The cultural festival is finally upon us, and the entire school is busy busy in their preparations. “Mehhh, it’s suchhhh a drag,” sighs Konata, as Kagami provides her usual too-practical rebuttal: “this is how you’re facing the last festival of your high school days??” Elsewhere, Patricia gets word of the opening ceremony festivities, and gets an idea about something big…
Wow, narrative format for Lucky Star? This is gonna get weird… this episode was actually one coherent story. Well, kinda.
What’s Konata’s class planning to do? Some random ideas are peppered on the board as Class Rep Shiraishi tallies up the votes. “fortune-telling booth” wins by a landslide, versus things like “bazaar,” “maze,” “haunted house,” and “the history and assembly of kiritansu,” with a lonely one vote from Miyuki. Wait, haven’t we seen something about fortune telling in a previous KyoAni production? More on this later.
So what’s Patricia’s great idea? A cheer dance for the opening ceremony! Here’s the catch – she needs all her friends to participate. After some early uncertainty from Hiyori, Patricia’s sparkly eyes and ultimate moe voice wins her over; even little Yutaka wants to join in on the fun. Wait a sec… cheer dance? With all the girls? Opening (ceremony)? I think I know what’s coming, and depending on what side you’re on, could be epic win or epic fail…!
Seems like Kagami’s class is doing a haunted house – how generic. But the thought of Kagami as some vengeful spirit works out quite well. Konata agrees!
Back at the Izumi house, Yutaka is telling Konata about her plans to participate in the dance. Konata isn’t too high on the idea, as it’s quite physically demanding – but then an unexpected call comes from our favorite gaijin, who poses a simple question to Konata: “I have in my hand a ticket! Now, now, what ticket could it be?” (for those who can read kanji, the ticket has a very noticeable “Hirano Aya” written on it)
Konata> eh… hm… GEH?! NO WAY!
Patty> Heh heh, Gekisou was pretty sweet huh? Wouldn’t you like to have a passionate handshake with Haruhi herself?
Konata> AHHHH YES YES YES!
Patty> By the way, I have a small request…
(after phone call)
Konata> Yuu-chan… go make some great memories!!!
The next day, Konata recruits the Hiiragis: Tsukasa was easy enough to win over with a simple “it’ll be fun to do it with everyone!” but Kagami took some extra grease. After using Kagami’s own “it’s our last school festival!” line against her to no avail, Konata shamelessly brings up Yutaka’s determination in spite of her frail body… with a blushed reluctance and a faint sigh of concession, Kagami agrees. Oh
Mei-tan Kagami, you’re such a tsundere.
Miyuki agrees after some light persuasion: “iyaa… we’re lacking in ‘volume’ so we you to join…” Guess what Konata is eyeing as she’s saying that? “Whooo, thanks boin- er… Miyuki-san!”
So now the cast is almost fully assembled, but how about the actual dance? Apparently Patty is still having problems with the choreography and song selection…
Kagami> WTF! You’re STILL working on it?
Patty> I’m trying to pick the song and well… it just doesn’t have the same feel as Hare Hare…
Kagami> Then you should’ve asked someone else for help!
Patty> I don’t understand difficult Japanese~
Kagami> WTFFF!!!! You better finish this TODAY !!!!
Konata> Nee, Kagami… for someone who didn’t want to do this, you sure are into it…
Kagami> …shut up
Back to Konata’s class, where they seem to have gotten several of the decorations up around the room. Miyuki is working on her tarot card fortune telling, but what’s Tsukasa going to do? Miyuki suggests some fortune telling based on patterns and shapes, sorta like palm reading, or throwing a bunch of sticks on the ground and reading a fortune from that. Except Tsukasa does it with senbei, lol (as Miao would say, a focused Tsukasa is fine too).
The next day at school, Patty is showing the girls what the song and dance looks like on her cell phone. Yea, it’s Motteke Sailor Fuku. Question is, what video are they watching? Who’s doing the dance? Is it Patty in her room with a webcam? Or are they watching anime versions of their anime selves? And who’s singing the song?
Sounds like an appropriate time for Konata to insert her own version of dondake?
