First Impression – Little Busters

Say hello to the Little Busters!

Little Busters is a visual novel that is near and dear to the hearts of many a visual novel fan. Going into this show I decided to do some research into the franchise by actually playing the game. Sadly, I didn’t play any of it. I am sorry I have failed. That said let’s hop right into this show!

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!

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6 Responses to “First Impression – Little Busters”

  1. Amutofan123 says:

    I-I don’t even know if I can find the words to express my feelings. I watched Clannad around four years ago and went looking into other things from Key and discovered that one of their works, “Little Busters”, had not been adapted yet. I have been waiting for an anime ever since.

    And it’s finally here.

    Okay, so I didn’t exactly picture it being done by J.C. Staff, but I’m just glad I’m finally able to see all these wonderful characters animated.

    My only complaints so far are about the animation and the use of the soundtrack. The animation isn’t that great and there were a lot of stills, but honestly, I didn’t really have high hopes for the animation anyway so it doesn’t bother me all that much. Actually, even if I did have high hopes, I still don’t think it would bother me that much. I love the soundtrack, but there were times where I feel it wasn’t used properly. Other than that, I adored this episode.

    I just love all the characters. Especially the guys. The guys are great. It’s kind of weird seeing a Key work without a sarcastic male lead, but I like Riki. Him being so weak and effeminate is a plot point, too. And he actually sounds less girly than he does in the game, even with Yui Horie voicing him. And Rin~ Oh, Rin. I love my cute, shy, huggable, adorable Rin~ AND KOMARI. GOOD LORD. The end of this episode nearly killed me! Did you see that smile? It was freaking cute! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the girls as well. Can’t wait to cry buckets of tears.

    And yes, I am totally biased because I’m a huge Key fangirl.

    • Sushi says:

      I understand. I hope my words didn’t pierce you too much! Honestly though, I didn’t think it was so bad. There were definitely some great parts, such as most of the males in the cast.

      • Amutofan123 says:

        Haha, don’t worry. The first episode has had some rather mixed impressions, which I understand. Key anime often take a while to really get going, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve read part of the visual novel and know most of the story, then I don’t think I would have enjoyed this episode as much.

  2. Joojoobees says:

    It was quite a bit funnier than I expected it to be, but I am still not sure what to make of it.

  3. Tofu says:

    After watching the first episode, my most biggest fear has slightly transformed into reality. Having played the visual novel in its entirety, I know that Little Busters isn’t exactly an easy visual novel that you can take and adapt it into an anime due to the ‘mini-games’ that are embroidered within the main story.

    Well… for Little Buster fans, I think this was pretty good in terms of meeting expectations. Like Amuto, my only concerns are in the animation and the timing of the soundtrack; whether or not J.C Staff is able to put that beautiful soundtrack to good use like the visual novel did.

    What I’m trying to get at is that, for those who had not played the visual novel like Sushi, you might find it a ‘hit or miss’ like Sushi did. The problem right now is that although J.C Staff did a pretty good work in adapting the visual novel into an anime, it’s still not enough as at times the discrete visual novel references haven’t blended in well to deliver Little Busters as a animated series.

    I do hope that with the later episodes to come, the anime adaptation will feel more like an anime than a visual novel trying to act like an anime.

    PS: I totally agree with you on Riki’s voice, I didn’t like it in the visual novel and I don’t like it in the anime as well. But I’ve long forgiven that little splinter and because of that, I think I might’ve enjoyed Little Busters a little more ^^ Try not to think about it too much Sushi.

    Oh and great work on the first impressions!

  4. Kyokai says:

    I don’t specifically like what they did with adaptation but I would be watching the next two episodes just for seiyuu cast and Key.

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