Say hello to the Little Busters!
Studio and Animation// J.C. Staff will definitely be under the microscope with this series. Key, the studio responsible for the Little Buster’s visual novel, has normally had their adaptations done by Kyoto Animation, a studio known for their fantastic animation. Currently the studio is busy doing light novel adaptations, so J.C. Staff has the honor of bringing one of Key’s wildly popular games to the small screen.
It’s mostly hit or miss. Much of the hardwork was done for them in terms of the character designs, which are your usual slice of life fair. Characters don’t have much a wardrobe outside of their uniforms but again you can’t expect much from the genre. Settings are decently done, though don’t seem up to snuff when compared to the fantastic work just this season. But the real problem is the flashbacks and the studio’s laziness rears it’s ugly head. All of them are captured with still shots, with no animation to speak of other than the camera panning across scenes. I think we’re past the time when this is acceptable. I can understand it being done for effect, or some other artistic agenda, but there seems to be none.
Music// The sparse acoustic guitars and pianos hum their lovely notes and compromise a greater part of this series’ soundtrack. I don’t really mind that the music doesn’t try to attract too much attention, as the dialogue is the focus of the show. “Little Busters!” by Rita might be one of my favorite openings this year. Rita’s vocals show a great amount of depth and she knows how to weave together a wonderfully catchy song. It’s a memorable melody that I’ve replayed a few times already and is definitely being added to my iPod. I’m glad she reprises her role for the ending theme, “Alicemagic”. Much like it’s namesake it has much of the same magic of the OP.
Seiyuu// The voice acting is hit or miss for me. Nobutoshi Canna and Hikaru Midorikawa are highlights mostly because of their incredible voices. Their comedic and dramatic delivery are on point as well as being pleasant to the ears. I feel that Yui Horie was a bit of an odd choice for the main character Riki. He sounds like he missed the puberty train while the rest of his friends took the express. I don’t mind females playing the roles of males if it’s appropriate, but it just seems out of place here. Tomoe Tamiyasu also gives a bit of a lackluster showing. The nasal quality of her voice combined with her monotone delivery give her performance an annoying quality. I can understand the moe fanboy backlash I will have to face as a result of the comments I’ve made here.
The Little Busters: A Look At The Characters// I’m only in love with half of the cast. I’ve already warmed up to Kyouske, Masato and Kengo, while I’m feeling a bit of the cold shoulder from Riki and Rin. What separates them is the amount of personality they were able to display in such a short amount of time. Kyouske, the leader of the Little Busters, is quirky fellow who seems to dream of become a hero like the ones he reads about in manga. He’s usually just spews one liners ripped from popular shounen, while engendering with some grandeur philosophy that no one seems to understand.
Masato and Kengo are two peas in the pod. We’re introduced to them as they duke it out with one another for a small grammatical misunderstanding between the two. Masato is hot headed and is the type to follow his heart. He shows a surprising amount of lucidity though when commenting on the gangs current situation, but is promptly shut down by Rin or Kengo because they think he’s an idiot. Kengo on the other hand seems to be a bit more level headed, but can be arrogant at times. He’s the only Little Buster that decides not to join the baseball team Kyouske decides to start.
Rin and Riki sadly don’t betray any sort of depth to them. The former just seems to be a smattering of moe stereotypes, being extremely violent and slightly despondent. Riki, other than knowing his parents died when he was quite young, doesn’t make a connection with the audience the way the first three do. It’s easy to agree with his sentiments, but that’s about where any sort of identification with him begins and ends.
Themes and Philosophies// Little Busters shows a surprising amount of depth for what seems like a nonsensical plot. At times the circular conversations between the characters seem a bit pointless, but reading in between the lines, there’s one guiding principal. All the characters are aware that nothing lasts forever. Riki knows this first hand because of the parents he lost at an early age. The crew recognizes that eventually they will all graduate from high school and either head off to college or find a job. Regardless of their fate, they will be going their separate ways.
Kyouske’s idea for one last hurrah is to create a baseball team that will leave its mark at the school. His goal is ultimately that of a hero, to become immortal because of his achievements. If Little Busters is a show that is aware of the inevitability end, then the narrative is a story of people desperately trying to fight a losing battle. To my delight, all of this is wrapped up into a digestible moe dumpling.
The Future// I don’t really know what to think. This series has some genuinely funny moments while asking some surprisingly provoking questions. I understand that I might have to give Riki and Rin a bit of time before I can really judge them, but I just might not be a fan of people whose names start with ‘r’ subconsciously. Going forward I hope we get to meet a larger segment of the cast who add to the fun.
I know that Little Busters isn’t exactly a baseball anime but this angle seems amusing enough. I expecting that this storyline will eventually unravel into a narrative that has much greater implications on the characters as a whole. I’m hoping there’s a bit of romance along the way while sidestepping the whole harem nonsense, but keeping in mind its visual novel routes, this might not be possible. Oh well! Maybe we’ll get some fanservice out of it. Till next time!