Monday, January 28, 2013

Little Busters! - 16

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Playtime’s over.  Again.  For now.


[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_16_[720p][07F5131A].mkv_snapshot_00.23_[2013.01.28_19.51.26]One thing that’s interesting about Little Busters (and something I don’t always love about it) is that it tends to be very much all-or-nothing in terms of drama.  It’s either full-on serious mode or full-on silliness, and there isn’t a whole lot of in-between.  Apart from the episode where Kud was looking for a roommate – certainly the most balanced ep so far – the series has been a study in contrasts.  This is true of all Key works to a certain extent, and on balance LB is less focused on the drama than any of the eithers I’ve seen, but I think the clear-cut separation between the two modes might just be more pronounced than in any other Key work.

If anyone was wondering whether the premise of this episode came as a surprise to this anime-only viewer, this is what I had to say when Futaki was introduced back in episode 7:

I strongly suspect there’s more to it than meets the eye – or rather it’s the eye that suggests there’s more to it, as the two girls look strikingly alike. In fact Suzuki-san is playing both roles, which lends even more credence to the notion that there’s some connection between the two. If that’s the case I’m sure there’s going to be an arc centered around it sooner or later.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_16_[720p][07F5131A].mkv_snapshot_00.34_[2013.01.28_19.51.37]I take no credit as it was hardly subtle, but I’ll confess that LB had more or less lulled me into a false sense of security on this, as I’d forgotten all about the connection between Futaki and Haruka.  But boy, did that seed bear fruit this week – it was one of the darkest eps of the series so far.  It’s striking that when LB does go dark, it really packs a punch – perhaps it’s because the series is so light-hearted and lacking in villainy generally, but when the uglier side of human nature does show itself it really stands out.  Futaki hasn’t exactly been a lovable figure so far, but she hasn’t shown anything like what we saw this week.  And she has the added mitigating factor of having taken Kud in when no one else would (which seems to place Kud in a somewhat awkward position at the moment).

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_16_[720p][07F5131A].mkv_snapshot_01.26_[2013.01.28_19.52.30]If I had to pick a word that captures the essence of what Futaki did to Haruka in this episode, it would be “personal”.  That’s what really separates it from her earlier appearances as head of the Disciplinary Committee, when she was a hard-ass but at least somewhat professional about it.  Here everything we saw screamed “vendetta” – while there was never any doubt Futaki was especially strict with Haruka, there was equally no doubt that Haruka went out of her way to cause (mostly harmless, it’s true) trouble – one might even say to cause trouble specifically for Haruka.  There was a definite cat-and-mouse effect here – Haruka testing Futaki’s authority at every turn, provoking her,and Futaki harassing Haruka over seemingly minor violations.  But the bench scene showed real venom – it seems a bit overwrought to get that emotionally attached to a bench (even the one where Haruka first met Riki) but Futaki’s destruction of it was blatantly mean-spirited.  When those two said “I hate you” to each other, it was easy to see they meant it.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_16_[720p][07F5131A].mkv_snapshot_01.37_[2013.01.28_19.52.45]As much as I’d figured the two girls were likely sisters, some elements of this still surprised me.  The fact that they’re twins, for starters, and even more so Haruka’s revelation that in her old, traditional family every wife has two husbands.  Presumably the girls were split up after their birth and put under the charge of a different father, and Haruka seems to have drawn the short straw – her father seems not just to have been a bad seed, but in fact a murderer.  There’s ample fuel here for the burning enmity between the two – status within the family, for starters – and it seems that Haruka’s over-the-top happy go lucky act was just that, an act.  She was hiding a lot more than the truth about her past, although it’s obvious that the revealing of that was already highly traumatic for her – the sight (and sound) of her completely losing it at the Disciplinary Committee’s kangaroo court was a pretty ugly spectacle.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_16_[720p][07F5131A].mkv_snapshot_01.49_[2013.01.28_19.52.57]For all the bad blood and Futaki’s cruelty this week, I can’t imagine she’s the one who plastered flyers all over the school revealing Haruka’s family history.  It’s her family too, for starters, and then there’s the matter that she’s a cute girl and thus, by anime rules, must eventually be forgiven.  I just don’t see the girl who’s so kind and protective of Kud doing that, no matter how much she professes hatred of her sister – but of course, that begs the questions: if Futaki didn’t spread those posters, who did?  And why?  In any event it’s clear that this has happened to Haruka before, no doubt causing her to transfer schools, and the memory traumatizes her.  A social outcast on the verge of mental breakdown?  Sounds like a job for the Little Busters, friends of the friendless – and Riki will no doubt be the point man in reconnecting Haruka to the world she feels totally cut off from now.

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18 comments:

  1. Yep, jump from comic to dark here is blatant... but I don't think it can be helped: even with two seasons, you will still need to rush through the big VN.

    Don't comment on Futaki... don't comment on Futaki Nayrael... don't...

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  2. To me, what made more obvious that the two were twins were their names -- 遥か彼方【はるかかなた】 is a word meaning "faraway", though their names are written with different kanji.

    By the way, Suzuki Keiko was just brilliant in this episode. I wouldn't have guesses it's the same seiyuu for the life of me if I didn't know.

