Updated 7/29/12 - full-length PV is out, series confirmed for October. Plus Horie Yui as the male lead, hmm...
It doesn’t seem right not to say something about the biggest kerfuffle in the anime universe at the moment.
Ah, but therein lies the source of the massive consternation surrounding the announcement (or more properly, the leaked news) of a LB anime. Key fans are a notoriously tough crowd to please, and they wanted KyoAni to be the ones to produce Little Busters. Quite understandable, really – though I do find it funny that many of these same fans never miss an opportunity to heap abuse on KyoAni for their choices in adaptations and so-called decline. So when the announcement came that LB was going to be animated, in fact, by JC Staff, it was as if a stink bomb went off in an elevator. Though I noted immediately on release of the preview that the animation and character design looked like JC Staff, most fans were shocked when the announcement came a few days later.
I guess I look at this in two ways. In the first place, JC Staff is the studio that’s given us Ano Natsu, Toradora and Honey and Clover, among other shows – so it’s not as if they’re incapable of producing excellent and good-looking anime. Yet they take probably more abuse from fans than any studio except DEEN. True, they’re not a guarantor of quality, they sometimes take liberties with adaptations and some of their shows do have a washed-out, generic look to them – but they’re a huge studio with a huge range of quality in their output. If anything, I would be more surprised by the absence of a big-name director like Kasai Kenichi or Nagai Tatsuyuki for Little Busters than by the choice of studio.
The dominant thought for me, though, is that if I were a huge fan of Little Busters, I wouldn’t be wallowing in unhappiness when I should be celebrating. I imagine how I would feel if the announcement of a full adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin’s Jinchu Arc – which I’ve been waiting for since the last Century – were announced, to be done (as it likely would) be DEEN. There might be a moment of wistful dreaming of Production I.G. or P.A. Works of even Gallop – but the dominant emotion would be elation. I imagine how I’d feel if a continuation of the Seirei no Moribito adaptation were announced. How can you be so unhappy when something you wanted so much has been given to you at last?
I’m not going to preach to those disappointed fans, because while I’ll be very interested in the LB anime and look forward to it eagerly, I’m not enough of a fan of the franchise to really get the intensity of feeling. But there are others properties like those mentioned above that I do feel that way about. Perhaps it might not be such a bad idea to take a deep breath, step back from the cliff, and let yourself be happy – you have something as a RK or Moribito fanatic I would practically kill for – you’re getting your anime. If it’s not exactly in the form you wanted, that’s a shame – but why not wait and see what kind of job JC Staff does before dismissing the whole project? This is a huge financial opportunity for them, and they’ll make more by pleasing the fans than pissing them off. There’s every reason to suspect that JC Staff will do everything they can to make this a success, even if they have assigned a relatively unknown team to direct the project.
Sadly, I really don’t think this series is going to get a chance – it seems to have been written off (as, to some extent, has Eureka Seven AO) by the fans who should be the most excited about it. I think for many fans there’s too much invested in dismissing the adaptation and too much pride on the line to admit the anime is good, even if it is. I hope I’m wrong, and that the fan reaction is open-minded and fair – and I suspect the anime is going to be better than the doomsayers expect, by a long shot. It might be not the equal of Kanon – I feel the presence of Hisaya Naoki in creating the original story is what made that Key’s best anime adaptation yet – and it very probably won’t be as lush and gorgeous as KyoAni’s adaptations were. But the whole point it is, we don’t know – and we won’t know until we see it. And it’s a hell of a lot better to have an adaptation of a property you love on the way than the uncertainty of whether one will ever happen at all.