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Title: Space Patrol Luluco (Uchū Patorōru LuLuko)
Writer/Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi                  Studio: Trigger
Format: Anime (13 short episodes)                 Genre: Comedy, Action, Romance

Space Patrol Luluco review

I’m not really sure the point of reviewing Space Patrol Luluco, since, to enjoy it, you have to already be the type of person who knew about it months in advance, watched it all the minute the episodes became available, and read the manga already. In other words, it’s for the Gainax fans.

The parable of Gainax is one of the first you learn in Otaku Kindergarten. The story of true fans made creators, who expressed how much they loved anime, sci-fi, and fantasy in everything they made. And unlike most stories picked up by the enthusiast culture and made inspirational, Gainax’s history is pretty true. In short, Gainax was built on good content rife with fanservice. The good kind of fanservice. And when Trigger was formed by former Gainax employees, fans wanted more of that.

Well, with Luluco we got that. In fact, while the series is caulk full of anime references from everything from Full Metal Alchemist to Princess Knight, barely an episode goes by without referencing a Gainax or Trigger anime specifically, especially towards the end when we get these gems.

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Space Patrol Luluco review

Also this nice jab at SAO.

The series is composed of fast-paced seven minute episodes that blend referential comedy and trope lampshading into dense but simple story and exciting action. The first five episodes tell us this:

Luluco is a girl who wants a normal life, but can’t have one because she lives in a weird city populated mostly by abnormal aliens. Also, her dad is part of the Space Patrol, but he got frozen while eating breakfast, so now she must join the Space Patrol which makes life even less normal, but it’s okay because a hot guy named Nova is also on the Space Patrol, and Luluco likes him. Together they discover their classmate, Midori, is illegally distributing a black hole smartphone app, but Midori apologises and also joins the Space Patrol so she can have a gun. Then Luluco’s mother, the space pirate, Lalaco, shows up and steals the city.

The whole thing is like one of Mako’s speeches from Kill la Kill, except it’s actually funny.

But, if you know how to follow it, it all makes perfect sense. And how do you follow it? You say, “Eh, I know my anime, so I know what’s happening.” Of course, that only works if you do know your anime. If you do, the series is smooth sailing. If you don’t, I hope you brought a life jacket.Space Patrol Luluco review

The plot is mostly a series of space justice enforcement non-sense while Luluco continues to develop her feelings towards Nova-kun. That’s right, this is a romance story about a middle-school girl’s first crush.

Most of the characters just act as pieces of the set, for all the hyperactive storylines and jokes to bounce off of. You have Over Justice who is always behind his desk, telling others how to enforce justice. Nova-kun, who, with some special exception, is a bland and empty, but smooth and attractive middle-school boy for Luluco to be ignored by. Luluco’s father is frozen for most of the series. Really, the only characters to talk about are Luluco herself, and Midori.

Luluco just wants her normal life, perhaps with the spice of a slightly abnormal, good looking guy. In fact, after Nova shows up, Luluco’s focus moves further from normal, and closer to him. She accepts the abnormal as normal. She grows up.

When you’re young, you worry too much about what’s “normal”, even if you, like Luluco, are so engulfed in the abnormal that you have no basis for normal. Realizing that what’s been around you the whole time is the closest things actually get to a “normal” is part of a growing up. That’s what Luluco does.

Midori is less interesting overall. I feel like at some point in planning an episode was planned for Midori, just to get into the depth of her transformation from villain to Space Patrol member, but it never made it in. As a result, she’s a real character, but an under developed one. You can read into her motives and desires, and see things from her point of view.

And despite the lack of major development, she isn’t a wasted character. She has a lot of charm, a lot like Haruko from Fooly Cooly, which just emanates off her at all times. The fact that they have the same voice actress, Mayumi Shintani, may not be just coincidence. She’s always amusing, and balances out Luluco’s romantic idealism with grimy cynicism.

Space Patrol Luluco review

The animation matches the rest of the show’s zaniness, with a very complex chibi style, quick cuts, and only a passing resemblance to anything real. Character’s movements aren’t fluid, they’re big and jerky (again, like the Mako scenes in Kill la Kill), so the show visually gets what it needs to across in the multitude of expressions and poses characters go through per second. It plays around with other styles, but never goes too far from its unusual comfort zone, and always returns.

Space Patrol Luluco review

And, in true Gainax (and it’s starting to seem Trigger as well) fashion, the bizarre facade covers up a genuinely interesting message. Spoilers ahead.

Space Patrol Luluco review

Hello, Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann. Nice hat.

Towards the end of the series, after Luluco feels like she’s been betrayed and her heart broken, a skeleton space justice officer living in hell (as they do), reminds her that she wasn’t betrayed, she wasn’t lied to, because she never asked the person she felt betrayed her what his intentioned were. She assumed he was on her side, but never actually asked him. She couldn’t have her heart broken, because she never confessed her feelings.

And that’s what Luluco is about. It’s about what confessing your feelings to the one you like really means, from the perspective of a middle-school girl. Before you confess, you can’t truly have your heart broken. No one else can break your heart without you making the first move. It’s up to you to put yourself in that danger. And why would you put yourself there? Because if Luluco never confessed, sure Nova-kun couldn’t lie to her, but he also couldn’t tell her the truth. He couldn’t tell her he likes her too.

Don’t Lose Your Way