Advertisements

An Anime-Only Viewer’s Guide To Watching Little Busters!

LittleBustersMeme

Q. I heard Little Busters ~Refrain~ is a really good anime, but I do not have the time nor the patience to watch the first season or play the visual novel. Can I still watch Refrain?

A. No. But if you read this guide, I will tell you which episodes of the first season are skippable, so you can get to the good stuff with minimum frustration.

My Reasons For Making This Guide

Even though I only watch the anime, I am a big Little Busters! fan and I really encourage people to watch this series.

Unfortunately, the first season of LB! is a rather mediocre adaptation and while I had the patience to sit through it and appreciate it for what it was, I can understand why many would be put off by it.

Ideally, you should read the visual novel for the full experience. However, if you are like me and are a) a lazy ass and b) not into visual novels, you can still get your quick fix of anime in time to watch Refrain. Instead of watching 26 episodes of inconsistent drama and comedy, I’ve cherry-picked what I consider are the best 13 episodes of the first season. These episodes establish the broad themes required to appreciate the sequel, so while the experience is incomplete, you’ll still take away the intended message and buildup.

I’ll walk you through my logic concerning which episodes to skip, but if you don’t care about that stuff, you can skip the next section.

The Best Parts of Little Busters! are the Comedy and Friendship Scenes

cat-weapon-little-busters_o_1456765

In the anime, the Little Busters have a very endearing and heartfelt friendship that is developed over the course of the 26-episode series. Since the story is adapted from a visual novel, it follows a main “common route” while also incorporating individual routes focusing on each one of the series’ heroines. While they are connected loosely to the overall storyline, the heroine routes are widely considered to be overly melodramatic and poorly adapted into anime form. I lean towards keeping the comedy in and cutting the heroine routes out, for a number of reasons:

  1. The comedy is actually funny.
  2. The lighthearted moments set up a more deliberate contrast for the second season to exploit.
  3. The heroine routes don’t mesh well the story’s overarching storyline. (More on this below.)

See, the thing with the heroine routes is that, in the visual novel, they are written as romance plots and don’t take place in the one continuum. When you finish all the girls’ routes, only then is the Refrain route unlocked. Refrain is not a story about Riki’s love affair with his harem. While the anime downplays the romance, it still emphasises that it is Riki doing pretty much all the saving, rather than the Little Busters working together as a friendship circle.

Now while I understand that some individual ideas in the heroine arcs are linked to Refrain, such as the magical realism and the power of yearning and loneliness, I also think that these stories function more as “what-ifs” than as strictly linear stories. In the bigger picture, I don’t think this works in an adaptation. The comedy episodes work better because they show the group dynamic and highlight the same themes in a more consistent way.

Besides that, I will be honest and tell you that the drama sucks donkey balls. Komari’s arc is the worst offender, but pretty much all the arcs are incompetently put together. Stay far away.

What To Watch And What To Skip

1351949546448_zps60944cf7

WATCH EPISODES:

1 – 3

8 – 11

15

19 – 20

24 – 26

SKIP EPISODES:

4 – 7

12- 14

16 – 18

21 – 23

Note: If you skip these episodes, you will miss out on some important information

Fortunately, this information can be easily found by looking at a wiki summary. Alternatively, you have this guide.

Since you are skipping episode 4, you will miss Kud’s introduction. Kud is this girl:

a-girl-little-busters-kud-demotivational-poster-1272795800

She’s a doofus and also very moe. That’s all you need to know, really.

The purpose of each more serious arc is to get the girls to join the Little Busters baseball team. This is the only permanent plot development that happens in each arc. The girls’ general personalities and place within the Little Busters can be inferred just from watching how they interact, so learning their sad backstories isn’t that necessary. Still, if you really like the girls, here are their arcs so you can watch them if you want:

4 – 6: Komari

12 – 14: Mio

16 – 18: Haruka

21 – 23: Kud

Miscellaneous Semi-Important Spoiler

Haruka and Kanata are twin sisters who were previously estranged but make up in Haruka’s arc. This is pretty important to know since they do act chummy in the second half of the anime.

Left: Kanata; Right: Haruka

Left: Kanata, Right: Haruka

To Readers Who Have Already Watched/Played Little Busters!:

Do let me know if there is any other actually important information that is left out by skipping the heroine arcs in the anime. I will update this guide accordingly.

You’re also free to dispute anything I’ve written here, including which episodes you think are the best the anime has to offer or whether skipping episodes is a good idea in the first place. That’s what the comments section on blogs are for.

Final Note To Those Who Have Not Watched Little Busters!

If time is really the issue at stake here you could probably read up to the baseball game in the visual novel faster than you could watch the first season of the anime, since it covers the same material as the 13 episodes in this guide. (Thanks to lifesongsoa for pointing this out!)

Again, I should stress you will get the most complete experience of this series by playing the visual novel or watching the entire anime. If you enjoy the first three episodes a lot, just watch the entire thing. If you find the beginning slow or frustrating, then follow the guide. Only the first and final three episodes are strictly necessary in understanding the overall plot, but I do recommend you watch the funnier standalone episodes. It is in these episodes where the core heart of Little Busters! lies.

In any case, I hope you have as much fun with this series as I am currently. So what are you waiting for? Get going and watch the anime! Mission start!

