Little Busters! – 14

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Building on the one that came before, this episode of Little Busters felt very much like a part of the Key universe.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_14_[720p][5F82E334].mkv_snapshot_02.30_[2013.01.14_17.50.35]I have no idea if this is how it was intended in the VNs – given the structure I don’t see how it possibly could be – but it seems as if the anime used this arc to set things up as much as to resolve them.  It asks as many questions as it answers, and the feeling I have is that it offers clues to Riki and Kyousuke’s story as much as it exists as an arc on its own.  And it feels as if we’re looking at a very different series now than we were before Mio’s arc began.  In that sense, in anime terms anime, it exists as very much a transition point.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_14_[720p][5F82E334].mkv_snapshot_04.36_[2013.01.14_17.52.51]That said, I think Mio’s story is a very solid one on its own – these last two have been arguably the best two-episode stretch of the series, and for me Mio’s arc was far more interesting than Komori’s.  There’s still a great deal that’s left unexplained here, but that seems somehow fitting because Mio has been a character shrouded in mystery from the moment she was introduced.  Just who is Midori, exactly – is she a sister to Mio in any literal or even symbolic sense, or simply a product of the cosmological imagination?  How exactly did the forgetting of Midori cause Mio to lose her shadow, and Riki’s refusal to forget her allow her to get it back?  I don’t know the answers and I don’t think I’m supposed to, but this feels very much like the tip of the metaphysical iceberg with Little Busters.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_14_[720p][5F82E334].mkv_snapshot_05.05_[2013.01.14_17.53.19]Ultimately I think one could view Mio’s story symbolically as being about teen suicide and I don’t think that would be completely off-base, though I don’t think it was intended to literally represent that idea.  There’s no question that the desire Mio expresses to be alone, and at the same time to be at one with the universe – to find her true self and at the same to lose herself – have a profound sense of suicide to them.  It seems certain that – at least partly due to the trauma of having seen Midori in the first place and the treatment that made her forget – Mio’s wasn’t an especially happy childhood.  She was alone much of the time, and apparently unhealthy.  In her unique situation of having an understudy ready to assume her life – one who was more genki and robust – “trading” with Midori must have been quite the siren’s song.  To be able to end it all without having to worry about the sadness it would cause those left behind?  Perhaps for some suicidal kids, that might seem an especially attractive alternative.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_14_[720p][5F82E334].mkv_snapshot_05.27_[2013.01.14_17.53.55]It’s certainly no secret that in broad terms, Little Busters is a story about friendship, and I don’t think that was ever more clear than inside Mio’s story.  Riki remembers back to a time when he might just have disappeared himself, before Kyousuke took his hand.  Maybe that was meant allegorically, but I’m not so sure – there are a lot of common threads between Riki and Mio, it seems to me, with the biggest difference being circumstances – Kyousuke’s hand found Riki when he was a child, but Mio didn’t find Riki’s hand until she was almost an adult.  I don’t know what the “secret of this world” is – and I don’t want to be told by anyone but JC Staff – but there’s definitely a part of it that concerns Riki directly, and I suspect Kyousuke as well.  Both of them have an “otherness” to them – though expressed in very different ways – and I sense an underlying sadness lurking beneath Kyousuke’s “Uber-Bro” exterior.  There a method to everything he does, I think, though I won’t pretend I’ve figured it all out yet. 

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_14_[720p][5F82E334].mkv_snapshot_05.29_[2013.01.14_17.53.43]I don’t want to start down the road of justifying why I like LB when so many seem to dislike it all over again, but I will say this – I think that the above is a pretty damn strong base around which to build a story.  The fact is, I connect with these characters because I understand them, and I understand them because their desires are very basic and elemental.  To not be alone.  To not be afraid.  To have fun with people they love.  It’s very simple, but it’s also profound because these are things everyone feels at some point (but perhaps never more powerfully than in adolescence).  I don’t find all the girls equally involving by any means – I adore Kud for her sweetness and hilarious kookiness and Mio is by far the most emotionally compelling heroine thus far.  But in Riki and Kyousuke there’s something rather deep, I think – because both of them are immensely decent and driven by the desire to do good things for other people.  Even Masato, for all his time at the receiving end of the Manzai-style physical humor, has a certain poignancy to him because his protectiveness and concern for Riki is so genuine and straightforward.  In a way Little Busters benefits from being simpler and more elemental than other Key works – lacking the supercharged romantic sentimentality of Clannad or the intricate plotting of Kanon, it’s free to simply be what it is – a series about friendship and supporting other people.  That’s clearly not to everybody’s tastes, but so far I mostly like what I see.

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  1. K

    I didn't think of the suicide thing at first, but that makes a lot of sense in retrospect. What I did pick up after this episode is that memory, or rather loss of it, seems to be a common motif between the arcs covered so far.

  2. S

    I must say, I'm really enjoying reading your interpretation of events in this series, especially since I've read the VN and know what the build up is to.

    And yes, the suicide undertones of what Mio is trying to do definitely rang strongly for the this time going through this particular story. A very interesting and lonely character.

    I think I agree with you on enjoying the simpler and more elemental nature of Little Busters. I definitely enjoyed that aspect over Clannad's sentimental otherworldliness, and was one of the major reasons I was looking forward to this anime so much. As this series represents my entry into anime, I've been distracted by any number of other flashy series, but I think this one is a really good one to keep coming back to.

  3. N

    Trivia: it is not wise to blindly listen to Kyosuke's words here. After Riki finds the poem and Midori tells you where to find Mio, you can choose to either trust her or not trust her because she tried to fool you before.

    If you go with Kiyosuke's advice to the very end and choose not to trust her, Riki runs around searching for Mio… and then ends up wondering who he is searching for and finally starts believing that Midori is Mio, his dear girlfriend… and you get a bad end (and a XXX scene with Midori if you have EX version of the game).

    Choosing to trust her gets us the end we see here.

  4. D

    I always thought that Nishizono's route (She has such a weird surname xD) was about being at peace in solitude, if you don't know any people, you won't be suffering later for them. Solitude was her solution but with your review now I think, what's the difference between Solitude and death?, if you are not recognized around people so, it's the same as been dead, I guess Suicide was the main point here, anyway she wanted it to commit it because she felt guilty because of Midori's disappearence when she was younger, at least I think that.

  5. A

    Great conclusion to Mio's route. I wrote a review on Komari's arc, so I'll follow suit with Mio. Much better then Komari's arc, but I gave that a 5/10. Anyway, there was nothing inherently wrong with Mio's arc. In terms of pacing, I think JC Staff is going a little too fast. Not fast as in they cut out important parts, but I felt they went headlong into drama too fast. Another problem may lie in the drama not being tear inducing sad, but being tear inducing sad does not always work. Too much melodrama is not good. Personally, I find good drama is drama that makes me feel bad and sad for the characters involved and that's how I was feeling with both Riki and Mio, while I did feel that way with Riki, but only felt bad for Komari in her arc. I also like that the the heroine routes help flesh out the male casr. In Komari, it was Masato and in Mio it was Kyosuke. I have a feeling the male cast will end up being the best characters in the anime/game. Even Kengo. He's the most interseting so far. Animation is fine. I've gotten used to the stills and everything else is fine. I give Mio's arc an 8/10.

    P.S. I love Kurugaya and my review of her arc will probably be biased. Banzai! Peace!

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