Studio Trigger is one of the more hyped animation studios of recent years. This due to two people. Hiroyuki Imaishi & Masahiko Ohtsuka.
Both are former directors at Studio Gainax who directed both Gurren Lagan and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. But somewhere in 2011 both Imaishi and Othsuka went off to create their own studio in 2011, aptly named Studio Trigger.
And this duo has created some very interesting and energetic animation series over the past years. This includes the crowdfunded Little Witch Academia, Inferno Cop en Kill La Kill.
And if there's anything that is common in all of Imaishi's and Ohtsuka's projects (both while they were at Gainax and now in Studio Trigger) is that they tend to apply the rule of cool a lot. In short this means: Distract the viewer with flashy visuals and spectacles to make sure they don't notice the problems underneath.
Hold your horses. I'm not saying that every Trigger project has problems. For example, you won't hear me say a bad thing about Little Witch Academia. But some Trigger anime do. Space Patrol Luluco does end on the side where the story is kept to a "bare minimum". Instead, we get an ode to Studio Trigger itself.
How and why? Let's review and find out.
V Reviews - Space PatroL LuLuco
Ultra Super Pictures (the joint holding company created by studios Trigger, Sanzigen and Ordet) announced in 2015 that it would be producing a 30-minute anime block with short anime on several TV channels for an entire year (this on AT-X, Tokyo MX and BS11). They gave several animation studios the opportunity to produce short TV-series to fill up this 30-minute time-slot and experiment away with it.
The most notable production that came from this one year's worth of short anime is probably Space Patrol Luluco, by Studio Trigger.
Luluco was created both to fill the final season of this block, as well to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Studio Trigger! And with that anniversary Trigger thus wanted to create a new IP which celebrated their previous works, as well as creating a new original work which focuses on a "intergalactic first love story!"
The work is thus an anime-original created by Imaishi himself and further supported by Trigger/Gainax regulars (like Akira Amemiya, Hiromi Wakabayashi and others).
Luluco is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in the "Solar System Frontier Space Colonization Zone Ogikubo" (fyi: Ogikubo is an actual area in Tokyo). She lives here together with her father who works for the zone's Space Patrol division.
While Luluco herself would love to live a normal life, everything is changed when her father incidentally freezes himself due to eating a freezing pill by mistake (*facepalm*).
Luluco goes to her father's workplace (the Space Patrol division) in order to get some help, but instead gets herself enrolled in the division to pay for the unfreezing of her father (with a hilarious nod to Inferno Cop in the process).
The next moment at school, her body reacts when a fellow student performs the "illegal act" of cheating. It starts off with a warning signal and then she completely transforms. And no, this ain't no regular "magic girl" transformation. This is Trigger's way of transforming.
From then on, Luluco's must protect Ogikubo from space criminal, together with the "mysterious alien exchange student" AΩ Nova (pronounced "Alpha Omega Nova"), as well as their villainous classmate turned hero Midori.
It's kind of pointless to list up all the characters, since most of them aren't really well developed. And talking about some characters is even spoiling the story.So I'll leave just a group picture instead!
Luluco is the single one character who gets any character development, since the show revolves around her. She's the young teenage girl who is in love with the mysterious AlphaOmega Nova and gets dragged into all this mess by Director-General OverJustice.
Animation & Sound
It's hard to criticize the animation of a Trigger Project. You can instantly recognize the Trigger look-and-feel from any anime you watch.
This is a short anime, so animation budget is more limited and production time more constrained. But if you compare it to some of Trigger's other short animated series (not to mention other short anime in general), this is REALLY well animated. I've seen a lot worse.
Foreground characters get the focus, background characters are often reduced to "animated" sketches (though I have to admit: with amazing character designs). The action scenes get lots of detailed and fluent animation, while other scenes are reduced to the bare minimum "animation" required to be called an anime.
In short: if it's not an important scene, it either doesn't exist or is reduced to very rough animation. If it's an important scene, it becomes a real spectacle to behold.
Also on a side-note: Trigger did the animation for both LuLuco and Kiznaiver at the same time. Lots of animation to be done in a short time.
On sound, I can be very short. The sound overall is quite good for a short show. I especially like the opening theme by Do Heijitsu ("Cry Max"). Not much else to be said.
Tons of References!
This was a celebration anime, so there are TONS of references to previous trigger works: both known and unknown.
First: the direct cameo's: There's Inferno Cop, a few characters from Little Witch Academia and even the unfindable "Sex & Violence with Machspeed" (seriously, there was like one showing ever, no official release).
Then there's characters with obvious multiple influences. OverJustice is a character that mixes both Inferno Cop (again), but with Kamina's glasses (Guren Lagann) and an attack that's obviously Guren Lagann-based.
Lalaco (Luluco's mom) is a pirate (FLCL), acts like Kamina (Guren Lagann) and has the Kill La Kill clothing style and thread theme going for her. And Keiji (Luluco's father) looks like he came from some old Gainax anime for some reason (lots of FLCL vibe I'm getting form him, but I can't pinpoint it exactly).
And I could go on for a while here. There's just SO many references. If you want a full list of EVERY reference made, check out the following video by Mitchell Ross:
Personal Enjoyment and conclusion
While I did enjoy watching this anime, this is a pure love letter to anything Trigger and the duo Imaishi-Ohtsuka in general (it's almost like an Abridged series). However, if you take the TONS of references away from this anime... there's almost nothing left (which is kind of normal, since it's a celebratory anime).
But that also means that if you haven't seen much of Imaishi and Othsuka's works, you will probably not get most of the references made and just stare blankly at the screen, wondering what is happening.
For example: I felt urged to watch Inferno Cop shortly after Luluco because I noticed I was missing some references, only to then realize where the handcuff joke from episode 1 came from!
So what rating do I give this short anime? A 7/10. It's okay and I definitely enjoyed it (the visuals are still great). but since I haven't watched every Trigger anime yet, a lot of references went over my head. I also felt that this anime didn't really have rewatch potential (unless you want to delve back into the anime to find out all references - again: watch the previously mentioned YouTube video instead).
Recommendation: If you're a fan of Studio Trigger, or of the works of the duo Imaishi-Othsuka, you should DEFINITELY give this short anime a watch. You'll enjoy every minute of it.
However, if you're not that familiar with Studio Trigger's works, or you just don't like their anime; then give this one a big pass. You will miss most references and will not enjoy what is happening on screen.
That's it from me now.
Until next time, V out.