As a child, Riki Naoe shut himself from the world, thanks to a diagnosis of narcolepsy following the tragic deaths of his parents. However, Riki is saved when, one fateful day, a boy named Kyousuke recruits him into a team who call themselves the Little Busters. Accompanied by Masato, Kengo, and Rin, these misfits spend their childhood fighting evil and enjoying their youth.
Years pass, and even in high school, the well-knit teammates remain together. Kyousuke decides to re-ignite the Little Busters by forming a baseball team as it will be his last school year with them. They have a problem though: there aren't enough members! The tables have turned, for it is now Riki's turn to reach out and recruit new friends into the Little Busters, just like Kyousuke had once done for him.
Then, an omen surfaces—Rin finds a strange letter attached to her cat, assigning them the duty of uncovering the "secret of this world" by completing specific tasks. Just what is this secret, and why is it being hidden? It's up to the Little Busters to find out!
Over the past decade, visual novel studio 'Key' has seen much success for their work on titles such as Kanon, Clannad and Air. If you have watched or read any of these series, you will likely be familiar with Jun Maeda's distinctive form of dramatic storytelling.
Do not expect another Clannad: After Story. You will not find it here.
At first glance, there is one startling difference in Key's latest adaptation. It is not animated by Kyoto Animation, the studio responsible for handling the majority of Key adaptations. Instead, the esteemed and beloved (not really) J.C. Staff is at the helm. For many this is a name that will undoubtedly be a cause for concern. In Little Busters, it is.
The story follows the misadventures of Riki and his four childhood friends. Set during the leader Kyousuke's final year in high school, the group of friends decide to make something of their remaining youth- not by overtly rebelling, but by practicing and playing baseball together. They cannot form a team with only five members though, which is why Riki and Rin are set to recruit more people from their school. Preferably females, as Rin is the only young lady in the group.
Little Busters' cast of characters is its strongest trait. No— not because they are especially well-written or unique, but because they are endearing- because they are entertaining. It isn't easy to make a group of anime characters feel like genuine friends with one another, but Little Busters manages to achieve this feat with its wonderful group dynamic. Even the later members contribute to the show in a significant and believable way. The characters truly do make the lighthearted segments a joy to watch.
Being part comedy, it's a good thing that the jokes are often fresh and clever. Of particular note is Masato. If you remember Sunohara from Clannad, he is a bit like that. Masato and all his muscular glory (and utter lack of brain cells) are the cause for many jokes. Usually at his expense. And usually met with a kick to the face from Rin.
It's a shame, since any appeal the show has is frequently pushed aside in favour of cringeworthy melodrama. The individual character routes were not very good in the visual novel and they are most certainly not any good here either. It would be one thing if these arcs were merely mediocre, but with J.C. Staff's lack of directorial talent they are made absolutely dreadful. The omnibus format also does little to help the rushed pacing, resulting in a format that feels highly formulaic and superfluous. One of the girls has troubles, Riki helps them to overcome it, one or two episodes of comedy follow— repeat, repeat. Thankfully the lighthearted segments are so entertaining, as otherwise you would probably detest each character by the end of their route. It is that bad at times.
The two worst offenders are Mio's and Haruka's routes. In Mio's route, the viewer is treated with illogical and contradictory character actions further complimented by a hilariously contrived deception on the writer's part. Plotholes? Everywhere. And it does not even attempt to answer them with anything besides equivocation. The climax could maybe be explained if the characters were taking psychedelic drugs at the time, but looking at it from a realistic perspective it does not make any sense whatsoever. Watching Utena may be less confusing.
Haruka's route will also make you want to scream in frustration. Her tragic backstory is implausible (why the hell were the people taking care of her not convicted of abuse?) and the motivations of the antagonist, Kanata, are silly at best. The rest of the route is comprised of more cheap plot twists and embarrassingly cliche melodrama. Heck, there's even a scene where the weather changes from sunshine to storm as soon as Haruka starts crying. How much more cheesy can you get? Little Busters seems to experiment with the limits.
