Synonyms: LB!: Refrain
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 5, 2013 to Dec 28, 2013
24 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.401 (scored by 13715 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisRiki and his friends have been managing to form a complete team for the Little Busters baseball team and after overcoming some of its new members' internal conflicts, Riki and Rin slowly approaches the "secret of this world".
Will they be ready for the truth? In this world devoid of logic, something has started to move and soon will come the time when the lives of the Little Busters will change forever.
(Source: Koi-nya, edited)
Related AnimeAdaptation: Little Busters!
Prequel: Little Busters!
Sequel: Little Busters!: EX
Characters & Voice Actors
It is rare to find a sequel as emotionally powerful as Little Busters: Refrain. Where the first season blundered with its melodrama, Refrain instead provides a much more thoughtful and meaningful story. If you have developed any sort of attachment to the characters in Little Busters, you will undoubtedly shed at least a few tears by the end of Refrain. It is the second best Key anime to date.
As somebody who regards the Little Busters visual novel as one of the most emotional stories they have ever experienced, I was sceptical hearing about an anime adaptation of Refrain. Did it turn out to be some dreadful abomination in the end? I don't believe so, but the visual novel is still undeniably the superior experience. Large sections of story (including half of Rin's route) are skimmed over or ignored entirely in the anime. Other important scenes, such as Masato's backstory, are misrepresented as something silly when they should be serious. There are so many things that could have, should have been better, and yet it still manages to be one of 2013's best anime. Perhaps that is a testament to how strong the characters are.
For anime-only viewers, Little Busters: Refrain is certainly no featherweight. The story directly follows the events of the first season by developing characters who were largely overlooked in the past. Perhaps you found Rin adorable or Kyousuke amusing, but Refrain succeeds in elevating the main five much higher than that. It is one of very few anime where the relationships between the characters feel genuine rather than forced or manufactured. As a series rooted in the theme of friendship, Refrain does a magnificent job of making the viewer feel like they are a part of the story rather than merely spectators. That is no easy feat in a visual medium.
Little Busters does not rely on fanservice and other cheap tricks to hold your interest. Surely, there is an ever-present feeling of 'moe' among the girls (isn't Rin just the cutest thing?) but it is never used as a crutch for characterisation. Even Komari, arguably the weakest character in the first season, is given a considerable amount of depth through her relationship with Rin. Refrain goes further than giving more-- it makes us care. It does not find complacency in characterisation without meaning.
What about Kengo and Masato, then? There was never much depth to them in the first season, amusing as they were. Masato in particular seemed to exist solely as comedy relief, like a more idiotic version of Clannad's Sunohara. That is no longer the case with Refrain. An entire episode focusses on Masato's backstory: why he is obsessed with the idea of strength, why he acts like an incessant moron in front of others, and how he became friends with Kyousuke and Kengo. The only issue is that the anime portrays these scenes as something silly (zombie eyes and battle music blasting in the background) when it is meant to be emotional. I'm not so sure the anime-only viewers will appreciate his characterisation as much as they could, which is a shame, as all the characters enrich the story in a pretty significant way.
Kyousuke's characterisation is where the writing truly shines. While his presence as a leader is often taken for granted in the first season, Refrain shows there is a far deeper reason for why everyone respects him so much. It is more than mere charisma. He cares about his friends more than anyone else and will go to any lengths to protect them from harm. Even if it requires him to play the role of a villain. And often he does. It is easy to be frustrated or even infuriated by Kyousuke's actions, but once all the pieces start clicking together at the end, you can't help but respect the poor guy. He's a deeply flawed person, and that's the way it should be. He is not perfect and makes mistakes like anybody else. Rarely do we find a character as genuine as Kyousuke.
While the handling of Rin's route is disappointing, Rin manages to stand right beside Kyousuke by the end of the story. The second-to-last episode focussing on Rin is so touching, so masterfully directed that it genuinely surpasses the visual novel. I do not say that lightly. Unlike many other Key stories (and even anime in general), there is no melodrama. The entire series has been building towards a very specific point. Once Rin starts crying into Komari's arms, it is nearly impossible to resist choking up a bit. It's similar to the ending of K-ON's second season in many respects... although I would argue that Refrain does it better.
And that is to speak nothing of how powerful Kyousuke's episode is. Or the lyrical significance behind the insert song "Haruka Kanata". Or all the subtle details hidden in the first season, or even how it gives meaning to all the alleged dei ex machina within Kud's and Mio's routes. Little Busters is Jun Maeda's masterpiece, and while not everybody may appreciate his style of storytelling, there is almost nothing to criticise about his work on Little Busters. Even if the anime only captured a tiny fraction of the visual novel's charm, I still believe it would be a satisfying experience. J.C. Staff's adaptation isn't fully there-- but it comes close.
