Should You Watch Lucky Star?

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.

Cover art for Lucky☆Star

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.

Should You Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan?

Whenever anything Haruhi-related is brought up online, chances are people start to talk about its spin-off series, Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (長門有希ちゃんの消失), a.k.a. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. I’ll say this right now: if you’re not a fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series or a fan of the slice-of-life genre, then this anime’s not gonna be your cup of tea. If you are, however, then please stick around. Maybe you’re in for a treat.

Cover art for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

As previously stated, this is a spin-off series of the more known and renowned Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series. This in particular is based on the manga of the same name. As the name suggests, it focuses mostly on Yuki Nagato, also featured in the Haruhi series. Nagato is a shy, unmotivated girl that wishes to have fun as a high school student with her friends in the Literature Club, which doesn’t do anything specific. She manages to recruit Kyon, a sarcasm-throwing, laid-back guy. It’s revealed (though pretty apparent from the start) that she has a crush on Kyon. Nagato’s best friend is Ryouko Asasuka, who is almost the polar opposite of Nagato; she’s sociable, competitive, and reliable. Asakura acts like a mother of Nagato, making her dinner, waking her up, and teaching her how to get together with Kyon.

That’s the essential premise of the series. However, as it goes on, new obstacles and issues arise.I’ll talk a little more about that later. The main part of the series isn’t all that interesting, to be perfectly honest. If you’re a Haruhi fan, you’ll spot all of the references and nods to the original series. If you like slice-of-life, the laid-back atmosphere is very welcoming. However, that atmosphere changes constantly whenever Haruhi Suzumiya is involved.

Haruhi is exactly like the Haruhi from the original series. She’s overly eccentric, bossy, inconsiderate, and obsessed with the supernatural. Haruhi’s inclusion is the biggest problem with this series. We, the audience, get the impression that this is going to be a relaxing romance series. However, whenever Haruhi is on-screen, she takes up all of the attention, and story derails until she’s out of the scene. If you found Haruhi annoying in the original series, then you’ll find her to be outstandingly annoying in this one. She makes the relationship progression slow to a crawl, actually making it go backwards in some cases. Quite an achievement. The show spends way too much time on her and not enough on Kyon and Nagato.

I won’t give away too much, but the show takes a completely different direction with its story partway through, and it’s by far the most interesting section. I call it the Disappearance arc. The Disappearance arc focuses mostly on the psychological state of Nagato, about the meaning of identity and self. It’s night and day when comparing it to the first bit of the show, making me question why that first bit even exists in the first place. To makes the structure of the show even more confusing, the Disappearance arc is then followed by absolutely pointless episodes of exactly the same kind of uninteresting stuff the first arc had.

The series ends on pretty much nothing. The extra episodes had no purpose. Most of the show seems to have no purpose. The only interesting bit of the show is sandwiched by a mess of slice-of-life romance and Haruhi’s antics interfering with the pacing. Even with all of that, the show isn’t all that bad. Humor is subjective, so everyone’s left to their own devices in that regard, as this show is a comedy most of the time. However, as if a final nail to the coffin, this show actually fails to provide what was originally proposed: a romance between Kyon and Nagato. Kyon and literally everyone else are shown having more chemistry than with Nagato.

In conclusion, I do not greatly recommend watching The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. It fails on a storytelling level, it loses focus on its goal all too often, and doesn’t actually have a story to tell. It’s mostly just generic slice-of-life romance filler with Haruhi characters to provoke the fans. It’s meant only as a thing for fans of the original Haruhi series to watch. I’ll be perfectly honest: I like this show. I found it to be genuinely funny a lot of the time, and Nagato is my absolute favorite character (at least, as of now when I’m writing this), so there is some personal bias in that regard.

 

Oh wait, there’s more? Yep, there’s also an OVA for this show as well. Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu: Owarenai Natsuyasumi (長門有希ちゃんの消失 第17話「終われない夏休み), a.k.a. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Incomplete Summer (Episode 17), aired shortly after the main series.

Cover art for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Incomplete Summer

It’s filled with nothing but references to the original Haruhi series. It actually manages to add even less than what the filler did in the main show. If you’re looking for anything more, it isn’t gonna be here. I do not recommend watching the OVA.

Why I Dropped Love Live! Sunshine!!

