I love Key. I love Air. I love Kanon. I love Clannad. Out of the 546 anime I've managed to watch (thanks MAL!), I consider Clannad: After Story to be my absolute favourite. No pressure then, Little Busters!.
It's understandable that after a Little Busters! anime was finally announced, people would be sceptical about the quality of the show when we found out KyoAni weren't involved. You only have to look as far as Kanon (2002 edition) to see how it could have been handled. Emphasis on the 'could' is important here. To be honest, I wasn't really concerned. Sure, it would have been nice for it to have been animated by KyoAni, but whoever would pick up Little Busters! in the end would have to be prepared for a lynching if they didn't put their best efforts into it.
It was J.C. Staff that picked up the project, and now we can finally see whether or not we're getting a faithful reproduction of the celebrated visual novel. Full spiel after the jump!
The story starts off in a typically Key fashion, where upon we are introduced to Naoe Riki, the protagonist of the story. He lost his parents at an early age and sunk into depression, but it was four kids that took him into their group and helped him through the tough period. The group called themselves the Little Busters, and pretty much got into all sorts of mischief together, as kids do.
However, this was in the past, as all of the Little Busters are now at high school. Natsume Kyousuke, the leader of the group, has just returned from a trip to Tokyo in search of work. It seems the high school days are nearing their end, as the whole group will soon be looking for jobs and getting on with their adult lives. In a dire bid to have a little more fun, they eventually come to the conclusion that they will start a baseball club. Of course, the team would be called the Little Busters.
The first episode was very much an expected introduction to the premise and gang, with the latter half of the episode dedicated to searching for new members. At first glance, the story could easily be forgotten because of the basic premise. 'Standard fare' is another term that comes to mind. Sure, I'd agree with that, for now anyway. Give the show some time to build up! I don't doubt that this show has some interesting tricks up it's sleeve, not just from watching it set up, but just by looking at the effort it has given to establishing characters.
From the opening confrontation alone we were able to learn about the two feuding male members (who I'm just going to refer to as 'kendo guy' and 'Yukimura cosplayer'). We found out about Rin, who is the only current female member and the sister of gang leader Kyousuke. The leader himself is still a bit of a trouble maker, but it's clear that he is a lot more mature than he looks, and that he is adored by the other members. While we know about his parents, Riki is very much the enigma of the show right now. We don't know much about what he is like in the present, only his past. Deliberate, I'm sure. It's based on a visual novel, so this much is expected when it comes to protagonists.
I don't think anyone was surprised that the opening theme would be the same as the one from the visual novel. That song has done the rounds across the Internet for years now, so it would be silly to waste that familiarity by introducing another song. I might be a Key fan, but I'd never read up on Little Busters! prior to watching the first episode of the anime, nor have I played the visual novel. Still, I'd heard the opening theme, because the Internet is good at making terrible videos. The music is catchy and fits the opening animation, so it gets two thumbs up from me.
One of the largest concerns that people shared, besides those concerning the animation studio, was what the actual show would look like. Would it share the crisp visuals we're so used to seeing from KyoAni, or will it create a style similar to that of Kanon 2002 and only serve to terrify those that lay eyes upon it? I'm glad to say that they do themselves proud, as the animation is top notch. Of course, that's not to say that this isn't the single episode they put a lot of work into, but I'm quietly confident that the rest of the show can follow suit. Keep it up J.C. Staff!
The first episode didn't do much besides setting up the story, but when there are 26 episodes to work with, this is to be expected. A short episode count was the primary reason why Angel Beats had so many complaints, so it's good to know this won't be an issue for Little Busters!. The effort that has been put into this show is obvious, and knowing what Key are like with their stories, I'd recommend trying it out. Some of you will want to let the anime finish before picking it up, and that's fine too. As for me, I see myself having to wait a week in agony, watching the Internet for the next episode to release. Keep up the good work Little Busters!, please don't let us down!
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