http://pcmaniac88.deviantart.com/art/Little-Busters-344512056 Every single on of these girls will die a cat lady or a serial killer. Sometimes both.

Yes I know that it’s not over, but I’ve made a decision and decided to review it as of episode Seventeen. I hope my reasons for abandoning the series are clear.

Little Busters is a show with great potential. It’s a Key animation production, from such awesome masterpieces as Kanon and Clannad, and now it attempts to copy its success with Little Busters. Little Busters is, in conception and design, not bad at all. Superior animation, excellent voice acting and decent music allow one to enjoy the series without thinking about it. Where it fails is characters. Because this is a review as to why I am no longer watching it, I’ll ignore all the good things I said about it selectively. There are good things about this show. While I hate the characters with a passion, the character designs are actually inspired.

Now what infuriated me.

http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Komari-Kamikita-286394352 She looks so happy. Until the writers got to her.

Characters. Little Busters gets eaten by a displaced Sarlacc and all of my hate because of the weakness of the characters. Riki-kun falls under what I call: Ineffective gamma-male category. Several of the female characters have overly dramatic and intense backstories that do little to humanize them. Many of the characters also have maybe one or two personality traits masking this dreadful trauma, like the cute airhead Riki adds to Little Busters. This isn’t character development. This is saying:

“This is Komari! She’s an airhead! Kick her off a truck into some death issues! The roulette says… DEAD BIG BRO. Hot damn we’re cooking with dynamite here. Hey, let’s make it so that the last words of the big brother actually TRIGGER all her psychological issues, so instead of helping her heal, he actually sets up her downfall later!”

http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Kanon-makoto-102534792 This is Makoto during the single most dramatic scene in the first ten episodes. I felt actual non-fear non-anger emotions for the first time here.

It’s not even that it’s bad stuff they’re throwing at us. It’s just that the characters do not have enough time for me to really connect with them. I recall it took 6-9 episodes of Kanon before Makoto started getting serious, and even then they spent time developing the character up to her tearful disappearance. That’s character development. Suddenly seeing something dead then spending the rest of the arc in a waking coma isn’t. It’s solved in two episodes. Not even full episodes.

Due to similar themes of death and ‘otherness’ Makoto arc still serves as an example. When she started degrading (what I’m calling it), Yuicchi searched for help and did everything he could. Remember, by now we are attached to Makoto, and we’re feeling tension and distress. Komari saw a dead cat, freaked out, while Riki searched out an old acquaintance (provided for him by something Kyousuke wanted to do) who wrote a picture book. Riki then wrote a picture book himself after an all-nighter and it solved her problems. They could have had a couple more episodes where she realized her friends were friends forever and she deals with her fears of death. Nope. It’s over as far as we’re concerned. I’m told that he solves her problem if he chooses her as a romantic partner but he isn’t choosing her. He’s being set up with Kyousuke’s sister. In other words. HER DEEP PSYCHOSIS WILL NEVER BE SOLVED AS FAR AS THE SHOW GOES. There’s no tension, there’s no drama. It is basically over. Wow.

At least My Little Pony characters used friendship to forcibly realign a personality, so it was like they never had psychotics in the first place. That’s right, Little Busters used the magic of friendship to superficially fix a girl’s deep emotional issue. Every character could be ponies and nothing would substantially change!

http://browse.deviantart.com/art/crossdress-riki-349458532 Here’s a crossdressing Riki. You are welcome. In Episode 15 they do so much fetishistic stuff I thought I had accidentally downloaded a hentai Little Busters.

Now for a second gripe of magnitude, I never connected with the main character, Riki. Riki is not a person I want to be. He’s not likeable, sarcastic or anything else that really makes him dynamic. Sure, he acts pretty quickly, but sometimes he causes as many problems as he fixes. Riki fails as a lead because he is not in control. This isn’t an Evangelion ‘cry-baby-depressed’ thing, it is a choice he makes not to manipulate reality. As soon as anyone shows up, he acquiesces. This isn’t their show. It’s his show. Or Kyousuke’s show. I can’t tell. Either way he’s still more or less one-dimensional by the 17th episode. Key, Yuicchi started his arc by episode six, Tomoya (clannad) started episode ONE. Episode seventeen and I cannot say he’s grown as a character? That’s not satisfying at all. I’m here for him. I can’t repeat that enough. I WANT him to grow and develop.

The nail in the coffin: Saigusa. Now let me tell everyone this. I understand that shame culture is still alive and well in Japan and it is completely different from western society. But that doesn’t excuse the pink haired disciplinary (where’s the principle?) committee leader from being a DICK. There are reasons. Apparently a woman can get double pregnant with twins if two men have sex with her within a certain time period. AND apparently even though they are twins and theoretically from the same egg, the sperm can be so different they can tell fathers. These are twins, let me remind you. The science is bad. The characters are completely uninteresting to me. They wasted a perfectly good plot (Familial abuse and an insane desire to be the best) by shoving it in my face and rubbing it in. Every time a situation shows up, this goes down.

Saigusa: “I’m doing something crazy, innocently or maliciously!”

Her twin: “I”M A DICK so I’m going to be soooo harsh on you! I’m a dick!” Then suspends her for a minor infraction, using infractions they’ve already punished her for as reasons.

Saigusa: “Poor me! I’ve got issues in the background but I’m too ashamed to bring them out! I guess I’ll piss off my twin again! HEE HEE”

Sigh. There is no tension here, just conflicting noise. Riki cannot change the mind of a rich and ancient noble family. Riki can only salve the issue so that Saigusa won’t commit suicide or some nonsense. There is romantic hints and a drunk dad, but I quite before that was resolved. I just couldn’t take it. I expect rampant, semi-omnipotent dickishness out of a saturday morning cartoon, not a rom-com about a dude trying (failing) to fix girl’s emotional issues. I expect ditziness, but not such suicidal crazy. It can’t rectify. And the solution will be superficial.

