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 might 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 Refrain is particularly 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.
Let's get one thing out in the open, I played the VN. Little Busters has always been close to my heart with the story itself one of my favorites around. But enough of that, let's get the review under way! Oh, and this review will contain comparisons between this and the first series and occasionally, reference to the VN.
First things first, this series is a massive improvement in every aspect compared to the first series, be it art style, script, or timing of music. If I were to choose one stand out improvement however, it would have to be the animation. I found the
previous series almost unbearable at some points but this series, well was top class compared to what we have already witnessed within the Little Busters universe. This series blitzes the first series. One thing I must add is that to those who didn't watch the first series and have noticed the popularity of this series and wondered 'can I watch this series without watching the first?', you must watch the first series to fully embrace this series.
This series kicks off right where the previous series left off, focusing more on the 'Secret of the World' and the original Little Busters themselves. When the 'Secret of the World' starts to become more apparent, one realizes that this series itself is far darker and serious compared to the first. A personal love of this series is how subtle hints are dropped throughout concerning 'the secret of the world'. Some moments are incredibly clever and well, blow your mind!
One thing that is very apparent in this series is that it is very emotional. In the first series, there were incidences that weren't emotional at all and yet in the VN, they had me reaching for the tissues. This was due to things being lost in translation, literally. For me this was most obvious during Haruka's route but let's save this rant for another time. However, I was simply blown away at how well they transferred the emotional scenes over from the VN. I even felt that at certain points, the anime was actually more emotional than the VN!
Unlike the first series, Refrain actually contains character development! Hooray! This in turn makes you feel more connected to the characters and thus enjoy the series more. Whats more is that this 'character development' didn't just apply to the 'original little busters' but the newcomers aswell such as Kurugaya. Happy days!
Now, before I tie up this review, I wanted to dedicate a section the music. The music in LB is simply astounding. Be it instrumentals like 'Lamplight', which sends a shiver down my spine due to how harrowing it is or songs like 'Faraway' or 'Song for Friends'. I must add 'Faraway' is simply one of the most emotional songs I have ever heard.
This story is full of so many twists and turns that you couldn't possibly predict what could happen. Its a compelling, sad and funny story all in one! But the main reason I gave this series such a high rating is simply because of how well the JC staff adapted this story into an anime. I knew what was going to happen and yet I was glued to the screen from the get go.
Little Busters Refrain is (loosely) based of the key visual novels who have notably produced some great shows such as Clannad, Kanon and Air. Little Busters Refrain is no different. For a LB refrain is the sequel to Little Busters and in my opinion (and widely regarded to be) much much better than the first season, not that LB was bad in any way. This 2nd season is 13 episodes long.
I should mention at this point that this again would fall under the category of high-school life (almost all of the action occurs here), fantasy and slice of life perhaps. As we have come to
expect from key, LB Refrain is just as emotionally hard hitting in its own way but I will leave you to decide that for yourselves.
Now for the actual show itself. It picks off basically where LB left off and continues to develop characters stories from there. However the way it goes about this is in much more depth and each and every episode will invoke strong emotion. They only give themselves 13 with it all to do and they pull it off pretty well. You may be wondering if it is possible to further develop the characters stories in such a short time however the pacing and the mixture is just right.
Where LB was a rather nice, slow setting into the story, you really have to feel that it was all building up to LB Refrain. Be warned, LB Refrain takes a much darker angle right from the outset, some sensitive themes are explored and are very thought provoking. It goes to show that not everything can always go smoothly and it is here that you can really start to connect with the characters.
STORY + CHARACTERS: The story itself continues in the high school, we still don't know the answer to the universe (to those who have watched LB) and the episodes go through with each character. They all have very different stories and they are all fascinating in their own right. The characters you may have thought to be on the fringe suddenly make much more sense and everything is never as it seems at first ;). The best bit of this show in fact how well all the episodes were integrated with each other right from the first episode of LB to the last of Refrain. When you reach the climax, which personally I found very satisfying you can come to appreciate everything that has occurred in the previous episodes, it all suddenly fits together with amazing effect.
One thing I found with LB Refrain which was distinctly different to LB was the way they just dropped bombshell after bombshell without really ever giving you any chance to recover, the plot gets thick and very fast. In order to wrap up the show in 13 eps, each of the eps feel meaty and full of content and in fact the intricacies all make it more pleasurable to watch a second time once you know what is actually going on.
The soundtrack was very good I thought, the music complemented the action just as you would expect from a key adaptation and once again it was used to add an extra dimension to the atmosphere, made you feel something a little extra. The OP in my opinion was especially pleasant as well.
As a final word on LB Refrain, if there were one thing that I would stress the most, it would be that you have to keep yourself aware and keep your mind open. The story really does take you on ups and downs in the 13 episodes and it executes it so well in such a short period of time that there are various emotions that are evoked. The characters of this anime are probably some of the best worked characters or rather collectively they are the most interactive bunch with everyone having an affect on the other.
Expect the unexpected on this emotional rollercoaster that is Little Busters Refrain.
Kyousuke, Rikki, Rin and co. make for one heck of a show with perhaps my most favourite story line full of twists and turns.
If there is anything, it’s no secret that Little Busters Refrain is a sequel of the first season based off the visual novel of the same name. Also no secret is the fact that the visual novel has gained tremendous success as one of Key’s works. Key is known to produce a variety of their works with supernatural elements including Kanon, Clannad, and Rewrite. The Little Busters franchise tells the story of a boy named Riki Naoe who is a member of the team known as Little Busters. Along with three other boys and a girl named Rin, they
are led by Kyousuke to play baseball at their school. But little do they know there’s much more than meets the eye...
If the first season of Little Busters was the prototype, Refrain would be the final product. This means that it’s a direct continuation from the way season 1 was set up. Of course, not everything usually goes right especially in cases of visual novel game adaptations. Usually, fans expect more than what they can bargain for in terms of consistency with its characters, story, setting, music, artwork, and the list goes on and on. There have been some series that pulled it off quite successfully with its adaptations while others not so much in recent years. Little Busters Refrain falls under the category of a mixed bag at some occasions. It’s not a masterpiece but neither is it a shipwreck beyond salvage. It’s more of a work that fans should appreciate as it wraps up the story of Little Busters as a whole to deliver satisfaction and something to remember by.
Little Busters Refrain takes place in the same setting as the first season with most of the characters returning. However, it’s noticeable that the story changes dramatically in tone with its previous predecessor. A key (no pun intended here) concept involving the supernatural element of the “secret of the world” becomes prominent throughout the season. However, it doesn’t always go that way as we still some humorous moments. Not only has that but Refrain also added in some hints of potential romance between Riki and Kurugaya. The beginning stages of Refrain drops many hints of this with Kurugaya’s desire and wish to live her best days. Her presence in the show will leave a short yet memorable impression to viewers because of her wish. However at the same time, her departure lacks morality on her own behalf as what she wishes isn’t exactly what viewers may hope for.
But that’s only the beginning stages as viewers will find out that Refrain has many secrets to be unraveled as each episodes goes. This is accompanied by a balance of light and darker themes. Unlike season 1, the show ventures into a darker element involving tragedies along with themes of adolescence in growing up, dealing with losses, and experiencing the unexpected. At the same time, the show still brings in the slice of life fun at occasions similar to season one. The feeling of being part of a team and enjoying life with friends is an experience that I’m sure most people would cherish. In Refrain, we get to see five childhood friends enjoy their life. Unfortunately, not everything goes as they expected.
As Key is involved in the show, adolescence and growing up becomes a major role for our characters. In particular, Kyousuke (the leader of Little Busters) plays a guardian role and bringing in the foundation of the show of growing up. At the apex of the story, his feelings are poured out that truly allow viewers to see how he expresses them. More than that though, characters such as Kengo and Masato also play prominent supporting roles. All the characters are joined together by friendship that defines the importance of closeness and appreciation. As the series goes on, fans will learn the truth and more about the ‘secret of the world’.
The story of Refrain might also seem confusing at first with the various twists such as montages, narration, and climatic like scenes. There is a presence that something is not right in the world that Riki and his friends are part of. This is where foreshadowing comes into play as various hints are dropped with the dialogues, character interactions, and scenes are shown to give viewers firsthand what they might experience. As for the experience itself, it can be different for everyone. Key is a company known to bring forth themes of tragedy as well so emotions are to be expected. As one grows up, they will embark on a journey to learn from the various events in their lives. For our characters in Refrain, they too experience that journey.
The journey itself is explored in various arcs and episodes that connects the story as a whole. As a way of presenting the show, Refrain gives most of the prominent characters their spotlight including Kurugaya, Masato, Kengo, Riki, and Rin. Kyousuke becomes a driving figure in this show as mentioned before and the experiences he goes through reflects on Key’s reflection – the way it illuminates his feelings. The story itself also conveys comedy despite the grimmer atmosphere. Comedy exists not as fan service but rather as the character interactions and dialogues that holds various meanings. Although Refrain also lacks a bit of the more battle theme setting, it retains its sports style of baseball. Obviously, the show isn’t about sports but the moments are memorable especially for our main characters that enjoys their everyday lives just being together. Viewers will appreciate the concept of friendship that connects them as a whole while discovering the secret of the world. The surprise might not be pleasant but their experiences are unforgettable.
Refrain still lacks a few aspect that might not be appreciable for viewers. As an anime only viewer, I did get quite the satisfaction from this show. However at times, I feel like something is missing such as resolutions to sudden conflicts. Some of the comedy also seems to be oddly coordinated or expressed such as Masato’s reactions. There’s even one particular episode focuses on him that gives him the highlight but doesn’t seem fitting with the Refrain atmosphere. Among other things, visual novel adaptations also sometimes suffers from consistency. In the case of dialogues, it nails it on the spot but not always the expressions or reflection of its ideas. There is an emotional impact to be felt but some parts aren’t tear jerking by Key standards. Perhaps a show being one cour is a problem here but at some cases, the arc/story feels rushed such as montages and resolutions. Also from what I understand, sudden elements of the VN are omitted that would of given the impact of tragic scenes. Despite this though, Refrain still balances itself between light and dark with its style and presentation.
Animation wise, the show remains decent but sometimes lacks impact or rather the maturity of its darker tone for Refrain. Characters are designed to look innocent such as Komari, Kud, Rin, etc. Kurugaya and the boys have a more mature while Riki has more of a childish appearance. On the other hand, the backgrounds are portrayed well and consistent with its fantasy-like atmosphere. The dream like sequences are prominent features that brings supernatural elements while dropping foreshadowing sequences for viewers. As an anime only viewer though, some of the expressions of the characters bothers me such as Masato and Rin. In fact, Rin isn’t very noticeable compared to the other main characters. Even when she takes the stage, it’s hard to take her seriously with her body language and expressions. On another note, JC Staff is known to adapt various anime series with a school life setting such as Sakurasou no Pet Kanojo, Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko., and Shakugan no Shana. While not all of them contains elements of supernatural, they do convey the innocence reflections of the characters. However, I question sometimes if this style fits given the more serious style of Refrain.
The soundtrack balances well on most parts whether it’s during scenes of emotional, comedic, or suspense. Various OST are incorporated from the visual novel while certain new ones are inserted in. It’s also noticeable that Jun Maeda, the creator of the VN is directly involved in coordinating the soundtrack so some of the experiences will feel similar according to his style of presenting the series. The OP song ‘Boys be Smile’ stands as a prominent song to convey the friendship that brings together the team of Little Busters. Even though not all the characters get their own spotlights, it portrays the show in a way that is remarkable with its messages. On the other hand, the main ED song “Kimi to no Nakushi Mono” lacks impact with its orchestra. Voice acting wise, most characters fits well although I sometimes find Riki’s voice to be irritating along with Rin. Kyousuke on the other hand has that authoritative mannerism thanks to Hikaru Midorikawa’s talents. The way he speaks gives him a sense of command and shows why he is the leader of Little Busters. Other characters such as Kurugaya and Kengo demonstrates maturity with their own tone of voice.
Little Busters Refrain isn’t just about discovering secrets but also finding paths to connect the characters together in a complex story. The romance might not be promising but the connections are through friendship and loyalty. There are certain elements that might be confusing especially for anime only viewers so be sure to pay attention as each episode unravels itself. Dialogues in the end should not be just memorable but also matching to Key’s style of presentation. Thankfully, it did that even with some of the oddly coordinated scenes involving expressionism of the characters. And because the show lacks fan service, there is no stupidity with the common misunderstandings or cliches that are overused in the anime industries on many occasions. What it does have is an impact that give viewers an experience they won’t forget. Refrain is not just a continuation but an appreciation as a gift for fans to open up.
This fall season, I get the joy and honour of reviewing Little Busters Refrain on Anime Corner. Honestly, I didn't expect it to be this good. It surpassed my low expectations garnered from the mediocre first season, to one of my favourite series of all time. However, please note that I have not played the visual novel, so this review will be solely based on the anime only. Anyway, let’s get on with the review.
“I totally didn’t expect that to happen.”
If you have watched the first season of Little Busters, you must have found it rather boring and mediocre. Everything
was kinda predictable, and as such when they hit you with the feels, somehow the tears just don’t flow. As such, Refrain is the reward for managing to watch all 25 episodes of the first season.
Refrain is totally different. Every episode is interesting with a super-annoying (but satisfying) cliffhanger at the end of each episode that just keeps you at the edge of your seat. There are so many plot twists within the show; you almost never know what’s coming up next, which causes so many emotions to be experienced when they do hit you with the emotional scenes.
Refrain basically continues directly where season 1 left off. Riki and Rin get closer to the secret of the world, which I have to say, be extremely satisfying when it got revealed.
Moreover, everything from season one has been linked together here to form this masterpiece. If you do go back and watch season one, you’ll get a newfound appreciation for it because you can see exactly what the characters and doing and why they are doing so.
Honestly, Little Busters is nothing without its characters. This is an anime where the characters are so masterfully done where it just carries the whole show forward.
Of course, with characters being the main focus, you would see a lot of development. Hell, the whole story is centered on the development of both Riki and Rin. Without a doubt, Riki is developed the most. When he was young, he was super depressed because he lost his parents, but Kyousuke and the Little Busters helped him get back on his feet. But even in season one, he was more of a follower. A follower of Kyousuke. As such, the entire story was basically to make Riki into a more independent leader. You could definitely see the difference between Riki’s confidence and decisions in season one as compared to the last few episodes of season two.
Another commendable character is definitely Natsume Kyousuke. The writers did an awesome job in portraying Kyousuke, such that halfway through the series, he was made to look like the villain. An extremely terrifying villain at that, being able to control whatever happens in the world, and trying to make Rin do things against her will. However, at the end of the season, we finally see his true intentions. I would say that Kyousuke is somewhat of a fatherly figure to both Riki and Rin. He did his best in order for the both of them to grow and develop, even if he knows he’s hurting them, because as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As much as it pains him to see them getting hurt, it is for their own good.
Lastly, is of course the entire Little Busters team. They have all done their best till the very end in order to help both Riki and Rin grow, even though they do not benefit from it. I sincerely believe that if all friends in this world were as noble and kind as the Little Busters team, the world would definitely be a better place.
The animation for Refrain is amazing. If you have been looking carefully at each scene, you would notice that there are actually very minor details that serve as foreshadowing to the later parts of the story, something that is pretty commendable. An example would be from episode 2; many scenes are white and look cold. This actually signifies Kurugaya’s loneliness, which is seen later on.
The soundtrack of the anime is extremely fitting, complimenting each scene to make it feel more lively or to add to the sadness.
Special credits to the insert song, Song for Friends, by Rita. It’s sung with so much emotion, and if you look at the lyrics you’ll feel even sadder for the characters during the scenes it is played.
“Dare no tame ni bokura wa yuku?
Dare no tame ni mata mezameru?
Dare ga itemo daremo inakutemo koe wo okuru yo”
(For whom do we go on?
For whom do we awaken again for?
Whether that person exists or not, I call to them)
It basically captures the essence of the entire Little Busters anime.
Enjoyment and Overall (9/10)
I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed Little Busters Refrain. It was an absolute blast to watch, keeping me on the edge of my seat every episode. Moreover, I finally had the feels that I have craved for so much from season one, from an anime by Key. If you haven’t even picked up the first season of Little Busters, I highly recommend you do so right now, because Refrain is worth every episode and you’ll definitely be craving for more at the end of the series.
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Once in a while, I find myself craving for good drama with at least a decent story depth and a somewhat intense atmosphere. Apart from the latter, Little Busters ~Refrain~ was not able to deliver.
There's one thing in particular that is always inherent to KEY anime: borderline drama. In some cases (Clannad, Kanon), this drama plays out well because it feels genuine. In other cases (Angel Beats!, LB ~Refrain~), it is forced upon the viewer with all one's might and consequently feels artificial. While I must admit that Refrain does have its strengths, especially in terms of plot twists and tension, the characters totally fail
along the way, which is the primary reason the drama that is being told here sadly mutates into something melodramatic.
When there is one thing about the story that I have to point out as a definite success, it is the way the 'secret to the world' is being uncovered step by step in a very consistent pace. With each episode, the viewer gets drawn more and more into the mess with which the LB gang struggles to cope. This is the reason why there is a rather intense atmosphere to be felt that encourages to jump to the next episode and continue watching. Nevertheless, despite the decent idea underlying the story and the well planned-out conclusion, that, what was intended to be its greatest strength - the dramatic climax - turned out to be the most significant disappointment. That is not because of how the story was written, but first and foremost a result of poorly conceptualized main characters.
I really love the drama in Clannad ~After Story~, but even there it becomes apparent how clichéd the (side) characters were designed to be. In Refrain this blatantly swaps over and affects the entire main cast, which is simply not acceptable. The fact that it is possible to summarize the personality of the main characters with one, at most two sentences is something that not only prevents the characters from driving the story forward, but has also a strong negative impact on the perceived credibility of the entire thing. The emotional attachment and the ability to relate to characters is what makes drama dramatic, when the appropriate plot elements are introduced. Refrain leaves it at presenting tearjerking scenes, which are emotional because of their nature and the viewers' cognitive associations, and not because there is genuine drama inherent to the content of the show.
Well, but if someone perceives the emotional impact of an anime - be it artificial or genuine - as its quality, it is basically a good thing, isn't it? Basically yes. The good thing about Refrain is its level of entertainment and the degree to which most people enjoy this series. Only a minority of the viewership actually thinks about whether the drama is rather artificial than genuine. That is why Refrain can without fail be recommended as an anime that has the ability to entertain in various ways. In my rating, however, I give credit to those anime that succeed in thinking things through. Moving someone to tears is simple, building a structure of attachments between the viewer and the characters and killing it off is something that requires method.
Unfortunately, considering that I always loved at least the technical aspect of KEY anime, Refrain, in contrast to previous works, disappointed here as well. A mediocre (beautiful but not noticeably varying) soundtrack, a standard-type ending song, and a slightly more original opening song with some build-up tension don't suffice to warrant a higher rating. Even in terms of visuals, Refrain is sloppy. We live in times of high quality productions, yet Refrain - with its highly emotional content - doesn't make use of the potential that a decent colorization offers to shows like these. Camera angles, transitions, character design, there's nothing that reminds me of the quality of KEY's previous works. Apart from these comparisons, Refrain as a standalone series is definitely enjoyable in terms of arts.
I was looking forward to Refrain, since it ranks among the best anime on MAL, but it yet again turned out to be a tearjerker without substance. Tearjerkers are perceived very differently by the anime audience. Those who actively search for meaningful, authentic drama won't be satisfied by watching Refrain, while those who predominantly value the emotional impact a show (forcefully) produces discover a first-class series. One reason for the great success of Refrain might be the huge improvement since season one. Personally, I really enjoyed watching Refrain because of its atmosphere, but in each and every episode I was reminded of the fact that this cannot in any way be compared to Clannad. It lacks passion and method.
(A quantified evaluation can be found on my page.)
Meant losing" -Naoe Riki
Coming of Age is a really tough genre to pull off, especially in recent anime. You have to establish characters, and as the story progresses, force them to endure certain events and cause them to grow up, whether from a child into an adult or grow as a human being. Little Busters pulls off coming of age as good as I've ever seen an anime do it. And it does it while adding such emotional power to the story that only enhances the impact that the story will leave on you. This is thanks in no
small part to Key, of whom the original Visual Novel was originally conceived. Key knows how to touch your emotions. And some would say that they've been hit or miss with some of their stuff. But when it comes to Little Busters, which I just finished rewatching, the messages they convey are on par with their best.
Many people dislike the first season of LB (For reasons other than adaptation decay). And I can't really blame them for doing so. When you watch this anime, you'll see season 1, and you might feel a little disappointed. Because to be completely honest, it is exactly what you'd expect from a Key Visual Novel adaptation. Protagonist meets an assortment of girls, and helps them out with their problems, which tend to have a lot of sad moments sprinkled throughout them. It also consists of a lot of moe characters doing moe things. And has a few stand alone episodes that at first, feel like they aren't really important to the overall plot, but in the end, are integral. But don't let that ruin things for you, the first season is vitally important to the success of this show. I for one loved the first season, it had many lovable characters, hilarious comedy, some very good story arcs, and subtle nods to "something more" that was yet to come. Season 1 establishes all of its characters, it gets you attached to them. Which will make the emotional jolt the story takes in season 2 much more meaningful to watch. This anime succeeded where the incredibly similar Angel Beats didn't, in its length. Angel Beats threw at you 15+ characters, and tried to make you get attached to them in just 13 episodes, which, is almost flat out impossible. Little Busters as a whole is 39 episodes. It gives you an immense amount of time to get invested into these people's lives. More comparable to Clannad, season 1 serves as pretty much the 26 episode prequel to let you know who everyone is, what they're like, and attempts to prepare you for the much bigger and better sequel.
When season 2 rolls around, it will begin to take a turn. A turn down a path that's quite unlike season 1. It introduces things into the story that you hadn't seen before. Those nods to "something more" in season 1 all come to fruition here. All your questions will have answers. Your opinions will change. And, unlike most anime that have come out within the past 4 years, you will see the growth of a character. This is a Key anime. And as said before, some Key anime are hit or miss. Some of them, like Angel Beats, exist only to make you cry. It's not trying to tell you a good story, nor is it trying to throw out real character depth. It exists solely for the purpose of pulling at your emotions. And if you're like me, that won't work, because you can't become emotionally invested in a story and characters in only 13 episodes devoid of meaningful development. LB isn't just some melodramatic tear fest, forcing you to cry is not Little Busters' one and only objective. This is a show that's going to tell you a story. A story that you can become easily invested in, and if you cry along the way, so be it. Little Busters Refrain takes the Clannad After Story method of establishing characters in a first season, and putting them to the test in the second. Really forcing them to do what they are capable of doing. No longer is our protagonist just a protagonist, he is, in Clannad's case, Tomoya Okazaki, a man who has lost everything, a man who has given up, but a man who still finds hope, and must fight his hardest to regain the things that he once held dear. Little Busters, has Naoe Riki. A boy who is young, naive, and not ready for the real world, Relying too much on others to do what they think is right rather than what he thinks. Throughout Refrain, he has to grow stronger, not particularly physically, but stronger as a person. Grow into someone who can deal with loss, and overcome hardship. Little Busters conveys the theme of growing up insanely well. Saying that you can't rely on your friends forever. Your going to have to deal with very bad and awful situations, and your friends won't always be there for you. You have to become independent. You have to grow up.
As I said earlier, I just finished rewatching Little Busters. Now, I've rewatched a lot of anime now, and while Little Busters is one of my all time favorite anime, it is not my absolute favorite. But I can say that it was definitely the most rewarding rewatch I've ever experienced. I never knew just how much season 1 references things that have to do with season 2 that you won't understand until you get there. You're able to more knowingly understand certain character motivations, and some things they say will make a lot more sense knowing the overall outcome. My opinion on the characters was different the second time around, and it made for an incomparable rewatch experience. Originally, I had thought that I just loved LB, not that it was a great show by any means, but upon seeing it a second time, I can objectively say that it's one of the best anime I've ever seen to date, season 2 specifically. It is something that will grip you, attach to you, and emotionally drain you. Something I feel takes what both Anohana and Angel Beats did, and does it 10x better. With a coming of age story that will surely blow you away from start to finish, it's something that I'll wholeheartedly recommend to anyone and everyone who either wants a great story with great characters and character development, or if you just wanna sit back and cry a whole days worth of tears.
Little Busters ~Refrain~ is a masterpiece among modern day coming of age anime.
Little Busters! Another anime adaptation done by none other than Key Visual Arts. This anime pretty much revolves around a group of friends looking to carry on their youth and try to make the most out of it with the amount of time they have left in High School. Refrain! As most would know is the sequel which leads more into the main arc of the overall story. I HIGHLY suggest you watch the first season before watching this because it may cause some confusion. Now here is where I get into the actually review.
Assuming you haven't watched
the first season (which isn't necessarily required) the story may start out a bit vague. For obvious reasons the first season solely focuses on character development and things of that nature so immediately starting off at refrain would obviously cause some confusion. Now if you are looking for an anime with a really heartfelt and very touching story then this is the anime for you. Watching up till now it gave me that same feel Clannad and Angel Beats! gave me. It was able to touch my heart and give me "dem feels." Originally I would have rated the story a 9 The reasons for that was because at certain parts in the story it was slightly predictable. Take notice I have not had any experience with the Visual Novel what so ever so I was unfamiliar with the story to begin with, but as I mentioned the story was predictable and I felt I was writing the story on the spot as I was watching it. What made me decide whether to give this story a 10 or not was the plot twist near the ending. Which is something I should be accustomed to by now considering a lot of this happens in other Key stories.
Art 9/10: The art is great. It is well done and very bright and contrast. They did a great job with the mood of the scenes as well as showing emotion in the scene. Not much to say on the art but it is definitely top notch and a huge improvement from the first season. But there are some scenes where it seems either rushed or just badly animated but they make up for that with the story.
Sound 10/10: The audio is amazing. This is definitely what drove my emotions up and down while watching this anime. The music was used correctly in every scene and I think overall they were just beautiful and perfect. Just like their other anime adaptations the music in this was phenomenal I will more than likely be getting the sound track as it has been one of the most beautiful music written since Angel Beats! and Clannad!
Character 10/10: The Characters at first seem very simple especially in the first season but in Refrain! They live up to "Key standard" with very intense backgrounds and how they came to be the way they are. I would rate it a 9 because some of the background stories for the characters seem to be rushed or cut short but I was able to piece things together realizing how deep the characters actually are and how far they have as well as the obstacles they have overcome. Masato's obstacle was incredibly touching yet simple, which is something I really like to see in Key's stories.
Enjoyment 10/10: Overall I love slice of life anime especially the ones produced by Key. Key is the only company that has impressed me with every single story they have produced because despite them all being slightly similar in one way or another they all have their own thing that makes them tick to get my attention. I give it a 10 because I have enjoyed this so much I will watch this again in the near future just as I did with Clannad and AngelBeats! I also plan to re-watch Kanon(2006) as well as Air!
