Little Busters! Review

This is review number one hundred and seventy two. This anime is part of the Fall 2012 lineup. This is the first time I’ve watched consecutive twenty plus episode anime and it’s really taking a toll on me. My mind is not equipped for this large anime, let alone a huge pile of them. God, I need a break. Anyways, I’ll be reviewing Little Busters. It’s a twenty six episode anime about a group of friends and their time together. It’s a really nice anime but I have my complaints. It’s a solid show though and I’m sure you’ll like it. So let’s read on.

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 Story

The anime is about a boy named Riki Naoe and his close group of friends. They call themselves the Little Busters and they spend their life at school together. One day, the leader of the group decided that the Little Busters will form a baseball team. It isn’t possible at the moment though because there are only five members of Little Busters and only four are willing to play. He gave Riki the task of recruiting new members so they can play baseball.

Taking the Pants Off

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This is one of the most talked about anime of the Fall lineup. A lot of people have played the game and they have longed for an anime adaptation ever since. The hype of the anime is very high and some people are already even showing their disdain because JC Staff handled the show instead of a more consistent studio like KyoAni. With so many people coming together for the anime, I was a bit excited to try the show. The hype affected me though because I was expecting a really gripping anime like what I’ve come to expect from Key visual novels. This anime is a bit muddled though and I don’t really understand the appeal. I think JC Staff tried though. I can certainly feel their effort but I think the hurdles of the visual novel were just too much. The show had its moment but the overall appeal of the anime is a bit lost on me.

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The anime revolves around the Little Busters. They are a close group of friends that do almost everything in school together. The show started out with the leader of the group Kyousuke Natsume wanting to create a baseball team. He asked Riki to find some new recruits and the guy soon met some interesting people to join the group. The group gradually grows until they have enough to play a baseball game.  This is basically the premise of the show. The show is really just about the group and it highlights their closely knit bond. The ups and downs the group experiences and how they help each other to overcome certain hurdles they face.

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The show has a simple setup. The group would do things together often delivering some comedy with all the craziness of the characters. Riki would then try to recruit a new member. They bond for a bit and then the show would become serious after the character confided a bit with Riki. The show would then explore the various conflicts of certain characters that affect the dynamic of the group. Riki would help the characters face their problems head on and then hope for a resolution. The show would then commence back to its comedic atmosphere with the group bonding and stuff like that. It’s a pretty easy setup to follow. As it stands, there is two parts to the anime.

The first part is the club related aspect of the group. Club related anime (like Boku wa Tomodachi) is often about the characters spending time together in their club. They would talk about random things, poke fun at each other and do certain activities together. This is the same with this anime. The Little Busters is like a small club with the characters spending time together. They do a lot of activities together like practicing baseball but it gradually expands from there. They also poke fun of each other, get into friendly fights and confide in each other when they are feeling down. Like most club related anime, the characters are the biggest draw of the anime. They really stand out and the interaction between them is just too good to miss.

The second part of the show is about the personal conflicts of the characters. They show would often change gears and become a bit serious when it explores the character’s problems. The show often enters an arc for the conflicts and spends most of its time exploring it. The reason, the people involved, the impact on the character, the various ways the group tries to help and the eventual resolution of the problem is tackled into one big arc. Riki would often be the person most of the characters tell their problems to and he is also the persistent one that tries his best to help them. This aspect of the show is really serious but it also has a bit of drama into it. With one of the members of the Little Busters feeling down, the group also feels down and they are concerned over the seriousness of the matter. The problems the characters have are really nicely done though. They range from deeply personal conflicts to family matters. There is a nice story explored about the problem and how the characters are affected by it. A lot of episodes are given to this part of the show but the outcome is pretty beneficial along the way. The characters are nicely fleshed out and their bond is deepened even more so when it reverts back to their fun times then you are more connected to the characters.

Here is the problem with the anime though; it doesn’t have a stable story to tie it all together. It is just composed of these two parts that have different pacing to them and an entirely different mood to them. I don’t really mind the club related setup of the anime suddenly shifting to a serious arc. The problem is that there is no pay off to the scenes and it just goes in a loop. Most anime would have the same setup but the whole process contributes to a major story that gradually builds as the anime progresses. This anime doesn’t have one so it becomes a bit repetitive as you keep watching. The inconsistent pacing and the lack of direction is really a huge negative aspect that ruins the enjoyment of the anime.

The first half also had the hard task of wasting most of its time introducing the characters. This won’t be such a problem if the anime didn’t have ten characters to introduce. That’s right. There are ten characters in the anime and maybe two or three side characters to introduce as well. With the inconsistent pacing, lack of a major story and lack of direction in the anime, the addition of the large cast really affected the overall appeal of the show. Some characters are introduced and it enters an arc with their personal problems but other characters are introduced with a brief look at their personality that ultimately leads to nowhere. It’s not just a simple introduction so you can understand the role of a certain character. Most introductions add some things you’d expect to lead to an arc but it doesn’t so it’s just confusing clutter.

The second half had more cohesion though. After you’ve adjusted to the rhythm of the anime, it’s not that hard to enjoy the show afterwards. The bonding of the group has grown on you at this point and I personally appreciate the things the new members add to the group dynamic. The serious arcs are made a lot more sense because without any awkward character introduction, the conflicts are more persistent. Since you already know the characters, the problems they experience became a lot more meaningful to watch and the drama that most of the arcs possesses are also coming through pretty nicely. Even the episodes concerning the side characters became a lot more fun to watch because the anime no longer needs to waste time introducing the characters. Seriously, ten characters is a hurdle that will bring any anime down but I’m glad the show was able to slowly bounce back in the second half.

