Little Busters! is based on a visual novel by Key. Key is widely known for producing some of the most famous visual novels in the world like Clannad, Air, and Kanon. The show was scripted by Michiru Shimada, who has a long history of writing classic anime titles like Urusei Yatsura, Rurouni Kenshin, and One Piece. The anime series premiered in 2012 and was followed by a second season called Little Busters!: Refrain and an additional OVA series titled Little Busters!: EX. There have also been thirteen different manga adaptations since the visual novel's release in 2007.
Little Busters! is about five childhood friends who now attend the same high school. When they were younger, they would go around town solving minor problems. They dedicated themselves to fighting for justice and thus named themselves The Little Busters!
The eldest member of their circle of friends, Kyousuke, is a year older than the rest of them. This means that Kyousuke is going to graduate a year earlier than the other four and their chain of friendship will be broken. The series starts at the beginning of Kyousuke's last year when they all realize what is going to come.
The five friends decide to do something special to make their last year together memorable. After brainstorming, Kyousuke comes up with the idea to start a baseball team. And what else should the team be called than The Little Busters! However, a baseball team requires nine players and they only have five. The main protagonist, Riki Naoe, then rummages through the school in search of additional members for the team.
The series takes place in Japan in the high school which the main characters attend. Very little is shown outside the school's campus, although occasionally the story will direct itself to a beach, a home for senior citizens, or an apartment complex. Towards the end of the series, we also see another part of the world besides Japan as the show follows Kud to her home island of Tebua.
Little Busters! is a classic coming of age story. It tells the audience that your childhood will inevitably end. The friends and places you have hung on to your entire life leading up to your adulthood will soon turn to memories. Look back on your early years with fondness, but be ready to accept the fact that all good things must come to an end.
The series also tells us about the importance of friendship. Most of the lead characters have a back story that in some way involves isolation. Riki lost his parents, Kud ran away from home, Komari lost her brother, and Saigusa was separated from her family. Joining The Little Busters! is what brings them comfort and alleviates their sadness from feeling alone.
Why It's Awesome
Much like the other shows based on Key visual novels, Little Busters! can comfortably fit in the moe genre. Unlike those shows however, Little Busters! was not produced by Kyoto Animation, instead being brought to life by J.C. Staff. This gives Little Busters! an approach that sets it apart from its contemporaries.
To start, there is little emphasis put on romance. Romantic subplots between the characters are hinted at, but never fully explored. The series instead focuses on building platonic friendships between the main characters, which is not typical of the genre.
Also of note is the lack of sexual content in Little Busters! Certain shows of this genre can be rather explicit in their use of sexuality by using gratuitous "fan service". This is not the case with Little Busters! Although there was an additional visual novel called Little Busters! Ecstasy which amplified these aspects, the anime series as stand alone does not. The series is not completely devoid of sexuality, but when it is implemented, it is tame and done sparsely.
Who It's For
Little Busters! is for anime fans who like shows with a heavy appeal to their emotions. It is not a story or plot driven show by any means. The goal of the show is to get you emotionally attached to the characters and then tug on your heart strings throughout the course of the twenty-six episodes. If you like escapist content that is not fantasy based, you will also find that in Little Busters! The series takes place in a realistic setting, yet seems different from the world we experience. It delves into the supernatural at times, but very sparingly. It also has a powerful sentiment of wist and nostalgia. These elements combined makes it feel like it's looking back on your high school years as what you wanted them to be, not what they actually were. If you find this idea appealing or suiting your taste, then you will have plenty to enjoy in Little Busters!
A high school student, Okazaki Tomoya, is disillusioned with his current status in life. However, he slowly befriends a young girl named Furukawa Nagisa. Nagisa reveals to Tomoya that her dream is to bring back the drama club of their high school. Tomoya decides to help her and encounters four other girls along the way. Like Little Busters!, Clannad is based on a visual novel from Key. Both involve a young male protagonist who meets new female students throughout the story. Both also have little to no emphasis on fan service/sexuality.
A young man opens his eyes and realizes something is different. He is in the afterlife. All his memories are gone. He befriends and joins a group called the Shinda Sekai Sensen, who fight off the evil Tenshi. Angel Beats! is similar to Little Busters! in that both are tear jerker moe titles. The appeal of both shows is how they move you emotionally. Both shows also emphasize the friendships that are built between the main characters. Not to mention, both titles end with an exclamation point!
A young girl named Misuzu invites a traveling puppeteer, Yukito, to stay with her. Yukito is searching for the "Winged Maiden," an apocryphal entity from a childhood story his mother used to tell him. During his stay, the characters become attracted to each other and Yukito postpones his search. Air is another anime based on a Key visual novel. Both Little Busters! and Air are slowly paced shows that focus more on character interaction than they do story or plot. Both shows are also split up into different story lines that revolve around each of the female leads.
A young pianist, Kaoru, moves to a new town and attends school there. He meets a drummer, Sentaro, and the two quickly become friends and begin to play music together. They jam in the basement of a record store owned by their friend Ritsuko's father. Kids on the Slope is comparable to Little Busters! because both play up the importance of friendship. Both shows are also coming of age stories in which the main characters are about to graduate high school and have to learn how to enter adulthood while leaving their past friendships behind.