Monday, February 11, 2013

Little Busters! - 18

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And so ends the Haruka Arc – or was it the Kanata Arc – and I can’t imagine anyone could complain about a lack of drama now.

I have a few issues with the way things were wrapped up here, truth be told, though I suspect they’re more with the source content than the execution – and all in all, I think this arc ended in a pretty satisfying way.  Certainly, there was more to gnaw on here than with the Komori Arc, and the pacing was much better as well.  I won’t say things were brought together with a lot of emotional subtlety but again, this is Key – in the world of Maeda Jun, emotional subtlety really isn’t the point.

Once again I need to start with the finish and reverse-engineer my reaction to the episode – interestingly enough it’s the second week in a row that’s happened – because what happens at the end is what’s sticking in my mind.  There are some wholly admirable elements to the conclusion, but if in the end Haruka’s summation is “That no one is evil the world”, I have to take issue with that based on the evidence presented (not to mention personal experience).  What about the sick bastards who forced the twins’ mother to marry both of her best friends?  The same people who left bruises and scars up and down Kanata’s body (and mind), and literally threw Haruka out of her Dickensian shack when she screwed up?  No, there are evil people in the world – and I don’t think one needs to believe otherwise to be happy.

Here’s the thing – I’m right on board with everything up to that point.  Especially when Haruka says “I don’t need to hate anyone.  I can love myself.”  And I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that she decided she didn’t need to know whose kid she was – at that point it was largely irrelevant, and would only have unnecessarily complicated the healing process.  It’s the whole “it’s no one’s fault” thread that starts to lose me, because it clearly is someone’s fault.  To my way of thinking it’s not necessary to absolve her family for Haruka to move on – she simply needs to take her own advice and stop defining herself by hating her sister, and believing that happiness is a zero-sum game between them.  She doesn’t need to deny the existence of evil or absolve anyone of blame – she simply needs to realize that as terrible as what her family did to her (and perhaps even more to Kanata) was, she doesn’t have to hate them for it – she simply needs to forget them as completely as possible and move on.

It’s certainly possible that I’m taking Haruka’s “I wanted to believe it more than anything – that there was no one evil in the world” too literally.  Perhaps it’s not a celebration of her newly rediscovered love for Kanata but an admission that she’s been too naïve all along in believing that about her family – but I didn’t see it that way.  For the record, I suspect the whole “two fathers” thing was BS and both children belong to the man their mother truly loved, as I believe the “criminal” Haruka believed was her father probably spared their mother the trauma of having to consummate a second marriage to a man she didn’t love.  He emerges as the hero of the piece, if anyone does – he was the one who took matters into his own hands and took great hardship on himself in an attempt to free the girls from the clutches of the ghouls who were ruining their lives.  That he failed in the attempt is tragic, but it doesn’t reflect badly on his intentions.

It was clear from the beginning that this episode was going to cover a lot of ground – there was no pre-open, which I believe is a first for Little Busters – and while it certainly did, I never felt things were being rushed.  Among the stronger moments were Kud’s reaction to the general tide of rage against Kanata – I suspected she’d end up in that role – and the brutally stark tone of Kanata’s “confession”, where she described the indignities she’d been forced to suffer, right up to being blackmailed by the threatened murder of her sister.  It’s tempting to pick at the wound of the mistakes both Haruka and Kanata made – and each made plenty – but the sensible lesson of the arc is that spending our lives searching for someone to blame and someone to hate is pointless.  They’re kids, and no kids could be expected to have made good decisions when placed in the position they were in.  In closing, I think Riki’s words make a good coda because they sum up the essence of LB very well – “There’s no Kamisama here – just us.”  Life is not the zero-sum game that Kanata described last week – rather, we can choose either to promote happiness by helping other people, or to promote despair.  It’s our choice and no one else’s, and we need to take the responsibility for the choice we make.  Dengana mangana.

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9 comments:

  1. "and I can’t imagine anyone could complain about a lack of drama now."

    THAT SOUNDS LIKE A CHALLENGE, SIR!

    ...I haven't watched the episode yet.

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  2. I was glad that they rejected the Happiness Zero-sum game theory (obviously). Other than that, the show was good enough. Like Mio's story, this seemed pretty low-level drama, not what I would have been led to expect by what people say about Key works, but it was completely in line with what this show has been.

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  3. I like the conclusion you came up with Enzo. Very interesting. Haruka's arc was a funny thing indeed. In the very beginning, all the VN fans were in a rage over the very first episode and by the end they were pretty happy with the way the arc turned out anything. I'll give JC Staff the credit they deserved. Compared to what I heard the VN is like, the anime version of Haruka's arc was a masterpiece in emotional subtlety. Personally the bench scene did lose a lot of points for me, but all things considered, the end was result was fine with me. If I had any real problem with the finale, it was that Haruka perhaps came to her decision too quickly. Don't get me wrong, I think in the end it was the reasonable thing to do and there's no denying the whole friendship angle this adaption is taking made it slightly more believable than the romantic, but that doesn't mean it should have happened so quickly.

    Other than that, I think, based on the info I've found, that this anime adaption was a rousing success. I give it a seven out of ten. I still found Mio's route to be better due to the much more restrained drama (In my opinion at least), but Haruka (And/Or Kanata)'s route definitely had me feeling the most emotions like people said it would. But a seven out of ten is appropriate. Next is the start of Kud's route (I am a Japanese Stupid!) which seem to take a break the next week and then the route will be finished in three episodes which will make Kud's route the longest so far and I suspect we will either finish Kurugaya's route for the season or focus on what I believe should be Kengo and the first Little Buster's baseball game. As much as I love Kurugaya, I'd like the latter to be true and save her for the inevitable season 2.

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  4. Also Enzo... What is your take on the absent Mio? Very suspicious considering her route was finished just before.

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    1. My take on that would be that Mio's barely there when she is there, so having her not be around much isn't missing much. The only time that she has any presence is when the story's about her, unlike Kud or Kurugaya or especially Masato. Personally, I barely noticed that she wasn't there.

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    2. I know. But the fact that JC Staff made a point to say that Mio wasn't answering her phone combined with the fact that she didn't appear during the ending song and the fact that her arc was the previous one is too much of a coincidence to fully ignore.

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    3. My take is that I'm a complete dingus for not noticing that.

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  5. Excellent essesment Enzo! I too sort of scoffed at Haruka's comment of there being no evil in the world, though that and possibly a tad bit of the pacing were my only real issues in an otherwise nice finish up episode, I too suspect there may be more or something in the VN(which if it weren't for the fact I'm constantly using a computer that isn't totally my own, I'd go hunt down)or possibly to come but for now I think the arc achived its goal and I do like the overall message.

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  6. They really did wrap it up in a nice bow. Huh, fancy that. Color me impressed. The flame of friendship rekindled from the smoldering ashes of hatred.

    I don't quite get the tense on the "I wanted to believe it more than anything – that there was no one evil in the world." Was that her young self? Her troubled self? Herself now, but recounted in past tense (as if something later shakes this belief)?

    Missing Mio!

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