Space Patrol Luluco – 13 (fin)

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Not to be outdone by the second to last episode, Luluco’s finale pulls a surprisingly emotional twist before unleashing the series’ best animated fight scene.

Nova is almost immediately destroyed by a micro-blackhole that the Blackholien planted in his head, just in case of emergencies. And while Luluco ultimately gets to say good bye towards the end of the fight, and they both commit to seeing each other again, some day, in some dimension, The immediate emotional damage to Luluco is handled very. Extra credit well for such a goofey 7 minute format show.

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As is always the case, the episodes visuals are packed with meaning. The bullet Luluco and Nova fire when combined is wrapped with the film strips of their memories together, for example.

Another side detail that caught my attention was Luluco’s father, who encourages Luluco to ‘hunt Nova down to the ends of the universe and arrest him again’ because that’s what he’d do… and probably did over Lalaco.

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After Blackholien is defeated, episode 13 treats us to an Epilog: Midori is promoted to Chief, the Chief is promoted to commander in chief, Luluco’s dad is off chasing Lalaco, and Luluco has become ‘Lady Trigger’ a special dimension hopping space patrol agent who’s riding an upside down gun motorcycle.

It’s a neat and tidy wrap up for the show and pleasantly ambiguous about time and greater purpose. Luluco looks older (or sexied up at least) and even though she has a greater quest, the caveat that she can hop dimensions (and is now the Trigger of the universe), she could just as likely become a new mascot for Trigger, as get a sequel.

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Verdict: Space Patrol Luluco had some wonderful highs, often relying on a batshit crazy mix of heart warming music, innocent emotions, incomprehensible action and inside brand-jokes. It also lagged a bit in the middle and, despite the thrill of the best 7 minute segments, there was very little room to build rounded characters and a strong attachment.

At the end of the day, Luluco lives in the shadow of Kill La Kill, FLCL, and TTGL. Absolutely worth your time, possibly an interesting extension of its studio’s brand, but its devotion to the absurd and packed micro episodes holds it back from developing the lived in world — a mad world many viewers would fantasize living in — presented by the greats.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 12

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Nearing the finale, Luluco wastes no time reassembling its cast and bringing out the mega showdown: Lalaco immediately shows up to bail everyone out of jail, re-unites Luluco’s father’s body and brain, and allows Luluco to ‘doc’ with the pirate ship.

Then an over the top space battle ensues and it’s wonderful.

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Nova being empty and Luluco’s love not being fulfilled is the second bit of tidying up we get and it too is as over the top as ever. Luluco literally fills Nova up with her ‘stupid middle school love’ until he can finally feal emotions. His heart blossoms, creating it’s own blue love jem, which combines with Luluco’s to create ‘true mutual first love,’ the most poerful in the universe.

Thus united, the two stand off against Blackholien for the final final show down.

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Verdict: the amount of detail, texture and novelty packed into this episode’s visuals is mind bending. It works well, but there’s so much you can digest, you may feel the urge to rewatch it a few times without subtitles, and to pause a few frames for closer inspection.

In fact, that shiny flashy constant distraction benefits the plot overall, because the plot itself is an eye-rollingly simple affair of Girl Meets Boy, Love wins the Day. This is far from a criticism, obviously. Simple can be wondrous when the visuals and timing are this masterfully crafted.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 11

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Dead Luluco comes into being in a Hell-scape version of Ogikubo, where she’s alone until another Flaming Skull space patrol officer welcomes to eat fake crab meat skewers by the fire.

They chat about her predicament and, eventually, the immortality of the intangible. The skull guy says he’s died many times but has always come back for justice. Realizing that Nova never actually lied to her, Luluco regains heart and decides she has to confess (and arrest) Nova before it’s her time.

Then she returns and demolishes her own funeral. Roll credits…

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Verdict: while this was a bit predictable, get the hero back on her feet story, it was handled with Space Patrol’s typical flair for the bizarre. The flaming Skull guy goes totally unexplained and his ‘eating’ animation is made so blatantly nonexistent that it reads as a joke.

If the line “I’m going to confess to him. Then I’m going to arrest him for shoplifting my love.” gives you a smile, all the rest is just gravy.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 10

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Luluco is in bliss: she’s finally found Ogakubo, she’s being rewarded by Space Patrol Central HQ, and Nova seems as warm as he always is… right until he reaches into her chest and removes the crystal that’s been growing there and she dies.