(Warning: The following post is kinda ramble-y and not meant to be taken very seriously. Possible trigger warnings: Hate upon the Love Live! Sunshine!! series, indifference to the original Love Live! anime, someone having their own opinions)

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t hate the Love Live! franchise. I watched the entirety of the first two seasons plus the movie. I didn’t find it anything special, and it’s certainly not worth making an entire post of it. I went into this series with no expectations, albeit a little to optimistic about this show being anything more than its predecessor. Maybe it would have more realistic, down-to-earth characters, maybe the writing would be engaging, maybe the voices aren’t stupidly high-pitched. The universe has read my mind and, to spite me, granted my wish in the opposite direction.

Cover art for Love Live! Sunshine!!

A lot of people in the anime community agree upon the “3-episode test”, where you give an anime 3 episodes to engage you. If it fails, drop it, if it passes, keep watching. A lot of other people agree upon the “do whatever the hell you want test” (including myself). There needs to be a new test. I call it the “3 minute test”. If you’re watching an anime and you absolutely despise it within 3 minutes, drop it right then and there. This is what I originally did with Love Live! Sunshine!!. Naturally, I complained online, and got hit by a wave of fanboys saying that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. This series wouldn’t even be on my MAL profile if I followed my original test. However, I listened to the others and kept watching. Three episodes later, I started to regret that decision.

Maybe I just don’t like Japan’s idol culture. Maybe extremely high-pitched voices aren’t my cup of tea. But what I don’t understand is how so many people just ignore the pointlessness of this entire series. The producers of this realize that they don’t have to put a lot of effort into the writing, the character designs. They also realize that changing too much from the original series will cause fans to look away, so a lot of the characters from Sunshine!! are rehashes of characters from the original Love Live!. The main girl looks like a younger sister of Hanako, her friend looks like a younger version of Kotori, we have a chuunibyou-ridden girl with long, dark-blue hair, a shy, musically-gifted red-haired girl, and a rich, tall, blond-haired girl. My God, they weren’t even trying to be original.

“You know what? Let’s also have a student council president that somehow hates school idols. Absolutely despises them. Let’s have the main girl walk in for the third time with no qualifications to create an idol club. Let’s have the student council president suddenly go on a spiel about how Muse is the greatest school idol group ever to exist. Wait I thought she hated school idols? Oh, and the main girl accidentally presses on the intercom button while she’s doing this. After all of that, cut away to several hours later next to where the main girl lives. What was that? We just had a bit of character introduction and left it hanging? Did we just cut away from that with literally no reaction shot, no discussion, no other line of dialogue? Are we now pretending that that scene doesn’t even exist?”

What I described above actually happens.

In conclusion, there is no reason to watch this series. It’s not going to have any engaging conflict, no interesting or original characters. It’s just a promotion for more Love Live!-related merchandise. If you’re a fan of Love Live! and you want more of it in your life, then go nuts. Watch this. I don’t care. I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you watch this, but I am saying that you should be mindful of what this series actually is.

Why I Dropped Amagi Brilliant Park

I’ll be totally honest here: the only reason I began watching this was because I’m a huge KyoAni fanboy and I saw a funny GIF of it somewhere on the Internet. I was expecting a lot from Kyoto Animation to provide a funny, charming, and lasting series like they’ve managed to do several times. However, 8.5 episodes in, I was wondering why I kept watching after nothing made me laugh for several episodes.

Cover art for Amagi Brilliant Park

Amagi Brilliant Park (甘城ブリリアントパーク) takes place in an amusement park inhabited by strange beings. These beings come from the magical vague world of Maple Land, using the park as a way to generate life force to keep themselves alive. The loli leader of this group asks a high school boy to save the day, which he somehow manages to do through the magical power known as “being the protagonist”, where every single decision he makes, no matter how stupid it may be, ends up benefiting himself in the end.

The premise of this anime is certainly a striking one, so much so that it alone carried me through over half of the entire show. However, with any overused joke or undeveloped idea, the novelty fades quickly and the realization kicks in hard. This show essentially sets up a wacky premise, and instead of following a single, coherent story, decides to create many tangents of little, wacky plot lines, each with their own introduction, conflict, climax, and resolution. This happens every single episode. For something with such a short runtime, it’s bizarre how this was decided to be the most optimal structure, and by Kyoto Animation of all studios. Now for the overused jokes. Oh boy. A premise with vast amounts of room for expansion is flattened by the same jokes over and over again, not just within the show itself, but also relying on common archetypes found throughout a lot of other anime, manga, visual novels, etc.

