anime and games, media

Little Busters Highschool Drama Club

Natsume Rin anime character
“Welcome Back” by Mistayoh; also the best illustration of this girl on the internet

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Brief Review
  3. Rating
  4. Long Review Rambling
  5. Fan Art


Kyoto Animation / Key Animation strolls into this fall 2013 with their animation, Little Busters, based on a visual novel. You can tell right off the bat it’s going to be a casual, relaxing animation, full of “feels” and baseball.

What’s notable about this animation is that, while it is started and directed by KyoAni, J.C. Staff finishes it off. This means, of course, the almost trademark J.C. Staff shot of legs-to-head, if you know what I mean. More importantly, it means a different style of animation… and KyoAni may be doing something else with its main crew of animators…

This review will cover both the first season and the second (“Refrain”). I realize the story is from a visual novel, but I’m reviewing this from the perspective of someone who will probably never play it (which means… most of us), and thus it’s important from my perspective that the story be a cohesive whole. Is it? Let me discuss that…

Brief Review

First, envision the usual scenario: High school. Group of friends. Looking for fun. School is coming to an end. Continuing on…

I don’t want to spoil anything for you in this section, so let’s keep it short and simple. It’s an animation where every freaking little thing is a big deal. Someone drops an eraser. DRAMA!! Sing with me! Drama, DRAMA, drama, DRAMA! There is fighting, there is baseball, there are some happy moments where everyone acts like one big family. But the daily lives of Japanese highschoolers must be really boring because adding excitement requires drama.

The high point of the anime was its mystery. It told you zip. All the clues were, unfortunately, very revealing, but they could never prepare you for the popular TV trope ending! /sarcasm (oops, I wasn’t supposed to say that, was I?)

The most notable thing about this anime is its pure naivety. I’m not even talking about purely innocent naivety. This was not a gory anime, per se, but the number of fights went from comedic to unnerving. The main character, a overly simple-minded kid, can’t multitask. He only ever has one thing on his mind, and it’s usually very obvious what it is.

I will admit, the anime started out rather comedic and enjoyable. The first season may not have been a blast, but if you’re just looking for a relaxing anime that isn’t boring and may give you a some tears if you get into it, this is one to watch.


Animation – 6/10 – This isn’t the B-crew, but I felt a slight drop in quality after a short time (Maybe when J.C. Staff took over?).

Directing – 5/10 – Capturing the mood is important. Capturing the face all the time is not. Overall, it was about average.

Story – varies – Good and emotional. The first season was fun, but the second was too much drama.

Music – 9/10 – Repetitive, but quite key (or should I say “KyoAni”) to raising those emotions. For once, I can’t complain about a new opening theme.

Morality/Ethics – 4/10 – It doesn’t bomb because friendship is valued, but the way it is brought about is so cockamamie it’s absurd.

Overall – 6/10 – Good in various respects. Disappointing in others. If you want some emotionally-charged slice-of-life, this is it. If you want things to make sense, skip it.

Long Review Rambling

The story revolves around a growing group of friends. Like every good anime, the main character has an uncanny knack for getting tangled up with girls, and his group of friends goes from being predominantly masculine to dominantly feminine. But no matter – he must help all of them work through some troubling scenario in their lives.

And this brings us to a major difference between Little Busters and Clannad. In the latter, it was more obvious how the events of each arc built towards the objective. In Little Busters, only one arc – the arc about Rin – is the obvious one. The explanation – and the whole freaking objective – has to be bottle-fed to you in episode 10 of season 2. But at that point, you’re puzzling over several other things, including how illogical the whole setup is.

This brings to mind another comparison (skip if you don’t want serious spoilers). Anyone remember that small black-haired girl with glasses who could rewind time? Yeah, Homura! That’s the one. She’s in the same boat as the head honcho in this anime, except that her power makes sense in light of the physics she’s subjected to. In the latter case, it’s just Deus Ex Machina for an interesting story.

Along the way, we are greeted with touching music, raising our emotions and making us feel sympathy for the new characters who, for a time, are in the limelight long enough to develop personalities and thenceforth become part of the mob clan. By the way, no one around the protagonist is ever a bad guy, no matter how dark, angry, or mysterious they may be at times.

I didn’t say there wouldn’t be fighting between friends. While a few innocent bystanders were harmed in some instances, most of the time, it was the friends fighting, whether all out quarreling or just doing it for comedic purposes.

The story gradually went from lighthearted to serious, and the fighting followed suit. The seriousness, of course, was neither comedic nor adult. It’s what happens when you think your whole world revolves around the few things you do at your school that year. Let’s sing! Drama DRAMA drama DRAMA!

Speaking of which, the scenery could be summarized in the fact that you’re always at school, or at least feel like it. AHHHHHH! I don’t recall many city shots. This anime gave me a kind of claustrophobia as it progressed. There were only a few named side characters in the first season, but these were gradually ditched and the remaining named characters joined the group. I guess it’s true that when you’re as simple minded as a child, your world shrinks immensely.

What bugs me the most, though, is how the characters tried to tackle the problems. The author(s) has/have the characters undergo magical changes of heart or have convenient plot points to support their realistically stupid endeavors. Spoilers: Who breaks chains with their bare wrists? Honestly? And how come I can’t make friends by beating people up?

But the high point of the anime was its emotional draw. Most people were crying. I, on the other hand, felt more of unpleasant challenge. Different characters would go through phases and circumstances where you weren’t sure whether to sympathize with them and see things through or be angry with them. Once you have it drilled into your head that everyone is a good guy, the writers take things to greater extremes.


This is not a kids show, nor is it a first anime. At the same rate, I would recommend it to certain people, as it’s still one of the best anime this fall. I spent quite a bit of time shooting it down in this article, primarily because of how disappointed I was in the direction it took as the story went on. Admittedly, it was a predictable anime. The writing was not only on the wall, but it was spelled out in English. If there’s something to walk away with, it’s the soundtrack. The score was fitting, and the background music was timed just right.

Fan Art

And now for the part of the article that most viewers come for. From DA:

Key Anime Little busters characters in a classroom
“Little Busters ~Refrain~” by Asakura Shinji

And moving on to Pixiv…

Sekai no subete:

ふゆいち has a few works of interest, including:

One by きみしま青

A few more that may be of interest:

Aaand… along the lines of what the animation actually looks like…


Enter the space and time of my little world... Welcome Earthling.

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