Little Busters! – 19

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It was always going to be hard for this episode to live up to a preview that consisted of Kud saying “I AM A JAPANESE STUPID”, but on the whole I think this one did pretty well.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to blog LB! differently than I do other series, because I react to the show differently than I do any other.  I’ve often struggled to figure out just what the unique quality or qualities of LB are that make it work.  Yes I’m weak for Kud, I won’t deny that, and that surely makes liking this episode easy to explain – but there are much more involved factors than that.  If I’m to choose a word, I believe it’d be hard to find another anime that’s more straightforward than this one is.  Little Busters is almost totally transparent – it tells you from the beginning exactly what it’s about (“secret of this world” questions aside – one wonders is this smirk has something to do with that) and goes about doing exactly what it promises.  It’s an absurdly simple series in terms of theme – friendship is good.  Observe the Golden Rule.  Mean people exist – screw them.  It delivers angst and drama, for certain, but almost entirely lacking in irony.  I love irony as much as the next guy, but there’s something about this direct approach that’s really refreshing.

That said, getting a Kud episode was clearly something I was looking forward to, and she certainly delivers the goods every time.  I really like the sheer oddity of Kud – absolutely nothing about her is average.  And the more we learn, the more of an odd little puzzle she becomes.  She’s a year younger than the other Little Busters, having achieved so many credits through international correspondence  – necessary because she never lived anywhere long enough to attend a real school – that she skipped a grade.  Of all the many places she lived, the longest stay was in Tevua of all places – a tiny island in the Solomons, near the equator (I confess I’d never heard of it).  Her Grandfather worked for Glavcosmos, the old Soviet Space Agency, and Kud is quite the expert in esoteric physics and subjects like hazardous materials management.

There’s more to all that than just backstory – it’s far more unusual than it needs to be simply for narrative purposes, and I like that.  I like the fact that Kud isn’t a simple ditzy airhead moemoe girl – she’s actually extremely smart.  She passes international exams by mail and writes cogent notes (in Russian) in the margins of her quantum physics texts.  She just happens, as Riki sagely observes, to be “good at complicated things and bad at simple things.”  She gets nervous and flustered easily, which leads to mistakes on exams.  “I have trouble filling in those little bubbles” as she says herself – and in an age of standardized tests, this is a real problem.  Given that these are the Little Busters, what else can they possibly do but all pitch in to help her prepare for the next national placement exam?

There’s another recurring theme that appears in this episode too – despite the focus on friendship, there’s no shortage of cruelty in the world.  And that certainly includes the girls who mock the “cute little quarter-Japanese” who can’t read English properly and gets flustered every time she speaks publicly. I’ve noticed that it’s the girls in Little Busters who tend to be the really nasty characters, for what it’s worth, and the three who come to gawk at Kud and mock her as she’s studying for her exams really set the blood to boil.  Needless to say I knew plenty of people like that in high school – I imagine we all did (or do) – but here’s the thing: wouldn’t it have been great to have a group of friends like Kud has?  People who are always around when the assholes pick on you or when things generally so bad, and who never judge you – only support you unconditionally and help you solve your problems?  Again, absurdly simple, and there’s possibly an element of wish fulfillment here, but I think that’s a big part of the reason so many find LB to be an appealing story.

There are two other developments in the episode that I find quite interesting, the first of which is that Mio is back, without a word of explanation for her virtual absence in the Haruka arc.  Perhaps she just really doesn’t like Haruka – their personalities are certainly oil and water, and that dichotomy generates one of the funniest scenes of the episode when Haruka presents herself to the rest of the group during Mio’s physics lesson and offers up a lame string of gags.  Mio stares ahead impassively, wordless, then continues her lecture without a word of acknowledgement.  These two are quite like a Manzai team – that Manzai theme tends to run through a lot of the humor in LB, with Riki as the tsukkomi.  I also loved Haruka’s “Hey, hey, Girls!” (in English) entrance later in the ep – and the other interesting development was that it seems as if her reconciliation with Kanata has taken hold.  In fact with her sister’s tutoring she manages to get an 85% on the tests – but when poor Kud flunks out after (yet again) putting her answers in the wrong column, Haruka pretends she flunked too so she’ll have to take remedial classes with Kud.  Of course when the moment comes it isn’t just Haruka, but every member of the Little Busters who’s there in that classroom for Kud – a development that on some shows might have seemed overly sentimental, but on this one was really the only believable outcome.