Things do improve, though. After a decent start and two terrible arcs, the last third of the story provides a satisfying dénouement showing how each of the characters have grown over the course of the series. The last episode in particular is quite nice, with the long-awaited baseball game being played in high spirits. Some might argue that this improvement is too little too late. They might be right.
One area where Little Busters does not disappoint is with its soundtrack. There may not be anything on the same level of "Dango Kazoku" to mess with your emotions, but the soundtrack as a whole is solid and surprisingly memorable. Then again, it's pretty hard to make mistakes when you are deriving almost all music from the source material.
Little Busters' endearing characters are complimented by a highly talented cast of seiyuu. Yui Horie provides a convincing role for a male character (though does little to make Riki any less bland) while Masato's seiyuu does a wonderful job at delivering the comedy. Rin and Kud on the other hand will probably kill your heart from how adorable they sound.
There isn't much to praise about the art, but it certainly isn't bad. Just average. Just middling. For a TV anime it is passable, but when comparing it to previous Key adaptations you will definitely notice a significant drop in quality. Off-model faces are frequent and many scenes are reduced to panning and 'talking heads': devoid of any animation besides the character's mouth flapping. For an adaptation of one of the most successful visual novels, you would normally expect the artwork to at least be above-average. Not here.
As an adaptation, it is worth mentioning how it compares to the source material. Is it a bad adaptation? It is. If you want to experience the story as it is intended, it would be in your best interests to give the visual novel a read instead. On its own merits and as a condensed version of the story, however, J.C. Staff's adaptation is merely passable. It doesn't completely butcher the story but with the rushed pacing, poor characterization (especially with regards to Riki), lackluster art and incomplete story— most of the charm that made the visual novel so beloved is nonexistent here. At least there's more cute Rin scenes, though! Maybe that is the one and only good thing.
Little Busters will not be winning any awards for its writing or production qualities, but when taken as an entertaining comedy with likable characters, it is at least worth a watch. Putting aside the expectations, you will certainly find some enjoyment in Key's latest animated venture.
Hopefully, too, J.C. Staff won't let us down too much in the sequel. I can think of few things that would be more disastrous. read more
This will be a temporarily review until the anime is completed, I created this so that people won't get any misunderstandings from others UNTIL the technical reviewers come by when the anime is completed. I've also decided to create this review for the sake of those viewers who played the visual novel, and for those who havent since I'm tired of reading all these reviews made up of self-satisfaction, and sadly by biased and unperceptive views.
➟ "COMPARISONS AND BASELESS ASSUMPTIONS"
First to those who played the visual novel, please stop comparing the visual novel to the anime, they are done on completely different ways and is different on a fundamental level. So please don't use the visual novel's high standings as an EXCUSE that the anime will be the same. Using 'because it's a Key story' as a reason to watch [is a different matter though*], given that the same person wrote the same scenario as the whole of Clannad (and other various animes adapted from Key's work) is a plus and a good reason to watch this anime.
Second to those who are only here for the anime, please stop talking like you know everything about the anime when you have not completed the story yet (the anime is still AIRING). The slow pacing is not an excuse, many animes had slow pacing (not just for the first few episodes, it can even be over half the series) yet in the near end was seen to be praised very highly removing all those doubts for the beginning of the anime. I do not want to see people making such assumptions. As for the massive hype to you anime viewers, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A SOLE REASON AS TO WHY IT IS HYPED, DO NOT ASSUME NONSENSE and overlap it with the anime's weakpoints or disabilities.
➟ "CYNICISM AND SINCERITY"
Generic? I will not use this as an excuse but give this anime a break, the visual novel was created in 2007, though it was after Clannad, it's not a surprise there will be some generic settings and characters in this anime. Actually not everyone gets tired of these sorts of things, but those who do get tired... if you can overlook that, then go for it and watch it especially for the romance, drama and Key magic given. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY GIVING A DAMN ABOUT THE REPETITIVE USE OF GENERIC SETTINGS NOW OF ALL TIMES. There were so many other series that aired before this that was way more generic, and i don't see people going on about that?
