Oh, I so wish I would have published this preview sooner, but I couldn’t because of time commitments. Now, that it’s here, well, what I can say… I must admit to having apprehensions about this anime for obvious reasons. I’m sure I’m not the only one who did, yet were all the judicious individuals right? Well, read on to find out!
Little Busters! begins with a mysterious young man emerging from the woods to discover the night lights of a city. Shortly after it is revealed this youth’s name is Kyosuke. His return is the talk of his school and his name awakens two friends rooming together. One of them was expecting his return and he runs out of the room in excitement in order “to fight.” The other friend simply watches him with a smile. He too is excited that Kyosuke has arrived. Following his friend, he finds him squaring against a kendo fighter who is apparently this boy’s friend as well. He begs both of them to stop fighting, but they shut him up by telling him “Kyosuke’s back!” Upon hearing this, the boy quickly rushes to Kyosuke’s side who is laying his head on a desk because he didn’t get any sleep the night before. “Oh, is that you, Riki?” Kyosuke asks.
Riki claims that those two brawlers need Kyosuke to make them stop, because he’s the only one who makes things “fair.” Riki convinces Kyosuke who starts to get the class involved in the fight. His claim is that Masato (the boy with the bandana) is extremely good at pugilism, whereas Kengo (the kendo sword fighter) is formidable with a sword in hand. In order to make things “fair,” he suggests the rest of the class to hurl whatever is in their line of sight at the two. This is turn would make the fight “safer than what it is now.”
As a result, everything becomes even more clustered with bananas, soccer balls, hangers, buckets, and even shoes being thrown to the fighters as weapons. Kengo manages to catch a toy gun, and Masato a cat…? A girl with a ponytail storms into the fight upon seeing Masato about to use the cat as a weapon. She asks them the reason for the fight, to which Masato responds “Listen to this, Rin. This guy told me that ‘snails from my eyes’ meant something it didn’t.” Masato also claimed to have used that same saying later that same day… Riki listens in disappointment while Kyosuke smiled at the situation.
Kengo loses interest and backs out, and Masato isn’t about to stand for it. He prepares to use the cat when he is high-kicked to the neck by Rin. Masato and Rin begin to duke it out as all the friends just smile at the goofiness of it all. Riki remembers that Kyosuke, Masato, Kengo, and Rin have all been like this ever since he met them. He recalls in his youth that when he lost both of his parents, he met all of them and they uplifted him. He remembered Kyosuke and the gang dragging him into their “evil vanquishing” missions and calling themselves “Little Busters!.”
The Little Busters! were involved in missions like going after a hornet’s nest and destroying it in order to entice the cretins. Eventually, Masato covered himself completely in honey to attract the bugs and, boy, did he get their attention. His friends eventually went to the rescue by lighting him on fire… Rather, Kyosuke lit him on fire to save him… Eventually this adventure made the headlines on the newspaper. Riki admits that the Little Busters! made him completely forget about his tribulations and he wished for every day to be like those.
Back on reality again, the gang is sitting down outside at the school’s playground and are currently catching up. Kyosuke is currently in his final school year. He verified that he walked all the way to Tokyo to look for a job in a publishing company. Life-changing questions arise from everybody, as they all know they eventually will have to either keep studying in college or find a job. They admit to being together up until now, but they might separate once each one goes in a separate direction upon graduating.
None of them want to think about the future, and Kyosuke states “If only things could be like this forever…” to which they all instinctively respond. Riki suggests they all do something together like back when they were children. When Kyosuke would lead them into something adventurous and exciting. All of them stare at Kyosuke as if expecting him to react. Kyosuke agrees and comes up with an idea they’d all be able to do while they’re still in school. Kyosuke offers they should all play baseball, to which they all reply with a stupefied “Huh?” He also baptizes their new baseball team as “Little Busters!”
When it comes to pitching, Kyosuke calls for Rin. When it comes to catching, Kyosuke calls out Riki. He leads the newly-formed team into an old locker room where he explains to his teammates about his idea and reasoning behind baseball. He goes on to explain that now that he’s about to graduate he needs to find a stable job. However, he feels this doesn’t give him enough individuality, thus he picks baseball as his drive towards that. Kengo quickly loses all interest again and just heads out on his own.
