Little Busters – 02

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About the best compliment I can pay to the second episode of Little Busters is this: I’m not quite sure why I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Little Busters - 02 - Large 01I’ll be honest – there was quite a bit in this episode that under normal circumstances would make me cringe (a lot of it involving a certain head-tilting moe moe kyun girl).   Setting aside the foreshadowing elements (which were nicely handled) for the moment, the episode basically consisted of a lot of Kamikita and Rin vamping their personal strain of moe and a lot of fairly silly gags.  But somehow, it worked, better than it did in the premiere, certainly – though I’ll be jiggered if I could tell you why.  It just did – for me anyway.  That’s usually the way with shows that rely on this sort of humor and atmospherics.  I can’t say whether I’ll feel the same way next week or next month, but this time around I enjoyed Little Busters a lot.

Little Busters - 02 - Large 03Mind you, given a choice I would prefer it if the series didn’t focus too heavily on Kamikita, as she’s a bit of a load to take in.  Key stories always have a girl like her (or even two) and I’ll give Maeda Jun credit, there are things he does that in lesser hands would be disastrous – and characters like Kamikita are one of them.  There’s a certain unapologetic commitment to the cause that makes his moe characters tolerable, just as his unapologetic commitment to melodrama makes it effective as long as he doesn’t overindulge (which he usually does from time to time).  And even I had to smile at the anteater panties gag, as that was at least a new twist on something that’s been done to death, and Kamikita’s “You…saw…nothing…!” response was pulled off with perfect timing.  Timing is probably one key (sorry) reason why the gags worked better here than last week – the episode was like a boxer that lands quick jabs, then dances back out of range and waits for the opportunity to strike again.

Little Busters - 02 - Large 05We’re sure to get melodrama here, this being Maeda Jun and all, and we certainly see the first signs of it creeping in.  Let me just state for the record that tying messages to a cat’s leg (or even worse, tail) is a cruel thing to do, though it’s a novel way to move the exposition forward.  “There is a secret of this world” is a message that seems as squarely aimed at the VN player as Rin and Riki, but you couldn’t stage a Little Busters anime without inserting the phrase.  There’s very much a VN quality to this episode – I’m assuming the adaptation is extremely faithful thus far – in the introduction of clues, the assignment of tasks and the application of titles (to Masato-kun, anyway).  Normally this spells disaster for an anime, but in LB’s case it’s been pretty effective at drawing the audience into the story.

Little Busters - 02 - Large 06Another potential source of melodrama is surely Riki’s narcolepsy, introduced in concept early in the ep and in practice at the end. Narcolepsy is a misunderstood condition by most, and can actually be a very devastating affliction – and for the life of me, I can’t recall another anime character who’s had it.  It should be very interesting to see a plot contingent on it, and it does add a sort of “moe” quality to Riki’s character too.  Riki is a bit different than most VN leads in that he has some of the qualities often assigned to the heroines – he’s the sort of character other characters decide they want to protect (which takes us literally into moe territory anyway).  We’ve already seen signs of this – Kyousuke is obviously protective of everyone, but Riki especially – and Masato and Rin too seem to see themselves as watching out for him.  The narcolepsy is obviously part of this but not, I suspect, all – and we’re sure to see more development on this front.  We’ve also seen that Rin is a bit more than a typical antisocial tsundere – she’s shy almost to the point of psychosis, especially around other girls.

Little Busters - 02 - Large 08It’s interesting to compare and contrast Little Busters to the other works in the Key portfolio.  Of course all Key series follow a similar trajectory of starting out as slice-of-life stories, then slowly developing into melodramas of varying intensity.  It’s possibly that LB is simply following that same path, but for me, so far, there is a difference in tone.  This show feels more innocent than Clannad or Kanon, and more preoccupied with what might be called a traditional anime focus on wistful youth and the group dynamic than on the boilerplate Key tragedy-to-romance-to-tragedy express train.  Time will tell if that notion has merit, but the most important thing for now is that it’s a good show – most of the gags work, as stupid as they are (Burt & Ernie puppets as baseball mitts being a good example), the kawaii is excessive but effective and the story is experiencing a nice slow build.  For me it’s so far, so good.

