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Little Busters!

Oct 6, 2012

This is my rant review of Little Busters!


I will start with an introduction to the typical formula for a Key VN adaptation.

Little Busters!, like Air, Kanon, and Clannad (and Clannad After Story), is a visual novel adaptation. Unlike visual novels, anime cannot take a specific routes and then restart to try another. Successful adaptations must somehow combine scenes from all routes and have an overall conflict, in addition to the subconflicts in each arc.

Kanon does this by combining Ayu's search for a lost belonging with the problems of every other damsel in distress heroine. It does have quite a few romance scenes with heroines other than Ayu (maybe more), but overall I accept it because it shows what the visual novel is like. The humor is interspersed evenly throughout the series, and it maintains the reader's interest. (One thing going for the series is that Yuuichi is the only main character of all Key works that doesn't have a tragic past begging for pity.)

Clannad takes the format of Kanon, and makes it better. It starts off with the basic conflict of restarting the drama club. In addition, both Tomoya and Nagisa have flaws in their character, allowing room for character development. (Yuuichi barely changes throughout the entire series.) Then, as heroines are introduced, their problems are brought up and solved, like in Kanon. However, instead of completely disappearing (like in Kanon), the characeters still have some role in the plot. To justify romance scenes with girls other than Nagisa, the story is written so that all the girls (except Kotomi and Fuuko) have fallen for Tomoya, and they give up later in the series. (One bad thing about Clannad is that Sunohara is just an excuse for slapstick comedy. It's funny when he is beaten up, but that's usually all he is there for.)

I'm not going to comment on Air (as no matter what I say about it, my huge bias against it would affect my statements; also I never played/watched videos of the visual novel).

Now, let's take a look at Little Busters! I played the visual novel and loved it. I watched the anime and...well "hate" is a strong word and wouldn't be accurate but...I guess I was very disappointed. Even more disappointed than Umineko no Naku Koro ni.

From the onset, the only objective of the protagonist and his friends is to create a baseball team, which is (more or less) accomplished halfway through the season. Every person they recruit has some sort of problem in their lives. (Who didn't see that coming?) Some problems are realistic, some...not so real. As much as I love Kud's arc, I have to say the conclusion was the biggest (and fastest) Deus ex Machina I've ever scene (and also the VN version was 1000x better/dramatic). Even bigger than Kirito in Sword Art Online (and that was a big one). In typical Key fashion, a characters' problems are resolved, and then she fades away (to varying degrees depending on which Key work you're referring to). All heroines come back for the filler episodes, but then disappear again whenever the story beings another heroine's arc. Sure, in a VN, it makes sense for other girls to disappear, but for an anime, YOU CAN'T DO THAT! Look at Clannad. They did very well in having heroines take on supporting roles.

Also, there is no romance. Zero. Little Busters! is the same type of VN as Clannad. Clear all the routes to unlock an epilogue arc. "Clear" meaning "conquer" every girl (as Katsuragi Keima would put it). While I don't expect Riki to create his own harem, I felt something missing in LB. I do realize that focusing romance on a single heroine is impossible like they did with Nagisa in Clannad (can't explain that to people who didn't play the VN, because it would be a spoiler), but I did expect signs of infatuation, because the way the anime is right now, it feels like I'm watching a totally different story. I think the reason no romance lowers the quality of this anime, is because the way it is now, Riki just feels like someone who is just looking for problems to solve (and for some reason, he is the only one who can). Having some romance would make a little more sense. If the girl likes the guy, she will trust him and ask for help from him. It would seems natural for the guy to do everything in his power to save the girl. It would also seem normal that he is the only person doing anything about it.

Also, some of the jokes are poor, some are repeated too often, and some have bad timing. Some episodes are meant to be 100% comedy, while others are 100% drama. While it is good to maintain a serious mood in serious times, I don't think viewers should be able to say, "This episode started with Masato being socked in the face, so it's going to be a funny episode," or, "This episode started off with a depressing flashback, so it's a serious episode." In other words, episodes shouldn't be classified into serious or funny. In my opinion, many of the funny episodes are unecessary, like the test of courage and the slumber party. Sure, they were fun in the VN, but in an anime adaptation where episodes are limited, the story should spend more time on covering the heroine's arcs than silly side stories.

I will mention one thing JC Staff did right about the story. That's right, folks. JC Staff actually IMPROVED something!!! That is: Komari and Rin's friendship is emphasized more than in the VN, and what a beautiful friendship it is. Note: I'm not saying KyoAni could have done it better than JC Staff. In fact, it's completely useless to argue that KyoAni could've done better, because no amount of protesting will change the fact that JC Staff is making the show.


Animation quality is nothing special. Some scenes (very few) are done very well, especially for the last few episodes, while others are evidently drawn with saving money in mind (a lot of them). JC Staff was probably thinking: "This story was made by Key, so people won't care how well we animate it, and it will still be a success." Well they're wrong about us not caring. Based on BD/DVD sales, it is somewhat of a success, which is both good and bad. Good because it means Refrain will be animated into a second season, but bad because it's like rewarding them for doing something wrong.


The opening has a unique start, but turns into something generic. The dramatic build up in the song just isn't there. I liked the VN version of the song much better. Background music is pretty good, except for the fact that some tracks are overused. The ending is boring (never liked that song for some reason), and I've only listened to the whole thing a couple times.

There aren't many places for voice acting to stand out in this season, so I can't really say much about it. It's up to par with the VN (same voice actors so that makes sense), and tones are realistic, I guess. I'm not really expecting much regarding voices until the Refrain arc (the epilogue arc), when there are some really dramatic scenes.


