Title: Luck & Logic Format: Anime (12 episodes)
Studio: Doga Kobo Licensed by: Funimaiton
Writer: Yuuya Takahashi Director: Koichi Chigira, Takashi Naoya
Art/Animation: Hirotsugu Kakoi, Katsuzo Hirata
Genre: Shounen, Action, Fantasy, Sci-fiI went in to Luck & Logic with high hopes. The CG animation was promising, and could have started a good trend for new, experimental shows. The character designs were flashy, thematic, and pulled from a variety of genres. And the characters and story… had yet to show just how weak they were at that time.
With high hopes is not the best way to go in to Luck & Logic. In fact, you’re probably better off avoiding this anime completely.
In the distant future, humanity has discovered a nonmaterial substance at the foundation of our world. They’ve called this substance “Logic”, and its discovery has opened up a passageway between our universe, and Tetraheaven. But the beings of Tetraheaven, called “Foreigners”, have just reached the end of a hundred-year war, and, with nowhere else to go, the losers are invading Earth. In order to reach their full power in our world, Foreigners must “Trancejack” with a human, stealing their body, and their Logic.
To fight this, the Another Logic Counter Agency (ALCA) was formed. It organizes gifted humans called “Logicalists”, and benevolent Foreigners called “Goddesses” to fight and capture all Foreigners who cause trouble in our world.Among these fighters is Yoshichika Tsurugi, a 17-year-old ex-Logicalist who has just recently gotten back into the game. He and his new partner, Athena, join the other Logicalists and Goddesses at the ALCA, as the greatest Foreigner threat yet approaches.
The first episode of Luck & Logic displayed two things that got me believing it would be good. The first was the animation.The letters, “CG,” are rarely the best way to win over anime fans, but anyone who’s seen Karas knows that even heavy amounts of the computer generated stuff has its place, and Luck & Logic serves as a respectable tech demo of this. It’s vibrant, it’s smooth, and it’s ideal for fast-paced action. The main drawback of CG is that it doesn’t have the fine-detail finesse of standard animation in slower scenes, but Luck & Logic accounts for this by only using CG in fights. The animation is otherwise 2D, and, aside from the slight overuse of bloom that makes most modern anime just a little bit blindingly ugly, looks perfectly fine. Nothing incredible, but these are the non-action scenes so it’s hard to really screw it up.
The problem Luck & Logic runs into is in direction. To make good use of CG requires that actions scenes be very dynamic, which means characters must have interesting, complex environments to move around in. But the vast majority of fights in this show just don’t. A typical fight in Luck & Logic consists of two characters standing opposite each other on a flat plane; launching one, maybe two, attacks; and that’s it.
And the animation director on this did the Key Animation on episode 27 of Gurren Lagann and Lagann-hen; the how-to manuals on making epic fights out of two characters standing opposite each other and launching attacks!
Fights often feel like they have no weight, even when the fate of the world is supposed to be at stake. The show almost never makes use of its environments, and when it does, it looks like it’s animated on a crumpled napkin.
By the end, I actually preferred the 2D animation over the 3D that got me interested in the show, because the 2D never was never a disappointment.
The characters of Luck & Logic are what, I imagine, are supposed to be the main draw, but they fail to be. With the exception of Yoshichika and Athena, they’re all good enough in conception, but, again, bad direction hampers them.Yoshichika is aptly described, by his sister, as the stereotypical protagonist. It’s not the most precise description, since there are at least three different types of stereotypical shoenen protagonists, but it is accurate. Yoshichika is the Gary Stu, the hero who does no wrong, is loved by everyone, and is just fucking boring. The closest thing to a goal he has is just to do good, without once stopping to think about what the “good” thing to do actually is. His personality is almost non-existent, with him only ever speaking when he has to communicate a strategy or ask a question. He’s the kind of character you want to punch in the face, just to see if he’s capable of expressing a genuine emotional response.
Athena, his partner, is, fittingly, a Mary Sue. She gets angry at Yoshichika once for being overly suspicious of a Foreigner (even though it’s literally the ALCA’s job to imprison almost every Foreigner they find), and other than that she is perpetually smiling. She’s not a candidate for the face-punch test, because it’s pretty obvious she’d just apologise for doing whatever she did you upset you, and say she understands that you must have had your reasons. Our two lead characters simply suck.
Thankfully, there are other Logicalists at the ALCA, and other Goddesses.
