Konata is one of my favorite characters ever.
I like Lucky Star, as silly and pointless as it is, and watch it over and over, possibly because it’s silly and pointless, and Konata is a big reason that I like it. Now, why is that? Do you think we can unscrew the inscrutable here? Let’s start to pull it apart and see what sticks.
I’m not sure the old Brains-Looks-Personality thing is going to get at the heart of it, but I can tell you right off the top she has a lot of the same structure as Spike Spiegel: she has strengths and weaknesses in every element, and that gives her depth and makes her unpredictable. Which will prevail at any given moment? Brains? Looks? Personality? Strength? Weakness?
Well, since there’s no plot and therefore no success or failure, her weaknesses come out as often as her strengths. And since that’s atypical, it can be really funny.
For instance, Konata’s personality. She’s friendly, witty, clever. It’s easy to like her
That’s our babe: Konata Izumi
Her laziness is largely confined to school, of course. She never actually manages to do her homework, so she’s constantly copying from Miyuki and Kagami. Outside of school she has boundless energy and enthusiasm, particularly in her devotion to anime and manga. Watch her at her job in the cosplay café: She acts! She sings! She dances! She plays the lead!
Brains-wise we see the same sort of thing. Think for school? Oh, hell no! Fie on that, I say, fie! But when it comes to attending Comiket, she plans her invasion the way Eisenhower planned D-Day, comes totally prepared not only for herself but also her troopers Tsukasa and Kagami.
More importantly, her brains make her a good observer of the human condition. She knows her dad’s a pervert. She knows her teacher’s a flake and her cousin is a lousy cop, knows her friends are anime archetypes. And she tells us these things, to let us in on the joke.
Physically, of course, she’s in the same position. She really is a good athlete, wins the races in the school games, dances up a storm playing the lead (Haruhi Suzumiya, who is a pretty good athlete, too) in her cosplay shows. She’s cute – they’re all cute – and she has some of the greatest hair in the history of a medium noted for great hair.
But she’s tiny. She stopped growing in Junior High, still fits into her Junior High bathing suit. She comes out of her annual school physical and thinks, her inner voice laden with sadness, “I’m still short.”
Part of the trick of Konata is that you don’t really know what’s going on with her, specifically in terms of meta, or self-reference.
I said sometime ago that Utena Tenjou had a lot of Xena, Warrior Princess, in her DNA. Konata Izumi has a lot of Bugs Bunny in her DNA. The only real question is how much.
You can see it throughout the series. The other characters – it’s most often Kagami since Tsukasa and Miyuki are just too easy as targets – do something, and Konata turns toward the camera to make an aside. Kagami: What a waste of time. We went to the beach and no boys tried to pick us up. Konata: Ah, so you wanted a boy to pick you up. Kagami: (*gasp*)
It’s just like Bugs watching Elmer Fudd doing something utterly futile. Bugs leans against a tree, gnaws on a carrot. He looks straight at the audience and says, “Whadda maroon.”
Konata comments on the other characters – and herself, to be fair – in exactly the same way except for one thing: when she turns toward the camera her eyes are hooded, and you can’t tell if she’s looking at the audience or just looking aside. Does she know we’re out there? Maybe yes, maybe no.
When she jokes about “servicing” her fans with shots of herself in her bathing suit, you really get the impression she knows; she’s just too smart to just tell us so directly. Got to keep the people guessing!
I like Lucky Star a lot. I think the child star turned commentator Akira Kogami is hysterically funny. In the dubbed version (I prefer dubs) I like the interplay of Wendee Lee as Konata and Kari Wahlgren as Kagami. I like the gag-oriented format its original four-panel strip manga incarnation forces on it.
And I think Konata Izumi is a very cleverly created character. By raising questions about her and dodging the answers, the creators put creative tension into a series that has no plot.
I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks.