Monday, October 29, 2012

Little Busters! - 04

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When I said Maeda Jun series always have at least one moemoe character “or two” – I didn’t think I’d be proven right quite so quickly.


Little Busters - 04 - Large 01Liking a series and having no real idea how to explain why isn’t an easy position for a blogger to be in.  If I’m to step back and look at Little Busters! honestly, I’m compelled to admit that at first glance this is a series I’d guess I would dislike intensely.  It features a veritable laundry list of things I normally rail against in anime – moe near-lolis mugging endlessly for the camera being near the top of the list.  An overreliance on the general cuteness of little girls and animals.  Guys being mostly plot drivers with little focus on their motivation for doing the things they do.

And yet, somehow, I really like it.  And I can’t quite tell you why.

Little Busters - 04 - Large 03The first and most obvious theory I can come up with is that Maeda Jun is quite good at creating characters I don’t normally care much for, and situations that normally drive me crazy.  It’s easy to see why KyoAni was such a natural dance partner for Key because there’s an obvious crossover in their sensibilities, extending to a complete disregard for the notion of taking this sort of thing too far.  I did love Kanon, though that was mostly Hisaya Naoki’s writing – so perhaps this is actually a better fit for me with a slightly less shameless JC Staff, and in KyoAni’s hands LB would simply have put me on tilt. 

Little Busters - 04 - Large 05While the structure of the episodes continues to be a little clunky and disjointed, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying the individual scenes as strung together.  This week saw the introduction of Kud (Wakabayashi Naomi), full name Noumi Kudryavka, apparently half-Finnish and half-Japanese (and all moe).  Kud is a living example of everything that should be all wrong for me in LB that I find mostly right – she’s adorable.  I’m a sucker for badly accented Japanese (Kate from Sketch Book is among my favorite comedic characters ever) and the little snipped of mangled Japanese and Engrish between she and Riki was hilarious to me (I’m also weak against Horie Yui generally, especially speaking Engrish herself).  Oddly, as was Haruka last week, Kud was introduced and then quickly moved away from the center of attention – another example of the somewhat odd structure so far that I take to be a too literal adaptation of the VN. 

Little Busters - 04 - Large 07It’s clear that the focus of the first arc is destined to be Komari, who I don’t like as much as Kud but that I like her at all (“Uwah – I hit both sides!”) surprises me deeply.  Her story is the first to get fleshed out – the dreams of “Onii-san”, the picture book (as classic a VN scenario as is imaginable) of the hen and the egg, and the fateful trip to the old folks home.  It’s not bad enough we have moemoe-kyuns and kitties, we have adorable teens being kind to old folks as well?  Yet again, though, where I should have gagged I find the scenes in the retirement home rather charming, though it does make me wonder – don’t old folks’ homes in Japan have maid staff?  You actually need volunteer kids clean the rooms?  In any event the clear point of this excursion (apart from the general warmth) was to introduce Kamikita Kojiro (Ookawa Tooru, a true seiyuu legend) – a grouchy old Ojii-san who not only knows Komai but shares a family name with her, and is clearly connected to the Kamikita Takuya whose name adorns Komari’s picture book.

Little Busters - 04 - Large 08So we’re officially into the routes now, and this will be the first test of how much staying power Little Busters! has.  Almost invariably in VNs generally and Key specifically there’s a pretty sizable gap in quality among the individual arcs, but the better ones have a way of keeping you invested through the troughs as well as the peaks.  We’ll see – for now I’m good, because I find the overall atmosphere of the series very winning. Little Busters! is betting everything on the likability of the cast and their chemistry as a group, and right now that seems like a pretty good bet. 

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33 comments:

  1. As one who have done such a thing (volunteering for elder people), I think it's not just about the cleaning; it's more about the interaction. Especially in the place where they live by themselves, they need to interact to spend their time and not being lonely, and having some guests to talk with them and spending time together could really please them.

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    1. I've volunteered with the elderly too, but I was never asked to clean their rooms!

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  2. So far, so good. I'm kinda worried that they went into one of the routes so quickly, but I trust that JC Staff will make it comprehensible and not rushed.

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  3. I think this is the case of the writers (either JC Staff's or Key's) not doing the research properly. Homes wouldn't ask volunteers to clean rooms, nor would they be able to do stage performs (unless on occasions such as christmas or something, but definitely not on a routine weekly event).

    Either that, or the writers were taking creative liberties to explain how Riki was able to converse with the old man without Komari around.

    Or maybe they just figured that showing scenes of the busters just talking with old people instead of showing off their talents boring

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  4. So... Enzo admitted his unexplainable bias on LB!!!! Gasp. That's new.

    I say, it's pretty similar to what's happening with R;N in this season, as in, he just likes them even when he shouldn't. I, however, dropped this show long ago (so long, another silly KEY moewhore show) and R;N is about to be dropped as well and the only reason cliché-ridden R;N is still sticking around in my watch-list is that one loud annoying girl is much more tolerable than new moe kiddie girl of the week.

    Anyway, it's okay, Enzo. I won't think less of you since I have dust full of skeletons in my closet, too!! cough, Nana, cough. (I still can't believe I, as a straight dude, actually sit and deliberately watched "Nana" all the way and "actually" enjoyed it. I still shudder at the fact. Oh the shame... The shame....but damn, it was a good sho, NO! NO! back to, oh the shame).

    It seems LB can do no wrong for its fan boys, judging by the reactions; good for them to have such pleasurable show. Enjoy it while it lasts (please no 2nd season, though, it's your moments, fan boys, but don't push it).

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    1. Why did you even post this?

      Seriously, this isn't an attempt to have a conversation. You're just declaring that your taste is superior, unlike all these other plebes who like complete shit. Of course, you're not JUDGING us for liking shit; look at this shit thing you once watched and enjoyed!

      You're being an ass. Stop.

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    2. R;N is total opposite of cliche. But I guess trying to have an discussion with an mentally challenged individual is asking too much.

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    3. Not to mention S;G started out pretty cliche too. It just happened to have that mystery to bait us with.

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    4. Einander, get off that high moral horse of yours, why don't you? I suppose you set up the rules for message board now, LOL! Not everything is ABOUT you, my friend and I don't have any obligation to please you with my post or meet your guideline of what a post should be, LOL! How you manage to dig up this "my taste is superior" from that when all I said was I dropped the show since I didn't like it? Sure I'd be kidding myself to say there was zero smugness in it, but that's unavoidable when one is sort of expressing negativity on a show, you see. And leokiko, "an mentally challenged individual", really? Are we calling names now? That's really mature stuff. If I didn't know better, I'd thought I wrote a homophobic misogynistic white supremacist post with these sort of vile reactions!

      Seriously this sanctimonious attitude of fan boys/girls with their fake outrage over any comment that expresses that another poster didn't share their sky-high enthusiasm over their shows (and pat each other with like-minded posters ala circle-jerking) is rapidly spreading from RC and NOW even here. It's almost like communist Chinese government, trying to censor anything that displease them, goodness (I am highly aware that how this smug attitude accusation can be easily pointed towards the other side, but the big difference is this attempt to muzzle free speech, which is dangerously spreading over fan boy groups). People will trash shows they don't like, I was not the first nor will be the last, nor even close to really offensive as a matter of fact. GET OVER it!

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    5. And before any misunderstandings come to light, S;G is an excellent series in my book.

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    6. And I don't think Rawland is acting high and mighty. And I seem to remember that people were entitled to their own opinions without question. I find Little Busters okay (Not good/not bad) and when Komari's route ends, I think I can safely say if I'll watch the rest.

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    7. Sure Anon, not sure why S;G is brought up, but it was and is an excellent show in my book, too. But if I or someone happens to disagree to that, he/she could say that without being called "an mentally challenged individual" for simply hating S;G. People seem to forget how their taste can be vastly different and hating something you love doesn't automatically make him/her to feel superior (although some undoubtedly do feel that, I have no doubt).

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    8. I'm sorry about that. The S;G thing, I can be so stupid sometimes. I didn't finish reading leokiko's post. All I read was the R;N is opposite of cliche part and refferred to S;G cause it is a spiritual predecessor of R;N. I don't agree with the rest of that post at all.

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    9. It doesn't bother me one way or the other, but I think the issue here is whether it's possible to state your POV without the presumption that anyone who disagrees with it is stupid. Of course the original comment was designed to get exactly the response it did...

      While it seems silly to try and respond substantively to a comment phrased the way that one was, I certainly wouldn't put R;N in the same category as LB. It may not have the pretty shiny baubles some viewers were expecting, but it certainly isn't the pander-fest that LB is.

