When Riki was young, a group of friends called the Little Busters helped him move on from a terrible loss and taught him how to smile again; but when their leader Kyousuke moved away, the group slowly drifted apart. Now in high school, the group is reunited once more when Kyousuke returns, and at his leader's request, Riki is charged with finding new members to add to their family. With an open heart, the boy must now search for others who’ve suffered similar hardships so that they too can find a place where they belong.
Very nice touching story, togetherness and friendship. No matter what....but its undervalued..why? Such anime is rare.
This is a review of both the first season as the second LB! Refrain. WARNING: BIG SPOILERS CONCERNING THE SECOND SEASON! The anime I’m reviewing today I was looking forward to for a long time, that anime is Little Busters! and its second season LB! Refrain. Why was I looking forward to it? Well LB! is another anime adaptation from a game coming from Key Animation and therefor another anime where Jun Maeda, my personal anime god has worked on. On top of all that LB! is made by JC Staff, one of my favorite animation studios. But enough intro, let’s get to the review. Also this review will be slightly different than usual being that I’m going to go chronologically through the anime instead of grouping my positive and negative points together. It makes more sense to do it that way here. For a video review, check out my Youtube channel. Link on my profile page. Negative *So let’s start at the start of the first season which were the first 9 episodes. I was so confused when I was watching these episodes. I had absolutely no idea what the fuck was going on. I couldn’t find an overall storyline in these first 9 episodes besides that they tried to recreate the baseball club and that thing with the tasks that Rin receives which proved to be important further on in the anime. But for the rest there was no interesting overall storyline, there also weren’t any arcs build into the start of the anime. The episodes made, to me, absolutely no sense. They were completely random and episodical and I was really wondering if this was a Key Animation anime because I was pretty bored during these first episodes. But somewhere I knew, by the high scores LB! receives, that it was going to improve along the way. Positive *And that improvement started at episode 10 where the anime starts to use arcs in its storyline. The following episodes going from 10 to 26 resolve around 3 arcs. One with Mio as the main character, one with Haruka and finally one with Kudryavka. To me the first arc with Mio was the most interesting arc of the three. *This is also where we get a first glance at the magic element of LB! Now at the time I found the magic element to be really odd but I had forgotten that this was a Key anime and if you watched some Key anime’s before than you know that every anime coming from them contains some form of magic or supernatural. The further we got into the anime and definitely in the second season this magic element got more and more abundant but more about the second season in the spoiler part of this review. *Now the arc around Mio was the most interesting one and besides a first look at the magic, we also get a first taste of the drama in LB! And that’s mainly the reason why this arc is my favorite. I found the story of Mio to be quite sad and it dragged me back into this anime which I was bored by before this arc. Mio was, to me, also the best girl in this first season, watch that I said first season I’m getting back to that later on. But you guys know that I have a weakness for kuudere’s and dandere’s and Mio is a tekstbook kuudere so that says enough. *Like that I can transist into the characters. While Mio was my favorite female character in the first season, my favorite male character was Kengo. I liked him throughout the entire anime. In the first part he was this very cool martial artist who was on the background most of the time. I wonder if that was on purpose because in the second season Kengo becomes really important and also shows what a true friend he is. And that’s what made me like him so much, the fact that he kept supporting Riki through everything that happens in the latter part of the anime. *Then there’s one more character that I want to discuss and that’s Kyosuke because he went through quite the roller coaster in my opinion of him. He started out as a neutral character to me. He didn’t have a lot of influence on the development of the storyline so he existed in this anime but I was nor interested nor bothered by him. But then in the second season, I hated him so much. Goddamn did I hate Kyosuke! What he did there was inhuman in my eyes but I’m going to get more into that in a minute. Now at the end of the anime I didn’t hate Kyosuke that much anymore. In fact he became a character that I respect which is proof that he was a well written character. I foresaw his ending differently than the one that actually happened but in the end Kyosuke was a good guy. For those of you that haven’t seen LB! yet, it’s time to skip everything else I’m going to discuss in the rest of this review. Because I’m going to start talking about the second season Refrain where shit started to hit the fan and where I have to tell SPOILERS. Positive *So let’s begin at the very start of the second season. If the first season kind of let me doze in, the start of the second season just gave me a bitchslap that woke me up instantly. What the actual fuck was with that arc around Kurugaya? Wow, I did not see that coming, not in a million years I expected some sort of romantical development between Riki and Kurugaya. Never! I was than also completely blown away and shattered by Kurugaya’s story and definitely by that ending. That ending was so freaking sad just seeing Kurugaya disappear, her knowing that her love for Riki won’t be answered. I was devastated by that. In the short time that we got to witness a possible relationship between the two, I really grew attached to that idea and than it got thrown to pieces. Where Mio was my favorite girl in the first season, Kurugaya was definitely best girl in the second. Not that I didn’t approve of the relation with Rin that Riki eventually got in. That was then also clear from the start of the anime that they would form a couple but maybe I would have liked to see that differently. So summarized this arc made me realize that the best of this anime was still to come and that’s quite the understatement. *Because the arc after that one kept slapping the feels in my face. That story of Rin and seeing her slowly collapsing and losing hope to live was heartbreaking. This was also the point where I really hated Kyosuke, what a fuckface was he in this story. I get that you want Rin to learn to stand up for herself and to take care of herself but this was just plain inhuman. Cutting her of of everything she relies on, especially Riki then and just leaving her, lying beated on the ground and saying she has to learn to get up herself. There are other ways, more human