#1: "Mezameta Asa ni wa Kimi ga Tonari ni (目覚めた朝にはきみが隣に)" by Suzuyu (鈴湯) (eps 1-3, 5, 7) #2: "Saya's Song" by Lia (ep 4) #3: "Alicemagic -Rockstar Ver.-" by Rita (ep 6) #4: "Alicemagic -TV Animation Ver.-" by Rita (ep 8)
Little Busters!: Ecstasy is an additional (and likely final) eight episode addition to the Little Busters franchise that was coupled with the DVD release of Refrain. Although LB! EX certainly had its moments, its ultimate downfall was due to its script writing. Simply put, the plot was not strong enough to keep the show flowing in a straightforward, unidirectional manner.
Before I jump to my criticisms, I want to say briefly that I certainly enjoyed LB! EX. In fact, I watched it twice just to make sure I'm not imagining any of the cons that I listed, but unfortunately, they are there, and there are some
pretty glaring issues that I can't ignore.
The main issue I had with LB! EX was the same issue I had with the first and second seasons of LB (and pretty much any VN from Key that is adapted). By trying to incorporate a bunch of supernatural elements into the plot line, we are ultimately left with, frankly, a mess that doesn't follow any coherent flow. A good example of this in Saya's arc. Yet despite having the most screen time of the three heroines, Saya's arc was by far the weakest arc simply because there are a lot of unanswered questions that forced us to accept things at face value. For instance, how and why exactly does Saya come into existence? Who exactly are the Darkness executives, and why are they such an integral part of this world? And why was Saya able to make it out at the very end of her arc? Frankly, any creator that leaves so many open questions cannot argue that they have a strong, well-written script, no matter how feels-y or charming it can get.
Fortunately, LB! EX is not all bad. The other two heroines, Kanata and Sasami, finally get some much needed screen time. Although the two of them showed up every now and then throughout the first season, they are the stars of their respective arcs and we get to learn substantially more about their past. For Kanata, it's a continuation of the first season - that is, what we learned about Kanata's past in the first season gets even more depth. In the first season, we learned about why Kanata has such a tough exterior for her personality, and LB! EX builds on this by describing the sacrifices that Kanata made for her sister.
As for Sasami, we go straight to her past and learn about her bond with a stray cat that she took in at an early age. Unfortunate circumstances separate the two, but it is in Sasami's arc where the two reunite and resolve their differences.
The one thing I really liked about Kanata's and Sasami's arc is their consistency (in terms of their plot) to their parent story. As I've already indicated, Kanata's arc was a more in-depth description of her past and carries over some of what we learned about her in the first season. As for Sasami, her arc borrows the concept of the "a new, secondary supernatural world that is controlled by one particular character" from LB! Refrain. Although I still can't follow how such a world gets established (Refrain didn't explain this that well), the more important thing is that it's not a new concept that comes straight out of the blue.
As for themes, a lot of what is used is recycled from the previous two seasons. If you're looking for something new, something deeper, something more meaningful than the previous seasons you will definitely not find it here. Love and the testing of one's friendship are all concepts that we've seen not only in this show but in a lot of other anime out there. Although these two concepts are not executed worse than the other two LB seasons, it doesn't really bring anything new to the table either.
As for characters, well, frankly put - there's nothing really special here. Saya is your stock-of-the-mill tsundere who falls for Riki apparently because of the amount of time that they spent together during their childhood (this love development certainly could have been fleshed out more, but I'll just set that aside for now). Sasami and Kanata are a bit more realistic, but even so, I'm sure you could name other shows out there where you've seen cold/mysterious personalities.
As for character development, it's certainly present in LB! EX - to a degree. It certainly could have been fleshed out more, but you do have to remember that there are only eight episodes to LB! EX portioned into three separate arcs, so nothing truly spectacular can happen within that given frame. Still, Saya begins to open up to Riki towards the end of her arc (as with most tsunderes, lol); Kanata finally realizes the true meaning of sisterhood and friendship and how important the two are to her; and Sasami confronts her past, resolves it, moves on, and carries on with her life. At the end of Sasami's arc, you can see that she is clearly no longer held back by her past as she is more willing to take part in activities that she would have obviously avoided during the first season of LB.
Obligatory statement regarding the art: it is well-illuminated, consistent, and well done. J.C.Staff is godly when it comes to art designs and certainly sets the standard high in the anime industry.
And sound: I wouldn't say there's anything too exceptional regarding the voice acting. It's consistent, like the artwork. I will say this, however: LB! EX probably has some of the most interesting and meaningful OP and ED that I've seen thus far. The lyrics that they use in each song apply directly to what is happening in the anime. Yes, okay the OP remixes the first season's OP, but it's an electric guitar. Come on. Who doesn't like electric guitars?
In conclusion, will you enjoy LB! EX? Certainly. I doubt you'd drop the show. If you're reading this, you're probably thinking about watching the series, which means you probably made it through the other two seasons just fine. But do I think it is the best thing ever? Nope.
