#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)
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.
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.
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.
Ecstasy is an 8-episode sequel/expansion to Little Busters, taking place before, during and after the events of the original story. For various plot-related reasons however, you should not watch this before you've finished the first series as well as its second season Little Busters Refrain, as Ecstasy's plot goes under the assumption that the viewer is fully aware of the events taking place during Refrain. If you watch them in any other order you will end up getting spoiled.
Ecstasy adds three new arcs to the Little Busters story, two of which are focused on the already well familiar Sasasegawa Sasami and Futaki Kanata respectively, but
one revolves around an entirely new character named Tokido Saya. Therefore you can easily split up the series into three separate parts and talk briefly about them independently which is what I'm going to do here.
Saya's route: eps 1-4
Half of the anime consists of Saya's route which is the first one off the bat. Saya is a very energetic and self-torturing mayadere character, which is an extraordinarily rare trope to ever stumble upon, but she's extremely entertaining and funny to see in action. The first thing you'll notice about this arc is how vastly different it is compared to all the other arcs of Little Busters. In fact it's much more similar to Angel Beats by having cute girls, guns and action. The story is about a giant underground labyrinth located beneath the school where mysterious shadows lurk, and a rumored treasure supposedly existing somewhere inside it which Riki and Saya together are trying to find. The only problem with this is that in the original visual novel, Saya's route is actually a dungeon crawling RPG containing a map system, traps, puzzles, shooting games and more, and none of this really translates into an anime format very well which makes the atmosphere feel a bit awkward at times.
Overall this route is still very enjoyable and a breath of fresh air compared to what the main series has to offer, but it suffers a bit from adaptation issues and some slight rushing. That being said it's still a very good arc.
Final score: 8/10
Sasami's route: eps 5-6
The ever so loveable Sasami finally gets her own arc here, but sadly it ends up being extremely disappointing for the simple reason that the adaptation is rushed beyond belief. Her route revolves around her being transformed into a cat for some unknown supernatural reason which she and Riki has to figure out and deal with together. This is actually a very emotional story in the visual novel, but here it sadly misses its mark completely because there is no time for the viewer to get emotionally attached to Sasami as a character or the story itself because the arc is already over after a mere two episodes. So unfortunately this arc is kind of butchered.
Final score: 6/10
Kanata's route: eps 7-8
Last but not least we have Kanata's arc... actually that's wrong, this is definitely the "least" of the three stories as it's actually incredibly bland and boring. Again this is only two episodes long, but in this case that is not the issue; rather her arc is really bad in the visual novel as well. It's basically just a rehash of Haruka's route but from her sister's perspective instead, as Kanata's route is also revolving around her family problems. The problem here however is that there's almost nothing happening in this story from start to finish, and it just feels like the whole thing was slapped on there because they could, not because they wanted to.
Final score: 4/10
Overall, if you liked the original Little Busters as well as its second season Little Busters Refrain, then I still encourage you to pick this up. It's only 8 episodes long after all, it's not like it can hurt very much. Just don't put your expectations on it too high, consider this more as a bonus than anything else.
Better still of course would just be to play the visual novel as it is a lot better in the end, but at the time of writing this Ecstasy hasn't been fully translated quite yet so you'll have to wait a while longer for that, if you can't read Japanese that is.