Colloquium: Little Busters! Episode 6

“If the world is full of things we never wanted to know, is our only option to look the other way?”


ajthefourth: A sneaking suspicion has been building for some time that not all is right with the Little Busters! universe. Well beyond the fact that Komari was allowed to grow up without understanding death – something that anyone who could pass for a parent would explain to their child at a very young age – it wafts through every interaction like a bad stench. Something stinks in Little Busters!.

Previously, Myst and I spoke of how Little Busters! was splitting the duties of the visual novel protagonist between Kyousuke and Riki, with the former taking the role of the catalyst for events and the latter responsible for narration as well as being the one that the girls naturally flock to. One playing the game wouldn’t want to be like Riki in personality, although they would strongly identify with him, but the added benefits of having not only a potential harem but a powerful group of male friends would make him a desirable player character.

The wisdom that Kyousuke espouses to Riki above isn’t wrong, however, it rings not only false but forced. Riki must learn this lesson or else, and Kyousuke is once again the catalyst for lessons learned. Komari becomes a vessel for Kyousuke’s education of Riki and by extension, the rest of the Little Busters. What matters is not that Komari was “fixed” by Riki, although that’s a lovely side effect and self-esteem boost for him as the player character, but that Riki was taught a lesson about facing realities that one does not like. As an aside, this makes Komari even less important than one would initially assume.

This brings one full circle to the stench that permeates the Little Busters! universe: nothing seems real. It’s as if this entire world has been created for Riki, similar to how Angel Beats! was created to help teenagers pass on, with Kyousuke as the man behind the curtain. Where Clannad‘s character arcs all focused on family, with Tomoya eventually creating his own figurative family (and later, a more literal one), Little Busters! seems content to teach Riki these after-school special lessons with the overall goal still shrouded in mystery. Without any meaningful character interaction, these lessons are just grandiose speeches from Kyousuke’s mouth.

otou-san: I think she’s right. Something’s rotten in Keytown, and it’s not the dead cats.

Let’s talk about “realism.” Realism, the way I’m using it, doesn’t mean that this is a thing that can happen in the real world. It doesn’t mean that the kids have to stop fighting in the school cafeteria because that’s stupid and makes no sense. It means that the world has to adhere to a certain sense of consistency, and just as importantly, that it doesn’t half-ass any of its justifications. Komari’s repression of memories is not unrealistic per se, in that people do often repress trauma, but the cyclical repression and uncovering through a series of dead goldfish was too much for me to bite down on. I’d actually accept a fantastical justification more readily than something that wouldn’t even pass Wikipedia Psychology 101. Add to this a potentially dangerous “fix” perpetrated by unsure high school kids rather than a responsible adult — there are none here, only a single bedridden old man with a typically vague disorder and a complete lack of agency — and the notion of realism goes out the window in favor of the world that, as Aj4 points out, is set up just for Riki to grow. Same goes for the lack of causality I talked about last episode. Just as I’d feel closer to characters who appear and interact in more natural ways, I’d feel stronger about Riki’s life lessons if they came from life.

Both of those are inextricably tied to suspension of disbelief. I’ve been hammered before for calling Key works on their lack of the kind of realism to which I’m referring. I felt I explained myself pretty decently but maybe my words were blurred by rage-spittle on the screen, so let me be as clear as possible: I understand that magical, fantastical elements are a part of Key stories pretty often. Put someone’s soul in a shitty old robot if you want, I don’t care. That doesn’t mean I can’t ask for realism; in fact, fantasy demands characters who adhere to a sense of reality precisely because the physics don’t. That’s what enables our suspension of disbelief. Too often our hobby asks us to suspend disbelief simply because we’re watching anime or playing a visual novel, and I find Maeda and Co. to be some of the worst offenders.

So ultimately, what we’re left with is a series of events that feel tentatively related, a neatly packaged solution, and a well-worn tableau of a cute girl crying in the rain (while wearing a ridiculous fetishistic getup). If Key has evolved to the point where they want to show us scenes of beautiful sadness without a connection to traditional plot, that’d be one thing — I’d be willing to bet Kawamori created Do You Remember Love? mostly to animate the climactic music-video battle — but this half-assed, not-quite-story is leaving me picking apart the plot but unaffected by the intended emotional component.

14 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Little Busters, Little Busters

14 responses to “Colloquium: Little Busters! Episode 6

  1. This storyline felt like someone’s bad parody of a “typical key story” than anything that would actually move me to feel for the characters. The only thing I felt during this episode was amusement. And I’m someone who cried at the end of Makoto’s arc in Kanon, and at multiple points throughout Clannad. I unironically love Angel Beats! I’m the sort of person this should have worked perfectly on, but instead its just…silly.

    I don’t know if its an issue with the adaption or the source material, but this arc did not work for me on any level.

    • I cannot say as I have not played the VN (although I plan to over this coming holiday, just to see what’s up). If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that this adaptation is many things: someone handing the source material without the presence to make it tolerable/compelling, the goal of the show wavering between inducting new viewers and creating nostalgia for VN fans inevitably pleasing no one, and a lack of focus/narrative from the original source material. I’ll be able to comment better on this after I’ve played the VN, but this arc was laughable.

  2. lifesongsoa

    I’m someone who loves most of Key’s anime adaptation’s but this story just fell on it’s face this past episode. Even a lot of the people who are totally cool with the type of storytelling that Key bring to the table such as myself are grasping for straws to find good things about the way this story played out. I really hope the remaining stories will have a bit more impact.

  3. Andmeuths

    Spoiler Alert: Your suspicions are ****. It’s not ****. What is of course, is even more spoilerly, but the fact that you’ve *** *** *** that LB is a *** *** is really admirable (=.

  4. If I remember correctly, this is just a taste of Key post-Maeda.

    Since Little Busters was the first game Maeda really stepped back into the background, he only wrote the “true end” (probably the climax for the anime) and some of the supporting male characters’ routes, I think.

    So the hollow feeling could very well be from one of the new writers trying too hard to ape Maeids w

  5. I haven’t played any of the games, but Konami reminded me a lot of Ayu and Fuku from Kanon and Clannad, i,e, small, childlike, and annoying, Neither of those character’s arcs were considered the high point of those series, to say the least. Now that she’s out of the way maybe the show can finally get some traction.

  6. As a fan of Little Busters! VN, I can say you hit on the nail here.

    JC Staff seems to be completely lost with this. They rushed too much (the fact that the director is terrible doesn’t help too), cut some foreshadowings and did some changes, maybe aiming for telling LIttle Busters! story from a different perspective (since the VN format is very, VERY hard to adapt).

    Actually Kyousuke’s speeches are something original from the anime script – and yeah, they feel forced. I’m afraid they might force a different – ina bad sense – perspective of his character as the story goes.

    Can’t say too much because of spoilers, but now I’m really starting to get worried about this adaptation.

    • “I’m afraid they might force a different – in a bad sense – perspective of his character as the story goes.”

      I don’t know Kyousuke’s whole “deal,” only that something is definitely up with him teaching Riki these lessons. For what purpose, I can only guess (everyone being dead honestly seems like a safe bet). However, I will be sad if Kyousuke’s character takes a sudden 180 degree nonsensical turn, much like Rin’s seemed to. I loved first-episode Rin. Second-episode Rin? Not so much.

      I suppose I’ll find out all of these things when I play the VN soon…

  7. Pingback: Death and the Maiden | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

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