There’s nothing in the third (of four, seemingly) episode of Saya’s mini-arc in EX that will blow you away on first viewing. It’s breezy, silly, briskly paced and mostly entertaining, just as the first two eps were, albeit it with a few more truly bizarre moments and a weighty ending. But I confess I rather admire the way it slowly opens your eyes to the nature of what we’re watching, to the point where by the time it’s revealed officially you realize you’ve known it for a long time.
In a way, EX (to be honest I’m still holding out hope for “Kud Wafter”, the extra LitBus I really want to see most) is a stylistic hybrid between the first and second seasons. It definitely plays as lightweight fluff a good percentage of the time, but of course we can’t un-know what we now know about the secret of this world and that gives the material a little extra jolt of pathos and mystery it wouldn’t otherwise have. You can’t completely take these fluffy romcom hijinks at face value because you know nothing in Little Busters can be taken at face value – there’s always a hidden world turning away behind the false one we’re looking at.
Do Riki and Saya have good chemistry? I have no complaints – as I said in an earlier post she’s a bit too 2007-tsundere for me to totally bond with her, but I do enjoy the way she comically overreacts to everything, especially any suggestion that she and Riki are mutually attracted. Touch her foot? Be prepared to get married. And her pat response of lapsing into nonsense-speak is pretty entertaining, too. Riki is, as always, the good sport among all good sports – he plays along no matter how weird things get and finds himself falling for Saya (again) in spit of her obvious peculiarities.
I certainly don’t think it’s any coincidence that Saya guessed that the treasure was a time machine (it has the ring of wish fulfilment), though by that point it had become quite clear that she and Riki were, effectively, each inside a first-person shooter. Not is it a coincidence that the final boss, the head of the Executives of Darkness “Tokikaze Shun” is obviously Kyousuke. It seems that Saya is trapped inside her own looping world just as Riki and Rin were in the original series, though exactly how the two are connected is left to later episodes to answer.