You ever get really nostalgic anime series you watched in your formative years? You know, your OG shows? The ones that got you into the medium in the first place? I’ve decided to take a look back at some of the earlier series I got into back when I was younger, and reflect on how they formed my anime tastes. They will be chronicled in this series, Anime Roots.
Ah, 2007. Simpler times, back when I was but a wee little twelve-year old weirdo who had just discovered anime. Back when Crunchyroll was barely legitimate, and newcomers relied on shitty 180p YouTube videos split into three parts to watch fansubbed Naruto episodes. I remember, specifically, watching the finale of the big Zabuza arc on YouTube and being amped up to watch the final part, only to find that part three of the episode had been removed for copyright infringement. Tragic.
This was also when Kyoto Animation dominated every corner of anime internet thanks to the releases of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star (and later, K-ON!). I mean, KyoAni is still everywhere, but in 2007 it you could not go anywhere even remotely anime related without seeing a bunch of Konata gifs or a Hare Hare Yukai parody. Remember all those MAD Lucky Star openings that were going around for a while? Or the K-ON!/Persona mash-ups?
Okay, now that you’re done watching those excellent YouTube throwbacks, back to lil’ ol’ me getting into anime.
When I was eleven, my anime taste was this weird mix of classics that were currently airing on [adult swim] and absolute hot garbage. I had actually gotten into anime via my parents’ fondness for Cowboy Bebop. They themselves were not anime fans, but they had seen Bebop on [adult swim] and fell in love. When I was little, I remember my father cooking chili to Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts once a week. My parents ended up letting me watch it even though I was waaaaay too young (do you know how many heads explode in that show?), but I absolutely loved it. From there, I went on to voraciously watch any anime I could get my hands on, from Cardcaptor Sakura and Fruits Basket to Eureka Seven and The Big O, way down to some misguided forays into yaoi with Loveless and Gravitation and countless forgettable action series like Burst Angel.
I had no idea which shows were actually worth watching and which were not, so I just watched everything I found anyone talking about online. And, so, inevitably, Lucky Star and I crossed digital paths.
Like a fool, I watched Lucky Star before watching Haruhi. Many, many in-jokes were lost on me because the only thing I knew was Hare Hare Yukai. I actually didn’t understand most of the non–Haruhi anime references because I was still so young and fresh to the scene. So fresh that I had never gone near a slice of life show before, so I was stunned when I booted up the first episode and saw it was it just girls hanging out, talking about pastries and video games. I didn’t understand how such a show could exist…but I loved it. There were plenty of Lucky Star critics who criticized it for being “boring” and “moeblob” (a term I still shudder to hear, to be honest), but it captivated it me. It was cute. It made me feel warm and fuzzy. It made me giggle. It was great.
And, maybe most importantly, it was gay as shit.
Sure, Lucky Star probably isn’t the pinnacle of LGBT representation, but to my vaguely-aware-of-being-bi ass, it was the world. I shipped the hell out of Konata and Kagami, and I wholesomely ate up every yuri-bait scene with them. And when the romance began to bloom between Minami and Yutaka? I just about died. When Yutaka saw Minami and blushed for the first time, I literally paused the video and nervously checked behind me to make sure my parents weren’t around. Then I googled lucky star are they gay. I could have waited like, five more seconds for that question to be answered, but I was so excited. I spoiled myself and, lo and behold, the answer was: hell yeah they were.
This was actually my first exposure to any kind of yuri (I’m not counting Burst Angel, because that show was awful.) Like I said before, I didn’t know slice of life/cute girls doing cute things anime were a thing, so the wonderful world of gay cute girls doing cute things unfolded before my eyes thanks to that google search. I’m pretty sure I had discovered Cardcaptor Sakura because of Tomoyo’s crush on Sakura before watching Lucky Star, but that was one-sided and kind of depressed me, so I have a soft spot for my Lucky Star girls as being my entry level anime lesbians. It really, truly meant a lot to me to see other young girls liking other young girls and it being treated like a normal thing. Sure, a lot of it was handled in that unrealistic fanservice anime way, but that didn’t matter to me – I was just happy to have something to relate to, even just a little bit.
Something else I fondly remember from Lucky Star were the end skits with Lucky Channel. Specifically, I remember watching episodes of Lucky Star with my little sister, who couldn’t have been older than six, and her laughing hysterically at the chain-smoking Akira. I don’t know what appealed to us about that skit (it’s not like we could really grasp the idea of idol industry satire), but I know we would have to pause from laughing so hard once she flipped her switch from charming host to raging diva bitch. We would always make it a point to energetically scream “bye-beeeeeeeeeee” with her.
Later, we watched a lot of K-ON! together, (I did not let my six-year-old sister watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), and we’ll still listen to “Don’t Say Lazy” together when we’re driving around in my car.
Damn. I honestly started this post just to talk about how Lucky Star low-key got me into yuri, but along the way I realized I have waaaay more fond memories of it than I even realized. Anime’s a weird thing, man – it’s so much more than just goofy cartoons with occasional big titty lesbians (or small titty lesbians, in Lucky Star’s case). If you’re like me, you grew up with it constantly at your side. I was bullied quite a bit as a young’un (everyone who got into anime young was bullied, right?), so it was so nice to have something like Lucky Star to come home to. There was no conflict, there were happy girls peacefully liking other girls, and I got to relax and hang out with my little sister who loved me even if I was a big ginger nerd with braces. Anime like Lucky Star was escapism at its finest, and when I was young, stuff like that was what I really, really needed.