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  1. M

    Another point to notice might be the very beginning of the episode in Riki and Masato's room. That was… weird.

  2. h

    The scene showing Riki opening his eyes in bed happens literally every arc. It's probably the studio's way of winking at the audience and saying "that's how Riki's day starts." Unless it's a conspiracy.

    Seriously, watch episode 1 again (after Kyousuke says he's back, so 35 seconds in). Also happens in the beginning of ep 7, 15, etc.

  3. M

    I noticed that obviously. I'm talking about how Masato just grins, runs out of the room, the scene whitens a little and we end up at baseball practice. Also that was the first time there was that weird dream.

  4. h

    Obviously you didn't or it isn't obvious. I'm pointing out the same scene (including Masato's grin and sudden dash out of the room followed by a fade to white) happened before.

    But yes, the "eye opening" alone was intended to be obvious to casual observers.

  5. M

    Was that episode 1 where Masato's grin and sudden dash out of the room happened before? I don't remember that specificaly happening in episode 7 and 15.

  6. N

    Well, seems we are taking a break from Kud's route for next week and are focusing on Sasami a bit. Here's hope Sasami's route (and Kanata's route while we are at it) get animated in S2 (though with number of eps it may be possible for it to happen in S1 as well).

    A bit off-topic, but any other VN fan wonder how they will animate Key's newest VN Rewrite (lets face it, the adaptation is bound to come soon enough)? Unlike most other VN adaptations, combining paths seems impossible (especially since stuff that happens in girl routes are completely irreversible) and there is no real True Path that can be followed alone. Hope they do what Amagami SS did and literally restart every arc.

  7. A

    Er… no… I think we just watched the entirety of Kud's route there. I don't think they ever intended to show us the real thing, for various reasons.

  8. M

    Er… no… I have seen summaries for next few episodes. Kud's arc is reurning after the next episode.

  9. Yes, Kud's arc is definitely a go.

  10. N

    Both OP and the trailer showed excertps from Kud's route so we are definitely getting it… not to mention that Kud is too popular to not get her route animated.

  11. A

    I can't decide whether I should feel worried or relieved about this turn of events.

  12. E

    Isn't Sasami's love problem a part of the normal, common route? At least that's what my memory's telling me. They are not entering her route or anything.

    Oh yeah. Rewrite. I should get it soon before the seeders disappear. Kyoani should just animate another Key's visual novel, rather than making Tamako Market, the queen of boring anime.

  13. M

    Hmm… I'd like White Fox to animate it. They did do the opening after all.

  14. N

    I don't think Kyoani (or JC Staff for that matter), which focuses on Slice of Life and moe nowadays, would be fitting for Rewrite. While it starts as usual Key Slice of Life with cute girls, Rewrite turns into something completely different once you leave the Common Route.
    I agree with MCAL that White Fox, which made OP2 for the VN ( – possible spoilers, though personally I was not negatively affected by them when I watched it the first time), would be a better fit and it is possible that they already have a contract with Key for Rewrite.

  15. M

    Anyway, this was an all together pretty enjoyable episode. And I am convinced Kud is cursed. That's the only way she can attract Moe Moe Kyun haters and LB haters. (And I am one of them (Moe Moe Kyun haters that is)). Also, there must be a rule that I have at least one Kurugaya being bad-ass moment ever two or three episodes. My quota for today is filled.

    Also, I think a certain someone could see Haruka's panties today.

  16. M

    It's a joke. I'm just trying to rationalize why I like her so much when I shouldn't. LOL.

  17. Heh, mine was a joke too…

  18. H

    Just like with Komari, I find I get very tired of Kud's voice when she talks a lot. She's an enjoyable cutie, especially with more "Wafu!" but extended speeches just feel really tiring. The only antidote is more Kurugaya talking.

  19. I confess, I've never come remotely close to getting tired of Kud.

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