ways to get someone to learn to stand on their own two feet. And if the fact that he destroys Rin wasn’t enough, that psychological mind game that Kyosuke used to make Kengo miss his shot at the game made me wanna fucking kill him. Kyosuke just played with and manipulated the feelings of everyone: of Rin, Riki, Kengo and Masato. When later on Kyosuke got into a depression himself because he can’t succeed his mission was a treat to me because I just wanted to see him suffer. *Now with me hating Kyosuke so much that I wanted him to die I can get to the next part of the anime where we finally learn the truth about the world that our characters lived in. That was a bombshell, that’s for sure. The story about the bus accident and how Riki and Rin are going to be the only survivors was brutal. And then I’m not even talking yet about how we see everyone of the main characters disappear one by one. This was Angel Beats! all over again. Seeing every character coming to terms with themselves and then leave the others with enough emotional feels to make a whole town depressed for days. On top of that we also get the truth about what Kyosuke had been going through the entire time and after hearing that I couldn’t hate him anymore. I still don’t approve of his methods that he used on Rin but after all he did everything that laid in his power and beyond to save Riki and Rin, going through this same timezone ten times, a hundred times. This finale of the alternative universe story was on point and exactly what I expect from a Key anime. Negative *Than there’s one thing left for me to talk about and that’s the actual ending of the anime in the real timeline. I was a bit disappointed by that, I’m honest here. I was disappointed because the anime went for the cliché happily ever after ending. If the anime would have had the guts to end after episode 11, this would have been glorious. But JC Staff isn’t the kind of animation studio that goes for sad endings. Instead of that they choose to end the anime with everyone being saved and being friends forever. I expected at least one character, being Kyosuke, to die. Not that I wanted him to die anymore but that would have lifted this ending to a whole new level. Now it’s not that I completely disliked the happy ending but sad endings like for instance the one of Shigatsu have way more impact and are remembered for longer. Unfortunately, anime’s that dare to take this risk are scarce but that’s maybe a good thing so that they can surprise us from time to time. Conclusion So as conclusion, although not being the best anime from Key that I’ve seen LB! is a worthyfull member of the Key family. Now for the ratings, I’m going to rate the two seasons differently with a 3 star rating for the first season and a 4 star rating for Refrain. Overall you could say that I rate Little Busters! at 3,5 stars. It had some less interesting episodes but the ones that did matter were of the level that I expect to see from Key Animation.
Story Okay, so for starters, I have played the original version of the visual novel, and have played through all of the available routes on that version. Now, the overall story of the visual novel is a heartwarming one, filled with many elements including friendship, hardship, and first love. In question to the anime and how it's adapting the story so far, I am a little concerned. For those of you who have played through the visual novel like I have, you will know that there will be some points within the story that will be quite challenging to adapt well into something that can be watched. (SPOILERS: I specifically mean the transition from Rin 2 to Refrain, which happens to be one of my favorite points within the story, so I'm definitely concerned.) Other than that, there is also the fact that the anime has been confirmed for a 26 episode run. It makes me wonder just how much will make the cut for adaptation (There are 8 routes in the original version, and 11 in the EX version of the VN). When Clannad got an anime adaptation, it recieved 55 episodes, plus various OVAs to include extra stories as well as the routes for Tomoyo and Kyou since they were unable to be adapted into the anime due to their need of romance with the main character to progress the story. Asuming that Little Busters! will follow that same format, I can only be concerned that too many things will get compressed or cut from the adaptation. But so far, as it has only been following the common route storyline for now, I am thouroughly happy enough for the job that JC Staff has been doing, for now. Animation The animation is decent enough for a JC Staff anime. I know that there were a lot of disappointed fans who were expecting for Kyoto Animation to take up the anime adaptation, but things simply worked out this way. I am actually a fan of several JC Staff anime, and although the visuals aren't quite up to par with the VN, it isn't terrible either. Sound Sound and music is a big thing for me when watching an anime or playing a VN. It's sort of a make or break thing for me when listening to the OP and ED themes, BGM, sound effects, and the voice acting. Fans of the VN will be pleased to know that the game's soundtrack will has returned for the anime as well as many of the game's seiyu cast. The opening theme "Little Busters!" and the ending theme "Alicemagic" performed by Rita also make a return with a remix for the anime, which definitely got me looking forward to purchasing the CD to be released on Halloween day. As a fan of the VN, I expect for the other ending themes, "Clear Weather After the Rain", "Song For Friends", "Little Busters! ~Little Jumper Ver.~" to appear in the anime, as well as the insert "Haruka Kanata". Characters Although people may whine and complain that the characters are just old staples that have been reused and reincarnated from the older games by Key, I tell you that I'm just fine with the characters as I found them so damn lovable! In fact, Rin is probably my favorite character of all time anywhere. Why change something that works just fine? Well, everyone has their roles to play in this story with the main focus being on the main protagonist, Riki Naoe, the main heroine, Rin Natsume, and the leader of the gang, Kyousuke Natsume. And of course, all of their friends will utilize their problems and personalities to help progress the characters in their development in someway, so just have trust in the characters and stop complaining. Overall I'd give Little Busters! a solid and well deserved 10/10 as a VN player. This is easily one of my favorite visual novels of all time, and it is well deserved. But this is not a review of the VN, but of its anime adaptation. Although I did utilize my knowledge and experience of the VN in this review, I have good faith in the adaptation so far. All that is left is to sit back and watch have things play out. So, for now, I give the anime adaptation a 8.5/10. This is subject to change as the rest of the anime airs, and especially when the climax and turning point of the story is revealed.
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