As for the JC Staff hate on adapting this Little Busters, and wanting KyoAni to pick up this adaption, here is a powerful and deep quote for you guys:
"What dawned on me recently about Little Busters was that despite the premise of Riki building a baseball team via harem creation, the real focus on the show is not romance, but actually friendship, despite the Key label.
And that answers many questions I had behind LB and its production.
…It is this focus on friendship by the LB source material that it is well-loved by fans, and why JC Staff picked it up, and why, like you, I find it so charming and comforting."
-Slashe@from a blog on lostinanime.com
➟ "HIGH EXPECTATIONS THROUGH IMAGINATION"
...It's like what everyone always says: You WILL not be able to satisfy everyone since they all have different tastes and expectations. If it's not your type of anime, if you don't like Key animes, if you hate LB!'s comedy, sequence of plot or pacing, then you don't have to "bark" so loudly about how bad it is.
-For the visual novel players, it's an ANIME so obviously they will leave out many things that aren't deeply or specifically relevant to the plot. If they leave out a favorite scene of yours then find an another scene that the producers DID animate and is already giving you.
-For anime viewers, DON'T USE YOUR IMAGINATION on what you want to happen, or have expected this and that just because it's a popular anime right off the bat (no matter how many times I need to repeat this, i'll say it over and over, THE ANIME IS STILL AIRING), ...and compare it to the anime, because it will ruin your enjoyment on what the anime is already giving and portraying for you.
➟ "WHY SHOULD I WATCH THIS ANIME?"
I will also include the anime's traits and argumental downsides (negatives/cons of the anime that many people whined/complained about) to give new viewers a fair reason to watch this anime if they're looking for one. If you love animes with slow paces continuing to build up to the climax (LIKE CLANNAD (THE FIRST SEASON), STEINS;GATE, AND POSSIBLY MADOKA MAGICA), that goes by a omnibus format, then this anime is perfect for you.
I am aware that there are people out there who:
-hate this anime's moe-tification. (but some look forward to it and adore it)
-hate this anime because of the (again) slow pace, because it bores you. (but some enjoy the atmosphere and (again) the slow build-up tension giving you the mysterious feeling of anxiety to the climax)
-hate the cast of character's personalities, you must be one hell of a intolerant person. (but other's can connect with those characters whether it's because of their personality, or experiences)
-hate random panty shots. (Some don't mind nor care. Seriously, will a non-ecchi anime showing a SINGLE panty shot (or two) kill you?)
-hate the character's voices and/or VAs. (The voices are completely normal, and fine, many including myself love it because it fit's their personalities so stop barking so loudly about the voices.. and stop using Komari's voice as an excuse to drop it, you just havent watched enough anime to hear worse VA's. Komari's a popular character so you might be killed if you start hating about the voice outside of MAL). There is actually another popular heroine or two that actually has the same VA as Komari's, true fact and true story.
To conclude this review, if any of you ever go on assuming baseless facts about the plot, or questioning the idea of the anime and it's current setting without clearly knowing the entire story, and the reasons why each character is acting that way when the anime is STILL CURRENTLY airing/have yet to be completed. Then YOU are a narrow-minded person blindly looking for a reason to hate for your own satisfaction and unmet expectations (like those people who thinks an anime that contains 'hentai' in it's title would actually 100% contain it...)
Thank you for reading this very unrefined review :)
Now for my current rating for this anime:
-Good pace, not consistent enough but it improved as it continued pretty drastically. Seems like the staff couldn't get a better team together for the beginning because of the budget, which the current halfway point is quite the opposite now.
-Art is pretty, moe is cute, animation was bad but it apparently improved as the anime continued. Seems like the budget of Little Busters was reversed from lowest to highest.