    Also, at this point it's safe to say we're getting a second season, most likely two-cour; I wonder if they'll still do Kud and Yuiko before S2, which they'll probably do, because this is pretty rushed.

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    1. Although there is no "De Officiale" announcement yet, the Director already said that there will be another season. Judging by the OP, after Haruka we will get the Kud route, with Kurugaya, Rin and Refrain routes in S2 (maybe Futaki, Sasami and Saya will be in S2 as well... or at least in OVA's)

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  3. So do you think the abrupt transition from comedy to drama is good or bad? Granted, Key shows tend to lack subtlety, but like you said, it's much more obvious in LB. Yet despite this contrast, I love this show. I just watched Kanon this weekend and I hated it. I can't really pinpoint why, but part of it has to do with its failure at comedy.

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    1. There are times when I wish the two were blended a bit more seamlessly, I won't deny. But it's not a major issue for me - just an observation.

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  4. You got that right about LB being on the extremes. This episode sort of reminds me of the sisters in Kanon. A few episodes ago, there was a subplot already done in Clannad. I like LB but I don't think it's the best Key has to offer.

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  5. I know I am sounding like a troll, but I absolutely love Kurugaya. Every scene with her is made of pure win. As for the episode itself, I admit is does sound rushed. But as an anime only viewer (Although I know what the secret of the world is. Damn you Wikipedia!), I didn't think it was rushed which is what I believe is truly important. As for the bench-kun scene, it seems like anybody and their dog who played the original VN is crying foul. I find this laughable for two reasons. One, making the scene any more dramatic would make it unbearable and stupid over something like a bench. (Look at the forum for Nihon Review if you want some proof) and two, people are making fools over their selves over said bench. That's even worse then the scene itself being over the top. If you pardon my french, making a big deal out of it makes you all look idiots. It's just a bench people. Now I'll suppose I'll tell you why JC Staff's direction of the scene was great. One, the scene is better for being less dramatic and two, the fact that Haruka didn't make a big deal out of it when all was said and done which actually made me respect her some more. It also makes the scene in the disciplinary council room better, because we already have the tension of the bench scene in place, so the fact that she went berserk after the whole committee started badmouthing her (And Kanata seemed to intentionally provoke her) made much more sense. Even more so, if it called forth memories of isolation and psychical (And sexual? Although maybe that is too dark) abuse. I also have to commend JC Staff for having shown us that all the Little Busters have Haruka's back (Which I also heard wasn't in the VN). It actually makes Haruka coming out about her past more believable since she had no less than eight friends who wouldn't even think of demonizing her. So in the end maybe I am overreacting, but I am overreacting to the overreacters. JC Staff is doing fine, although I have to admit the animation was slightly off today, but that's actually been a rare occurrence. That is all... Oh! And Kurugaya rocks!

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    1. I think the problem ain't in a bench as much as in showing how cold and uncompromising Futaki is (IIRC, this was the first scene where we see how villainous Futaki is so maybe that left an impression).

      Granted, I myself don't think it is that big deal due to the pacing.

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    2. Oh, I understand that. But if you look at some forums for the episode (MyAnimeList is a good one), people who have read the VN already are crying that the bench scene was less melodramatic. That's what I found ridiculous. That people were making the biggest deal over a bench.

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    3. That forum is not the place to look for moderation...

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    4. I don't like reading review of people who already read the VN (My anime list) because it's boring they just say all the time that they are rushing things or cutting them, it's not going to be the same is an anime adaption, all of them are like that. I have read the VN and I think the anime is awesome oh and yeah KURUGAYA ROOOOOCKS she is perfect *-*

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  6. My speculation as to who spread the posters around is that Futaki has conditioned some good little jack-booted, arm-banded thugs in the fuukiin, and one or more of them is probably more than willing to go above and beyond in the humiliation of the "official target" of the disciplinary committee.

    If they are twins, then Haruka's association with a murderer for a father doesn't bode well for Futaki. Either they both have a murderer for a father, or neither does.

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    1. Apparently they are twins, but have different fathers. It sounds really weird, and it kind of is, but it IS possible.

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    2. Yes it is possible, and it seems that it was explicitly stated in at least one sub - but not the one I watched.

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    3. Right. When twins are born with different fathers, it is called Heteropaternal Superfecundation (A mouthful indeed). As for the two husbands, one wife thing. I believe the family practices Polyandry. However, that brings up the questions of whether or not Haruka and Kanata have different fathers or if their father is the criminal or the one that is not a criminal

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    4. Huh? Wait. It's possible for twins to have different father??
      But from what I learned in biology, as soon as the first sperm managed to fuse with ovum, any other sperms are automatically rejected from entering.
      If it's true. I learned something new today! Does anyone have further scientific reference?

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    5. Note : I assume them as monozygotic twins since they look really similar.

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    6. I also assumed monozygotic twins, due to identical voices, and rare hair color. Plus, with heteropaternal superfecundation, the odds are just so rare that that would happen naturally (unless you're doing it with IVF) and then unless you're doing DNA afterwards to confirm whose kid is whose, this seems like a looooong way to go. I'm far more inclined to believe Mio was able to split herself into two separate corporeal personalities than this family would go to this length.

      It's a lot easier to believe that mom got pregnant, had twins, and then they just said "This one is his kid, and that one is the other guy's kid." Even in an old powerful family.

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