Slice-of-life anime all need to face one challenge: having relatable characters and situations while still making them interesting to watch. Because most people’s lives don’t feature fighting demons in the Underworld, battling foes wile sailing the high seas, or being trapped in a fantasy world, the possible premises for slice-of-life plotlines are drastically cut. Usually, the anime focuses primarily on humor or human drama to make a name for itself. Lucky Star takes a slightly different approach to slice-of-life than most other anime, focusing mostly on Japan’s otaku culture.
Lucky☆Star (らき☆すた) is an anime well-known for its execution of the slice-of-life aspect. The main star, Konata, is a proud high school otaku girl, playing MMOs, eroge, and watching anime in her free time. Her friends don’t really understand otaku culture, but accept it nonetheless. The anime mostly consists of pointless discussion about whatever topics enter the girls’ heads, being cut off every once in a while by some zany shenanigans of some third party, whether it be the determined store manager, Aya Hirano’s concert, or Comiket.
At the end of each episode, we’re greeted with the Lucky Channel segment. I have never found myself laughing harder watching the entire series than whatever was featured in this segment of the episodes. Two more characters are introduced, Shiraishi, the intern, and Akira, a popular idol and the de facto star of the segment. Akira always goes on rants of what it’s like being an idol while Shiraishi is left to keep the segment afloat. Throughout the series, the conversations between the two begin to break the forth wall, and you’re left wondering how much of that was real. As in real real.
What I think Lucky Star does beautifully is making the dialogue both relatable and engaging. Every bit of dialogue from the main characters doesn’t feel overly exaggerated or overly dramatized; it fits perfectly into our actual world. The dialogue feels like an actual conversation between actual people. Sure, it makes less sense if you’re not heavily informed on 2000-era otaku culture, but that’s what makes it all the more engaging. Whenever Konata throws out some random reference, most people aren’t going to get it, and she knows that. I think what a lot of slice-of-life anime try to do is make the dialogue too easily digestable, having to resort to vague, nonspecific references. If you’ve seen a lot of slice-of-life anime, you probably know what I’m talking about. Whenever a character says something like “Remember that song that was super popular a long time ago?” with no other context added, the presented world suddenly doesn’t feel very inviting or interesting anymore. Sure, it’s easy to understand, but there isn’t a lot of substance to understand.
Of course, I’m not saying every line of dialogue from this show is worthy of being from the mouth of Shakespeare or Plato. Towards the halfway point of the anime’s runtime, more characters are introduced seemingly for the sake of featuring more characters from the original web koma series. The show puts a large amount of focus on these characters without expanding beyond their basic archetype. Because there’s not much to their character, the dialogue becomes exactly like what I was describing earlier: being very vague and breaking any sort of immersion you had.
In conclusion, Lucky Star doesn’t have any too ambitious goals, just to be a little different from the clutter of slice-of-life anime. Its humor explores an unexplored world of being too specific for most viewers to understand while still providing something for everyone to enjoy. I recommend that everyone watch at least the first episode through and through and see whether they like it or not. It does trail off later down the line, but not enough to warrant me from dropping the series entirely. Hell, I watched it twice and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times.