Riki is a two dimensional character. I would go so far as to say he is boring. So is every other member of the cast. Some are likeable, but they are all flat. The development of Riki could have been done a little better if they hadn't tried to follow the VN so closely. Unlike the VN, Riki should have grown with every experience. (VN's have the player play one route at a time, but the anime is a linear story.)

In the VN, Riki's development is only visble in Refrain (which is very long). It is impossible to have significant character development in the VN, because each route is related to each other in a special way, and the order of routes taken is determined by the player. Thus, if route B has more character than route A, and the player chose route B before route A, that would cause problems with continuity. To those who haven't played the VN: Turn your brain off right now. I said that to make a point, but if you keep thinking about that "special way" the routes are related, you might spoil yourself.

Anyway, back to characters. Every heroine has her problem solved. Masato is a muscle maniac/idiot. Kengo is a loner. Kyousuke is a charismatic but random leader. None of them really develop.

Rin is probably the girl who shows the most change. She changes from shy to somewhat socialable, and even the viewer slowly gets to know her caring nature more throughout the series.


It's tough to remain objective on my rating of this show, considering I loved the visual novel. I really don't think Little Busters! was meant to be made into an anime. If I hadn't played the VN, I'd say the story is a meaningless slice of life anime with flat characters. The animation and voice acting are acceptable, but that's about it. Would I recommend this anime to others (who haven't played the VN)? No, unless you desperately want your fix of dramatic heroine arcs made by Key, and have already seen Air, Kanon, Clannad, and Angel Beats. To those who have played the VN, I would say it's interesting to see the story you read animated, but the outcome is depressing. I would recommend it, but don't go in with high expectations.

Note: My opinion on whether or not I recommend this anime may change based on how the second season goes. (I'm assuming there will be one, or this truly will be the worst adaptation in history.) However, my opinion on the quality (story, animation, sound, and characters) will not change.

4/10 story
5/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
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flaze Apr 17, 2013

I take back my comment about single seasons needing to be able to stand on their own (after thinking about it, that is more of a personal preference).

The biggest problem I have with this show is that they didn't have enough foreshadowing early enough. Instead, they tried to cram it all in towards the end. The show felt more like a superficial slice of life/comedy than a mystery. 

kazesenken Apr 7, 2013

Judging from your comments, flaze, it seems like your biggest problem with it is that it feels very incomplete.  I mention in my review that the first season feels like one big introduction because of how all the foreshadowing was done.  (Would you have preferred none of it be there?)

To someone who does not have any knowledge of the VN, it felt like things were only getting started and that they kind of left many unanswered questions.  This is not an uncommon thing to do, but it is also a valid style of presentation.  The flow of the VN is probably more to blame for this outcome.  On a side note, many people who first played LB stopped before they got to Refrain because they didn’t know it existed.  Many of these people gave the VN a pretty bad review before they realized that there was still a lot left.  I believe the anime as it stands now gives off the same kind of ‘where’s the important part?’ feeling.

Btw, my comment that the characters had much longer to develop romance did not refer to the length of the anime, but how long the girls had known Tomoya.  Ryou and Kyou had known him for years.  Tomoyo only had one brief scene where she acknowledges that she had no chance, but that was far from love.  The girls in the LB anime do show signs of liking Riki, but since you've played the VN, you should know that they have to hold back their feelings because of what happens later.

Not saying that your viewpoint is wrong, but this series is only half done, so I can only judge it based on what I see and not what I don't see yet.

flaze Apr 7, 2013

Verdict: VN>>>>>>>>>>>>>anime

My favorite part of Yuiko's route was the Loli Loli Hunters scene.

I, too, am looking forward to Refrain. It shouldn't be as difficult to adapt, considering all the secrets are going to be revealed. This is 3rd hand, or worse, knowledge, but I read on some forum that it would be airing in the summer after a rerun of the first season during the spring.

Himitsu23 Apr 7, 2013

Flaze, my comment wasn't adressed directly to you. It was mostly for Noobert, but I doubt he will ever check out this review again or even take into consideration my previous comment...

I respect your opinion and the review you made (although you were a little too critic about everything). At first I was disapointed too and I had really high hopes for the series... I wanted it to have the same impact as Angel Beats had on the anime-watching community. I was expecting to see a series where they would first start with the common route, and create a checkpoint where Riki would return to after the completion of the route of a heroine. I thought that checkpoint would be somewhere around the time after thier baseball match, but I have to say that the producers did a really good job in chaining the events and the routes. Like you noticed, they had to give up on the romance part of the heroines' routes, mostly because it didn't fit the overall themes of the VN: friendship, growing up, stop depending on others and follow your own path.

As you noticed, Yuiko is by far my favorite anime/VN heroine ever. I've never seen, nor will I ever see, a character like her. I was worried at one point that her route will not be animated since it was entirely about romance, and that wouldn't correspond with the rest of the routes, where they managed to avoid emotional attachment. I am looking forward with huge enthusiasm to Refrain, and I couldn't be happier that they included Yuiko's route in it. Any news about when it will start airing? ^_^

flaze Apr 7, 2013

"The girls in Clannad have a much longer time frame to develop it."

And yet it did develop within 24 episodes.

"I'm not sure why you think romance would be needed only in an adaptation vs. the original content."

I never said that. I find the VN to be fine the way it is.

"The goal of season 1: form a team and play baseball. Was this story point complete? Yes.  The focus on new members and the foreshadowing does distract from this a bit.  I believe that this only serves to strengthen the desire to find out what happens next."

I admit that there is indeed a goal of making a baseball team, but it's more like an excuse to introduce characters. That's one of the few complaints I have for the source material.

"It's not the first time where a season leaves a bunch of unanswered questions."

It's not the first time, but this should be the last.