and turned out to be pretty boring, I still watched it. It was my obligation as an otaku to love this show.

This hype machine has gotten ahold of the entire otaku community, and it has gotten to the point of insanity by now. Every single issue of Comp Heroine since then has featured Lucky Star on the cover and has had a shit load of Lucky Star posters, post cards, cell phone trinkets, drama CDs, and other junk included. The photo at the top of this entry shows all the Lucky Star crap I got from just three issues of the magazine over the past year!

Now, probably the fact that the original Lucky Star manga runs in Comptiq, to which Comp Heroine spun off of, might have some influence in the matter. But it is the sad truth that Lucky Star is now the symbol of otaku culture.

And in hindsight, it really has no right to be.

In the world of otaku fandom, is there a deity worshiped more than Lady Haruhi? Yes, and unfortunately it is a golden calf by the name of Lucky Star. It’s a shame that this false idol has been getting the spot light this whole time while so many other (much more funnier) series have just simply fallen to the wayside in its wake.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must fulfill my otaku obligation by opening up this Special Edition box set complete with a t-shirt I’ll never wear, CDs I have already heard, and posters that will just get added to that pile of other Lucky Star crap.

Well, at least the theme song is good

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