Colloquium: Little Busters! Episodes Four and Five

She whose smile is, apparently, like the sun.

otou-san: I feel like I really denied everyone the opportunity to witness me foaming at the mouth when it comes to last week’s Literary Bus (awful twitter joke ahoy). But as AJ4 mentioned last time, it turns out I do value the arrival of my firstborn slightly more than Key-shaming. Thanks to our guest Myst for holding down the fort.

As the cast of Little Busters! builds, so does my irritation. The arrival of new characters is always welcome in a harem setup, and an element of contrivance is to be expected just to make it happen. But honestly, I don’t think it’d be that difficult to pump a cast full of girls without resorting to “awful ojousama character just appears and forces herself upon Riki and the Busters while laughing.”

Kurugaya (cool guy? really?) in general helps me realize another point of discomfort with Key. See, there are so many shorthands, anime archetypes, and frankly just weirdly developed pseudo-characters in these stories that I find it hard to draw a line between what I see as intentionally fudging reality (remember that Key is fond of magical “realism”) and just plain shittiness. I could read Kurugaya as a brilliantly written character who’s smart on a surface level but has managed to fool herself into thinking she’s some self-important princess and is entitled to enraging affectations and behaviors: in a way, a form of chuunibyou. I actually like this interpretation. I could also read her as an empty pair of thigh-highs that pretends to be human by affecting a bunch of tired rich-girl mannerisms. Only time will tell — of course, most people in these games/shows are fronting in one way or another, even if they don’t know it[1], but I question the actual “depth” we’ll see from a character like hers.

ajthefourth: Building upon what Otou refers to as pseudo-characters, in the first episode Little Busters! set itself from the other Key series of its ilk in establishing a group of childhood friends, both male and female, as the core character dynamic of the series. In our initial post, I had said that Little Busters would do well to continue this character dynamic. If it could focus on this throughout its run, it could end up  as not only a good Key series, but a solid character drama as well. Where in previous series the character interaction was always forced, especially at first, through the nature of a visual novel with multiple routes, Little Busters! had the chance to have genuine and nuanced character interaction.

Unfortunately, it has attempted to tread the path between this character interaction and shoehorning in the necessary leading ladies with dismal results. One longs for the genuine character interaction between the original group of friends that was found in episode one, which is nowhere to be found thanks to the new additions of Komari and Kurugaya. This is made glaringly obvious in the opening scenes of Episode Five, where the would-be baseball team is making an attempt at what one could only assume is supposed to be practice of their sport.

The deliberate interaction of Kurugaya and Komari not only rings falsely, but dilutes the more enjoyable dynamic of the original group, resulting in poor character interaction all around. This is also hindered by the fact that Komari, the first heroine in need of fixing, has a most child-like mental capacity, putting her on par with such first-route company as Makoto (Kanon), and Fuko (Clannad), neither of whom are known for their intellectual prowess. As to why these must be the first females to be addressed, one may never know.

[1]Let’s lock Maeda and his buddies in a room and tell them they can’t come out unless they’ve written a compelling story where every character can remember everything that ever happened to them in the past.

13 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Little Busters, Little Busters

13 responses to “Colloquium: Little Busters! Episodes Four and Five

  1. It sounds like Little Busters seriously needs some focus. Remember how Catch-22 focuses on individual characters for different chapters, ultimately leading towards a confrontation at the end? Each character contributed something to the story, whether it’s Major Major Major revealing the insanity of dealing with a medical tent in the middle of a war, or Scheisskopf’s fixation on a meaningless red flag. With Little Busters, we don’t have a thematic anchor holding the characters’ (or the audience’s) attention.

    • wavedash

      I understand where you’re coming from. Little Busters’s character development is almost all in character-specific routes or seen through changes in the main route between playthroughs. And on top of that, the character-specific routes focus only on one character, with few exceptions such as Futaki.

      Despite that, I still think Little Busters’s characters are its forte. Even my least favorite girl, Komari, had an excellent route.

    • I’m going to focus more on this in my Episode Six post, regarding the story construction so all I’ll say here is that I do think that there’s a thematic anchor, but I also think it’s a poorly-designed one.

      • I’m glad you found one. I do think this is one of the major problems with all the Key adaptations — It’s least noticeable in Air because of the smaller cast and general focus on one member. But even Clannad, which ostensibly focuses on the lead pair and their families, suffers from the kitchen sink harem approach that IMO cheapens the whole thing.

  2. I would almost think the reason the initial focus is on the more childlike characters is because it’s easier to have the smarter characters contribute during their arc than vice-versa. Either that or Maeda has been using the same story skeleton in every anime that he’s involved with, but I haven’t seen enough of his works to decide that.

  3. @yerocha actully unlike the 3 first episodes this one was have a diffrent writer and not the same one so meybe that why you felt like this about those 2 episodes.

  4. also in the next few episodes we back to the common routh where they wiill show the rest of the characters

  5. I just caught up on a few episodes of this, and man, I have to say that this is just bad direction at work. The story basically rushes headlong into Komari’s arc with disjointed bits-and-pieces of pre-route-daily-life thrown in to ‘balance it out.’ It really doesn’t help that IMO Komari has the weakest plot / characterization synergy for any character in the VN (i.e. her characteristics have very little to do with her past / storyline)

    Furthermore, it’s not just the layout of the scenes that suffers from problems. Cuts and dialogue in Individual scenes are handled in a way that reminds me of Gonzo at their worst. The jokes feel forced and the characters feel hollow because the timing and content of their lines aren’t being properly managed from a directorial standpoint.

    All in all a poor showing, but I’ll keep watching for some of the action-based vignettes that involve the whole troupe (kick-the-can etc.) that could look pretty slick if animated properly.

    • Oh and here’s why some characters interact with each other more than others:

      Rin, male characters – written by Maeda Jun
      Komari, Kurugaya, Rin (daily life parts) – written by Tonokawa Yuto
      Kudryavka, Haruka – written by Shirokiri Chika
      Mio – written by Kashida Leo

      It’s also notable that Little Busters! was Tonokawa’s first work as a professional writer.

  6. That foot-note made me laugh. Bad memories is a pretty cheap storytelling tool, and I rolled my eyes when they revealed Komari forgot just because her Brother told her to.

    Definitely agree that about missing the dynamic of the original group. Not that it was anything spectacular, but it was at least reasonably entertaining.

  7. I’ve barely watched or read anything by Key, but from what I’ve heard and seen it sounds like they lean pretty heavily on tearjerker-style plots and other “forced emotion” stuff like that. Not my thing. But I loved Planetarian, even though it was a tearjerker too.

  8. Excellent post. I will echo the sentiments of everyone else that something went majorly wrong when the show changed genres. The VN I played was beautifully orchestrated; this anime has the finesse of a Punch-and-Judy puppet show. As an example, have a look at how the Komari-Kurugaya interaction was originally envisioned in the VN:

    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B6DRYlrOLs[/media]

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