"Comes close". I wish it could have been on par with the visual novel, but that is regrettably not the case. The amount of scenes (and important ones, no less) that are skipped over is truly disappointing. All J.C. Staff needed to do was simply tone down on the foreshadowing (which can really undermine the surprise) and find the budget needed to double Refrain's episode count. If the anime did reach the same heights as the visual novel, I have no doubts that it would be regarded even more highly than Clannad: After Story.
The artwork has been noticeably improved over the previous season, though. A surprising amount of effort was put into the first episode, and J.C. Staff has worked to eliminate most of the bizarre, off-model faces that were so prevalent before. There are still occasional scenes where the animation quality dips but it is nowhere near as egregious as it used to be. My only complaint is that many important CGs from the visual novel ("called game") are lacking any sort of visual impact in the anime. The visuals should have been used to enhance the story rather than merely assist it.
Refrain makes near-perfect use of its soundtrack. "Boys Don't Cry" (Kyousuke's theme) is a subtle track that does not seem to carry much significance at first, but eventually evolves into what I believe to be the most emotional track in the story. It is a perfect tribute to Kyousuke. Most people will also find themselves pulled by the sheer emotional weight of "Haruka Kanata", the farewell song of the series. Considering the lyrical significance and all that was building up towards this point, it achieves more than simply being sappy; it is a massive tsunami of emotion. Special props should also be given to "Song for Friends" which achieves much of the same impact as the previous two. While Little Busters may have one of the best soundtracks in anime, it also has one of the best uses of music.
The seiyuu work is also commendable. The actors do not simply state their lines. During the more emotional moments in the story, you can clearly hear the actors choke up as their character begins to cry. We do not often see this level of effort in anime. Kyousuke's and Rin's seiyuu evidently care about getting into the role of their character, and the result is some of the best voice acting in years.
Little Busters: Refrain is a superb anime. It is an experience that is more than the sum of its parts. Few anime have managed to create such a thoroughly endearing cast of characters, and even fewer have managed to strike such an emotional chord with its audience. It may not be as good as it should have been, and while the visual novel is still several steps above, the anime adaptation is a solid alternative for those unable to dedicate the fifty-some hours into reading the visual novel. Those expecting a deep, convoluted story brimming with 'mature' characters may not find what they are looking for. Little Busters is especially well-written and well-produced, but it does still rely on your ability to empathise with the characters. I don't think that is a bad thing at all.
And I wonder, why do we live in an era where stories are judged solely by their complexity? Why must a critic feel forced to act is if they are too high-brow to value emotion? Human emotion is a powerful, powerful thing that gives our transient existence a meaning and a purpose. If a story is capable of bringing you to tears, it is a damn good one, I would say. read more
Little Busters is a story that should be experienced in its totality in order to understand and appreciate it. While the story arcs have individual appreciable value, the the underlying themes and implications as well as the character relationships all build up to a greater story in Little Busters!: Refrain.
Little Busters!: Refrain completes the story of Little Busters, and fills in that empty feeling from the end of the first season. There are animation quality improvements and a more dramatically intense storyline, filled with much more characterization for characters you may have felt were mere hollow stereotypes.
Little Busters!: Refrain brings a darker and more serious tone to the series, while shedding light on the mysteries and anomalies that are going on with the world. The unveiling of the "Secret of the World" could completely change your opinion of the series, as mundane events are now filled with hidden implications.
Like most of Key's works, they follow a motif that starts out uncertain and wrapped in slice of life, but is enhanced and better developed in the latter part of the story. Basically, if you're a Clannad fan, consider "Refrain" to be the "After Story" of Little Busters. It includes the final arcs of the series and cleverly wraps up the story.
If you'll take the series purely, you'll find a wondrous tale of love and friendship.If you want the full immersive experience from Naoe Riki's perspective, check out the Little Busters! visual novel, which contains the full story that the anime series is based on. The original Little Busters visual novel is translated in English and available to download.
Themes and Motifs:
Some questions to keep in mind:
Do you remember adolescence?
Is it wrong for grownups to lie even if their end justifies their means?
If you were a parent, would you take on your children's hatred just to meet your parental goals?
I've always felt that Little Busters needs to be approached on a thematic level, especially in the anime adaptation. Little Busters is a story of friendship, but also a tale of growing up and facing reality. Time is continuous, and children eventually grow up to take the place of their parents. It's inevitable. Kyousuke and the Little Busters supporting Riki and Rin embody that aspect of life, through their tough support of their characters. A parent's role is to guide and help their children, but they must also know when to let go.
