You’ll have to forgive the brevity of this post. In addition to this being finals week at my language school (Kanji alone would take more study time than I spend awake on an average day) as LiA readers know I’ve been pole-axed by a bout of food poisoning that’s left me quite useless, so between those two things I’m just able to keep my head at the water-level blogging wise. And a somewhat groggy head it is too, as I haven’t been able to hold down solid food for a couple of days. Still – better to keep in the flow of things at least a little than to wallow in digestive misery.
I won’t claim that I brought any deep analytical skills to the table with Little Busters this week, or that the episode merited them to begin with, but what struck me was that this was the episode that sort of tied together all the notions of what the series is really about – indeed, touching on several of the points in last week’s post. As a show that’s primarily about friendship, Little Busters is thus by definition just as much about loneliness. Each of the girls in the cast has a quality to them that makes them “different” in some way, not part of the social circle – and, as Nishizono points out, Riki is “the sort of person that likes to look after other people.” There’s a reason he got that way, of course – because when he was the lonely and isolated person, Kyousuke took a similar interest in him, and gave him a new lease on life with the Little Busters.
Given all that, it’s no surprise that he should take such an interest in Mio – as the lonely-heart girl who spends every day under a parasol reading a book, alone, she’s the perfect avenue for his “pay it forward” view on life. In many ways, this felt the most “Key-like” of all the chapters so far. It was certainly the most low-key and melancholy (more than Komari’s final ep, which was more melodramatic than melancholy) and Mio is the most mysterious of all the girls we’ve met. In most Key works there’s always a sense that everyone has a sad or even tragic story under the surface just waiting for the right moment to emerge, and that certainly applied to Mio. She even says herself when Riki asks her why she’s unable to participate in gym class and must hide under that parasol all-year long: “Ask me some other time, and if I trust you well enough I’ll tell you. Though I doubt that time will ever come.”
There’s certainly plenty that’s unusual about Mio. Her constantly red face, her mysterious medical condition (assuming that’s what it is) and the little book she’s always reading (though we do solve that one later). She’s called names like “rock by the side of the road” and the especially cruel “Shadowless” by her classmates. It’s through the intervention of Kuragaya that we discover the book she loves is a poetry collection by Wakayama Bokusui, a tanka poet who died young and – somewhat ominously – is perhaps best known for the death haiku he wrote near the end of his life. She’s certainly a lonely and lost soul by any available measure, and as such a perfect candidate for the Little Busters – except that she’s unable to play baseball. But for her, admitting an interest in watching is in itself a pretty significant step forward and admission of trust.
Next week continues the trend of alternating introduction and stand-alone episodes, as it looks like we’re in for a “test of courage” turn of events. It’ll be interesting to see which girl is in line for the next official arc, and how quickly we get to that point.