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Lucky Star Volume 1

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Lucky Star Volume 1

Lucky Star Volume 1

© Kagami Yoshimizu, Kadokawa Shoten

The Bottom Line

High school otaku Konata loves to chat with her friends, avoid homework, working part-time at a cosplay cafe, and playing dating SIM games she picked up from her widower dad.

Presented in 4-koma style, this slice-of-life series focuses on the humor of life's minutia while also serving as a light parody of Japanese otaku and moé culture. While its simple yet humorous artwork is surprisingly effective, its vague and lifeless English translation fails to deliver the laughs.

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Pros

  • Good-humored parody of moe culture that never descends into lolicon (Lolita complex)
  • Simplistic art that is surprisingly expressive
  • Presented in an easy-to-digest 4-koma (4 panel vertical) comic strip format

Cons

  • Lifeless, occasionally incomprehensible English adaptation
  • Relies heavily on otaku-specific humor

Description

  • Original Title: Raki Sutaa (Lucky ☆ Star) (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Kagami Yoshimizu
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1604961126
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $12.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: T – Teens Age 13+ for mild sexual references
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
    • Shonen Manga
    • Yon-koma / 4-koma (4-panel) Manga
    • Comedy
    • Otaku Culture
    • Slice of Life / Reality-Based
  • US Publication Date: July 2009
    Japan Publication Date: January 2005
  • Book Description: 150 pages, black and white illustrations, 6 color pages

Guide Review - Lucky Star Volume 1

Hard-core otaku Konata is in her first year of high school along with her closest friends -- fraternal twins Tsukasa and Kagami (representing moe and tsundere personality types, respectively), and wealthy meganekko (glasses-wearing girl) Miyuki.

While Konata dismisses school work and activities in favor of anime, manga, and online gaming, studious Kagami tries to influence the study habits of her hopeless sister and Miyuki racks up "moe points" with her good-natured klutziness. All four spend time discussing such grave matters such as blood types, the true nature of "Blue Hawaii" flavoring, and the proper way to eat a chocolate coronet pastry.

Though Lucky Star can be rightfully described as "moe" itself, it reads more like a good-natured parody, presenting blatant stereotypes without a trace of lolicon (Lolita complex) fetishization. Though the series jokes about Konata's affection for maids, meganekko, and adult dating SIMs, not one of its cartoonish characters is remotely sexualized, even its few adult characters. Though the overabundance of otaku-specific humor might present a problem for less tuned-in readers, there is a much greater obstacle standing in the way of reader comprehension.

This volume's greatest liability is its English translation, which is vague and lifeless at best and incomprehensible at worst. This not only strips the characters of any recognizable voice but also thwarts the series' humor before it can even begin to take hold. Convoluted sentences like, "There are so many ideas as to what that unspeakable element is," and "Don't be starting something unnecessary in the middle of a conversation that is hard to delve into," are common throughout the volume and particularly damaging when it's obvious that they are supposed to be the punch line.

This state of affairs is a bit surprising since the volume is translated by Rika Takahashi, veteran translator of Bandai's animated series, including the very popular Lucky Star anime. Sadly, while these translations might pass on screen with the help of voice talent and animated visuals, they are undeniably dead on paper. Though the comic's popularity in Japan would indicate that Lucky Star is quite funny indeed, readers of the English adaptation may never know.

Without the benefit of real laughs, the greatest strength of this English-translated volume is its artwork. Though simplistically drawn to an almost humorous extent, Yoshimizu's art is surprisingly expressive, giving real feeling and punch to its comic strip-style gags, which one assumes might actually be funny if the dialogue held up its side of the arrangement.

With its zippy 4-koma format and gently satirical tone, Lucky Star should serve as a tasty comic treat for English-speaking otaku everywhere. Unfortunately, this muddy, shapeless adaptation makes that an impossible feat.

Melinda Beasi writes manga reviews for her blog, Manga Bookshelf, and Pop Culture Shock.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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