There's a sense of purity and sincerity in the Refrain arc of the story. The series doesn't continue with button-pushing drama to simply make you a simplistic sense of sadness. Inevitability, despair, betrayal, hope, rage, anxiety, and confusion are other feelings and emotions that we experience throughout adolescence. Who are our really our friends and enemies? We often lack the experience to be able to tell. Maybe someone who claims to be
protecting you from harm is actually keeping you from enjoying life to the fullest.
Refrain's story structure creates a narrative that presents these wavering and fluctuating feelings of ambivalence. We at first can't tell who are truly Riki and Rin's allies until we reach the conclusion of Little Busters. This story brilliantly portrays how once feels while growing up, and once they have surpassed adolescence.
The story starts out a bit vague and confusing, especially from the first season. The plot is quite character driven and has some element of magical realism, something that Key has been mostly effective at. It's effective, it's heartfelt, and it has a lot of ideas and techniques that you won't find in other anime.
The character building and relationships is the most significant aspect of the plot. Stories are often defined and driven through a character's internal conflicts, and the relationships between other characters. Conflicts between the main 5 Little Busters are circular, and all build up to the climax of the series, The Secret of the World.
I highly recommend to give the series a rewatch to further your understanding of the show, because it will be much be enlightening and enjoyable that way.
As of the first 3 episodes, I'd say that the art has improved significantly from the first season. It's not quite perfect, but character emotions are well portrayed, and and interactions are plentiful. There may be improvements in the Blu-ray release for episodes 4-13, where the main story takes place. The art quality in episodes 1-3 is easily some of J.C. Staff's best work, and it looks like they started running low on animators for the remaining episodes.
"There’s a reason I write music. That is, if you put in a request with someone else for a piece of music to accompany a particular emotional scene, the image of what you imagined as being the right piece of music for the moment might not get across perfectly well. Because you’ve already thought to yourself, “If this sort of heartrending theme would be playing, I would feel like crying right now”, it’s something that only you perfectly put into music as you imagined it." - Jun Maeda
Jun Maeda and Shinji Orito are the primary music composers from Key Visaul Arts. They devote time crafting unique and flavorful music to amplify the emotions of their stories. The best music from the Little Busters soundtrack will come forth this season, and they're some of Key's finest tracks.
You'll get to see interesting character portrayal and far less cliched and archetypal characterization in this season. Season 1 does follow a typical standard, and the heroines are admittedly based around their simple personalities, but in Refrain, you'll quickly see a subversion of preexisting archetypes for the main cast, and you'll find a serious and unique story involving them.
Some story arcs are cut short in the series, however, and characters like
Kyousuke and Kengo may be nontraditional or even too cryptic for many to understand, especially compared to common characters in a school slice of life setting. However, with a rewatch, the story has a lot of character development and progression as it approaches its conclusion.
Little Busters!: Refrain adds a psychological aspect and better exemplifies multiple character perspectives on drama that takes place in Little Busters. I can't spoil too much, but it will be fun, engaging and entertaining to see how the plot unfolds. The dialogue and screenplay presenting the character emotions are often quite subtle, but add a lot to the story.
J.C. Staff has had an immensely difficult job in presenting a nonlinear story in a way that is believable in the anime medium. Other studios and writers would've quickly turned down Little Busters due to its complexity and story length, but J.C. Staff has been able to present the core aspects of the story. Events are cut from the visual novel, and the pacing can be a little hectic, but I think that if you follow the story more thematically and even give it a rewatch, you'll find that the story is pretty enjoyable.
There are aspects of the plot of the visual novel that have mostly dialogue, and J.C. Staff has supplemented that with creative screenplay with character motions and interactions. Aspects of the story such as episode 10 were tough to represent visually, but overall, J.C. Staff did a fine job building up to the climax of Refrain.
Despite Refrain being a personal favorite story of mine, I'm giving it at a 9.
Thanks for checking out my review, and please excuse some of my vagueness.
If you've completed the series, you may want to check out my image gallery with analyses for some of the more complex story arcs and symbolism throughout the story:
http://imgur.com/a/fSJLK read more
baseball, feels, same creator... character-centric plot
also something more but I'd get into spoilers :(
These two anime may have quite a different plot, but I felt the vibe they gave off to be the same. Aside from the vibe, I think both have a story that contains humor, (though Little Busters! has more humor in it than Little Busters: Refrain.) drama and a beautiful deeper meaning. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby, though, because you wouldn't be the first one to cry your eyes out.
Both Key works Little Busters being a VN adaption and Angel Beats being an anime original. Jun Maeda wrote both Angel Beats and Little Busters. It's very hard to explain without spoiling both shows, but they both share many of the same themes and motifs.