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10 comments

  1. E

    I wouldn't say that it's extremely faithful. Here are some differences, as long as I can remember:

    In episode 1, Kyousuke specifically told the onlookers to throw useless items at them, to be used as weapons, the more worthless, the better~

    Lennon got to scratch Kengo several times before Rin stopped the fight.

    Their childhood flashback is shorter in the VN, but I don't mind JC Staff's improvisation at all.

    Kyousuke decided to play baseball on the hallway, instead of a grass plain/court.

    I don't remember Riki getting that cool zapping effects of people's faces when they read the message for the first time.

    Oh, it's too long to list all of them. But overall, I liked this 2nd episode. Kamikita Komari's introduction scene is really well done. Who said that JC Staff shouldn't animate Little Busters? The japanese otaku should have put more faith in people!
    ^_^
    Also, KyoAni wouldn't show panties and thighs. LOL.

  2. L

    Japanese otaku really aren't the arbiters of taste that they like to think of themselves as.

  3. V

    I'm not really liking this much so far. The gags range from weak to mildly funny. Riki is as nondescript an MC as they come. The new character is an airhead with all the blatant moe characteristics complete with an ahoge. Even the BGM is very distracting. It feels like I'm watching a VN instead of an anime.

    This has been the weakest start for a Key title by far.

  4. H

    Honestly with the way things are looking now, I'm seriously worried about how the final arc or Refrain would look like. And somehow, I'm already disappointed lol.

  5. B

    Yeah I have to agree with Vanth, so far this is the weakest start to a Key show that I've seen (Kanon, Kanon 2006, Clannad, After Story, Air, Angel Beats). Now I'm pretty sure this is confirmed for 2 cours… right?… so it can afford a slow start. And since I've never failed to enjoy a Key show by the time the ending credits rolled I'll stick with it until the end. But so far I'm not really enjoying my time with it, although I can't say I'm disliking it either. It's remained firmly in the neutral zone after 2 episodes.

  6. A

    Well, I'm very satisfied with the way things are going now. The biggest differences that I've seen from the VN is the sequence of events. I'm also not sure if they cleaned out the shed in the VN. Rin's first task to find "the secret of the world" involved caterpillars in a tree and that was the last place I stopped playing so I'm not sure about anything beyond that point.

    Ah, and Komari~ She's probably my second favorite girl. A lot of people find her annoying, and I can understand why, but I love her to death. Watching she and Rin interact was adorable. And Kyousuke's "You pass!" was perfect! Rin is my favorite girl though. I can totally relate to her shyness.

    Overall, the tone in Little Busters IS different from other Key works. It's more light-hearted and has more of a focus on friends goofing off with each other. I just hope people are willing to stick around with it. There are some pretty heart-wrenching twists to come that people will love, but in order for it to have an impact, you need to feel connected with the characters.

  7. E

    It's hard… to remember every detail from such a long game. I think their task is to enforce the boys to clean up their dorm/bathroom, and not a shed. Rin protected Komari when they were cleaning their clubroom later (not related to the tasks). Also, Komari was wearing either striped panties / strawberry / polkadot instead of an animal stamp? Yeah, it's also JC Staff's improvisation.

  8. A

    No, she was wearing anteater panties when Riki first met Komari. It just didn't show it. The striped/strawberry/polkadot panties happens later and you actually see them that time.

  9. E

    Yeah, now that you said it, it's true. Those panties are shown later, depending on what is your favorite donut, lol.

  10. h

    I like Rin. This may be indirectly due to her association with cats. I love cats. (I love every kind of cat; I just want to hug all them, but I can't — can't hug every cat).

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