While the events in this episode were certainly foreshadowed last week, the change in tone was still pretty stark – especially in the second half of the episode. This was really the first time that the Key/Maeda Jun gene seemed to kick in with full force, and the melodrama grow thick enough in the air that it felt like humidity in a Tokyo summer (or so I’ve been told – I’ll find out next year, but a Chicago summer I can definitely vouch for). And with that, I suppose, the series has well and truly begun after a four-episode prologue.
It remains to be seen how an arc centered around Komari will hold up. My gut says that it hopes this is wrapped up relatively quickly, because Komari can be kind of a lot to take. Given my normal sensitivity towards moe for its own sake I’m not bothered by her so much as I would have expected, and I can’t say why – it’s a pretty shameless character truth be told, but somehow – like Little Busters itself – the reality is more appealing to me than the concept would indicate. There’s actually a pretty nice chemistry between she and Riki, who likewise has more appeal than I can quite explain – he seems a straightforward good-guy cipher of a lead, but perhaps it’s the sense of vulnerability in Riki that gives his character a depth that transcends the trope somewhat.
Of course, even if nothing else happened Komari’s arc would have been worthwhile just to hear Horie Yui doing a punk voice – it’s every bit as endearingly silly as you’d think, because Riki is no more a punk than Hochan herself. But he’s managed to endear himself to old man Koujirou enough to get him to the spill the truth about Komori’s brother Takuya (Komomiya Yuu, also young Kyousuke) – or at least some small part of it. Riki himself has already figured out that the “white flappy things” Komori sees in her dreams of her brother are likely bedsheets on the roof of a hospital, and Koujirou more or less confirms that what Riki suspects happened has happened. But this being Key there’s most assuredly more to the story, and magical realism has an appointment with Little Busters, perhaps as soon as this week.
Komari’s breakdown at the end of the episode was certainly the most stark moment of the series so far, but the tonal change was just as great in the scenes leading up to it. I liked the sequences with Komari and Riki on top of the school looking at stars, and chasing down her memories in a rowboat on a lake (don’t they teach little girls that the first rule of rowboats is “DON’T STAND UP!”?). There was an agreeable sense of melancholy that was more substantial than anything the series has done to this point, and both scenes represented some of the loveliest art JC Staff has presented in the first five eps. The pantsu shot seemed a bit extraneous to be honest, but this is a Key VN so it’s to be expected I suppose. “Ecstasy” notwithstanding, Little Busters maintains a more innocent feel than Key’s other works, at least to my eyes.
In case you missed it Kouehi Kawase, the producer of LB, announced this week that the adaptation will certainly continue beyond two cours – “If you watch the 26th episode there will be a message that you want… We know 26 episodes are too short.” That’s about as unambiguous as you could want, though the details are still unknown – but it does imply that the adaptation is going to take its time and adapt each route with some faithfulness to the source VN, for better or worse. As with any romance VN there are probably going to be arcs I wish were shorter and those I wish were longer, but that JC Staff have chosen to open what could be a very long adaptation with Komari is interesting – I certainly can’t say yet whether it’s a good idea or not. But I’m enjoying myself enough so that I’m looking forward to finding out.