I have a few issues with the way things were wrapped up here, truth be told, though I suspect they’re more with the source content than the execution – and all in all, I think this arc ended in a pretty satisfying way. Certainly, there was more to gnaw on here than with the Komori Arc, and the pacing was much better as well. I won’t say things were brought together with a lot of emotional subtlety but again, this is Key – in the world of Maeda Jun, emotional subtlety really isn’t the point.
Once again I need to start with the finish and reverse-engineer my reaction to the episode – interestingly enough it’s the second week in a row that’s happened – because what happens at the end is what’s sticking in my mind. There are some wholly admirable elements to the conclusion, but if in the end Haruka’s summation is “That no one is evil the world”, I have to take issue with that based on the evidence presented (not to mention personal experience). What about the sick bastards who forced the twins’ mother to marry both of her best friends? The same people who left bruises and scars up and down Kanata’s body (and mind), and literally threw Haruka out of her Dickensian shack when she screwed up? No, there are evil people in the world – and I don’t think one needs to believe otherwise to be happy.
Here’s the thing – I’m right on board with everything up to that point. Especially when Haruka says “I don’t need to hate anyone. I can love myself.” And I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that she decided she didn’t need to know whose kid she was – at that point it was largely irrelevant, and would only have unnecessarily complicated the healing process. It’s the whole “it’s no one’s fault” thread that starts to lose me, because it clearly is someone’s fault. To my way of thinking it’s not necessary to absolve her family for Haruka to move on – she simply needs to take her own advice and stop defining herself by hating her sister, and believing that happiness is a zero-sum game between them. She doesn’t need to deny the existence of evil or absolve anyone of blame – she simply needs to realize that as terrible as what her family did to her (and perhaps even more to Kanata) was, she doesn’t have to hate them for it – she simply needs to forget them as completely as possible and move on.
It’s certainly possible that I’m taking Haruka’s “I wanted to believe it more than anything – that there was no one evil in the world” too literally. Perhaps it’s not a celebration of her newly rediscovered love for Kanata but an admission that she’s been too naïve all along in believing that about her family – but I didn’t see it that way. For the record, I suspect the whole “two fathers” thing was BS and both children belong to the man their mother truly loved, as I believe the “criminal” Haruka believed was her father probably spared their mother the trauma of having to consummate a second marriage to a man she didn’t love. He emerges as the hero of the piece, if anyone does – he was the one who took matters into his own hands and took great hardship on himself in an attempt to free the girls from the clutches of the ghouls who were ruining their lives. That he failed in the attempt is tragic, but it doesn’t reflect badly on his intentions.
It was clear from the beginning that this episode was going to cover a lot of ground – there was no pre-open, which I believe is a first for Little Busters – and while it certainly did, I never felt things were being rushed. Among the stronger moments were Kud’s reaction to the general tide of rage against Kanata – I suspected she’d end up in that role – and the brutally stark tone of Kanata’s “confession”, where she described the indignities she’d been forced to suffer, right up to being blackmailed by the threatened murder of her sister. It’s tempting to pick at the wound of the mistakes both Haruka and Kanata made – and each made plenty – but the sensible lesson of the arc is that spending our lives searching for someone to blame and someone to hate is pointless. They’re kids, and no kids could be expected to have made good decisions when placed in the position they were in. In closing, I think Riki’s words make a good coda because they sum up the essence of LB very well – “There’s no Kamisama here – just us.” Life is not the zero-sum game that Kanata described last week – rather, we can choose either to promote happiness by helping other people, or to promote despair. It’s our choice and no one else’s, and we need to take the responsibility for the choice we make. Dengana mangana.