We now have the latest splattering of TV short insanity from Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Kill la Kill) known as Space Patrol Luluco.
Every so often, though very rarely, a movie or TV series will pop up that feels like the writers just wanted to do something really, really cool. Those moments of “Hey, let’s do this because why not?! It’ll be awesome!” Obviously these shows are very hard to come by since their purpose often caters to a more niche audience and they have even less of a chance to make their money back. Of course, what would anime be if not a place where every niche appeal can be explored to your heart’s content?
In the town of Ogikubo, a middle-school girl named Luluco is just trying to live a normal life.
However, after a freak accident freezes her father solid, she winds up taking his place at the local Space Patrol precinct. In her new line of work, Luluco encounters bizarre aliens, falls in love with her coworker, Alpha Omega Nova, and goes on a journey to rescue her city while trying her best to get closer to her new crush.
If you’ve ever seen anything that Imaishi has had his hands on, then you pretty much know exactly what you’re in for with Luluco. His comedic style is one that is self aware to the point of obliterating typical narrative with its own self indulgence, while simultaneously making his plots feel grandiose and more than a disposable comedy. This mixture of off-the-wall insanity and immense hype-building has been a hallmark of Imaishi’s style ever since his short film Dead Leaves, and that style is at its absolute most potent and self aware in Luluco. Some may call it “random,” but knowing Imaishi’s legacy, there’s absolutely nothing random about anything he does, and that holds true in this series.
However, I do need to point out that there is some “required reading” that should be watched before trying out Luluco.
For you see, Luluco is not just a bizarro comedy that purposefully breaks more narrative rules than it follows, but is also a multi-crossover of several Studio Trigger properties. Entire episodes are dedicated to exploring the worlds of Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED, and Inferno Cop; and you can even spot references to other works Imashi was involved with in his Gainax years. Simply put, this is Imaishi and Studio Trigger simply doing something really, really fun that they know their fans would love, and, for me, it panned out beautifully.
Luluco herself is, surprisingly, very simple to understand. Her desire to live a normal life while being thrown into the shenanigans of the Space Patrol forces her to come to terms with whether being normal is even an option, especially when her lust for Nova rouses her to do some pretty insane stuff. Nova himself remains very aloof throughout the series, almost mocking the kuudere character archetype, yet also has this strange aura around him that makes him stand out, at least from Luluco’s perspective. The rest of the cast also carries their own weight in cuckoo characteristics that will test just how far this show will go to throw you off.
The animation by Studio Trigger feels like a dumbed-down version of the Kill la Kill aesthetic.
The blocky, thickly-outlined artwork and simplified character designs reminiscent of Panty & Stocking create a very cartoony feel. Despite that, the overblown and seizure-inducing color palette and particle design blares through with creative zeal, though the battles themselves sometimes have too much going on and keeping track of movement is rather difficult. While I do understand how the extremely simplistic, seemingly “low-budget” feel can turn people off, the cohesiveness of the style is solid enough to carry the show forward.
As for the soundtrack, Kenichiro Suehiro delivers exactly what each moment needs.
The softer, slice of life-esque scenes are often accompanied by a music box; the bigger moments are supported by an immense hype build, and the Space Patrol theme gives the show a more cool and jazzy feeling. However, my favorite track is definitely Nova’s theme, which is simply an eerie, yet heavenly series of choir chords. There is no dub to speak of and probably never will be, but the Japanese voice actors all give the hammiest and most over-the-top performances they can to match the tone of the story.
Space Patrol Luluco is not a masterpiece by any means, and it was never trying to be.
This is a series specifically designed for fans of Studio Trigger and Hiroyuki Imaishi, of which I definitely am. If you find Trigger’s style and sense of humor to be off-putting, this probably isn’t the series for you. But if you’re enjoying the wave of insanity and narrative creativity that they’ve been flooding the market with lately, then Luluco is right up your alley. The series is also a TV short, with each episode being eight minutes long, meaning that it’ll take you less than two hours to blaze through the whole series, and I highly recommend watching it this way.
Space Patrol Luluco is available for streaming on Crunchyroll, but it unavailable for physical distribution.
Final Score: 8/10