It was all a trap by the Blackholeians, who are considered the source of all evil in the universe. They’ve taken over HQ… for reasons not entirely clear except that, at the height of any civilization’s technological discovery, a place like Ogakubo is created as an ideal cultural hub.

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The hub itself is worthless, except it has a chance to foster a normal girl who’s first love is perfect. Perfect, in that it is the most worthless thing in the universe, and worthlessness is the most valuable thing to the Blackholeians.

“The first love of a stupid middle schooler is a boy who’s nothing but his looks. This is the pinnacle of worthlessness!”

All of this is explained to Midori via print outs and exposition. The chief is there, but Midori is really the only character interested or, at least, antagonistic to the antagonist. Then everyone is locked in a cell and they hold a funeral for Luluco.

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Verdict: it was hilarious watching a villain flat out say all youth romance is crap, and give a ton of visual examples of why it produces nothing of value. It was also a great development to reveal Nova is not evil or good, just purely empty of everything.

There were good visuals, an interesting narrative turn, and the narrative was funny by poking fun at the characters and at life and conventions of story telling too. Solid solid and only falls short due to a lack of action… which wouldn’t have been possible within the play length of a single short format episode.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 09

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Luluco visists a private investigator on a limited color pallet planet. She’s half heartedly asking about Ogikubo but really, she’s there to away from Nova. She can’t decide if he like her or not?

Luluco doesn’t have much time to ponder, because the PI office is abruptly attacked by a mob boss and a car chase/mass brawl ensues. In the end, Nova comes to rescue her and take her to the real Ogikubo.

Roll credits…

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This was, by far, the worst episode of Space Patrol to date. I have no idea what show was being referenced and, even if I did, the whole battle between the Don and the PI was so truncated that there was no time to build any sort of connection with anyone. It was just weird and epileptic action.

It could actually have worked as a manga — the styling is pretty cool and some of the snarky humor would have had room to breath — but it really doesn’t work as an animation. It’s too hard to follow and not enough is actually going on, even if you pause the action and inspect everything on your own time.

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The verdict: the narrative was all over the place, the action was so energetic I had to keep pausing to re-read dialog, but the dialog wasn’t interesting in anyway. Then the second half reveal of space patrol command and probably next season’s villain just came out of nowhere.

Two acts in 7 minutes devoted to not telling a coherent story or presenting our characters in a new or interesting way is not worth your time. Not even in short format anime.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 08

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Luluco faces a death sentence this week and there’s nothing she can do about it. Facing her sudden mortality, she asks Nova-kun to be her first and last kiss, which he agrees somewhat dismissively as ‘fine either way.’

It’s a wonderful kiss ending on Luluco’s final second of life and she falls to the ground. Except it’s all been a mistake. She will certainly die and nothing can be done about it, except she has another 60 years to live!

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This week’s 3.7 star equivalent to Ogikubo is Magic Planet and home to the sorcerer’s stone, a magic school and a possibly only a single witch. Luluco is there alone with Nova and quickly becomes nervous that the witches would be man crazy but her haste to get to the source of the Ogikubo signal only leads her to being stuffed with magic death mushrooms.

To be clear, watching Luluco’s gun barrel/anus stuffed with mushrooms was genuinely funny, and I found the lack of growth in her relationship with Nova despite the kiss and high drama charming, but this was not a great episode. The setting was basically empty except for the witch, and her only purpose is to reference Little Witch Academia.… and I don’t remember that show at all.

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This is a hard one to rate. The story was very small, the pacing felt dragged despite the 7 minute run time, and there wasn’t any action or much over the top stuff to be distracted by.

But the kiss scene was great and the mushroom stuffing was worth a chuckle. If I could remember what Magic Show it was referencing, I’m sure I’d appreciate it slightly more… however, compared to last week’s vaguely Kill La Kill inspired piece, which was interesting even without the obvious references, this one didn’t. Hrm…

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Space Patrol Luluco – 07

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This week’s Luluco lurched us into the next arc and, to be honest, the dialog was so dense and the goings on so going all over the place, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

After a recap, team Space Patrol finds themselves in orbit of a thread planet that is clearly making more references to Kill La Kill but it’s also apparently auctioning Ogikubo. So the team investigates and quickly finds the 3.5 star rating accurate replica of Ogikuba is really a front for a space criminal to steal everyone’s life energy.

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The hook of the censored out criminals dastardly plan is that everyone looped by his threads sees him as their greatest desire. Luluco sees him as Nova, which is how we see him, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to arrest him for some kind of space fraud.