-Beautiful, melancholic music, very memorable.
-Seemed simple at first sight, but it seemed I was wrong and that the characters could be more double-sided and dynamic than I expected. The cast is full of many different personalities.
-My enjoyment is going up the bar since the beginning of this anime.
I don't think I've ever been more frustratingly annoyed by a TV show before. I'm truly almost at a loss for words... To people who know absolutely nothing about the original work (like my self), the first 5-6 episodes are seemingly worthless.
The characters presented in this anime thus far have been the most cookie cutter, generic, run of the mill characters, and they make each episode more painful than the last due to their utter lack of character development. A muscle head, unbelievably weak and annoying main character, an aloof carefree vagabond, a painfully 'shy' character that if separated from her childhood friends would probably find a dark ally to sit in and make ear piercing, siren-like whining sounds until she expired because she is simply "too shy" to receive help from any stranger, and finally an airhead who doesn't have the strength to lift a baseball bat.
The visuals are on par with other series from this day in age, again, a very generic location for the setting of the story and animation by JC Staff does not help this anime's cause by any stretch of the imagination.
The story lacks any trace of a gripping or even remotely worthwhile plot; every aspect of the story thus far has played out numerous times in other senselessly generic anime series.
I don't think there is much more to say about this series. If you enjoy slice of life anime that lack any sort of character development and a generic storyline with sprinkles of fan service, then this series is for you; otherwise you would be wise to pass on it.read more
There are many things in this world that can break a person's heart. Whether it's a tragedy, a memory, a breakup, a betrayal, or just because, these things can affect an individual's well being beyond repair. It's not like a physical injury where the wound heals. It's emotional and affect's a person's heart. Once that's damaged, it can be very difficult or in many cases, become unhealable. Luckily though, there are ways to go through this process.
For starters, friends are probably one of the best medicines. In fact, friends are one of the most valuable things that should be treasured in this world. It's not purchased at your local grocery store. It can't be collected like baseball cards. It can't be earned like points from a video game. Rather, a friend is a someone who looks after your well being and someone that you hold mutual affection for. When you're having a bad day, they are there for you and someone who can understand the situation. Through friendship comes forth a connection as people learn more about each other and more about themselves. If you look back through those memories and your photo albums, you might remember some of those memories of childhood. These memories that are built with your friends are irreplaceable and as long as you treasure them, nothing can take that away. With these friends, you learn to climb the stairs to adolescence through experiences while learning about the world. You know what that's called?
It's called growing up.
At last it's here! Fan of the popular Little Busters visual novel have always dreamed the possibility of an anime adaptation. Now, that dream has become a reality. The long awaited LB visual novel has become an anime series. The series is handed by J.C. Staff (Toradora! Sakurasou Pet no Kanojo, Hatsukoi Limited) who are already known for their high school settings involving students in a lighthearted environment in a zone of drama, comedy, romance, and emotions. Now, this could cause some mixed feelings for people especially for die-heard fans coming from the visual novel. In fact, the visual novel released in 2007 became ranked second for national PC game pre-orders in Japan as well as holding the number one top seller spot that summer. The polls set up later that year also gave the franchise a strong impression in all categories with the exception of visuals in terms of its rankings. This may all sound impressive but can the anime series live up the hype? Can Little Busters gives the fans what they want and deserve? Or rather, how can it be appealing to the fans (both VN players and anime original fans)? Is it worth watching? These may all be questions some people may wonder about. Well, let us find out what Little Busters offers from its anime adaptation.
First of all, the series is based off of a Key's work. They are known to bring viewers to tears with their strong emotional dialogue, visuals, and the soundtrack to present them in a way that is heartwarming. In fact, their previous works such as Air, Kanon, and Clannad (with its sequel Clannad After Story) all accomplished this in some way or form that have left a strong impression of emotions to fans. In this adaptation though, there seems to be a bit of lacking in that department. In fact, this series seem to shift more into the department of comedy rather than emotional appeal. Well, let's get to the part later but this is my original impression on the series after its first episodes.
