Lobster Quadrille: Anime Battle: Azumanga Daioh vs. Lucky Star

Here’s a new feature for the blog: Anime Battle. This will pit two anime titles that have similar themes against each other to see which one is better.

This time it’s Azumanga Daioh vs. Lucky Star. I’ve reviewed both these titles before, but let’s see which one really holds up.

The following criteria will be used:

  • Art/Animation
  • Characterization
  • Comedy (they’re both comedies, after all)
  • Music
  • Plot

Art/Animation: I like the art and animation in both titles equally.  The backdrops are pretty and the characters are cute in both titles. Chiyo-chan is adorable. Konata’s cat-like smile and sleepy expression make me laugh.  So, in this case, both titles get one point each.

Winner: TIE (Azumanga Daioh +1, Lucky Star +1)

Characterization: Azumanga Daioh has a small cast of nine characters. (Note: I consider a large cast to be something like Naruto’s cast) Each character seems simplistic at first, but they really don’t need to be complex. Perhaps one of the best examples of how good the characterization is would be to talk about Kagura. Kagura has a few cameos before she becomes a full-fledged character. Yet, we are still given enough time to see her as athletic, spunky, and competitive. We even see that she is quite protective of Chiyo-chan. When Tomo gets a little too mean towards Chiyo, she is always the first to object. Another good character is Sakaki.  At first, she is shy. But as the show progresses, she slowly comes out of her shell and we see her as a quiet girl who loves animals and is kind to everyone. Plus, I must admit, I find her very pretty. That long hair, that sad far-off look. How can you not like her?

Lucky Star, by contrast, has lots of characters. And therein lies my biggest gripe–there’s way too many characters.  It starts out with just Konata, Kagome, Hiiragi, and Miyuki. Then it seems like the writers realized there was a bunch of characters from the manga they forgot, so they dump them on the viewer in the second half.  I found myself having to keep checking a character sheet I found online so I could keep track of who was who.  I really felt swamped by them, and very few characters really stood out more than the original foursome we started out with. I really think if the show had kept its focus on the foursome, it would’ve been fine.

Winner: Azumanga Daioh +1 (score: 2)

Comedy: Both shows do a great job here. The timing is good and I laughed at a good portion of the jokes. However, if I had to pick, Azumanga Daioh would be the real winner. It sticks mostly to stuff everyone can laugh at–slapstick pratfalls, snarky comments, and genuine weirdness. There’s some pop-culture references, but even they work. Lucky Star‘s humor doesn’t really do that well. It has “otaku”-based humor, and unless you’re really knowledgeable of that culture, the jokes will whiz right by you.  I’ll give both shows a point each, but Azumanga Daioh, in my opinion, is better at the humor.

Winner: TIE Azumanga Daioh +1, Lucky Star +1

Music: Both shows do have good music. Their theme songs are pretty addictive. I don’t think I’ll ever get “Soramimi Cake” or “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” out of my head anytime soon.

But Lucky Star also has one flaw–no ending theme, at least one that isn’t “borrowed” from other anime. And that dude that sings some of the “borrowed” songs on some episodes cannot sing–AT ALL! I got so annoyed with the “borrowed” themes that I wound up skipping the closings.  I never did that with “Raspberry Heaven”, Azumanga Daioh’s closing.

Winner: Azumanga Daioh +1 (score: 4)

Plot: It’s hard to believe, but there is a point to Azumanga Daioh. For all purposes, this is pretty much what typical Japanese schoolgirl life is like. You really do see many of the characters go through development, both physically and mentally. (For instance, Chiyo doesn’t have puberty during first year, but in the second year, you clearly see a little sign of puberty.  Sakaki also has some considerable physical changes.) As I stated, Sakaki goes through quite some depth in change. She slowly comes out of her shell and begins to hang out with the others more and through them, we start to see her as a quiet, but kind girl. When the characters finally graduate at the end, you feel as though you’ve watched them grow up and I’ll admit it, I felt a little sad when Chiyo cried because she realized that they were going to split up.

Lucky Star, well, doesn’t really have a plot. It can easily be compared to an American sitcom called Seinfeld. For those who’ve never seen Seinfeld, the show works like a chain reaction–one event leads to another and keeps doing so until the episode ends. Lucky Star  has the same structure. To be fair, Azumanga Daioh also has its moments of random, but it’s actually rare. And the finale was such a rip-off! It was just the girls getting ready to do the same cheerleading routine we see in the opening. Oh sure, there’s more animation to it, but it’s still basically the same stuff.  So because Azumanga Daioh is the only  one of the two that actually has plot progression, it gets the only point.

Winner: Azumanga Daioh +1 (score: 5)

So, who won? Azumanga Daioh, with a final tally of 5 points, while Lucky Star only gets three.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like both shows. I found them both very funny and I really don’t feel like I wasted any time with either of them, even if I felt ripped off by Lucky Star’s finale. But I felt Azumanga Daioh did the job better and was the stronger show.

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