Review: Space Patrol Luluco

As mentioned in my Please Tell Me, Galko-chan! review, I love short-episode anime. It allows me to get my anime enjoyment in a quick drop, and it’s a drop that’s undiluted. So, when I heard that Trigger, of Kill La Kill fame, was going to be making their own short-episode anime, I jumped onto that train so hard, they had to go on an interplanetary adventure through Trigger’s past works to get that train back on course.

What am I talking about? I don’t know, whatever, let’s get going! JUSTICE!

An Introduction

Luluco is a completely normal middle-school girl, living a completely normal life, and that’s all she wants: to be normal. However, she is surrounded by abnormality. She lives in the city of Ogikubo, which Japan sold in an auction (to help its national debt), and now it is the one place on Earth where aliens of all kinds get to live peacefully alongside humans. Her father works for Space Patrol (kind of like an intergalactic INTERPOL), and her mother… well, let’s not talk about her.

Her normal life suddenly comes to an end when her father accidentally swallows an experimental pill from work, and it causes him to literally become encased in ice. Luluco, panicking, brings her dad over to the Space Patrol office, where she becomes enrolled in the Space Patrol herself, to finance the costs of defrosting her dad. Now, whether she likes it or not, she’s a fighter for justice!

The Plot and Characters

Even if you just watch the first episode, you can tell that Space Patrol Luluco is fun, wacky, and will prove to be a journey unlike what we usually get. The first few episodes sets up the show as a silly adventure of Luluco and new-coworker Alpha Omega Nova fighting random space criminals in Ogikubo, and I would’ve been perfectly okay with this show continuing this way to the end. However, Trigger isn’t Trigger if they don’t one-up themselves every new episode. After the first three episodes focus on bringing down a criminal within the school itself, Midori (who later joins the Space Patrol herself in a hilarious dialogue exchange), we get locked into this grandiose plot as Ogikubo gets stolen by space pirates, and this newly-formed trio ends up on a space chase trying to find it and bring it back to Earth.

However, halfway through this arc, the anime puts everything off to the side to spend a few episodes revisiting the worlds of past Trigger-animated shows, such as Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia, and more. On one hand, it was pretty cool to have these cameos appear and to see the other characters interact with Luluco and the group, and frankly, it was rather hilarious at times. I also can’t say they didn’t have at least some effort to tie these cameos back into the main plot. On the other hand, though, I do wonder if perhaps they spent a bit too much time doing these cameos. That being said, they did wrap it up and bring us back on track relatively quickly in the last cameo-planet-episode. In rewatching the series, though, I’ll probably skip over those episodes.

The last four episodes were made to feel big, cool, and exciting, and that is precisely how they felt too. Everything is on the line and the biggest plot twists are revealed, and it’s honestly kind of amazing. I’d talk in more detail about it, but… spoilers. What kind of surprises me is that the last episodes were able to continue Space Patrol Luluco’s wacky tone, while also having it be emotional too. However, despite how the emotional ending it had, it still felt like it was missing… something.

Whether I didn’t feel as closely connected to Luluco as I thought I did, or there wasn’t that big impact that would’ve really helped, I’m not entirely sure, but as cool as the ending was, I came away from this series thinking that something could’ve made it better. Perhaps it is just a consequence of having the episodes be so short in length.

About the short lengths, Trigger did a pretty good job, in my opinion, of being able to make a comprehensible and fun anime with such a short length. One can’t necessarily expect writers to always be able to squish and fit their ideas into such a short period, but this format worked really well for Space Patrol Luluco.

Overall, the show is a blast. Although it’s at its funniest in the first half as they’re setting up the whole story, Space Patrol Luluco is wacky and humorous throughout; their sense for comedic timing in the first few episodes is pretty great, and even some of the smaller things got me to just fall over laughing. For example, when Luluco, Nova, or Midori are about to capture or pursue a space criminal, their Patrol Suit transforms them (literally) into a gun, magical-girl-transformation-sequence style, and the phrase “Fight for Justice!” being exclaimed every time one of the guns are fired. I had a lot of fun watching the show, from start to finish, and with how short each episode is, I’m beyond eager to share it with my friends by pulling up the first episode. The pacing is a bit fast, but most people should be okay with it.