LB takes place at a high school in Japan. From there on, we have Riki Naoe, the main protagonist of the series. He is a ordinary boy with nothing much to stand out with his features; the girlish look, expressions, weak build that can sometimes can be mistaken as a trap when dressed in a specific way. Furthermore, he has a sad past that we can call a tragedy considering the death of his parents when he was young. He also suffers from a case of narcolepsy, where he suffers from a lack of sleep. Yet at the same time, we can see that Riki is a very kind boy who is gentle and has a tendency to help others in need. As fate calls for it, Riki is helping to recruit others with his group of friends known as the Little Busters.
The team has it all.
We have the muscle and hotheaded member of the group - Masato Inohara. He is a roommate of Riki and a devoted friend of his. Often known for his quick anger and strange ideas, Masato is seen as loyal and sometimes a little bit too enthusiastic with things related to his friends and himself. We have Kengo Miyazawa whose loyalty is unmatched by anyone in terms of devotion to the team. His skills in kendo is one to be feared coupled with his personality. Then, there's Kyousuke Natsume who is known as the leader of the team. He is seen as the senpai (because he is older) and often has a head of strange ideas that can be abnormal. Yet, it is clear that Kyousake has the guts and skills to be the leader for his ways of thinking and loyalty. Now, that's just the boys side. Let's get to the ….*ahem* better part: the ladies of the team.
The main female protagonist in the series is Kyousuke's little sister, Rin Natsume. She is seen as a timid girl with weak social skills and often or not, hangs out with cats which is she highly fond of. Despite this, she is skilled with pitching and values the friends as well as the experiences she shares with her friends. Then we have the more childish girl Komari who is often seen as a clumsy little kid but often makes a fun impression on the viewers with her expressions and gags. Behind that image though lies a dark past, one which has left a trail of pain and sorrow. In one episode, it even caused her to go into a state of shock just based on that painful memory.
On the more serious side, there is Mio Nishizono, a calm girl who maintains a mature and reserved personality. Being a book lover, she often likes to read rather than hanging out with friends. Her parsol hides more than just her appearance as like others, she also has an interesting past that is explored later on. Likewise, we also have the more mature girl (and one of my personal favorites) Yuiko Kurugaya. Although the same age as others, she is seen as the older sister type with a replica of the katana for showing off her extra features. Despite being mischievous and almost a trickster at times, she knows when someone needs help and offers it without a second thought.
By this point now, a viewer can see the many characters of the series and get a good idea of their various personalities. I mean, LB has it all in terms of characteristics – the hotheaded guy, the mature oniisama, the cute little mascot, the shy cat-loving girl, the normal boy who has a not-so normal health, and the leader who brings them all together. However, the problem lies in some of their characters being one-dimensional. The high school outfits most of the characters wear are also a bit generic in the sense that they don't stand out much. Except perhaps the school council president, most of the characters hardly cares about the way they are dressed at school. It is amusing at the same time though to watch what they do with the team especially out on the field together.
Despite some of the action presented in the form of duels at school, the series often leans more towards the comedy department. From the first episode, we can see that the duels themselves has little serious risk on the line besides the bragging rights and earning an embarrassing name (lol). At often times, these duels are portrayed as being over the top humorous with the objects involved. The duels themselves are also often cliched and has no typical strategy involved. I have not played the visual novel but from this anime adaptation, it seems to try way too hard and at times too random. It works out at times but at other cases just seems too purposeless and unreasonable.
Because the series also takes place at high school, expect the common themes such as joining a club, making friends, relieving past memories, being school disciplined, and drama. Speaking of which, the series does occasionally pull itself through with the drama presented. J.C. Staff is known for some of their series that progresses drama in sequences. In Little Busters, it follows a similar fashion but only in arcs. The series itself takes these arcs and pinpoints individual characters who gets their highlights. In other words, it doesn't follow the usual linear storyline. Rather, it focuses on a more progressive character direction that is driven by LB's themes.
