Monday, February 4, 2013

Little Busters! - 17

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Well now, that was certainly an eye-opening ending.


[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_02.57_[2013.02.04_09.43.44]Forgive me if I work backwards a bit when looking at this episode of Little Busters.  It was an interesting ep generally, but it’s hard not to start with the finish, because it makes me call into question so much of what I’ve been watching for 17 weeks (including the OP).  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself a little, but Kanata’s little trick at least opens the door to the possibility that not everything we’ve been watching with Haruka so far is exactly what it seems.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_03.08_[2013.02.04_09.43.55]Of course there’s plenty going on with Haruka anyway, without even needing to extrapolate too much from the ending.  I could criticize Haruka’s story for being a bit broad emotionally, but let’s be blunt – since Hisaya Naoki’s departure, if you’re looking for emotional subtlety from Key you’re looking in the wrong place.  They’re all about delivering emotion in primary colors with broad strokes, and if the ultimate test of whether a character drama is successful is whether or not you care about the characters, this one works for me.  The themes of friendship have been effective for the entire series, and while Haruka’s plaintive need for acceptance is a bit emotionally manipulative, it’s hard for me not to connect with it because it’s so elementally human.  If there’s a magic to the success of Key as drama, that’s probably it.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_03.25_[2013.02.04_09.44.13]As it happens – and not all that surprisingly – it’s looking as if Kanata’s story might just be the more interesting of the two sisters’, and certainly the more nuanced.  I think the events of this week confirm what I thought – the notion of Heteropaternal Superfecundation (twins by different fathers) was never directly addressed in episode 16, no matter what the LN veterans might have argued.  It was only with Haruka’s speech at the start of #17 that we were told that she and Kanata have different fathers.  I’m actually a bit skeptical on this, not because it’s not possible (it is, but it’s very rare) but because it makes far too convenient a scenario for the Saigusa/Futaki family to rid themselves of the stain of a “bad seed”.  It might very well be true, but I’ll need some convincing – and the behavior of Haruka’s “father”, just released from prison, isn’t it.  His reluctance to tell Haruka the truth leads me to believe the truth is different from what everyone believes it is.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_04.04_[2013.02.04_09.44.52]I never really believed Kanata had distributed the flyers linking Haruka to her father, so confirmation of that was no surprise.  But the moment it happened was still an important and interesting one for many reasons, starting with the vicious slap the woman in the car delivered as punishment for suggesting that distributing the flyers (done by their “spy” no doubt) had “gone too far”.  That and her conversation with Riki afterwards were quite pivotal, I think – and Kud’s reaction to seeing Kanata leave the shower could be coupled with that slap to infer that Kanata is dealing with much worse.  Her words to Riki are rank with bitterness – the notion of happiness being a “zero-sum game”.  In effect it’s a fancy way of re-stating the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” idea, but thinking about it from Kanata’s perspective it fits like a glove.  Just listen to Haruka’s words earlier in the episode – it’s clear she feels that the more unhappy she is, the happier Kanata is – and until she met the Little Busters the only happiness she got was in torturing her sister.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_04.54_[2013.02.04_09.46.00]It’s not hard to see Kanata as the more tragic figure than Haruka.  Maybe getting kicked out of the family was the best thing for Haruka – this way, she’s free of their daily supervision, which Kanata still has to endure.  It seems that Kanata is just as jealous of Haruka’s freedom as Haruka is of Kanata’s status, and this drives each of them to try and make the other miserable.  The difference is that Kanata seems to be self-aware, and knows this process is happening even as she’s helpless to break free of the cycle.  Kanata seems quite incapable of grasping the simplicity of Riki’s feelings in their conversation – all he wants is to be a friend to someone the way Kyousuke was to him.  Simple, yes, but genuine and honest – the very antithesis of everything about Kanata’s family relationships.

[UTW-Mazui]_Little_Busters!_-_17_[720p][58CC4BCD].mkv_snapshot_05.25_[2013.02.04_09.46.32]I found one moment especially striking, looking back – the one where Riki said “We hate you” to Kanata.  It seems especially out of character for him, and it must have cut Kanata to the bone – not that she’d let that show after a lifetime’s practice of hiding pain.  Much more in character was when Riki said “You should be thanking us” to Haruka – that was honest and direct, but not something you hear characters say too often. Having seen what he’s seen, Riki surely can no longer hate Kanata (though I’m skeptical he ever really did, apart from a moment of weakness).  He’s incapable if seeing another person in pain without wanting to do something to help them, and now that he knows that applies to Kanata, she’s gone from being the enemy to just another lonely soul who’s life would be a little better with one more person who accepted her for who she is.  I started out thinking this was the Haruka Arc, but more and more it seems to be the Kanata Arc, and I’m thinking that might be a more interesting path to tread.

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13 comments:

  1. What a powerful episode. I was certainly not expecting something like this, even after last week's transition to the more "serious" side of things.

    A few moving one-liners: "Serves her right!" delivered with such overwhelming venom.
    "I wish I'd never been born." -- Haruka, describing her past
    "We hate you too!" -- Riki to Kanata
    "You worthless nobody." -- Haruka, confronting her potential father
    "Do you like me?" -- Kanata? (fake Haruka), laced with a different kind of poison.