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    10. Nobody said this show is a 9/10 or 10/10 masterpiece, I wonder why would somebody jump into the hate wagon and stared ramming people. *Yawn*

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  5. Muwahaha!

    We are moeborg! You have been assimilated by Kud!

    Seriously though - I hafta agree that Kud is adorable AND that I am really enjoying LB so far. Hmm. Now if only I could assimilate you into the Tamayura section of the moeborg.... ;-)

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    1. The above post was by Flower btw, if it wasn't obvious already (cough cough)....

      - Flower

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  6. I expected we would finish the Common Route before going into Character routes. Also no resets eh?
    Well, this can be a good approach if done right. Right now, JC is doind a good job here.

    I also like how they changed the retirement scene from Mxxgirl into Little Busters scene where the whole group goes to hang around.

    Anyway, while I don't like Komuri, I really liked her route so I am waiting for next few episodes with anticipation :)

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    1. Little Busters seems like it'll be a bit harder to do without the resets than the other key series were, considering the Kurugaya/Rin/Refrain routes. They seem to be doing a good job so far though, and hopefully it'll work out in the end :D

      With regards to the common route, I guess they can spread it out a bit more if they're doing it linearly.

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  7. I'm surprised that no one has pointed it out yet, but Kud is part-Russian. Just saying. And personally I still think KyoAni could have done a better job because well, there are so many moeblobs, but I don't mind how the series' going so far.

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    1. Was there any indication of Kud's lineage in the episode itself, apart from the Finland comment?

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    2. Now that you mention it, maybe there wasn't (and I really didn't say that with the intention of nitpicking, but because it's something natural for me since I've played the game), at least none other than her own name (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika). As far as I know, her grandfather is Russian but she was born in a fictitious ex-USSR country... But she most definitely isn't Finnish.

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  8. You summed up my thoughts perfectly. All of the red flags are there, but LB manages to steer clear of all of them. I even started watching it for an explicable reason--I liked the preview, especially the opening song. I can't wait for the full version to come out. I showed the opening sequence to my cousin and she said that all of the girls look the same and that I was going to become a pedophile (they do look young for high schoolers). I don't even know what to say. haha. Although, the main reason I'm watching LB is because I enjoyed Clannad (still haven't watched AS yet), and I trust that Key's stories are generally parallel to each other in style.

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  9. To be more exact, Kud is 3/4 Russian and 1/4 Japanese. Despite being a foreigner, moving from country to country, she's fluent in Japanese, and sucks at English. She's trying hard to improve, but she still speaks Engrish anyway. UTW subbed her sentence as proper English, but I think it's better to leave the her sentence as Engrish, so that hearing impaired people can know too.

    I was shocked too to see JC Staff entered Komari's route right away, without introducing all characters first. This will be troublesome. But I am not going to judge too quickly, let's see how they planned it.

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    1. IIRC, the not yet introduced characters don't play any role in Komari's route so it shouldn't be much of a problem IMO.

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    2. Also, introduction arcs should not be longer than needed and the sooner the Anime leaves it the better (one must not forget that story-telling shouldn't be the same in different mediums). AO watchers will probably appreciate this approach more I think.

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    3. I certainly think giving each character 5 or more episodes created quite clunky pacing in Clannad. Hopefully JC treads these arcs more gracefully.

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    4. Yeah. But this approach also means there will be no 'reset'.

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    5. I don't know much about that but I remember the 'reset' in Clannad felt a little too much like deus ex machina after everything that happened. These Key adaptations should make a greater distinction between in game gameplay and linear anime storytelling IMHO.

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  10. I think the show's fine (not great, not even pretty good, but fine), but the voices are really starting to wear on me. Komari's voice is like needles in my ears, Kud is almost as bad, and Rin's, which was fine when it was the only one, now gives no respite from the voices I find annoying. Let's have more Kurugaya, I like her voice.

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    1. Plus, Hochan is doing quite well as Riki IMO (I may be biased in her favor)... Kud seems fine to me, but it's early.



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    2. Yes indeed - I was delighted to see how well Hocchan is doing in the male role thus far....

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  11. I'll give you a tiny hint: The boys in LB aren't just plot drivers.
    But then, it will be better for you to see by yourself. ;)

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