I didn’t expect to like Space Patrol Luluco all that much.
While it’s sacrilege to say this in front of the Studio Trigger faithful, I couldn’t really get into the antics of Inferno Cop. Studio founder and former Gainax star Hiroyuki Imaishi’s latest short, Sex and Violence with Machspeed did not interest me at all. I enjoyed Kill la Kill and, more recently, Kiznaiver, but neither of them are lasting favorites for me personally.
Until Luluco, the only Trigger properties that I truly loved were this short films of Little Witch Academia.
Space Patrol Luluco will likely be written off by many as a fanservice series only. An entire story arc is dedicated to visiting different worlds of Studio Trigger properties — Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and Sex and Violence with Machspeed — and references to other Trigger properties come fast and furious. Even Kiznaiver, which was airing at the same time, gets a visual nod, and Space Patrol Luluco ends with the titular Luluco’s reveal as “Trigger-chan,” one of the studio’s latest mascots.
Yet no other property has so succinctly captured a young girl’s adolescence like Space Patrol Luluco. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to having a series that’s one giant FLCL Eri Ninamori episode. Despite a rocky stretch of two to three episodes in the middle of its run, the series perfectly portrayed the intensity and frivolity of Luluco’s first love — and first heartbreak, and first relationship.
All she wants to be at the start of the series is a normal girl — a sentiment near and dear to most junior high school girls’ hearts. She crushes on a good-looking guy named Alpha Omega Nova, befriends her shrewd classmate Midori, and later feels betrayed when said guy doesn’t return her feelings, dying as a result. It takes a pep talk from Inferno Cop while in hell — this is still an Imaishi series after all — for her to realize that the true importance of her first love is hers and hers alone, even if it’s ultimately fruitless.
When Luluco dares to be honest with her feelings towards Nova, that’s when they’re able to have a relationship — before he’s fired into a black hole, of course. A simple lesson, but no less impactful for its simplicity, especially with the ridiculous visual trappings that accompany Luluco and Nova’s confession sequence. At the end of the series, Luluco is healthy and happy, fully accepting of her own weirdness having crossed the invisible line called adolescence. As her space pirate mother Lalaco says, “If you ask me, only after one dies and comes back to life do they become a normal person!”