The anime features a colorful, fun cast of characters, and they do well at having their personalities shine through their words and actions, rather than simply having it be told to the audience (a relatively easy crutch for short-episode anime). Luluco is the innocent, nervous, “normal” girl who finds herself dragged into all these situations, whether she wants to or not. For Nova, everything about him just sparkles; there’s a choral piece that plays whenever he’s in the spotlight, and that song just describes him. Midori is snarky, and usually plays the straight-man in the comedy bits; I’m sure you’ll come to love her by the end of the series. Last to mention here is Chief Over-justice, the chief of the Space Patrol – Ogikubo Branch. He’s… passionate. I’ll give him that.

The Atmosphere

The art and animation for this show is particularly cartoonish; proper anatomy (and physics) goes out the window to create the distinct style of this show, and I think it looks pretty nice. For how wacky and weird this show can be, the cartoonish style works out pretty well, as well as allowing the gun transformations to not look as creepy as they may otherwise be.

This being said, the animation tends to take some shortcuts, having characters stay still except for moving particular parts, or using effects rather than hand-drawn animating to make animation take place. It’s not really a complaint though, as I feel in this case, it’s more of a stylistic choice. Short-episode anime (generally) don’t have the highest of production quality anyway, so it’s even more allowable here. Trigger most definitely upped the quality for episode 13, though, quite fitting for a series finale.

The background art of the earlier episodes tends to be images pasted together in Photoshop with a color washout applied over the whole thing, and although I tend to enjoy the photorealistic backgrounds as a style, I dunno how much of that I would’ve been able to really deal with if the entire series went on like this though. Luckily, as Trigger started the big get-Ogikubo-back arc, they moved away from that and used more hand-drawn backgrounds and such. The background art, like the animation, isn’t exactly the best, but it definitely works for this show’s style, and thus there’s nothing to really complain about at all.

The music of the show tends to be pretty good, if nothing else. There’s about a good five tracks that tend to play a lot throughout the entire series, although you wouldn’t really notice it unless you really paid attention, although episode 10 is in stark contrast to that statement. For me, though, the song I loved the most was the ending theme, Pipo Password. I’m definitely going to buy it on CD. I also really liked the ending animation, even though I usually like flashier things. I also really enjoyed the remixed version of Pipo Password that was played on episode 12. The opening song is also not bad, although I wouldn’t generally listen to it on its own. The opening animation is pretty cool though.

The art and music of Space Patrol Luluco also help with its comedic timing, cutting to a different frame and muting the music altogether to allow a comedic moment to take place. The first episode of the show is particularly good, in my mind, with the comedic timing, and the writing, visuals, and music were all in on the jokes.

Final Remarks / TL;DR

Space Patrol Luluco: it’s cool, it’s wacky, it’s everything you wanted out of a Trigger-animated show, and more, and with only eight minutes per episode, it’s also easy to consume. Fans of past anime that Trigger animated will also appreciate this show, with the various episodes dedicated to cameos, even if these cameos may have gone on just the tiniest bit too long. Overall, this show was a lot of fun, and was definitely one of my favorites for the Spring 2016 season.

With the short length of each episode, I really recommend each person at least watch the first episode, and see what you think. All that’s really at stake for you is just losing eight minutes of your life, it really isn’t much. To be honest, though, if you watch the first episode, I feel like you’ll probably end up watching more. Space Patrol Luluco isn’t a deep, emotional drama, but it’s a lot of fun, and at the end of the day, that’s all it needs to be.

Rating: Great
Recommendation: Watch It
+++ comedy is pretty good, Midori, art style works for this short-episode show
— cameo planet episodes may have gone on a bit long, ending lacked just a tiny bit of substance, opening theme was meh

4 thoughts on “Review: Space Patrol Luluco

  1. I watched this after a Twitter recommendation and a blog and found it enjoyable enough but it just never clicked with me. I wasn’t a fan of the animation or Luluco but I did like Alpha Omega Move and the overall set-up for this show. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll get around to a review on this one eventually.

    Like

    1. I totally get that. Galko-chan was a show that I enjoyed, but it didn’t click with me either. (Another one I’m reviewing soon is kind of the same way.) The animation/art is definitely stylized. I’ll be curious to see your more in-depth thoughts about it!

      Liked by 1 person

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