After a little scene with Misao and Ayano, we cut to Patty’s class, where a bunch of their random classmates are talking about their menu items. Here’s some more crash course lessons in Japanese subculture…
Boy A: What’s yakisoba being called in our café?
Girl: “The Aromatic Breeze of Spring”
Boy B: What’s this “Trickling Dew of the Sun?”
Girl: That’s okonomiyaki!
Boy A: Haha, what’s up with this menu, nobody will know what they’re ordering!
Patty: Japanese culture is funny!
Later, we see a little scene of Miyuki and Minami practicing their moves. Meanwhile, Konata and Hiyori are playing spectator as they wonder who’s the S (top) and who’s the M (bottom) in the relationship…
Kagami> Oi, shut up and practice.
The cheerleading costumes have come in! Miyuki thinks they look great, but they’re a bit embarrassing to wear! Naturally, Konata sees such a statement in a positive light…
So what do the parents think of their daughters’ cultural festival plans? Soujiro gets quite excited at the prospect of seeing ten high school girls dancing around in cheerleading outfits, Kagami and Tsukasa’s parents just reminisced about their own festival, while Yukari tells Miyuki that she only wants to hear the good fortunes from her class.
Next day at practice, Kagami flexes some more of her tsundere muscles… this time, Konata and Misao are on the ball with pointing it out~
Those two game-exclusive characters make another cameo at the school gates (those chars from the bookstore during the cosplay cafe ep). They’re trying to get in because word spread that Akira was going to have a performance today (!!) – unfortunately, the first day of the school festival is for rehearsals and students only, so the public isn’t allowed in!
It’s a damn shame too, cuz they’re missing out on everyone’s outrageous costumes – Kagami is dressed up as a ghost, Konata is her full on God knows Yuki garb (complete with magic wand and a couple seconds of Yuki’s patented fortune telling). Not to mention Yutaka and Minami’s costumes are in full bloom too!
And, for the first time, we have Akira who has finally found a way to break into the main show. But… Shiraishi is there with her. Awkward! They work on a live rendition of Lucky Channel with a spotty audience looking on – Akira is going to perform that song she did during the karaoke “live event.” The music plays and Akira gets her game face on… and gets cut off by Shiraishi two words in.
Akira’s temper> boom.
And that was it for that. Really, lol. Lucky Channel crashes and burns to its last breath. So it goes.
But let’s get to the real meat here… people have always wondered what sort of steps to use in Hare Hare Yukai while the dance wasn’t on-screen – KyoAni answered that call with a full dance version on the DVD release; no need for that this time, as the girls rehearse the full dance with every butt-shake, pom-pom swish, and chi-chi yure thrown in for good measure. The choreography is good and everything is moving and whooshing and it’s all so colorful and ahhhh! Well, the shock of seeing such an awesome OP sequence wore off for me long ago, but it was still great fun to see them do the whole thing.
Afterwards, a short sequence involving that calm feeling you get when everything looks like it will work out alright. And it’s on to the actual performance – Shiraishi is the MC as usual, with the girls backstage waiting for the curtain to raise. They’re pretty nervous, until the odd sound of “mi-mi-miracle-minorun-run” echoes through the speakers as Shiraishi is introducing the group. Ah, tension relaxed.
The girls look forward with confident faces, their eyes focused and legs no longer shaking. The curtain raises and the bright lights of the stage shine through…
Shiraishi Minoru ED
ED: 「愛はブーメラン」 (Ai wa Bumeran) by 白石稔 (Shiraishi Minoru)
Shiraishi ends the season with what might be his best song – !
You know that feeling you get at the end of a Final Fantasy? That long, melancholic yet satisfying moment that slowly washes out like the tide as the credits scroll and the music dramatically brings to an end your epic journey?
None of that here! It was too happy, too triumphant, and too spectacular of a finish to even begin to feel sad that it’s all over. Save that for next Sunday, when I get that awkward feeling that something is missing from my day.
