Haruhi vs Lucky Star vs K-On!

No I am not pitting each cast of girls against each other to see who would win in a fight, but rather I want to talk about the ways in which these three shows differ beyond a superficial level. You’ll sometimes hear people say that Kyoto Animation’s about is all the same, and I will agree with them as far as saying that they know their audience, i.e. otaku, but when you actually watch these shows you will most likely get a different vibe from each one.

I won’t be discussing the Key adaptations because that’s another beast entirely.

With Haruhi, you’ll notice an air of mystery that permeates the show due to the supernatural aspects of it. Sometimes it’s more obvious, but other times simple actions can imply greater things, and it gives a certain sense of intrigue to the series. It’s still all about a bunch of high school kids hanging out and doing dumb things, but even the dumb things are given a sort of significance as a result of the setting. You can always feel that Haruhi is moving somewhere (right to what the light novels have already spoken about!).

Lucky Star is not just otaku pandering, it is active otaku pandering, and that’s also what makes the show enjoyable. More than either of the other two shows, Lucky Star asks if you’re an otaku, then asks one more time just to make sure, and then high fives you because you watch a lot of anime. In fact, Lucky Star probably does this more than any other show, but don’t think that all the humor is in-jokes with no setup; all I’m saying is that the show rewards otaku.

K-On! meanwhile does away with the pretenses of the other two and is simply about what it advertises: cute girls playing instruments and not being too obsessive about it. There are no undercurrents, no subtle themes at work here. At the same time, I wouldn’t call K-On a shallow anime, as the humor derives from the characters’ personalities very heavily, possibly more than Haruhi or Lucky Star.

All three shows feature groups of girls having fun, but the effects they have on the viewers will vary tremendously due to the inherent differences in each show. If you hate one show you might not necessarily hate the others, and if you do like all theree, there’s a good chance you’ll be liking them for different reasons.

8 thoughts on “Haruhi vs Lucky Star vs K-On!

  1. But it’s so much easier to make sweeping generalizations about superficially similar titles to validate my bias against the new and popular and enforce my identity as an iconoclast. This moe otaku-pandering is destroying the idustry!!!!

    Truth be told, I’m probably guilty of doing this for whole swathes of shows in certain genres, it’s just that they don’t get the attention or scrutiny that Haruhi, Lucky Star, and K-On! enjoy to develop balanced public opinions. Those three KyoAni standouts have been so thoroughly analyzed, appraised, and deconstructed by reviewers and anibloggers everywhere that you kind of have to hide under a rock and actively avoid these kinds of discussions to form misperceptions about them.


  2. “At the same time, I wouldn’t call K-On a shallow anime”

    I would. It might be more heavy on the character driven humour than Haruhi or Lucky Star, but that’s all it does. And not only has that been done before, it’s been done better… and by a crapload of other shows.

    It’s obvious that the three shows are very different (anyone who implies otherwise isn’t worth listening to), but what I see in the three is an evolution of otaku pandering. Haruhi is KyoAni magically striking on a formula that otaku have fallen in love with, Lucky Star is them testing the waters for more positive responses from otaku by trying a few different things out (like firing otherwise qualified directors) and K-On! is the logical conclusion of otaku pandering delivered like the fist of the north star.


  3. Haruhi characters have romantic tension.

    Lucky Star’s girls are fantastical beings of what could be.

    K-ON’s girls have no depth, are stereotypical, and the one guitar player is suffering from a mental retardation.

    I enjoyed Haruhi more because it had a story. I enjoyed Lucky Star as equally, on a different level, because it was so laid back and the girls just talked about what they liked. Wasn’t trying to be superficial or anything, just light hearted banter that I found charming. K-ON wasn’t really a show, rather a showing of what’s been done before. K-ON will only be remembered because people like defend it, for some reason.


  4. It’s saying something how people are knocking K-On here compared to the other two shows, which kinda sorta provides examples for a point of the post. :v

    I wouldn’t call K-On shallow either, but that doesn’t mean that I’m calling it deep either. I guess it’s a matter of if the show delivered what people wanted, and how it was done. :/


  5. DAMMIT! WHICH HARUHI? HARUHI SUZUMIYA OR HARUHI FUJIOKA? if u say the fijioka one i will choose dat, if u mean the suzumiya one, i will vote for that, but the fujioka one IS 99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 BETTER than the suzumiya


  6. Haruhi Suzumiya is infinite times raised to 9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 better than Fujioka.

    Haruhi is otaku pandering on fanservice and stuff like that (it’s famous)
    Lucky Star is otaku pandering on references (lots of references)
    K-ON is otaku pandering on merchandise XD (guitar boom)


  7. So these shows are suppose to be about pandering to okatu? Funny because I was completely board to death by Lucky Star. Which leads me to ask, what makes one an otaku? I’ve been watching anime for over a decade now with more than 200 series and 6,000 episodes behind me. I rate anime to the decimal eg 8.9/10 and its still one of my favorite hobbies despite my ever increasing age. So while I don’t know if I would categorize myself as an otaku I’m pretty sure most other people probably would. Yet nothing about Lucky Star interested me. It’s suppose to be character driven, but I find the characters and their discussions to be quite banal and boring. The jokes fall flat and for me anime’s that are built on referencing other shows have a very weak foundation. I guess you could say I generally don’t really like the slice of life genre, though that didn’t stop me from enjoying Azumanga & Genshiken. In any case I guess my point is that I don’t agree with the generalization of concept of an otaku. There are many different types and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.


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