Overall 10/10: Despite the story being slightly jumbled and confusing I feel you shall enjoy this. I mentioned similarities between the other stories Key has produced. I didn't mean to compare and for you to expect the same thing. But If you enjoyed Key's other stories than you will more than likely enjoy this one. This is an anime that you have to watch just expecting a great story.
Thank you for reading my review. Like I mentioned this is my first review and it is currently 4:46 AM so if any sentences that I have written sound weird just know that I was up really late writing this. Thanks again and I do recommend you watch this anime because it is now among my list of all time favorites. :)
A lot of good series out there depict an emotion-filled story where the romance comes secondary, if at all. Strong depictions of friendship and in challenging situations can really draw a viewer into the story and start making them sympathize with the characters. It’s a bit of an all-encompassing genre, but only a handful of series really pull viewers in with their screenplay.
It took a while to build. Little Busters! started out slow, and after the first few episodes some people were condemning J.C.Staff for ruining the latest Key adaptation. many of the fans dropped it but I hold on to it. It built slow
because the fast punch isn’t nearly so devastating as the freight train slamming into your soul. By the time Refrain rolled around it had built up a head of steam, and when all the emotions finally came crashing down, I wept. I wept unabashedly for two whole episodes, so potent was the drama unfolding on the screen. There were many great dramas this year, with Uchouten Kazoku almost winning for a similarly slow build up and an emotional gut punch on Episode 8, but only one show pulled us in so deeply only to rip our hearts out with friendship and love. It made every minute that proceeded it worth it many times over.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Thought-provoking storylines that keep inquisitive viewers watching and speculating on where things are headed? Yes, please. They don’t necessarily have to have a horror element to them.
Like last year, 2013 didn’t provide much in terms of mysteries. That didn’t mean that there weren’t good additions to the genre however, and one mystery ended up particularly good. By that, we mean the “Secret of the World.” Set up in its original run and finally culminating in this past season’s Little Busters! ~Refrain~, this was a mystery that hung around for over two dozen episodes, occasionally disappearing and reappearing when we least expected it. It taunted us with red herrings and subtle hints, giving viewers the general feeling that something wasn’t quite right while holding the actual secret until the very end. And what a secret it was. No matter what you thought about the original series, the fact is that Refrain was a spectacular piece of storytelling, and its mystery elements were a big reason why. This was a mystery whose revelation sucker punched you when you least expected it, turned the entire series upside down, and was something whose emotional impact made it an easy winner for this category in my list.
Now that I watched the last episode, I can finally write a review for this anime, I can go on and on about this and list 675 reasons why you should watch it, but I am just going to keep it simple so that people who aren't sure about it, can at least consider it.
Little Busters!: Refrain is a continuation for the first season, where in that they just focused on introducing the characters best way possible. But Refrain is where things start to get really interesting, the main story will start to unfold, and many plot twists and shocking moments will occur that
will pull you in.
Nothing shocked me as much as when the true story of little busters! started to unfold. The story just hits you on the head without you even knowing, you start noticing things that you didn't notice before because you didn't know what is going on, episode by episode questions start to build up in your mind, and by the final episodes all of them are answered and you just sit there dumbfounded by the awesomeness (while crying of course).
Even though I never really had an issue with the first season's art. I will admit that it is more improved here, the characters look better and the animation as well... And that's about it, if you're watching an anime just for the "art style" and going to judge it based on that, then you're watching it for the wrong reasons. (Of course art is an important reason, but it isn't EVERYTHING.)
I don't think I have much to say here, just listening to it's soundtracks, you will know how amazing they are. Every song fits perfectly, and without these strong and emotional soundtracks the scenes wouldn't have left an impact as they did.
Little busters!: Refrain offers such strong characters, and all of them are different from the ones you already saw in season one, because in Refrain, they show their true selves and you will be surprised by how different they are. And not to forget the emotions each character shows, it's as if the characters are real.. you can feel the pain they are going through. Your thoughts on the main characters before will surely change for the best.
I enjoyed every episode of Little Busters!, I thought it was an amazing anime and I think everyone should at least give it a try, and watch it until the end before judging. People shouldn't compare this to the visual novel, or even other titles. This should be looked at as an individual, and should be judged based on that.
As soon as I saw the first season of Little Busters! end announcing a second season, I couldn't help but think that it would be similar to Clannad After Story (I'm assuming almost everyone planning on watching Little Busters has already seen Clannad in this review but I won't spoil anything from it). Having not played the visual novel and only knowing how other Key anime have done so far, I knew Refrain would bring tons of drama that the first season only a small amount of. Since Little Busters! is basically the friendship version of the family-focused Clannad, it's easy to imagine that Refrain
would follow in it's footsteps of being much better (to me) than it's prequel. And Refrain did just that.
Refrain is a bit of an odd sequel as far as sequels go. For most shows, it is a requirement that you watch the first season for whatever reason before moving on to the second. I would only recommend watching the first season of Little Busters in order to get acquainted with the characters a little better, but otherwise (since almost nothing happens in the story overall aside from the original group of five members doubling in size) you could just skip it and go right to Refrain. The characters acquired in the Little Busters group during the first season become minor characters and the focus shifts to the original quintet who had less development during the first season.
So what makes Refrain so much better than the first season? Everything. A moving, dramatic plot; plenty of character development for the main characters; an improved soundtrack and better animation. And, of course, it's much more enjoyable.
The story of Refrain begins not long after the Little Busters! baseball team won their first (and only) game. The show moves away from baseball now and starts focusing specifically on Riki and Rin. But the first arc of the story focuses on Kurugaya, the mature genius girl who was the only one of the new recruits who didn't get an arc in the first season. This arc leads the way into the real story similar to how Clannad After Story's first few arcs did.
The story of Refrain is the biggest improvement from the first season. Rather than just the typical "go around and help all the girls solve their problems" plot which you can find in basically every harem anime ever, the story focuses only on Rin and not the other girls. Rin has always been shy and slower to grow attached to the other characters than everyone else, however her shyness starts to become an even bigger problem and neither her older brother Kyousuke nor Riki seem to be able to solve it completely. To make matters more difficult, Kyousuke and Riki are both going about trying to help her in different ways.
Aside from Kurugaya during her arc, the only important characters for the most part are Riki, Rin, Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo. Along with many flashbacks to their childhoods, the show also develops them incredibly well in the present time. This was one of the main problems I had with the first season. With all the attention given to the other girls who were joining the Little Busters, the original five had very little development. Even Riki did not have very much development despite being the main character. Refrain does a great job of giving enough screen-time to each of the five and building their characters separately and developing the group as a whole. The only real problem with the characters is that they start off so weak that it takes a while before their development makes them really likable. The group of minor characters now gets even less development than the main quintet did in the first season and are only really important for their impact on the main characters.