In Kanon, Yuicchi actually stopped a girl from suicide and his best friend was able to cover from the student council. The arc started about episode three and was the ‘middle’ arc of the series. The tension that was built up was massive and the feeling that yuicchi actually solved something was all-pervasive. No loose ends here. That’s what Little Busters is missing.

http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Little-Busters-Quick-Sketch-335024649 I hate Komari, neutral to Rin and sort of neutral to Riki, I like everyone else in that picture. In order:Masato, Kyousuke, Kud, Kurugaya.

Now for some characters I liked, a lot. Masato (muscles) Kurugaya, Kud and Kyousuke (dang a lot of ks). Masato is just a fun guy. I see some of myself in him, acting crazy, but few moments of genuine seriousness to balance it out. I’ve got the feeling he really likes Riki, but can’t really do anything about it. His interactions with other characters always brighten the series and have, in part, kept me in for so long. So I know one writer, at least, still remembers Kanon and Clannad.

Kurugaya surprised me. Originally I put her off as the raven-haired smart, sarcastic girl. Then she started to be a massive, dis-genuine troll. Then she started to molest the rest of the cast. You heard that right, she even sets up situations (like episode 15) where they molest each OTHER. Hot damn. She’s got layers, she’s got looks and she’s obviously in love with Riki. Here’s what sets her apart from other Raven haired sarcastibeauties. She’s the harem manager. She’s outright trying to get Riki to make romantic choices and make him be a man. I can’t say I’ve really seen that sort of character in such a way before. I’ve read up on the plot (I’ll talk about that later) and her arc seems genuinely interesting. Emotionless girl playing up emotions. But I really don’t want to see the other characters: Psychotic, emotionally abused and crazy, etc act because I know they’ve not really finished their character arcs and aren’t likely too.

Kud is in the same boat. Her arc seems understated, but her character is so nice and vibrant I love her to death.(I hope not, poor sweet kud). unlike every other heroine but Kurugaya, she marches on despite a tragic past. Holy crap! It’s like she’s an actual character who can stand on her own and won’t fold like a house of cards once a trigger is thrown up. Like Kurugaya, I don’t really feel that 7-9 episodes left in the series can do her justice. Her simplicity of character but complexity of backstory just tickles me like Fuuko’s story arc did. Her design is, I believe the most unique and best of all characters in this story.

Kyousuke. Kyousuke. Kyousuke. I wish you had been developed more before episode 17. Kyousuke is the alpha male of the school. Everyone respects him. Here’s where you should stop reading for spoilers. Kyousuke, through sheer force of will, created a dreamscape where he’s trying to lead Riki to the point where Riki can lead the Little Busters after a bus accident kills him, Kengo and Masato. That’s just amazing. Not the dreamscape part, but the discipleship and self-sacrifice to ensure Riki can stand the world without his friends (except Rin). Apparently he goes crazy trying to do it, and is able to save everyone by throwing his mangled body on a gas leak and shielded the survivors from the explosion. Like, wow. I nearly repented and started watching the series again, but then I realized something. I only knew any HINT of that because I read TVtropes to write this article. As you may know, Little Busters was a dating sim like Kanon and Clannad before it, and every new game plus, they would modify the choices so you ended up with something else. The implication is, of course, that Kyousuke is guiding Riki through the dreamworld. Kyousuke is a major player, I knew that, but there aren’t any hints to him toughening Riki up, just sort of pushing him around. The tv show can’t do an ‘endless eight’ thing Haruhi did, unless they want to skip character arcs (Kud’s and Kurugayas) not to mention RIN hasn’t even gotten an arc yet. Anime, why are you so constrained.

Over all Little Busters isn’t really all that bad a show. It’s got good parts and good characters. But when it’s bad, it’s rotten meat. It is gangrene. The game could be good. It good be crack on nutella bagels or whatever the best thing in the world is, but the anime isn’t. The characters ruin it, while others try to save. How would I do it better?

http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Kyousuke-Sayonara-210219400 I’m sorry Kyousuke! I’m doing it because I love Anime!

Rewrite, whether completely or so that it’s more subtle, Komari and Saigusa’s arcs (Which aren’t bad summarized). Make it less sudden and in your face and feature a slow breakdown of who they are. Instead of ripping it all away in a single motion, build it up and hint at it. I’d also make Riki more dynamic from the get-go. Not much, mind, but I’d completely take away the narcolepsy back story. It does nothing but stop action like a freight train hitting a mountain, whenever it shows up. Make him a bit more active. Different haircut. Tweak him. We can still have Kyousuke trying to toughen him up. But we need hints that Riki needs toughening, rather than just ignoring the future. Maybe have Kyousuke trying to tell him something on occasion. Maybe Kyousuke just ups and hugs him for no reason, I don’t know. But I’d build up tension between the two of them immediately, instead of making Riki subservient the second Kyousuke shows up.

I would not buy Little Busters, but I am open to playing the game. Would I pay for it? Nope. But you know what? If you don’t really think about anime, you really like the generically decent music, cute girls or you just like to see girls cry and become devastated due to past trauma, this is your series. If you want two better series that do basically the same thing, then watch Kanon and Clannad. Their English Dubs are pretty good, if that’s your thing. And there aren’t any really big flaws to either series.

There is a good chance there will be a second series and episodes devoted to characters like Kud. I will not be watching, unless it is a nutella bagel with meth milk for afters.

Wow, 2k words. Nearly a record for one sitting.

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