The story was also showing signs of clarity in the second half. There seemed to be a major story told in bits and pieces later on in the show. The various situations involving some characters and the needed arc involving Riki himself seemed to be slowly setup in the second half. It’s told very subtle though and it doesn’t make any sense if you connect it all together but it’s a story I am very interested to see unfold. Unfortunately, it’ll come in another season. Twenty six episodes are not enough to fully cover the story of this anime and I find that a bit funny. The show is definitely something you should see because there are a lot of good things in the anime. I also understand the lack of direction in this show. It’s setting up for another season. It’s safe to say that season will be incredible. No doubt about it.

The characters are the main attraction of the show. Since it lacks a stable story to build up, it relies on the characters. They really made the show memorable because a lot of them are interesting to watch. I often look forward to the comedic portion of the anime because I know certain characters will make it very fun to watch. They all have certain generic quality to them but the various character interactions made those generic qualities actually beneficial for the characters.

The arcs also helped in fleshing out certain characters. I love how the characters are handled in the arcs because you really feel attached to them as you see them tell their sob story. I’m a bit disappointed though when they lost their appeal once they become part of the group. Since there is so many character to feature, most characters don’t get some time for their unique personality to shine so they are often just put in the sidelines until they are needed. The generic qualities also show massively when the characters have no meaningful role to play in various arcs or episodes.

The main character is Riki Naoe. He is the typical main character in visual novel anime. Most characters confide to him, most characters find him relaxing to be with, he loves being involved with other people’s problems and the show revolves around him despite there being ten characters in the show. He is also very generic. There is nothing really interesting about him and the show was sort of holding back whatever intriguing side story he have so you can’t really like the guy that much. Most of the characters are actually more memorable than him and it’s not really a bad thing. His bland personality made other characters more appealing while the show still revolves around him.

Despite the negative aspects of the show, I really like this one. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a Key visual novel anime. They always bring some great anime experience and this one is no exception. This is a pretty nice anime. The characters are really interesting and the build up for the next season is pretty nice. I can’t wait for the next season.

Sight and Sound

The character design is pretty great. The characters have the familiar look like the one sin Clannad and Air. The girls have the same build and I love the way their hair is designed. Most of them have frilly ribbons or colorful laces to their hair that makes them look bouncy. I also love the bright colored hairs of the characters that complement their personality. The uniforms are also pretty great. The black and red combination of the uniforms looks really nice on the characters. The color palette of the anime also made the characters pretty nice to look at. The guys in the anime are the typical bishie characters. They also have nice looking hair and their build is a bit muscular to define their bishie aspects. Everyone expect for Riki though but everyone is the handsome characters you’d love to stare at.

The animation is pretty decent. There really isn’t any scene that defined the animation but there is enough to tell the story. The facial expressions are probably the best parts in terms of animation. A lot of characters smile, cry and show vibrant emotions that carry well thanks to the animation. The baseball scenes had decent animation but it’s not really the focus of the anime so there really isn’t much to tell here. The movements are pretty smooth and JC Staff did a nice job in terms of animation.

The soundtrack is something I really like. A lot of background music really adds to the mood of the anime and it captures the vibrant atmosphere of the show. The anime actually adapted a lot of the music from the VN and they are stellar. Various characters have their own theme and they are really good. The inserts are really nicely composed and they make certain scenes pretty amazing. I am actually a huge fan of the music because they have a nice simplicity to them than gradually sounds immensely complex. I would also like to point out though that the voices of some of the characters are really annoying. It’s my own preference but some of them are just too high pitched to get used to. Two or three characters have annoying voices I can’t get used to.

The anime’s OP is “Little Busters! ~TV animation ver.~” by Rita. Just like the rest of the soundtrack in the anime, this one is pretty incredible as well. It starts pretty slowly with Rita’s voice being a nice standout and it gradually builds for the chorus. It’s a very lovely song. The OP sequence features all the characters in a nice montage.

The anime’s ED is “Alicemagic ~TV animation ver.~” by Rita. The song has a nice rock composition to it. I love the way the guitar just runs wild the song and Rita’s voice nicely complements it. The chorus is really nice but the verse isn’t that spectacular. The ED sequence features RIki walking at night and the rest of the group gradually follows. They then meet the leader of the group and then they walk some more. The animation is pretty in some of the characters.

Overall Score

6/10 “The anime had a lot to offer despite the lack of direction.”

The anime was missing a general story but the individual arcs are pretty great and the characters really carry the load. If you’re a fan of previous Key works like Clannad or Air then you’ll love this anime. If you like a school anime with some comedy and drama on the side then you’ll love this anime. I recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Little Busters! Review

  1. Hello 🙂
    Nice Reviews there. And yeah i totally agree with you. Little Busters! does have a great prospect, as the VN itself is great. Too bad 1st season of LB was a bit… plain. I know that Slice of Life story with comedy at first and a sad plot twist near the end of the story while the pacing is slow, is Jun Maeda style. Clannad is like that too. But, dunno why Clannad isnt as plain as LB!.

    But of course, i, as a hard fans for LB!, am still hoping, J.C.Staff did a great job on the second season of LB!, Refrain. As Refrain is the core of the story of LB! itself 🙂

    • Clannad the anime was released in a time where people loved the concept of Key Visual Novels becoming anime. Little Busters the anime had the unpleasant position of not only being look down upon by the VN fans but also by the hardcore KyoAni Clannad fans that gauges it success on how Clannad the anime did. JC Staff really tried to capture the appeal of the show so I’m very hopeful Refrain will give the show the needed success.

      Fingers are crossed for Refrain as well. 🙂

  2. Hey TPAB I love Kannon and The Clannad series dubbed. I’m looking at picking this up. If I rate those at a 10 what would LBusters be?

Thoughts~

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