Impression – Little Busters! ~Refrain~, Episode 13

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Episode 13 – “The Little Busters”

With this rollercoaster of emotions finally coming to a close, I actually feel a little underwhelmed with the outcome. Again, I attribute this to poor adaptation choices by J.C. Staff that didn’t quite work for me as opposed to the story itself being weak. I suppose I don’t have that much room to complain since I got the happy ending I asked for, even though part of me still thinks they all died in the explosion and are now living in the afterlife. But the main problem I have is that this last episode just felt rushed, maybe because they ran out of funding or poorly paced the previous episodes.

All of Refrain was dedicated to the stories of the original members of the Little Busters, and we had seen everyone except for Riki. So it’s kind of unfortunate that when his time for real development came, it was minimized to a brief flashback. Sure, you can argue that the entire two series was Riki’s development time but I still would have liked to see more meaningful moments with Riki’s internal struggle and a stronger connection with his new motivations.

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The big problems I had with this episode had to do with the cliffhanger when the bus exploded and Kyousuke’s return from the hospital. For me, that cliffhanger wasn’t necessary and kind of just confused me more than anything. Then again, there were a lot of these moments throughout the series when I wasn’t sure what was going on or if what I was seeing was really happening. I guess this is a theme that pervades Little Busters! and to that extent you could say that the bus explosion was the culmination of these moments.

And with Kyousuke’s triumphant return, I was disappointed that it wasn’t more, well, triumphant. No fanfare, just “oh hey, he’s back.” I guess it’s kind of like saying he never really left because his influence has been so strong and so his return isn’t anything bombastic. Of course, saying this kind of goes against the big deal made about his return in the very first episode, so I don’t really know. People who have played the game know better than I do.

In the end, we get the happy ending that we deserve, having suffered for two seasons. A lot of people dislike good endings because they think they’re bullshit and unrealistic. There’s a lot to be said about wanting catharsis, but for me I believe it’s all about whether the series has done enough to deserve a good ending. Has there been enough development and emotional movement to warrant a good release? For Refrain, I think that train left in the middle of the season, and I’ve been waiting for it to arrive at the good ending destination.

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Maybe the ending was slightly disappointing because the buildup was so great, demanding something grand rather than just good. Regardless, Little Busters! put on a great show and has convinced me to experience the rest of Key’s stories. I would definitely argue that Refrain has the best story among this year’s anime. I can rest happy knowing that that young boy loading up the first episode of Little Busters! one year ago will not be let down. Because on this rare occasion, the hype was real.

“It will begin again from here…the story of the Little Busters.” ~ Riki Naoe

B.W.

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