Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!

Yes ... they talk ... a lot! Oh look! They're talking now! Tsukasa, Konata, Miyuki & Kagami. Credit: Kyoto Animation

Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!

At first, that’s what I thought it was. At second, it still is. But now I get it.

My first attempt at viewing Lucky Star ended the same as my efforts at watching Gone With the Wind. Disaster! I couldn’t make it past the cream horn eating debate in episode one so I went on to other things. 24 episodes of four girls CONSTANTLY discussing such weighty matters as girl talk, dodging homework, dieting, girl talk, the weather, boys, girl talk, pop culture, hair care, girl talk … No way was I going to be able to take this one in! And after that zippy opening credits number, what a let down! (The “Konata drop” at the end of the cheer line never fails to get a chuckle out of me.)

Call it senility, stupidity, temporary dementia, what have you … a few weeks later I gave it another try. Got past the cream horn “speed bump” & after going through the first four eps I started to actually enjoy it. (No. It didn’t get me in touch with my “feminine side”. And no, you DON’T want to meet her!)

The show centers around obsessed otaku Konata Izumi & her level headed (Kagami Hiiragi) & not so level headed (Tsukasa Hiiragi, Miyuki Takara) foils. In their typical & sometimes atypical everyday activities we get an observation or ten on media culture & to what degree it affects (Infects?) the world. As Kagami exasperatingly observes more than once to Konata: “It all comes down to THAT with you, doesn’t it?”

Others in the cast are a slightly off center homeroom teacher (Nanako Kuroi), an authority figure who drives like a maniac (Yui Narumi, Konata’s policewoman cousin.), & Konata’s lolita complex “afflicted” dad (He doesn’t try to act on it overtly. Surprisingly, his flakey daughter is a stabilising force. eg. the “… too close, you’re freaking me out!” scene in episode 18.) Shades of Azumanga Daioh! Second season eps put some attention on Konata’s even more diminutive freshman cousin (Yutaka Kobayakawa) & her friends.

Fear & Loathing on the (un)Lucky Channel. Akira & Minoru. Credit: Kyoto Animation

The cast is rounded out by the two members (Akira Kogame, Minoru Shiraishi) of the “show within a show”, Lucky Channel. Ostensibly to comment & inform about Lucky Star it’s mostly about Akira’s (Slipping in & out of “character”.) jealousy, grumbling bitterly over her flagging acting career & bullying Minoru as a result (He later explodes in ep 21.).

The constant, obvious, visual/verbal references (No subtext here!) are more than a clue that this show is a running commentary/satire on anime/manga/gaming in particular, & pop culture (Japanese & otherwise.) in general. It’s also a continuous ad for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, another Kyoto Animation property.

Being that the show is about otaku “culture” (Before dabbling in anime, I used to think otakus was a Frito-Lay product. I like the Cool Ranch & Barbecue flavors.) we see most everything through the eyes of the “showcased” Konata. Through her we are given a first person accounting of the trials, tribulations, & FINANCIAL dificulties rabid fans go through, & how manipulative some can be in their desperation to indulge . (I like it that she could con two friends into canvassing the huge Comiket convention for her {ep 12}, & have her buddies accompany her to the Kyoto Animation studios during a field trip {ep 21}.) In ep 16 we see Konata in action at her job in a “cosplay” cafe (It was a kick to hear Wendee Lee switch horses in midstream & reprise her Haruhi role.).

Though we are taken through about 2+ years of classes, the high school scene is only a backdrop for the above mentioned references (Too numerous to count.). One has to be a true fan to “get” even half of them (I got about a quarter.). I was more interested in Konata’s “relationship” with them. The character is really wrapped up in it (Aren’t you glad YOU’re not like that?).

Lucky Star has everything: Nonstop talk, comedy, nonstop talk, anime/pop cult. references, nonstop talk, product placements, nonstop talk … Not my kind of anime but enjoyed watching just the same. You just have to get past the discourse. Fade to white …

Article copyright © 2-17-2011 Jay Agan

This Article originally published at Jays Tee Vee.

The Sexual Harassment of Haruhi Suzumiya or Now I Get It!

As the song goes: She's got the whooooole world ..... in her hand. Somehow, this does NOT reassure me. Credit: Noizi Ito, Kyoto Animation

 

The Sexual Harassment of Haruhi Suzumiya or Now I Get It!

Perhaps I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Heck, sometimes it takes a looong time before I figure something out.

Some time ago I wrote a three part article The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya. In the first part I mentioned how taken aback I was over some scenes in episodes 01, 02 & 03. I still hold to the same reservations but now I more fully understand as to what it’s about.

I originally thought it had to do with some kind of wierd Japanese sexual humor. I now see they were nothing more than satiric pokes at the anime trope known as moe’. It’s nothing more than the title characters’ way (Being the pushy, inconsiderate ASS she can be.) of pointing out some of the Mikuru characters’ moe’ aspects. In this case, cute, tiny, and uh ….. generous secondary female characteristics. Still, it could have been handled differently (Being as I’m from Ohio & not ohayo, I like my women real & of legal age.).

While Mikuru is moe’, Haruhi is definitely Moe Howard!

Article copyright © 3-24-2011 Jay Agan

This article originally published at http://jaysteevee.blogspot.com/

Here are some Haruhi goodies I found on You Tube:

While our anime marketers usually leave the opening/closing numbers alone, it seems the Russians like to re-dub them in their own language.

Here’s the Russian version of God Knows.

These are in Russian with “gratuitous” English in order to preserve their Japanese character (Eyes cross, brain siezes up.).

Here’s a couple unrelated ones for the opening/closing of the second season. Quite funny as seemingly no editing was needed. They just “fell in” on their own.

K-On! is one of those girly little animes I know absolutely nothing about. As a child of the Cold War, if anyone told me 20 years ago I’d be chuckling over something to do with the Soviet anthem, I’d have told him he was nuts!

Here’s an Azumanga one you’ve probably seen before.

Just Who IS This Guy? The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Pt. 3

 

"Let's see ..... Excedrin? Qualude? Cyanide maybe?" Credit: Kyoto Animation

 

Just Who IS This Guy? The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Pt. 3

In this installment I’ll go into what I think is the biggest head whack of all in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. No it’s not Endless Eight. While a bold experiment, it fell rather flat with the fans in Japan (So much so, Aya Hirano & the studio made a public apology.). A lot of U.S. fans weren’t too happy with it either. Eight eps (Weeks?) of the “same” thing? Could have been worse. Be glad it wasn’t Endless EighTEEN! Maybe Kyoto Animation could come up with a “third” season. Take out 5 or 6 of Endless Eight, replacing them with eps from an untouched story arc(s) from the light novels.

For me, the biggest trip/mystery of the series is that Kyon person.

Who IS this guy? Kyon (A nickname given him by an unseen grandparent.) isn’t even his real name. No older relations are ever seen (Adults being peripheral, at best, in this series.). His little sister doesn’t have a name at all (Every one else refers to her as “little sister”. Even in the closing credits.)

Though not the title character, he is the main one. As “narrator”, everything is seen from his POV, filling in & keeping things rolling.

You’re not sure at times if he’s narrating, thinking, talking to someone, or just mumbling/whining to himself. These things run/meld into each other. It always takes me aback when another character unexpectedly replies. (Itsuke claims an inability to read minds & it’s not certain Haruhi can either. At times they “respond” when it seems Kyon wasn’t talking to anyone at all.)

Sometimes he acts surprised when something strange happens. Other times not. Does he know more than what he lets on? Is he really the hapless mortal he’s playing?

In spite of his “ordinaryness”, he figures greatly in Haruhis’ scheme of things. He did, after all, get the ball rolling (ep 1) when he suggested she (who must be obeyed) be more of a mover & shaker in life. (Coming from a guy who wanted to coast & slide through life, don’t you find that a bit…..odd?) For some reason she has “chosen” him & her jealousy is, at times, evident.

Kyon is the only one who stands up to Haruhi. The others are “forced” to go along as they’re observers for their respective factions (Could they actually be there to observe Kyon & not Haruhi?). In spite of Haruhis’ self centered obnoxiousness, she actually listens to him & takes his advice…..sometimes.

I wonder about this guy. Is he more of a force in the proceedings than we’re led to believe? (Here’s a guy who had all given up on anything wondrous happening in life, reduced to a jaded cynic (ep 1), only to have “IT!” dropped right in his lap.) Could he be the one making things happen & not Haruhi? Is this all nothing more than some fantastic form of (sub)concious wish fullfilment on his part?

Maybe I’m thinking too much. When it comes down to it, it’ only a “cartoon”, right, right?

Article copyright © 10-22-10 Jay Agan

This article originally published at http://jaysteevee.blogspot.com/