Fortunately, the chief’s fire lights the criminal on fire — and the planet on fire — and everyone escapes. Nova muses that the criminal was possibly just lonely but Luluco isn’t so sure.

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Roll Credits…

Bits of this episode were funny — like the villain starting to talk about only being defeatable by scissors but immediately catching fire and all the use of on screen text –but in all honesty, the abruptness of the story didn’t grip me. Too much time was dedicated to the recap and too little to the villain. And because he’s clearly a throw away, it wasn’t as satisfying as previous abrupt fights.

It was good, and if I have a chance to watch it again (probably a few times) I’m sure I will appreciate it more but, for what it was, 3rd season’s opener stumbled over the line.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 06

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Luluco’s free-spirited, proudly non-normal mom Lalako Godspeed steals both Luluco’s dad’s frozen body and the e-auction is on for the illicit sale of her home Ogikubo. Now just a pile of bones but still full of spirit, the director general has his secretary microwave and reanimate the slab Keiji’s brain they still have

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Bodyless but still in good shape mind-wise, Keiji leads the others on a mission to shoplift back the shoplifted town from his wife, while making a personal appeal for her to return to normality.

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Lalako won’t hear of it, but before she can ship Ogikubo to the winning bidder via wormhole, Midori uses her modded Blackhole app to pluck Lalako’s ship with her gigantified hand. A struggle ensues, and the ship with Luluco and the others ends up in some distant galaxy/dimension. END OF SEASON 2.

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Space Patrol Luluco does what all good Gainax pieces, but particularly Gurren Lagann, excelled at: playing with leaps in scale at a breakneck pace. At first, Lalako’s ship seem’s massive and imposing, as it’s able to grab the highest skyscraper and pull Ogikubo up from its roots.

Then, all of a sudden, the town folds up into a normal brown cardboard box for shipping, and then Midori’s hand dwarfs the ship and the shipping wormhole. It all brought me back to thinking about the classic National Geographic map of the known universe. No matter how huge you think things are out there, they just get huger and huger!

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This episode-let kept up the fever pace of the last one, packed with action, laughs, imaginative twists, goofy justice speeches and blink-and-you-miss ’em visual gags. Suffice it so say, Luluco’s life isn’t going to be normal for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, there’s enough heart present for me to hope for a day when Luluco and her irascible mom can reconcile, even if becoming a family with her dad is out of the question. Not to mention if she’ll ever be able to restore her dad and her hometown, get back to Earth, and reach that dreamy romantic ideal of the breathy, ethereal end credits. We’ll find out “next season…”

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Space Patrol Luluco – 05

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Luluco’s Sexy Space Pirate Mom quickly gets up to no good and Space Patrol is unable to stop her. Justice guns have no effect and even the chief, who takes this opportunity to transform, is completely blown away.

Only Alpha Omega Nova shows limited ability to match her, and only then by stopping a vicious disciplinary punch aimed at Luluco’s head. As the entire town is dragged away by the Pirate Spaceship, Luluco holds a slice of her father’s frozen skull and laments that he was probably the only one who could stop this.

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This week was almost exclusively action sprinkled lightly with humor. As always, it’s over the top and full of nods to Trigger/Gainax legacy. (Luluco’s mom is clearly wearing a cape of Life Threads from Kill La Kill.) The action is stylish and the pacing all works well enough, though probably not without the greater string of episodes around it.

Midori’s reaction to the slice of Luluco’s dad’s brain is probably the humor highlight, although it’s pretty funny that the Pirates are trying to auction off the town online to make a quick buck.

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In short, its more of the same, and more of the same is good because it’s a rare breed of blinding action that’s so masterfully crafted you can still understand what’s going on.

And extra points must be awarded for making the most over-the-top sexy mom villain of the season! Hurray MILFs!

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Space Patrol Luluco – 04

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A massive meteor is heading for town and Luluco’s desire for Alpha Omega Nova’s undivided romantic attention must be put on hold. The chief has a plan to stop the meteor and it’s going to take all three Space Patrolers to pull it off…

because they will effectively be the booster rockets of their own spaceship and the weapon to destroy the meteor!

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Midori is in the first stage to be ejected, followed by AON, leaving Luluco alone to destroy the meteor and somehow get back from space. All does not go entirely to plan, if a plan actually exists.

However, Luluco is eventually successful… only to learn her Space Mom (and possibly a space ship) were inside.

