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.
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.
I review: Little Busters
Little Busters - Refrain
(I am comboing them because I marathon'd them together.)
If you were looking for romance, it isn't here. It is more about friendship than anything. If you are a romance lover, it doesn't matter, because the story being told is so damn good.
Alrght so, I started Little Busters when it was coming out weekly. It had a slow start, and I didn't find it that entertaining for me for some reason. The first girl's story was kinda lackluster. I then stopped watching Little Busters at around episode
9, because I thought it was bullshit. After both seasons became finished, I decided to give it another shot (because I ran out of anime).
The humor of the show isn't as funny until the characters grow on you, then it becomes frikin' hilarious.
At first, some of the girls were really annoying, but as they grew on me, I started loving them. They aren't the cookie cutter pasted girls that I thought they once were.
As usual, each girl has a hidden problem, and boy were some of their stories REALLY out there.
I come across the supernatural. There is this under-laying supernatural theme going on.
One big, giant, supernatural theme. The show has this big mystery behind everything. All the girl's problems that have been solved, wasn't just forgotten like how some harems do. It ties in perfectly. This big mysterious supernatural theme is what kept me going and watching, and getting excited every time I was given a new clue.
The main character, as I thought, was just one of those super nice to everyone, goody-two-shoes boy. Well, he still is, but the fact that he is that for a reason makes it all the better. Everything that this show has given us, they give us a reason. They explain it, and you will believe it.
Never before have I seen a harem show that ACTUALLY focuses on other MALE characters. The male characters have a deeper story than any of the girls, because it ties in with EVERYTHING.
The music is good. When they want you to feel, they will make you feel. I don't quite remember it as much as I do with Clannad or Toradora's sad music, but it still gets the job done.
The animation is good enough. I don't remember any spectacular things about it, but they do show a good amount of movement, walking, and running.
NOW FOR LITTLE BUSTERS - REFRAIN
Brace yourself. Everything you just watched in the first show was only just build up. Refrain will take EVERYTHING you have just watched, and do something amazing with it. I could say the same thing that went for Clannad; The first show was just build up for Afterstory.
Just sit back, and enjoy the long journey you earned: By watching Refrain.
OVERALL, I give Little Busters an 8, and Little Busters Refrain a 9.
This show is best for marathoning (which I did) and was glad that I didn't have to wait weekly. Then I wouldn't have had the chain effect.
If you're like me and you're thinking about watching this because the visual novel was made by Key, don't. Watch it with an independent mindset, free of Clannad, Kanon, etc. If you don't you're just gonna find disappointment.
The story was definitely not as good as Key's previous works. Yes, it followed the general plot of a high school boy helping multiple girls cope and effectively saving their lives in one way or the other, but it simply was not as engaging. There were many story elements that could have been left out. For example, Riki's narcolepsy. So what? It did not influence
the progression of the story whatsoever. There was also no romantic interest, but the friendships gained throughout the series filled in the hole nicely for those who don't mind the absence of romance.
As expected, it was beautifully animated. No complaints.
The music lacked variety. There was probably one tune that played in every emotional scene throughout the show. Variety is always good when the anime is only about friendship and nothing else is going on. Otherwise the show becomes drab very quickly. Also, the female voices were THE MOST annoying I have ever heard. I was relieved when Kurugaya would speak as she was the only normal sounding female voice in the series. This anime is not for people who detest whimpering, crybaby voice work that sounds like Asian porn.
The characters were good with each having his/her own unique personalities. Each fought their own battles, emerging as victorious, developed characters. They were funny when they were supposed to be, and emotional when it was expected. However, I could not get around how they acted like 5 year olds throughout the whole show. If the producers were aiming for a moe approach, they definitely failed. I saw nothing cute in these characters at all. Maybe it's because i'm not into that stuff. But panty shots of bears and ducks on teenage girls aren't really my thing. I found it awkward and completely unnecessary to the story.
It was definitely not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. Towards the middle of the season, I was struggling to keep watching. I have a policy to watch an anime all the way through once I reach a certain point, so there was no going back. The story was boring and the characters were annoying. As usual, Key was aiming for an emotional tale that would grip our hearts and make us feel the pain the characters felt but this simply was not the case this time. It was just, meh. I would recommend this like I would recommend SAO: I wouldn't. Unless you like mediocre anime that relies solely on fan service to get viewers.
So if you just finished Clannad and want to watch another one of Key's visual novels animated, do yourself a favor and skip this one and watch Angel Beats or something instead.
There is a second season titled "Little Busters: Refrain" and i'm going to be watching it when it airs toward the end of 2013. Who knows? Maybe it will pull an "Afterstory" on us and crush our hearts to bits before an amazing ending. Hopefully it isn't as painful to watch as Season 1 was.
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