That same night in the boys dormitory, the group reunites in Riki and Kyosuke’s room. Kyosuke needs help in finding quotes from famous individuals for a homework assignment. He uses a proverb misused by Masato as his first quote. Rin and Kengo are both wondering what’s going on and why they were summoned. Masato thinks using quotes will get him popular with women, and Kyosuke keeps writing down whatever Masato is saying as “famous” quotes. Masato freaks and Rin stabs him with a mechanical pencil for it. As he falls to the floor defeated he utters “Nma, tsa, chogi!” to which Kyosuke considers as another “deep quote.”
Everybody tells Kyosuke that the baseball team needs more members. Kyosuke sends out Rin to recruit some at the girls dormitory. Rin believes she’s not up to the task because she’s no good at socializing. Kyosuke gives her a headset and sends her out to her recruitment mission. Rin reluctantly goes on her way and meets several strangers. Unfortunately, her mission fails time and time again because the guys keep recommending her bizarre ways to speak to them.
Eventually, she unwillingly clashes with Sasami Sasasegawa, the school’s candidate for softball team captain; by asking her if she’s interested in playing baseball. Sasami begins to insult Rin’s friends, Kyosuke, the school’s “idol,” Kengo, the “hero” of the kendo team, and Masato, the “muscle maniac.” She happens to skip Riki all-together. On hearing this, Masato protests to Rin to reveal to Sasami and her friends how Kengo bathes clothed as he wears a sock over his head. Rin calls him a fool, and Sasami believes this was directed towards her. Shocked in disbelief, Sasami tells her friends to charge at Rin. Meanwhile, the boys can hear the commotion incoming from Rin’s headset on Kyosuke’s cell.
The next day, while reading a manga book during class, some girls are captivated by Kyosuke’s looks. Even Riki admits to him having a “divine” look when he reads. The thought of all his friends splitting up after graduating lingers in the back of Riki’s mind. He considers since it was his idea that they did something together before this happens, that he will try to recruit some new members into their Little Busters! baseball team. As Riki is deep in thought in the hallways, he overhears footsteps that break his deep thoughts. He becomes intrigued and decides to follow the sounds. The footsteps lead him to a bright sunny day on top of the roof, but there is no trace of anybody else up there. He overhears a sound again and decides to keep investigating. He eventually finds a mysterious girl who says candy and sweets are falling from the sky. Riki just stares at her and she smiles back at him.
Remember when I said I had apprehensions about this adaptation? Well, consider those gone. Forever. The first episode of this anime sets up the central characters quite nicely. It also adds in plenty of comedic effect and gags we should all be familiar with if you have seen previous Key adaptations, like Kanon 2006 and Clannad. The plot is not the primary focus of this episode, then again, if you’re versed in the other adaptations, you should know that it’ll take a few episodes for the plot to develop more formally. Having said that, the hilarious, over-the-top comedy should also be of no surprise. The other adaptations from Kyoto Animation flowed in a similar direction. First a focus on the cute comedy, and later a mood shift to a mature drama.
Some of the themes at display here thus far are the importance of childhood, friendship, and of course, family. Riki found a new family in his four friends after his parents passed away. He made the most of his childhood with them and their bond together now is so strong, that parting ways seems almost unimaginable. I couldn’t help but sympathize with him and the rest of the cast, even if the characters all seem like the stereotypes we’re used to seeing in every other anime in a school setting. In spite of that, I know that since this is adapted from one of Key’s works, the characters are not complete cookie-cutter cardboard cliches.
In terms of production values, well, what I can say… JC Staff has got this adaptation down so far. Everything from the look to the character design is absolutely fantastic. It looks just like a visual novel. Throughout several moments I asked myself if this was none other than KyoAni (Kyoto Animation) handling the tough job of adapting this from the source material. I wanted to even pinch myself, because we know that KyoAni had been working closely with Key for years in adapting their works, and they had the protocol down. The real question should have been: was anybody besides KyoAni capable of adapting one of Key’s works into an anime series? And so far that seems to be the case. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes closely monitoring this anime. I’ll be following it closely because so far, so damn good, JC Staff.
PS: It’s funny that this Rin girl and I share the same name… It’s cool.