Annotated Anime: Little Busters!: Refrain Ep. 2


Kyon-kun, denwa!

After a first episode comprised of both a light-hearted pancake-making party and the usually cool-headed Kuragaya traumatizing some students by kicking a door off its hinges, the content of the second episode was completely up in the air. Would the show return to its usual slow and calming pace, or was it time to deep-dive into a new arc by getting stuck in Kuragaya's troubles?

A new arc it is, and it seems the usually fun school days are being met with some rather restrictive supernatural activity. That said, haven't we seen this before? Eight times, in a different anime? Hit the jump for a bit of recap, a little discussion and maybe some speculation to top it all off. 

When we left the previous episode, Riki had just suddenly fallen asleep in the broadcasting room due to his narcolepsy. Waking up to Kurugaya is always going to be an interesting experience, but when it's because of an uncontrollable illness, one would think the enjoyment would be hampered somewhat. That doesn't put Riki down though, especially upon discovering he'd even received a sponge bath while he was out of it-- the lucky devil. In all seriousness, it's pretty neat to see Kurugaya looking after him, especially after the verbal abuse she got from the girls in the previous episode.

I think this scene in particular really shows how lonely she is, or at least was before meeting Riki. The abuse Kurugaya received from the other girls happened because she apparently embarrassed them with her intellect in the classroom, but I can't help but think there was a reason for that. Perhaps that was just how a previously anti-social girl would try and make friends, and it's now coming back to haunt her. Then again, perhaps not, since she didn't seem all that awkward around Riki when she first met him. It's definitely something to keep in mind during the series.

While he may be hitting it off with Kurugaya, it seems it's putting him in hot water with the original female member of the Little Busters, Rin. Later on in the day Riki heads back to male dorms to play cards in his room with the other male members of the Little Busters, with Rin also tagging along. When they hear about what happened in the broadcasting room, the guys jump to the conclusion that Riki is actually in love with Kurugaya, and that he should totally go and confess to her. However, when they plan a fireworks show to provide Riki a location to confess at, Rin surprises them by walking out.

I think it's obvious that Rin has always had some feelings towards Riki, and while they're not necessarily feelings of love, she probably doesn't know how to deal with him having a romantic interest. They've been together since they were kids, after all. She's clearly bothered by it, as is shown by her reaction to the fireworks later on in the episode.

After the usual Little Busters antics and a convenient way of ditching the other girls, Riki finds himself watching a delayed fireworks display with Kuragaya, just as planned. I think it's safe to say that this is the first time Riki has ever looked at another girl in a romantic way (that we know of), and it's a damn fine place to start. However, I'm not entirely sure what Kurugaya thinks about this whole thing, although I have a few suspicions. I'll come back to that in a bit.

The episode concludes in a very Endless Eight-esque manner, with Riki suddenly waking up to discover that he's somehow restarted the same day. He also confirms that the same events are occurring, as we see when Masato spills coffee on Riki's notebook in the exact same way, yet he has no idea that they've already lived through this day before. This also explains why Riki felt a sense of deja vu while he was being cared for by Kurugaya earlier on. Does this mean Riki is actually reliving the same day in its entirety, only remembering that it's all happened before about half way through? 

I think even without having seen some of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009) and its infamous Endless Eight arc, it's obvious that time is repeating in the hopes of something happening-- which isn't so absurd, considering we've already seen things like Kud teleporting out of chains and Mio's mirror-self arc in this series. I'm betting time is repeating because of the fireworks display:  Is it because Kurugaya wants Riki to actually confess, or perhaps she's redoing the day because she doesn't want it to happen at all? It may even be her way of making the highschool days last forever, and on a day that is a particularly good one for her.

Hell, Riki has even said multiple times that he didn't want his highschool days to end, so maybe he's responsible? Kyousuke's position in this is also intriguing, as his incredibly cryptic yet important-sounding intro to the first episode kind of makes me want to suggest he is involved somewhat. I have a theory about what that's could be about, but I think I'll hold onto that one for a little while. Man, Little Busters! sure is a great show for making you think about what's going on. I appreciate the mind workout.

[Don't refrain from watching this show! Catch the latest episode on Crunchyroll.]

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Chris Walden
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