So where to begin? This episode was distinct from the others as it followed more of a coherent chronology – while there was still some jumping around, all the events fell into a logical order. It was definitely a different feel and I quite like it – if I were to point out one thing that Lucky Star could have done better, this would probably be it. Azumanga was great in that it took a bunch of 4koma comics and wove them together into a single episode, something that Lucky Star never managed to pull off with too much success (nor really tried to) until this final episode. As hashihime pointed out in the comments, the mangaka had a direct hand in writing this episode, a rather nice touch when you think about all the KyoAni-injected material that has dominated the series.
Besides the outstanding animation quality, the vibrant colors, and that sweet orchestral Motteke instrumental at the end, one thing that made this finale a particular good one was the fact that almost everything was covered, quite an achievement when considering just how many characters and how many personalities Lucky Star has introduced along the way. Every character got to show off some part of themselves that have made us come to love them over the months, from Kagami’s tsundereness to Tsukasa’s helplessness, from Misao’s “keep it real” attitude to Patty’s crazy gaijin assumptions. Even those two random game characters showed up, not to mention Akira finally got her appearance in the main show … when it didn’t matter anymore. What made her character so great wasn’t just the whole bipolar thing… it was the irony of it all. And who could forget that dance at the end? We all knew there would eventually be some full version, and with Patty’s insistence of a cheer dance from the outset, we knew it was coming at the end of the episode. Whether you liked Lucky Star for the cute animation, the sheer moeness, the friendship of the characters, the endless references, the crazy opening dance, or just the whole “hey, I do that too!” aspect of it, there was something for everybody in this episode.
In other words, this episode fell into the trap of “trying to do too much” in a finale, and somehow ended up pulling it off quite triumphantly. Wish everything could end this well…
And how about Lucky Star as a whole show? Most of my episode to episode thoughts have been covered in previous entries, and to sum them up would be to say something like how it went from ‘not as good as Haruhi’ to being an incredible show in its own right; targeted to a specific audience but with an appeal that deliberately reaches out much further. There is no plot to speak of (though there were two very specific moments of character development involving an argument between the Hiiragi sisters and another one involving Konata’s mother) nor were there many laugh out loud moments (similarly, there are examples of lol moments peppered throughout the show) – but that really wasn’t the point, and the production team never did anything to suggest that it would or should be. Much of the early criticism were a result of the show going in a different direction than what people expected or hoped (but can you honestly say the direction it took was no good?), later criticism stemmed from the referencing, especially to Haruhi material, to which I point out that it really made very little difference – it was just there as fluff to add that additional bit of excitement, not to mention that all the references made up a very small part of the entire show. However, these references were the easiest form of Lucky Star “humor” to pick up on, the easiest to screencap, and the easiest for people who don’t watch the show to criticize, being one aspect of Lucky Star that doesn’t require experience in the show to really understand. The referencing helped make Lucky Star more enjoyable than it already was, but for a casual detractor to come in and make the statement that “Lucky Star is only about references” is plain ignorance. As for those who follow Lucky Star every week and still think that (lookin at you kaioshin), well… hope you enjoyed the rest of the show.
But no, debunking criticism doesn’t make a show good. But as I mentioned above, even though Lucky Star is aimed at a target audience, there are many, many different things to like about it. Ultimately, it’s the fact that all these different things were done so well and seamlessly integrated that makes Lucky Star a resounding success, worthy of mention as its own show and not just “the one with all the haruhi references” or “the kyoani azumanga” or whatever else was being echoed.
It was a wonderful ride that started off slow but quickly picked up and kept up the pace all the way through. Along the way we met characters that each had their own flavor and own way of doing things, but somehow fit so well with each other. And if you took the time to watch, to listen, and to just enjoy their company, you might just have a little fun and go about your day with a little more cheer. I’m glad I did, and I hope you did too!
Thanks for reading and thanks for participating in the comments – you’ve all been great! Special thanks goes out to mewmew, who provided me with translations and explanations throughout the season, couldn’t have done it without him. Lucky Star is the first series I’ve blogged from start to finish, and I’m happy that I did – it’s brought out some of my best and definitely gave me the motivation to keep going on. As Omni hasn’t released his fall preview yet, I only have a very basic idea what may seem interesting to blog next season, but you can bet I’ll definitely give any comedies and 4koma adaptations a serious look.