I don’t like a single one of the characters, including Sento. The main character (don’t remember his name) is a complete asshat but keeps switching to comforting and considerate mode whenever the plot needs it. The trio with Moffle usually is at the butt of many jokes making it the redundant comic relief in a comedy show. They’re not funny. The same jokes with Moffle attacking MC (main character), the pick cat-thing being an idiot pervert, and the sheep-thing being a bully are used over and over again.

Episode eight in particular had the most useless conflict I’ve seen in a while. MC has to attend school, but he’s sick in bed, so the cancerous trio and Sento decide to dress up in a magical MC suit and take his place. First off, call in sick, you moron. Secondly, this is supposed to be about saving an amusement park from closing down, why in the hell do they need to worry about MC’s attendance? Finally, why does each person of this group get a turn inside the suit? Wouldn’t it make a million times more sense to have just one person do the job? Each character’s archetypes are (for the dozenth time) highlighted throughout the “wacky funny” moments of trying to interact with MC’s classmates. See, this is what happens when you become too analytical: stuff like this interferes with my enjoyment of shallowly-written moments.

In conclusion, this series had a striking premise that was barely used, it had annoying, unfunny archetypes that we’re supposed to call “characters”, and it abandoned all logic to try squeezing a laugh out of a situation. I do not recommend Amagi Brilliant Park to anyone.

How to Watch the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

All right. I’ve scoured all corners of the Internet, and it seems no one has made an actual list for this. For those of you that don’t know, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱) is an anime series, the first 14 episodes broadcasting in 2006 and the remaining 14 broadcasting in 2009 (Usually referred to as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009)). However, the first 14 episodes were aired out of order, so watching the series became a jigsaw puzzle of sorts.

Cover art for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

There are two ways to watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:

  • Chronological Order: Episodes are arranged so it’s less confusing to process what’s going on. However, pacing is irregular and the true finale happens way too early. Also combines both series into one giant list.
  • Broadcast Order: Original broadcast order. Usually considered the proper way of watching the series.

Most online sites list the series in chronological order, which can be frustrating for fans that wish to view the series in the broadcast order. If you’re watching the series and the first episode’s title card reads “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” (in English), you’re watching the chronological order. If, instead, the title card reads “The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina” (in Japanese), then you’re watching the broadcast order.

The following list is the broadcast order. The number beside each entry is which episode that is in the chronological order.

Broadcast Order

  1. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina – Episode 00 (25)
  2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I (1)
  3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II (2)
  4. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya (7)
  5. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III (3)
  6. Remote Island Syndrome I (10)
  7. Mystérique Sign (9)
  8. Remote Island Syndrome II (11)
  9. Someday in the Rain (28)
  10. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV (4)
  11. The Day of Sagittarius (27)
  12. Live Alive (26)
  13. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V (5)
  14. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI (6)

The rest is in normal order, chronological episodes 12 through 24.

 

The following list is the episodes in chronological order. Each episode has two numbers beside it. The first is the season (1 = 2006 airing, 2 = 2009 airing), and the second is the episode in that season. This is for if you want to watch the chronological order but the episodes are listed in broadcast order.

Chronological Order

  1. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I (1, 2)
  2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II (1, 3)
  3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III (1, 5)
  4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV (1, 10)
  5. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V (1, 13)
  6. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI (1, 14)
  7. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya (1, 4)
  8. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody (2, 1)
  9. Mystérique Sign (1, 7)
  10. Remote Island Syndrome I (1, 6)
  11. Remote Island Syndrome II (1, 8)
  12. Endless Eight (2, 2)
  13. Endless Eight (2, 3)
  14. Endless Eight (2, 4)
  15. Endless Eight (2, 5)
  16. Endless Eight (2, 6)
  17. Endless Eight (2, 7)
  18. Endless Eight (2, 8)
  19. Endless Eight (2, 9)
  20. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I (2, 10)
  21. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya II (2, 11)
  22. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya III (2, 12)
  23. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya IV (2, 13)
  24. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya V (2, 14)
  25. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina – Episode 00 (1, 1)
  26. Live Alive (1, 12)
  27. The Day of Sagittarius (1, 11)
  28. Someday in the Rain (1, 9)