Unfortunately, the series suffers a number of problems that may be hard to redeem itself. The series often tries way too hard with its drama. In fact, one could call it as almost being artificially crafted from the the characters' development themselves. To add on more to that injury, there hardly is any development because some of the arcs either does one of the following: moves too slow or rushes it way too fast. It doesn't balance it together well. In fact, even some of the emotions portrayed in the various arcs lacks real passion with a weak feeling of realism. As there are even some filler episodes, the series lacks a true progression to fit material to be adapted. Then, there's the problem with the romance aspect of the show. For some reason, I cannot get into the feeling of romance into this at all. In fact, I hardly notice it being present because the show seems to focus far too much on comedy. Not to mention that, the moe like features, expressions, and sometimes random gags seems to become a distraction.
Then, there is a problem with adaptation. I have not played the original visual novel game even though it has a huge fan base. From the various comments, feedback, and other sources, the series seems to suffer a case of this especially involved with “things that should be there but aren't”. It's hard to meet everyone's expectations especially with a caliber of a series such as Little Busters but from an objective standpoint, that's not an excuse. J.C. Staff has a history of adaptations – some which transformed into a revolution while others dropped the ball. From the viewpoint of an anime-only viewer, I will say that J.C. Staff pulled off an alright adaptation. However, based on some technical backgrounds, the series just pulls way too many comedy with not enough what the fans actually may want. It's a bit of a disappointment but I guess we always can't get everything we want. To me though, this looked like a buildup to a greater medium.
The artwork of Little Busters comes together like a picture frame on a wall. It fits right but probably not all the way through especially in some of the earlier episodes. It does have its appealing imagery though especially with expressions on some of the characters' faces during various reaction scenes. For more of the fun factors, there is the moe incidences of some of the younger characters. The series adapts these scenes to seemingly give a lighthearted outlook because the series has a more pleasant feeling of fun and high school comedy. At other incidences though, there are serious scenes and even emotions especially in one of the later arcs. The background artwork seems only mediocre though and nothing seems to stand out. Along with the school uniforms, the series keeps itself with its generic designs.
As for music/soundtrack, the series maintains its composure of that lighthearted melody. Jun Maeda orchestrates the rhythms for the series whom is already known for his other works such as Air, Clannad, and Kanon. In general, I found the overall tone of the soundtrack to be above mediocre but not too unique. Most of the OST is lighthearted with a soft paced tone. Although beautiful and melancholic at many variances, it seems to be a bit repetitive and ultimately becomes somewhat overbearing in various scenes. It's almost as if the music is on repeat. The OP song, Little Busters! by Rita depicts the team members from the series formed by friendship, connections, and unity. It also shows some expressions from various characters that can be seen as melancholic or out of this world. (especially for Riki's case) The ED song follows a similar suit.
Ultimately, Little Busters is a charming little gem but occasionally loses its shine. By the way it portrays itself, the series suffers flaws from pacing, direction, a seemingly weak adaptation coupled with some edgy artwork problems. The series also misdirects and fails to bring emotions from what fans expected from the characters themselves. It's not pleasing when you realize that something so emotional can zoom so fast right through. The series does make its way with good comedy though and its colorful cast of characters. Along with that, LB brings for a heartwarming feeling to viewers especially when you're looking for something lighthearted to watch. The characters themselves forms the team known as Little Busters (the title of the anime itself) and with that, they walk down a future of dreams and friendship; at least for now.read more
Anyone old enough in the anime industry knows about this ongoing clash about moe. Will you join the side of the loving fans, or do the edgy haters fit you better? Take your time guys. I can do this all day.
A perfectly-timed gust of wind. A low camera angle. Once in a while we get a peek under a skirt. And sometimes, just sometimes, we get a glimpse of the legendary striped anime panties that are shimapan.