Refrain's soundtrack uses many of the same songs from the first season, but it focuses much more on the dramatic tracks and (with the decreased amount of comedic scenes) has much less of the forgettable, lighthearted music that was used plentifully throughout the first season. The OP theme also changes to fit the mood whereas the OP and ED from the first season were much more upbeat and cheerful (that's not to say I didn't love the ones from the first season, and it was very nice to hear the first OP return once).
The animation improves just like everything else, though not quite as much. The animation of the first season, though it had spots where the quality fell, was good. The quality of this season's animation was improved in part due to the story requiring it to be much better. The scenery moves away from almost primarily the high school setting and incorporates many other places as well as some more surreal moments. The character designs (though the majority of the colorful hairstyles disappeared with the minor characters) improved as well. The actions of the characters are detailed much better than before and the dramatic mood the animation sets is astounding. There were still some problems especially early on where the animation was more similar to how it was in the first season, but for the most part it improved very well.
But as much as I've been saying positive things about Little Busters, it still only gets an 8/10 overall. So where does the anime have problems? Going back to the how it's similar to Clannad After Story, Refrain has problems in both the beginning and end mainly in the story, but also with the characters in the beginning. With the beginning being similar to the first season, the story then is more of a setup for the real story which begins about a third of the way through the season. As for the ending... well it's a Key anime and what Key anime doesn't suffer from it's ending a little? The strongest part of Refrain is the middle once the anime begins to shed some light on the real story and what is actually happening. All I'll say about it is that it really is one of Key's best works.
Story -- 8/10
Animation -- 8/10
Soundtrack -- 9/10
Character -- 8/10
Enjoyment -- 9/10
If you've watched and enjoyed any of Key's other anime (especially Clannad), then I highly recommend you watch Refrain. If you want to build up more of a connection to the characters, then also watch the first season. If you know that the end of Refrain will probably not make you cry no matter how much of a connection you have to the characters, then you could probably just skip to this season. Refrain is (in my opinion at least) Key's second best anime adaptation (second only to After Story). It is a vast improvement over the first season in every way and I believe it is something you should not miss if you enjoy high school romance and/or slice of life anime.
I thought this was going to be "another season, another crappy drama" kind of show but my god was I wrong. This, folks, is an example of a sequel that is a lot better than the original. I'm not a VN reader so I'm reviewing this as an anime-only viewer.
(There will be some SPOILERS in my review)
[Story]: (9/10) (SPOILERS)
The story continues from the season as Rikki now successfully recruited enough members for the Little Busters and won their first game.
Compared to the 1st season's story, the story told in the 2nd season is a lot better. Just by watching the first episodes, you'll think
that they haven't learned their mistakes and are doing the same mistake but nope. After the 1st episode ends, the show starts to get serious and you'll know that this isn't going to be the same as the first season.
The show focuses on 4 main arcs. The first arc is Yuiko's arc, the second is Rin's arc, the 3rd is focused on Riki and the original Little Busters (without the girls), and finally the final arc, where the show answers everything that happened in the first season, the early second season and the things going on in their "world". I am not going to summarize the arcs.
Anyways, Let's focus on the first arc. This arc primarily focused on Yuiko and Rikki. The first season didn't focus that much on Yuiko so I'm glad they did it here so they can give her a character development. This arc maybe focused on Yuiko but if you take a closer look, this arc is preparing you for what is about to happen at the later episodes. The big hint that this arc gave away is the "time loop" and it also foreshadowed some events that is about to happen.
Now the 2nd arc which is focused on Rikki and Rin's relationship and the "secrets of this world". This might not be the best arc but it's still a great arc. They have now received the final mysterious and they must solve it and the writer of the messages will reveal the "secrets of the world". At first, I thought this "secrets of the world" crap is just a filler but it's not. The "secrets of the world" is a plot point that makes the whole story of the second season. The arc also focuses on Rin and Rikki's relationship. In my opinion, them being a couple felt a little bit forced and it was predictable because Rin and Rikki have been spending a lot of time together.
Now the 3rd arc which is focused on Rikki and the Little Busters. When I first watched this arc, I was very confused. I was asking myself "What happened after the police took Rikki away from Rin?" and "What is this, a flashback episode?". I just ignored those questions and proceeded to go forward. Apparently, Rikki is now recruiting members for the Little Busters while Kyosuke is in his dorm, depressed and reading mangas, because Little Busters is now broken up.
Now the 4th and final arc, where every single plot hole gets filled, everything is explained and how this arc stabbed me right through my heart. I just want to get this out of the way, this arc made me cried and I rarely cry when I watch TV shows. Especially when they showed the bus accident scene.
All of the character's actions in season 1 started to make sense, all those forced dramatic character arcs, why Kyosuke wants Rin and Rikki to become stronger, the time loop that Rikki experienced on the 20th on June, and the "secrets of the world" also started to make sense. I also felt sad and depressed when Kyosuke revealed why he's doing what he's doing. I'm just going to ignore the fact that Kyosuke can repeat time and create a fake world without a scientific explanation.
Now my opinions on the story. It's great. It shows how Kyosuke is doing everything just so when they go back to the real world, they become stronger. The dramatic scenes and emotional moments are not forced this time so the drama was thought out and not something the director just came up with. There are a few flaws and one of those is the story pacing. Characters arc are still rushed but they're not as rushed as the first season.
Now my opinions on the ending. Thank the Lord that they did not die. I don't want the show killing off all my favorite characters.
The Animation is a lot better than the first season but there are still a few flaws. Details are still somewhat lacking and the character design is a bit better than the first season. Their hair are also somewhat better but I don't know if this is just me.
I didn't really like the soundtrack in the first season but the soundtrack in this season is a major improvement. The OP theme song fit so well in this dramatic show. At first, it sounded bland and boring but later on, I understood why. The OP also got more and more depressing as the show goes on. The ED theme songs are also better than the previous ED. I only liked the 1st, 3rd and 5th ED theme song but I didn't really like the 2nd one but this is my opinion.
[Characters]: (9/10) (SPOILERS)
In the first season, I loved all the characters except Riki because of how he's able to go around and solve the girl's problem without him having any problems. However, in this season. It showed that Kyosuke was resetting time everytime Rikki gives up on one of the girl's problem so it pretty much shows that Rikki is not a perfect main protagonist. What was shown in the 1st season is Rikki successfully solving that girl's problem and they didn't show his failed attempts. It also shows that he becomes stronger everytime Kyosuke resets the time. Because of that, I now like Rikki.
The whole season pretty much gave Rikki and Rin a major character development. Showing their flashbacks, their struggles, etc.
Easily a perfect score from me. I wasn't expecting to cry this much when I started watching Refrain because the 1st season was just forced dramatic moments so it didn't really make my cry. I don't think I'll see anymore anime that can make me depressed. (Besides Clannad)
If you're holding back on this anime because you didn't like the 1st season that much then you'll regret it. This season is a lot better and the emotional moments can really hit you so hard. This is one of the best drama anime I have ever seen. The last 4 episodes made me depressed as hell and cried my eyes out. I shouldn't have watch the last 4 episodes all in one go.