    What frighteningly menacing siblings. This chilled me. I realize it's probably not supposed to have quite that effect, but this was downright *scary*. And who knows if/when the other opportunistic sister infiltrated the gang in the past (in disguise)?

    This show loves to fool around with its characters' identities (projected sense of self). First Komari's onii-chan identity lapse (a "fake" brother made real through Riki). Then Mio's dual persona (a "fake" friend made real through Midori). Now we have two horribly spiteful sisters (an "enemy self" made real through the other) who can apparently swap places during their manipulation of others (and each other).

    Two peas in a pod. I'm pretty sure they both came from the same criminal father -- they're TWINS, and darn probably identical at that (wowza). Plus, what other possible reason could their family have had to "select the real daughter based on performance" rather than just appoint the real "legitimately fathered daughter" as family heiress? It's all lies, all deception with these two and their family. This -- and the apparent depth of their hatred, tinged just barely with the vestiges of mutual concern -- scares the living shit out of me.

    They'd better wrap this all up in a neat bow next episode. Otherwise the cleanup crew is going to be all over isle sicks.

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    1. It absolutely doesn't make a lick of difference, but I meant to type "'fake' self made real through the other" for the sisters, a reference to swapping places -- in more ways than one -- rather than just enmity.

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    2. IIRC, Haruka was even scarier in VN... the scene the episode started with in VN was her being with Riki alone... and she made quite a yandere face (and, if memory serves me right, she even said how great it would be if Kanata died (Anime watchers should also not that Kanata was less sympathetic in the VN))

      Haruka path's bad end is also the darkest and the most depressing one IMO.

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    3. @hoiut If I'm not mistaken, while talking to Riki Kanata says "our father" which also proves your point about them being identical twins.

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  2. The happiness game concept is not 'just a fancy way of re-stating the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” idea', as in posits the existence of following casual relationships:
    - happiness cannot be achieved through personal effort, as the full happiness quota has already been distributed between all living people
    - bringing misfortune upon others results in gaining happiness, as the happiness of that person has to 'flow' elsewhere
    Those points are essential to understanding the nasty deadlock between Haruka and Kanata (and for an even nastier portrayal of the happiness game concept, I strongly recommend Denpateki na Kanojo).

    I don't watch the subs for this show, but "we hate you" is stronger than the original line. Riki doesn't even make himself/the Little Busters the subject in his original line, so expressing his hatred isn't the main point there - he's just stating clearly whose side the Little Busters will take. When Kanata rephrases Riki's words, she actually replaces his "kiraware(mono)" with the stronger "nikumare(youto)", so it's her egging Riki on.

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    1. Kiraware is pretty much an expression of hatred, though - it's not a question of faulty subs, it's a question of you not liking the dialogue.

      As for your first point, it's an interesting interpretation that goes well beyond anything that's said in the anime itself (I won't vouch for the VN). I'm quite familiar with the concept - I'm just sticking to what actually takes place on screen.

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    2. My problem with that idea is that I completely reject the "conservation of happiness" concept, since it requires that other people in the world spontaneously become less happy when another person is made happy through nothing that affects another person. Are there situations where one person is made happier when another person becomes less happy? Certainly, but the fact that those exist doesn't mean that the total amount of happiness is already distributed and only being passed around.

      As a personal philosphy, I think Spider Robinson's "Shared pain is lessened, Shared joy is multiplied" is a far better way to focus.

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    3. As for me, I agree with what Kanata is saying. In most cases, in order for one to be happy, one must become unhappy. However, I don't see it working in broad terms. It is more a "one to another" thing. For example, when one person gets a promotion while working, that person becomes happy, while others in the position to be promoted become unhappy. The concept that we as humans can't live without hurting another human is something very similar to what I (And Kanata) are getting at.

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    4. The problem is that it's not true in even most personal cases. It's true in a very small subset of cases. If your wife tells you she's pregnant after you've been trying to have a baby, whose happiness is reduced? If I am happier after I conquer a problem at work that has been vexing me, whose happiness is reduced?

      The idea that you can't live as a human without hurting other humans is bunk.

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  3. Another pretty good episode for Little Busters! (Kurugaya rocks! You know the drill.) Anyway, what I kind of like about this arc is that it is the most complex route so far. It calls forth the question of who really is right or wrong in the situation and both sisters definitely have legitimate reasons to make each other miserable. I really like where this arc is going. Bench Scene aside (Although my previous argument that what JC Staff did with that scene made the whole thing better still stands) I have this arc in the 9/10 range. The problem I fear though is that we may have too quick a resolution like with Komari's arc, but time will tell. As for the scene where Riki says "We hate you" to Kanata may seem out of character, he was really talking for the Little Busters and not purely himself, but even so, considering the VN is written where several authors are in charge of different routes, those out of character moments are par for the course. Let's just be glad that it was a one time occurrence and that Riki saw the error of his ways so to speak (Another scene from this episode I really liked. How many male leads would even consider their way of life as arrogant?)

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    1. I was thinking, so awkward for Kud xDD I don't think she hates Kanata.

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  4. @guardian enzo you said you will do a first impressions for each of new series and not one will left but you didnt do to doki doki yet

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