Let me state up front that I enjoyed this episode, as I’ve enjoyed all of them so far to some extent. But I’m also not going to offer up an extended rebuttal against those who might argue that this episode proves there is no “there” there when it comes to Little Busters. And the reason, simply, is that I have no proof that they’re wrong. At this point LB seems very much like a slice-of-life comedy that revels in the art of high-school time-wasting. If you haven’t liked that up to now you probably won’t have liked it this week, and even if you did, I could understand if you said you wanted more.
There’s a flipside to that, though, and it’s that there are plenty of series that never get around to being more than that, and don’t catch the flak that Little Busters does for it – the “cute girls being cute” genre contains more of them than I care to count. Part of the problem may stem from the fact that this one focuses more on comedy and a mixed-gender cast than straight up CGBC, but I suspect the biggest reason is that this is a Key anime – and people have come to expect melodrama from a Key anime. Apart from the Komari arc and to a small extent the Mio ep last week, we haven’t had much of that. Add to that the fact that a sizable chunk of the VN base is upset that this isn’t being animated by KyoAni, and you have a series without much of a built-in support system.
As to the episode itself, not to be a broken record but it was fun – nothing spectacular, just fun. It made me laugh a few times – the “cheek demon” bit especially, along with the sheer preposterousness of the whole “Holy crap, it’s Tweety!” scenario and a couple of Kud’s “Wafu!” moments (especially when Tweety buzzed her and she bolted down the stairs). Not to mention that the silliness with Masato and Kengo in the Principal’s office was never explained at all (unless you count the puzzling “yes ghosts” bit with Kud) except Mio’s “You might want to burn that.” The reason all that stuff is working for me is that LB has no qualms about being extremely silly and random, and doesn’t seem especially concerned about justifying it. I find that refreshing, and the silliness more often entertaining that not, along with the relentless positivity of the piece.
All that said yes, I too am ready for something with a little more substance – if not bitter, at least something salty or a little sour to cut the confectioners’ sugar. This is a Key anime after all, and even with JC Staff’s very relaxed pacing the simple fact is that there are arcs out there with girls’ names on them, and those arcs will contain drama – and I think viewers would be a little more forgiving if the stand-alone episodes came as transitions between them rather than in an extended run the way they have. Perhaps the preview indicates that Mio’s arc starts next week – at the very least she’s going to be the focus again, and formally join the Busters. And she brings a certain gravity to her storylines that the other heroines so far lack. It won’t be enough to silence the critics, but it will be a welcome change of pace.