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SPL is a rapid fire constant stream of madness kind of show. So the opening, which lingered on Luluco’s romantic longings for AON, had me nervous. Fortunately, the head-sirens come out and quickly thrust the cast into an FLCL style “have to read it twice to get it” storm of delicious nonsense.

Little details like the English speaking mission control guy saying “the current episodes storyboard is under production without a final script” before simply repeating the Japanese mission control guy’s lines in english are the cornerstone of this type of humor.

The chief mumbling do this because something something with a nonsensical explanation behind him on a white board, pixel art technical animations of the rocket stages, and the claw-game style controls Luluco must use to drop a bomb on the asteroid… this episode was densely packed with quirky details.

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I have no idea where SPL is going. I’m not sure what if it’s actively parodying other Gainax shows like DieBuster or if the style just makes it look that way. I don’t know if the teen romance with an impotent triangle is all that interesting.

But I do know to I love this show for its stylish art and sense for humor.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 03

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Alpha Omega Nova and Luluco head to her school, Space Middle School, to root out an organized crime ring involving a “quasi-legal” app called Blackhole being distributed by an individual named “Save-the-World,” who turns out to be Luluco’s blue/green-skinned classmate Midori. Absurdity ensues!

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The fact that Midori was giving Luluco the hard sell—and succeeding—kinda gave away the fact that she was the mastermind Space Patrol was after. But with a gang of roughs at her disposal, Midori won’t go down without a fight!

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Nova’s all too happy to shoot the shit out of Midori, but Luluco wants to resolve things without discharging weapons. Her olive branch is smacked out of her hand when Midori captures Nova and fires him at her. Luluco thus has no choice but to transform into a gun and shoot, capturing Midori, but also destroying part of the school.

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Luluco isn’t sure what to do in the future, but the freed Nova counsels her to “stay wonderful”…which probably means “keep transforming into a gun and shooting perps into submission.” After our lovely credits, Midori convinces the somewhat easily swayed Over Justice to forgive her crimes and recruit her into he Patrol.

Gainax/Trigger fans will probably recognize Midori’s distinctive seiyu as Shintani Mayumi, who also voiced Nonon in Kill la Kill and Haruko in FLCL. With the addition of Midori, Space Patrol Luluco continues to be a super-concentrated, zany, quick-firing, unpredictably delicious lark.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 02

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Picking up right where we left off, Luluco is still in Justice Gun-mode, midterm exams are still being interrupted and the alien teacher doesn’t seem to have a care in the world.

Then a meteor hits, destroying another corner of the room, and transfer student Alpha Omega Nova is introduced. He is also part of Space Patrol and accompanies Luluco on her return to headquarters.

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Luluco and Aon exposition us some context on their walk: Japan was forced to sell the town to alien developers because it was bankrupt as a nation (but got very little from the sale). We also learn Luluco can’t recognize aliens at a glance, which Aon speculates to mean she can see something deeper.

At headquarters, Aon transforms into a much cooler gun form and interrogates the student prisoner, Chief flaming skull makes Aon and Luluco partners, and Luluco has what can only be described as a galactic climax…

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Luluco’s canon orgasm was fantastic. Aon casually executing the student prisoner after the interrogation was fantastic. Chief flaming skull, who is permanently in ‘shocker’ pose was fantastic. However, because episode 2 focused on story and love interest building, there was a lot less humor in general.

Based on the first episode, I had expected SPL to be a string of semi-connected nonsequiturs, not a continuous storyline. While minis as ‘slices of a single episode’ is usually disappointing because a bigger budget may have given us more fun to see, what we have is still brilliantly insane.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 01 (First Impressions)

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Luluco is an normal high school girl with just below average grades. She lives with her dad in a Ogikubo, earth’s only town reserved for extraterrestrials. Her life is anything but normal.

At 7 minutes, UPL wastes no time getting to its mad cap antics: Luluco’s father quickly gets in trouble, which quickly gets Luluco drafted into the Space Police force for use as an undercover agent at her mostly ET populated high school.

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This is Panty & Stocking/Dead Leaves-style animation but with half the budget. It’s over the top, delightfully quirky and unpredictable.

And its cheapness is embraced by the writing and dialog. Jokes like Luluco being transformed into a space gun are punchy, well timed and totally unexpected.

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Verdict: Trigger (with SANZIGEN) has pulled off something very special with UPL. It’s a rare case where visual styling and charm overcome the limits of cheap animation. It’s FLCL but pocket sized and I can think of nothing more deserving of your time!

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