Actually I take that back, maybe the electric guitar solo is the best thing ever.
+ Some of the plot is consistent with previous seasons
+ More screen time to side characters that was direly needed
+ Some development
+ Good art
+ Electric guitars, just because
- Development could have been fleshed out more, but it passes
- Some of the plot doesn't really make any sense and leaves unanswered questions
- Stock-of-the-mill anime archetypes that aren't really original in the slightest
Overall: 4. Although consistent, the plot is simply too weak to stand on its own.
An anime adaptation of the new route additions in key's visual novel - Little Busters!: Ecstasy, Little Busters!: EX is a good summary of the arcs in the visual novel, however it cannot be compared to the masterpiece of which the VN is. That being said, covering three entire arcs over only 8 episodes of such an amazing visual novel cannot realistically be of the same standard as the visual novel. However, the eight episodes are indeed still of very high quality.
The expectations I had for this anime, were naturally very high given that I had just watched Little Busters!: Refrain, now one
of my favourite animes that I have watched so far. However, I was not disappointed, and was instead met with an anime definitely worth the wait of one month per episode for. Little busters EX, although not nearly as sad as Refrain; still builds onto the series wonderfully and does it justice.
The characters in this anime are in a word, incredible. Keeping in line with the original series, each and every character has a tragic background that is completely contrary to the facade they portray in public at first. However as the main character (Riki) progresses, their facade is removed and their past is revealed. Choice of music in Little busters EX, like the original, is amazing, and Jun Maeda should be commended for this. If you liked air, angel beats or clannad, it is likely that you will enjoy little busters EX too. The art style is the same across the series, and is quite good.
The only con of this anime, would be that the second and third arcs could be a bit longer, as two episodes each can not adequately cover their stories in as much detail as I would like. That being said, they are still made very well. Saya's story however, is told across the first four episodes. This is probably because she is entirely new to the series, while the other two main heroines of little busters EX appeared in the original series, though only briefly.
If you have not yet seen this brilliant anime, then you should really stop reading this review and go watch it. However, if you haven't already, watch the original series first (Little busters and Refrain). Also, if you have the time, definitely give the visual novel a try as it explores all the characters in greater detail than the animes. However, currently Little Busters Ecstasy has not been fully translated yet.
Note: I'm going to make references about the original work, the visual novel Little Busters and its ex version, Little Busters Ecstasy (Although I haven´t played the ex version yet)
Little Busters is considered one of the most influential visual novels from Key studio whose works like Clannad, Air or Kanon have had a good success on the market. Due to the good reception and results of the sales, Little Busters got an addition with a new heroine and two new stories about two of the supporting characters from the original visual novel which got an anime adaptation several months ago.
At first, you need to
watch season 1 and season 2 or even better, just read the visual novel. Unfortunately the ex version haven’t got an English translation yet. For all this unless you know Japanese, these ovas are the only material available of this part of the story. The story is divided in three arcs so I will try to show you the main ideas of each one.
Saya is a new heroine who hasn’t been shown before her arc. Naoe Riki, a school student is walking through the corridor of the school at night, looking for the notes which he forgot on class when he hears shots and immediately a shadow takes him down and forces him to escape to the gate. But in his way, he finds a school card which is property of a school student called Saya Tokido.
Although their first encounter is so nice and Saya seems to be a charming girl, but you can't judge a book by looking at the cover and Saya will demonstrate that she is a mysterious girl who needs his help desperately. But Saya is a very selective person and needs to know that his mate is reliable. Will be Riki her soulmate? Take a look at the ovas if you want to know more.
As for Sasami arc , it is set after the events of Refrain so take as an advice what I told you before. Remember that Sasami was a devoted dog’s lover who hates cats, which creates problems with Rin. Well in this arc we will know why. We will know the past of Sasami and we will dive deeper into her personality, discovering a new aspect of her personality, in the end she is a emotional and lovely girl contrasting with the proud and arrogant personality who was shown in the original work.
In this arc, Riki and the rest of the Little Busters are enjoying one new day in the school when a mysterious cat, unknown to Rin, appears. This cat is curiously very close to Sasami and seems to get on well so good with her, which surprised the Little Busters. Several days later Sasami appears on Riki´s room and begs him for help.
Finally the first half of Kanata’s Arc is set (at least on the visual novel) before Refrain and the second half is after Refrain. On the anime everything is set after Refrain. Despite of this, you can easily get what the main idea is. In this route, the Little Busters have an important role. Kyousuke , proposes Riki to get close to the student council for getting more credits and help to maintain alive the baseball club.
As a result, Little Busters will need to do some communal work. In case of Riki, he needs to help Kanata Futaki and A-chan (both are coming back from the first season) to make some paperwork. With all this we will discover a past tragedy and the sacrifice which Kanata made on his childhood for the sake of her sister, Haruka Saigusa. But Riki will show her a more brightful vision of life, the lesson of the Little Busters.