+Emotional and Dramatic moments are successfully executed
+Heavy Character Development on Rin, Rikki, Kyosuke, Masato, and Kengo
I don't usually review sequel series' for shows, but Little Busters will be an exception.
After being completely blown away by the original series (10/10) mostly due to the amazing character development - despite its predictability, i loved it.
Then i completed Refrain.
Completely different ball park
It was EVERYTHING and more that i wanted it to be.
The best phrase to describe this masterful sequel would be "Edge of my seat", and it does this seamlessly, not through cheap action scenes. Instead, throughout these 13 episodes, doors are constantly being nudged, you lean forward - hoping to find out more, but it wasn't even a door in the
first place. I guess what i'm trying to get at here is the utterly different frame of mind that the show induces so differently to the original, it completely overwhelmed me...
THIS THING HAS MORE TWISTS AND TURNS THAN THE BIGGEST (Emotional) ROLLOCOASTER IN THE WORLD.
and if you've completed Little Busters (original), you would be a FOOL not to look into refrain, i can't put it into words well at the moment but EVERYTHING becomes truly explained, you have no idea what's in store for you...
Yet i do :-)
And i can honestly say that it is the most outstanding series of TV I've ever seen. When it comes to media, i'm not a cry-er - it just doesn't happen, yet this show pushed me to the limit, that's how immersive it is. But no, it's far from one dimensional, after all, i didn't tell you what emotions i felt so strongly.
It may seem like a Cliche, but those cliffhangers and the revelations in the show will make you want to watch through it all as soon as possible. If you do decide to go binge watching though, i advise you check the floor for a safe landing zone: as you'll be on the edge of your seat!
10's across all boards, though the original series was 90% character based, now you have a wonderful STORY to cherish! ^.^
Little Busters! ~Refrain~, the sequel of Little Busters!. This anime was adapted from Little Busters! VN Refrain route. Maybe some of you will compare this anime with Clannad. In my opinion, we can't compare these two anime because they have different genre and different main story. It will be great if we compare this anime with Angel Beats! because both of them have a same genre. That's my preface of reviewing this anime :)
Okay, i'll start my review of this anime.
The story was based from LB! VN. The anime producer of LB! Refrain, J.C. Staff, is doing good enough to represent the story. The first
story is about Kurugaya's route. It has a little different story from the VN because J.C. Staff made Kurugaya's route become the intermediary to Rin's route. It is nice because when you play the VN, Kurugaya's route and Rin's route are separate and can't be connected. I have a little disappointed in Kurugaya's route because it can made me cry but J.C. Staff didn't made a little dramatical as sad as AB!.
In Rin's route, the story is really good. The story is about Riki and Rin who will "going out". This story also continuing the mission about "The Secret of The World". One part what made me confuse is when Mio, Kud, and Haruka are going out and didn't say goodbye. I think they will going back to the dorm. But if you're the VN reader, you have know that three of them are disappeared.
After Rin's route finish, you will watch the real Refrain's route. The story is same as VN. J.C. Staff only cut the part when Riki is going to hospital. That's a disappoint. In a good news, J.C. Staff made a nice farewell of Riki and Rin with Masato, Kengo, and Kyousuke, who made a dramatical farewell.
Little Busters! Refrain isn't the best of the art but it is better than Little Busters!. J.C. Staff improved the quality of the art and it reminded me to Angel Beats art.
There's no doubt about Key's music. For the OP, ED, and some of BGM, i think it's not Key's work. Boy's be Smile, the main OP of LB! Refrain, is deccent and nice to hear it. the lyric is describe what will happen in LB! Refrain. Kimi to no Nakushi Mono, the main ED of LB! Refrain is deccent, too. It's like Clannad AS, who has melancholy music in OP and fun music in ED. For BGM, is good but there are some mistaken place of BGM and the moment.
You need to watch Little Busters! first if you want to know the detail of LB! Refrain character. Some character also missing like Futaki Kanata, A-chan, and Sasasegawa Sasami, who will play in LB! EX. Overall is good.
LB! Refrain is enjoyment because the story has one goal and have the storyline is forward. Not really lack and it brings a moral value for us.
LB! Refrain has a potential to make you cry. But there are some missing. And i really appreciate for J.C. Staff because they has improved the quality of the art rather than the prequel, but they also cut of the great moment in LB! VN. In Little Busters! Refrain, you can find the moral value.
This is my review. I hope my review is useful for you.
*No Refrain spoliers*Now i played the VN and little busters changed the way i lived entirely and has always had a place in my heart and the anime is now exception
Story:10/10 Now unlike in the first season of little busters.Refrain is changed in NO way from the VN the only thing missing are the alternate endings to refrain which if you LOVED little busters and refrain i recommend you pick up the vn on steam (not released as of this time if you are reading this at a later date check)however one thing i noticed is that key might have noticed that refrain in itself
was to short to make it into a anime by itself so they included Kurugaya's and Rin's (part 2) Route into refrain to make it long (refrain if it was by itself would only be like 5 episodes of content) and the problem i have with this is how again they kinda changed Kurugaya's route to match the story layout of the anime but besides that thats the only problem i have with the story of refrain.
Art:10/10 The art hasn't changed from the first season but the scenes are amazingly beautiful and breath taking.
Sound:10/10 If you've played the VN or seen the first season(which i hope you have cuz theres season one spoilers in this review)the music is just appealing to the ears and i still listen to the soundtrack of the VN and the anime from when i first saw the anime and read the VN in 2013.
Character:10/10 Now without spoiling anything Refrain just ties everything together bout the characters there friendship,hardships and worries all come together in refrain.
Enjoyment:10/10 Well i just finished watching Refrain and i have a shotgun blast size hole in my heart and my face is full of tears...........i f**king love little busters.
Overall:Why are you still reading this if you've seen the first season GO WATCH REFRAIN LEAVE and if you seen refrain you are welcome for cookies and milk and a box of tissues all provided by the great Saigusa-san..........I'm sorry but seriously its worth a watch if you've read the VN and enjoyed the first season.
Thanks for reading!! Also RIN X RIKI FOREVER X333333... Ok ill see my self out now.
I don't think any quote from this series can really sum up the emotional energy it carries. Forget the overdrawn melodrama of the first season flicking you on the nose; Little Busters!: Refrain is here to punch you in the face.
Everything about Little Busters! has been revamped and improved for Refrain. The story is tighter, more focused, and more emotional. Since this season is only half as long as the last and only focuses on one main story arc, events move along with a much better rhythm and flow.
The art, while still pretty bland and uninteresting, has been
made crisper and clearer, and the animation has been made smoother and more natural. However, there are some moments of great imagery that elevate the show's visuals.
The music is much the same: the piano melody from the last season is carried over and used repeatedly, but the tune is used to great effect, representing nostalgia, melancholy, loss, regret, relief, and happiness. The opening and closing themes, especially the former, are perfectly suited to the tone of the show.