-Both surely make you cry, and have stories that are almost the same.
-Both are about how hard it is to depart with friends after involve in some accidents and are about friendship and companions.
-Both show us how important and wonderful one's life is.
-Both are about saving their friends and protect them and content the task where you need to complete it in order to discover the secret of the world.
-Both take place in school and show us how important friendships and best friends/childhood friends are.
-Both have a very touching story and show us that we need to fight for it in order to become stronger.
-Both show us how much pain they struggle and even went into despairs. Both show us how much they treasure their friendships.
-Both show their cooperation and how they overcome hardship in order to save their precious friends.
For anyone who likes the KEY Visual Works series. (Air TV, Kanon, Clannad, Angel Beats!, Little Busters!) Watch!
- Key the studio responsible for Angel Beats also made Little Busters
- both written by Jun Maeda
- Little Busters!: Refrain shares a some very similar plot points with Angel Beats! but I may spoil a major element to Little Busters!: Refrain if I were to elaborate. (After getting to episode 11 of Little Busters!: Refrain the similarities are very obvious)
- Both are fantastic series that managed to make me cry like a little girl.
- Both anime make you cry
- Both show us how important and wonderful one's life is.
- Both anime saving friends and how important friendship
- Story Epic & comedy very funny
Good Characterization :)) The story all revolved about another world, where it has been created by such strong will :)) Lots of drama and twist and story, same plot and made me cry like an idiot :) better to watch it :)
As a fellow *KEY anime*. Same Authors, Similar situations but different Endings. I really recommend all those who watched Little Busters Refrain to watch Clannad After story (Although I recommend the the opposite direction with percaution: don't get angry while watching Refrain!)
Also, both shows need tissues.
They are recommended for all the family, especially teens and post teens.
As you've probably already heard. Little Busters! ~Refrain~ is basically the "After Story" to the main story.
"Key" - the visual novel studio that created Clannad also created Little busters, Jun Maeda who also wrote after story wrote refrain. Did I mention that Maeda admitted that Refrain is the pinnacle of his work, and that he won't ever top it?
If you cried during after story, you will be reminded of that pain while watching refrain.
Clannad: After Story and Little Busters!: Refrain are both the sequels anime adaptations of Visual Novels written by Key
They both focus on the "true" or "main" arc of the story, which essentially ties together the story and gives importance to the previous story arcs, and does a great job of giving development to the main cast after their more lighthearted and comedic prequels.
Each of them are more dramatic than their previous seasons, have more romance, and are primarily written by Jun Maeda.
They each have traditional themes from Key, and these sequels solidify the themes developed throughout the entire story in the form of a climactic experience. Any fan of one story should give the other a chance.
Both are sequels to Key adaptations and (while I don't know how the story of Refrain will go yet) they are generally accepted as much better than their prequels. Both series have a mix of comedy and drama though After Story gets much heavier on the drama aspects. Clannad has a large emphasis on "family" in a similar way that Little Busters has a large emphasis on "friends."
Little Busters: Refrain is the sequel to Little Busters, like After Story is the sequel to Clannad. They're both pretty great and better sequels that complete the story in an emotional and climactic way!
Another visual novel by Key, almost as tear-jerking with somewhat different style and theme. They are always compared by people who watch both. Still, the knowledge from first season of LB! is needed.
Opening Theme"Boys be Smile" by Suzuyu (鈴湯) (eps 1-9, 11-13)
Ending Theme#1: "Kimi to no Nakushi Mono (君とのなくしもの)" by Ayaka Kitazawa (北沢綾香) (eps 1-2, 4-5, 7, 12)
#2: "Song for friends" by Rita (eps 3, 8-9)
#3: "Hanabi" by Lia (ep 6)
#4: "Boys be Smile" by Suzuyu (鈴湯) (ep 10)
#5: "Haruka Kanata (遥か彼方)" by Rita (ep 11)
#6: "Little Busters! -Little Jumper Ver.-" by Rita (ep 13)more
Which fansubbers do you like the best? Click + to approve of their subs for this show. Click - if you don't think they did such a great job.
AnimeYO! [AnimeYO!] (Brazilian Portuguese)
Related ClubsVisual Novel Petition Club, Romantic-Love Club, Lolicon and Love, Kurugaya Yuiko Fanclub <3, Hanazawa Kana's Fans!, Key/Visual Art's, Romantic Comedy Anime <3 (RCA<3), Slice of Life Club, Horie Yui Fanclub, Anime Allegiance Club? , Our Anime & Manga Club, Little Busters!, Eintity-Puzzles, Phenomena, Paradoxes, Kudryavka Noumi Fanclub
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