In general these are the main ideas of the three arcs. Personally as I said before, you need to read the visual novel instead of the anime (It is my personal recommendation but the anime isn´t bad, but it can´t overcome the masterpiece that the visual novel is)
As for the music, we shouldn't forget the mastery of Jun Maeda, who adds a lot of new tracks which are lovely such a Saya's Song, The Cat, Glass and Round Moon, Will & Wish and much more.
Characters are one of the most important parts of this series. Characters are so incredible and the relationship between them is so incredible, wonderful and even enviable. The new heroine, Saya Tokido, together with the development of Sasami Sasasegawa and Kanata Futaki is fantastic.
Anyway J.c Staff made a good adaptation at the end or al least for getting the main idea of the story. Due to the absence of a translation of the ex routes, you will need to take a look at these ovas if you want some material of this part of the story. If not just wait for the complete patch.
After seeing all the 8 episodes, I'm just going to assume that these 3 routes are non-canon. I tried to put this routes in the chronological order along with the first season of LB and Refrain and it's completely impossible.
Little Busters: EX is an anime adaptation of a visual novel called "Little Busters: Ecstasy". Were they on Ecstasy when they made the VN? What's with the name? Anyways, it added 3 "new" heroines. Notice the quotation marks? Yea, 2 of the 3 heroines are not even new. 1 new character that was added is Saya (we'll get more into her in the
characters category) and the 2 "new" characters are Sasami and Kanata which we have already seen in the first season of LB.
There are 3 new heroines, meaning that the show has 3 arcs.
The 1st arc which is Saya's arc, lasted for about 4 episodes. No surprise, Riki comes in and helps Saya get the treasure inside the underground labyrinth. There are more things that happened between Rikki and Saya but I don't want to spoil the scenes. The ending of the arc.....well......all I want to say is they tried to make everything dramatic but failed to do so.
The 2nd arc which is Sasame's arc, lasted for about 2 episodes. Sasame asks Rikki for help after she finds out that she has been turning into a cat for unknown reasons. Again, I don't want to spoil this arc. The ending of this arc ended on a happy note, reuniting Sasame and her cat.
The 3rd arc which is Kanate's arc, lasted for about 2 episodes. If you saw her past in LB then you shouldn't be surprised that this arc will again focus on her past and her family. I mean, it's all the same but the EX goes more in-depth, showing that she has been on her sister's side all this time. The ending of this arc, again, ended on a happy note. Instead of Rikki helping Kanata alone, the whole Little Busters crew helped her.
Now my thoughts on the arcs. The only arc that I liked is Saya's arc because of Saya, the romance, and the bad-ass gun action scenes. I didn't really like the remaining 2 arcs that much because of how boring it is. Hell, I find Sasame's arc ridiculous. You'll find out if you see the ending of Sasame's arc. Kanate's arc was so poorly thought out. It's like they run out of ideas or something. Kanate's arc is mostly the same as Haruka's arc except it just goes more in-depth and tried to be more dramatic.
The Animation is exactly the same as Refrain's animation so I'm not going to write my opinions on the animation again. It's on my Refrain review.
The background themes are mostly the same but there are new ones, used for the action scenes in Saya's arc. The OP theme song used in EX is exactly the same as LB's OP but there's a slight difference. The OP in EX is more of a rock version. I personally love the OP here than the OP in LB because of those electric guitar in the background. There are 4 ED's used in this show but I only liked the first one. I didn't really like the remaining 3 ED's.
The show only focuses on 3 characters but Saya got a lot more development and a more screentime. Saya is an attractive and a popular girl in school due to her attractive face and her figure. . However, at night, she can be found at the school, wandering around in order to obtain a "treasure" from those she calls the "Darkness Executives", and even has to fight them for it. Just like LB, something tragic happened in her past and I don't want to spoil it. It's kind of dramatic but not that sad, in my opinion. Sasame which we know in LB as a cat-hater is really not a cat-hater. She had his reasons. Kanata is the chairman of the public morals committee and head of the girls' dormitory but you should already know that. The show just goes more in-depth with her character, her past and explains why she "that" personality.
Out of the 3 heroines, I personally liked Saya more because she's more of a bad-ass compared to Sasame and Kanata
I personally enjoyed EX for the first 4 episodes because of Saya's arc but it just got boring during Sasame's arc and Kanata's arc. I did enjoy the ending of EX. We get to see the Little Busters crew work together to help Kanata.
If you watched Little Busters and Little Busters: Refrain then you might want to check this out. It's not as dramatic or tear-jerking as Refrain but it's still quite an enjoyable side-story anime.
+Saya's arc is well done
+Enjoyable action scenes
-The last 2 arcs are mediocre
-Forced Dramatic moments
-Character arcs are rushed