The characterization of this season is executed much more naturally than the last. Gone are the cumbersome multi-episode character arcs, replaced instead with slower paced reveals and moments of growth that feel much heartier and effective. Refrain focuses much more on the core Little Busters (Riki, Rin, Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo). That's not to say that the other characters do not play a role in the story, their role is just not as pronounced. You will care about these characters. You will cry for these characters.
Refrain is much more enjoyable than the previous season. The story is paced much better, the arcs are more focused, the emotions are more intense, and the visuals are crisper. Everything is better.
Little Busters!: Refrain is unreasonably good. It's the only anime I've cried at, and I never expected to do so after finishing the mediocre first season. Refrain is worth the time spent slogging through the original Little Busters ten times over.
Little Busters! has been quite a ride. From the first season when Kyousuke invites us to partake in his missions, to the second season where we are disillusioned alongside Riki & Rin, and made to face a harsh reality. Refrain! brings an emotional end to this journey as a sequel that teaches a lesson.
The story of Refrain! is a sequel to the first season, Little Busters!, where Riki and Rin embark on a path as they become disillusioned by the truth of the world they live in. Continuing their pursuit in discovering the "Secret of the World," they are met with revelations of tragedy
that they must overcome. It is a story that has been given a dose of the traditional KEY, a visual arts studio, supernatural elements to it. These elements are blended into such themes as "growing up," and "becoming stronger," among other motifs, that seem to centralize on the idea of adolescence. In essence, this is a story of friendship of the main Little Busters gang, as well as Riki and Rin's maturity and how they must bear leaving their childhood behind. In the bulk of Refrain!, the focus of the story is narrowed down to five main characters- Riki, Rin, Masato, Kengo, and Kyousuke. Each character whose actions and rationalizations are symbolically linked to how people tend to face the concept of adolescence. Riki and Rin are the two who go through this process of growing up. They are challenged by Kyousuke and Kengo who exemplify different approaches to adolescence, while Masato acts as the neutral man between the polar ends. In detail, Kyousuke represents the parents who want their children to develop their strength and become independent enough to face reality. Kengo represents the parents who want to shelter their children and protect their innocence from reality.
What really made me fall in love with Little Busters was the character interactions as well as their inner thoughts. I believe this is where the Little Busters excel the most at. A noticeable improvement from the first season is the better animation and focus on each character's emotions and their reactions. To name a few- Kengo and Kyousuke's altercation, and Kurugaya's out of character rage were conveyed and executed so well that it sent shivers down my spine when I heard their outbursts. Another instance of great execution is during the Little Busters' final baseball game where Kengo and Kyousuke break character from their usual stoic demeanor as they burst in to tears. That and the animation that accompanied their breakdown also brought me to tears as they, and the audience, take the full brunt of emotions over the realization of their departure. I also must credit Kyousuke's episode which is dedicated to his monologue; Kyousuke's trembling voice and tonal shifts along with his reaction to his own reflection was stunning to me. While not up to par, to me it was reminiscent to Kyon's self-questioning monologue in Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. All of this is to be attributed to the spectacular work of the voice actors and the ability to animate what were originally still images(CGs) from the visual novel. However, not all scenes were done well and to say the characters were done perfectly would be a lie. There were several scenes that appeared as if their emotions were out of place if not forced. And while such scenes may have been the result of pacing issues, it is unfortunate to see characterization suffer as a result of pacing a one cour. That said, despite some parts being rushed, the characters were incredibly well done.
One thing that really stands out about Key works is Jun Maeda. His music seems to strike all the right chords during the right moments in these adaptations. This wouldn't be possible however, without Rita. The two worked together on the music for the VN, and while bringing it over to an adaptation still conveyed the right emotions during the animated scenes. While the music was fantastic, the sound department was lacking. I'll be a bit nitpicky here but sound does encompass background noise. Little nuances like having the sound of thunder/lightning/firework come at the same time as the light is simply lazy editing that could have been avoided. This, as well as certain sound inconsistencies aren't too noticeable, but nonetheless makes the overall adaptation seem lazy.
Little Busters: Refrain! has set the bar of expectations high for its adaptation due to the loyalty of the fanbase towards the Visual Novel. As a result, people who are only interested in the anime are given this illusion that the adaptation will grant the same feelings and emotions that were evoked from the VN. While the effect is different for every person, keep in mind that one shouldn't compare works made with a different medium. This is the trap that visual novel readers tend to create for adaptations, and the same applies to adaptations of light novels and mangas. So take Little Busters! Refrain as its own story, it was well done and conveyed what it wanted despite small inconsistencies here and there.
Being the second season of Little Busters,I was not expecting the darker themes Refrain would offer.But,nevertheless I consider Refrain to be an improvement from the first season.
The story is balanced, wherein the routes shown in Refrain,are characters who do not have a route in the previous season.The story may be confusing at times due to plot twists,but all will be explained,as the story progress.I love the complexity of the plot and the depth the story exhibits.
Art and Sound :8/10
I love the improvement of the art.The soundtrack is more melodramatic and less upbeat compared to the soundtrack of the first season.signifying its change in genre.
focused on her route,and the original Little Busters get more development and characterization.I love the fact,that Kengo and Masato,whom I feel,are bland characters,gets to have more screen time.and how Riki and Rin grow to be stronger characters.
I enjoy Refrain a lot, more than the first season.Especially with the darker theme and
Little Busters Refrain is a great sequel,and is worth to watch.
Usually I do reviews following more technical matters but in the case of Little Busters!: Refrain I feel it's more important to talk about it's impact and it makes you feel. All in all Refrain is a great sequel that tied all the unknowns of its prequel in an outstanding way. However just like its prequel, the concept is splendid but suffers from some execution mistakes. There are behaviors you can't understand and things that seem to short due to lack of depth in the arcs. However all of this is forgivable if you consider the way it strikes your senses. With its more
serious vibe, Refrain is a powerful tearjerker.
Now let me tell you the feelings this series provoked on me.
To me little busters is about friendship something that we seriously lack in Anime. Friendship is always a side to romance, girls always fight for a guy and guys can never have 'bromance' without it being depicted in a humorous ways. Little Busters! breaks all of those being about just a group of friends spending their days having fun and solving their problems to become stronger. Due to this, all characters grow together and so do you. It's truly refreshing to see a series like this which comedy doesn't rely on outrageous situations or sex appeal (in most cases) but to the crazy interactions between characters. I guess it kind of remind me of my school days, when i also used to do idiotic things and care way too much about transient matters. I relate to their group and recall the days that i used to be like that. What and idiot i was but what a fun i had!
And then through unexpected twists the series gets serious. I don't want to spoil anything but seeing this group of characters go through hard situations you can't help but to relate and feel sad. It made me want to just call my friends and tell them i miss them.
To me Little Busters! is a reminder of our youth, how great it is and how short and fragile it can be.