Yurine is the would-be team leader, if Yoshichika didn’t already take that position. She’s the one most concerned with coordination, strategy, and playing by the rules. She also happens to be the team healer, represented by her Magical Girl costume when she’s Tranced with Venus. It’s a fitting role for her because, before becoming a Logicalist, she was studying to be a doctor.
Chloe is the damager-per-second fighter. She thinks she’s the strongest, and does a damn good job proving it. She’s impatient, breaks the rules, and likes to fly solo. She’s also a lot more clever than she bothers to let on, nearly successfully tracking down the most dangerous Foreigner in the series on her own. Of course, like in any team-based anime, the most individually driven character is also the one who has to learn that they can’t do everything on their own.
Finally, Mana is the reclusive moe character, who I’m predisposed to love.She’s the heavy ranged hitter, and that’s about all there is to say about her because outside of fights, she’s mostly a wallflower. Her backstory is one you can pretty much guess just with one look at her…
…and it’s nothing all that special. But the episode dedicated to Mana ended up being better than Yurine’s or Chloe’s, for me, because not enough was done from the start to get me invested in Yurine or Chloe.
The character growth in Luck & Logic is really hard to watch because it feels forced. Each of the major supporting characters is given one episode for their backstory, personal struggle, and eventual growth, which would be enough time if the show had set them all up properly to begin with.
Not much effort is put into building engagement with each character before their episode rolls around, so when it does happen, the viewer is expected to suddenly become invested in this character, and only this character, for the length of the episode. For me, this made Yurine’s episode one of the worst in the series because I just didn’t like her much. It made Chloe’s confusing because I didn’t know enough about her beforehand. And it made Mana’s good because I happened to like and understand her character all along.
The Goddesses don’t get this treatment. Instead, their personalities and characters are built around supporting their Logicalist partners. Venus is the complete opposite of Yurine, being a boy-loving, laidback sweetheart. So she is able to recognize Yurine’s mistakes and point them out to her. Artemis, Mana’s Goddess, is a motherly figure who can look after her. And Chloe’s partner, Valkyrie… I can’t remember a single line of dialogue spoken by Valkyrie, and couldn’t tell you the first thing about her personality. Valkyrie is pretty much a wasted character.
Their designs are all colourful and fun, reflecting both their combat roles and their personalities. And I like how each of them is partly based on a different RPG class role. But these early character episodes rely completely on what your first opinion on the character is. Some might be hits. Most will be misses.
There are a few more individual Logicalist stories. For example, the character Olga being frustrated over not being able to fight because he doesn’t have a partner. But at some point they have to move aside for the main story arc.
The main story arc deals with what is essentially the immigration crisis of Foreigners from Tetraheaven coming to Earth. It sets up the conflict well, but then does nothing with it.
Olga, the Logicalist without a partner, is approached by a Foreigner with an offer. The Foreigner says he wants to create a world where Foreigners and humans can live alongside each other, and bring all the exiled Foreigners to Earth. But to do this, he says he needs Olga’s help, and the elimination of the ALCA.Damn. That is a real, heavy political issue, and one that isn’t lost on a contemporary audience. And Luck & Logic puts itself in the perfect position to make this statement. One of the antagonists is a refugee whose exact motives are unknown, and the other is a guy who we know has the best intentions; Olga is never shown to have a malicious bone in his body. The show could go all-out with the conflict here, while remaining nuanced and empathetic. But it doesn’t.
After less than an episode, the show manages to write out Olga’s entire personality and just make him this generic evil villain who actually smiles at the prospect of causing his friends pain. It made what may have been its most relatable character, into someone who probably gets off on strangling puppies. Without him to represent the conflict, the whole thing ends up being left unresolved, and the climax is a dull good-versus-evil fight that’s no more interesting to watch than any of the other boring fights in this show.
Everything about Luck & Logic feels like good ideas being covered up by bad implementation. The characters are, for the most part, not bad once you get to know them, but the show doesn’t bother giving you time to know them. The designs are great. The animation would probably be solid if someone had just choreographed a couple fight scenes, and maintained the episode 1 quality. The themes are interesting and smart, but they’re never properly explored. And it all gets bogged down by the ridiculous Tetraheaven lore and dumb sounding “Logic” terminology. Even the way a character expresses distress is, “This is not my Logic.”
This is like a by-the-numbers shounen anime, created by people who can’t count. Good elements are there, but thre’s no sense or order to their presentation, and because of that Luck & Logic is just bad.
Don’t Lose Your Way