Lucky Star – Special Edition DVD Volume 1 (review)

Today the spotlight falls on the first volume of Kadokawa/Bandai’s special edition Region 1 Lucky Star DVD series.

A brief mea culpa note: Conditions were less than ideal when my schedule opened up just enough to allow a quick photo session, so I was forced to use a flash (even though some of the subjects had highly reflective surfaces). End result = bright spots on many of the pictures. While I’m not ruling out a reshoot, I don’t have the time to take new photographs at the moment so these will have to do.

SPECIAL EDITION PACKAGING

The fancy artbox that comes with the LE version of Volume 1 is of a similar design to the container that Kadokawa/Bandai shipped with their special edition Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu DVD set last year. Reasonably sturdy construction, illustrations on all six sides (the top and bottom are shown here), and a two-panel door held shut by a magnetic strip that opens to reveal the box’s contents (visible in the very first image above). Even though Lucky Star will be released in six volumes – two more than SHnY – the artbox is actually smaller this time around, mainly because no built-in drawer is provided for the bonus CDs.

The next image (from the rear panel) gave me a good laugh when I first saw it. Take a close look at the text displayed on Konata’s computer screen.

I share your joy, Kona-chan.

DVD PACKAGING

The drawing may be unsigned, but it’s quite clear that the masterpiece we have on the cover of the DVD case is a genuine Izumi. Note the artist’s bold use of bright colours and wild, unrestrained lines that scrawl around as if to emphasise their freedom from the artificial bondage of “margins”. Behold this manifestation of the artist’s suffering under the chafing rule of the tyrant miko Kagami, whose vicious commandment しゅくだいしろ (“Do your homework!”) still puts fear into the hearts of delinquents everywhere.

Interestingly, the jacket art used for the special edition DVD was originally used for the regular edition Volume 1 DVD that was released in Japan last year. It’s a (minor) disappointment, as I’d also like to have the nice Shinkaiesque image they used for the first special-edition Japan DVD. (Seriously, Bandai – how much of a dent in your revenues could a reversible cover have made?)

DVD CONTENTS

Volume 1 contains the first four episodes of Lucky Star. For those in need of additional information on what the episodes are about (as opposed to what the DVD contains, which is what I’m discussing here), links to sites with reviews and articles are provided towards the end of this post. Needless to say, beware of spoilers.

Contents list:

  • Episode 1 – The Girl Who Dashes Off
  • Episode 2 – Efforts and Results
  • Episode 3 – Various People
  • Episode 4 – A Question of Motivation
  • The usual set-up options are provided: audio in English or Japanese, with optional English subtitles.

    The DVD comes with liner notes (in the form of a printed insert) that contains some remarkably detailed explanations of the myriad cultural/otaku references sprinkled throughout these four episodes. It’s easy to dismiss the insert as little more than a trivia list – which it is, in a way – but one cannot underestimate its usefulness as an aid to understanding the often obscure in-jokes that generate much of the series’ special brand of humour. For example (from the notes to Episode 3):

  • “Konata’s joke about getting hungry after talking about eggs and sausage comes from the Japanese term for ‘fraternal twins’, niransei souseiji, which literally means twins born of two eggs. It’s obvious from the translation where eggs fit into the joke but the reference to sausages gets lost in translation. The Japanese word for twins, souseiji, sounds similar to the Japanese pronunciation of ‘sausage’.”
  • “The characters in the school with stupid and smart students are Takashi Kamiyama and Shinjiro Hayashida from the Cromatie [sic] High School manga, anime series.”
  • While veteran otaku may “get” such references on the first viewing, relative newcomers and casual anime fans might not, and will therefore find the liner notes an invaluable resource.

    Now for the extras. The bonus material on the Volume 1 DVD includes the following:

  • Key scenes gallery 1/2
  • Opening with lyrics
  • Promo clip
  • The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi 1
  • Trailers
  • Credits
  • The “key scenes galleries” are essentially slideshows of, well, key scenes set to music with on-screen text commentaries. The original commentary text is in Japanese, but English translations are supplied.

    The “opening with lyrics” is – now how shall one describe it? I suppose it’s a clean opening with a difference, the difference being that Japanese lyrics appear everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE) in various font sizes and wild layouts, sometimes virtually blotting out the scenes. (I’m guessing the clean “clean opening” has been reserved for a later volume.) The end result is a fancy karaoke video that’s loads of fun to watch.

    SPECIAL EDITION EXTRAS

    That this product is loaded with extra goodies should come as no surprise to anyone, given that it’s from the same people who gave us last year’s much-hyped Region 1 release of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu. First out of the box are two audio CDs (above): Konata’s character album and a disc featuring Lucky Star‘s highly addictive opening song, Motteke! Sailor Fuku. Both CDs come with inserts containing song lyrics in romanized Japanese (with accompanying English translations).

    Next, we have a T-shirt bearing printed images of the sailor uniform used in the series (front and back shown below). I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this, but it’s nice to have all the same.

    Finally, we have a screen wipe in the shape of a chocolate coronet (below) – a reference to one of the series’ most famous vignettes (see Episode 1).

    OVERALL IMPRESSION

    At US$64.98 list, this boxset is not something that a casual anime fan looking for a quick laugh is likely to pick up. Those interested in the show alone are better off choosing the more affordable regular edition, which – shorn of all bells and whistles – weighs in at just US$29.98 (and even less via most of the large online retailers). On the whole, I think the extras are not quite enough to justify the rather inflated price tag, but if you are a fan of the series and are able to buy it for US$10 or so less than list (say, US$38.99 from RightStuf) then I think it’s worth your money.

    LINKS
    Anime News Network – review / encyclopedia article
    Anime on DVD – review
    Random Curiosity – episode summaries (Spoiler alert!)
    Wikipedia – encyclopedia article

    9 Responses

    1. I dunno, a shirt like that almost seems to justify the ridiculous price tag. Almost.

    2. Goodies overload. Does it justify the exorbitant price tag? Maybe…

    3. @Zeroblade: If it were an actual sailor fuku, I’d happily fork over USD100, no questions asked.

      @Yamcha: The CDs are a real bonus so I suppose it’s a fair trade. I wish the price tag were at least ten bucks lower, though.

    4. Anime CDs always have nice artwork and are nice to display in your collection, but you’re also not going to use them too often once you rip the songs to the computer.

    5. […] with Izumi’s terrifying depiction of the tyrant miko Kagami (featured on the cover of the first volume). Scholars have theorised that these two images are from the long-lost Izumi diptych “The […]

    6. […] may recall that the special edition Volume 1 DVD sold in the US sported the same Kagami portrait used on the regular edition Volume 1 DVD released in Japan. The […]

    7. […] may recall that the special edition Volume 1 DVD sold in the US sported the same Kagami portrait used on the regular edition Volume 1 DVD released in Japan. The […]

    8. […] be fair, a book-type artbox wouldn’t have worked well for keeping a multi-volume series like Lucky Star unless thinpaks were […]

    9. […] mind trimming off unnecessary bells and whistles (the ridiculous T-shirt series that accompanied Lucky Star‘s limited-edition US release comes to mind). Having said that, I’m glad to have these treat-filled options wherever […]

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