Advertisements

Posted on October 25, 2013, in Anime Analysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Nice idea for a guide, Frog-kun. Personally I would say that while Refrain so far has overall been better than the first season, I wouldn’t call it a *giant* leap in quality. There’s been a lot of build-up throughout the series, and it’s simply starting to pay off as we enter the final act. I had trouble getting into Little Busters myself (I dropped it, eventually picked it back up again, and ultimately loved it), but for me at least I mainly just needed to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate what the show was actually going for. I think I (and many others) had specific expectations for what the series would entail based on previous Key anime, and that was only setting up for disappointment. This isn’t Clannad 2.0, at the very least. And when it comes to the character arc drama… well, it’s a matter of opinion of course, but for me I kind of took a liking for the hyper-drama, and I think in the context of what we are learning in Refrain, I believe there is some sense to it all. I’ll have to wait to see how everything plays out though.

    But for those who dropped Little Busters and are wondering if they should bother giving it another shot for the sake of Refrain, my suggestion would simply be… If you dropped Little Busters after a few episodes and completely hated it, you probably won’t like Refrain either. But if you thought there was at least *something* going for Little Busters–particularly in regards to its atmosphere or themes–then I’ll recommend marathoning through the rest of the series and catching up to Refrain. Little Busters is a slow burner in general, so watching through the series more quickly than just one episode a week will likely be a big help for many people, I imagine.

  2. Just going to throw this out there, if time is really the issue at stake here you could probably read up to the baseball game in the visual novel faster than you could watch the first season of the anime. The visual novel up the baseball game is basically the common route before you romance a heroine.

    Unlike the anime, the VN has proper build up and lead in for a romance with each of the heroines. What the anime did was take their arcs and just sort randomly stick them in before the baseball game and just stripped them of the romance. Part of the reason they feel so disjointed is likely because they are in fact in a different order from the original story.

    Looking at the positive side of things, I think the disjointed nature of Little Busters is likely behind us now. I actually haven’t read too far past the baseball game myself. My biggest concern is that Refrain will somehow screw up and spoil the story for me all at once, but if the first three episodes of Refrain are any indication, I think it will work out okay.

  3. Good work, froggykun, and I agree with lifesongsoa. In the VN, all the individual character routes happen after the common route and baseball game. Each time you finish a character route, you must restart from the beginning to aim for a different character route. To unlock the Refrain route, which contains the meat of the main story (like After Story in Clannad), you must finish every character’s route, and so essentially will play through the common route at least 5 times. You’d think this would be really tiring, but the game throws in amusing changes here and there with each repeat, some of which are plot relevant. And yes, the individual character drama and romance are for the most part irrelevant except for Kugimiya’s and Rin’s, which start to reveal the nature of their world, so kudos to J.C. Staff for getting that right and saving their routes for second season. Rin’s is necessarily last, since it directly leads into the Refrain route.

    • On a minor note, your utterly mean-spirited tag would at least be more clever with kitten instead of puppy :P

      • Well, yes, but there are just so many kittens alive and happy in Little Busters that you just can’t explain how they would survive. Unless they’re zombie kittens…

        • Considering they’re still up and about despite how often I’ve smacked them in the baseball practice minigame, I wouldn’t be surprised. Oh hey, another thing you all are missing out by not playing the VN.

  4. Wow, thanks for this! When I get around to watching it I shall take your advice into account :-). Probably what I’d do is start off going through them normally, but if I got fed up I’d do ’em in froggy-order.

  5. Most important episode is definitely episode 15. It reveals the true story of Little Busters: a love triangle between Masato, Kyousuke and Riki (Also, episode 8 for Kud and Kanata~)

    In all seriousness, though, thanks for the guide! I was gonna recommend this to my super-busy friend who liked Clannad and Air would probably be interested but heard me complain about the heroine routes quite a bit, so this’ll be helpful.

    Agreed on Komari’s voice. At least Riki’s voice is better in the anime than the vn…

    • “Most important episode is definitely episode 15. It reveals the true story of Little Busters: a love triangle between Masato, Kyousuke and Riki”

      Quoted for emphasis.

  6. Yeah, I honestly think Komari was the largest problem with Little Busters – her voice was grating, and her arc was probably the weakest. I don’t think JC Staff did themselves much good by putting her first in the anime, as it would likely have turned off a lot of potential viewers that would’ve been kept if they’d started with one of the other arcs. The other arcs’ adaptations were still mediocre, but they were at least a step up.

    I just checked through the episodes that Frog recommended to skip, and I don’t think there’s any information there crucial for understanding Refrain, so the guide should be fine. That said, simply as a second opinion, I think that some of the arcs are enjoyable in themselves, they explore a lot of main characters who you’d otherwise never know a thing about, and they give a bit more of an opportunity to get attached to the cast before Refrain, so I’d recommend that people just watch the first season, even if it is a slightly shoddy adaptation. Of course, though, that depends on how much time you’ve got – if you’re short on time or patience, Frog’s guide should be fine.

  7. As a big Key fan I am, I usually understand what is going on in these adaptations as Kyoto Animation has adapt Air, Kanon and Clannad. While there are a few details that has confused some people such as the time loop in Clannad After Story where people complained about the deus ex machina ending although in the visual novel, the main character has to collect all the balls of light in order to access the good ending.

    As for the some episodes in the first season, I had some mixed feelings for the fact that it’s not as polished compared to the other adaptations. There is a good amount of filler episodes although the sequel has proven otherwise and one wouldn’t miss much from watching it. Even so, the visual novel tends to have a good amount of content in the common arc which isn’t related to a specific arc and that the actual visual novel has several minigames, mainly the fighting, baseball game and a shooting one in Ecstasy/Converted Edition. But still, these parts of the game still have some enjoyable comedy even if it’s not that important to the story and just serves as a transition.

  8. I suggest watching episode 6 of the first season since there are (or will be) some important references to it in Refrain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: