It’s always interesting with a conspiracy tale like this one to wonder whether the style of the series has changed, or just the way I perceive it.
I’m seeing ghosts in every corner and hidden meanings behind every phrase in Little Busters now, while in the first cour there were long stretches where I never even thought about the underlying mystery behind the series. I don’t think it’s all me – LB really has gotten more blatant about dropping hints on our head like 16-ton weights, I’m sure of it – though I wonder how much heightened sensitivity (hey, Hisoka got me thinking about it) has to do with it. I also suspect, however, that drunk with its newfound power LB is also dropping a few red herrings in there too, just to throw us off the trail.
I have to start on this episode by saying that for me a little Komori goes a long way. Well, I’ll be honest – any Komari goes too far, really. I find her pretty intolerable (and don’t ask me to justify why I do and still love Kud – if you have to ask you’d never understand). So stylistically speaking for me there were chunks of this episode that were pretty much a write-off just based on personal bias, but that said, I still think it was a pretty good one. And really for the fist time I get the sense of how Komori fits into the big picture vis à vis The Secret – or at least that she does fit into that big picture. The episode also featured a very funny bit featuring the usually serene Mio showing a whole different side of herself (well, we’re used to that in a somewhat different context) once she’s got puppets in her hands.
While this episode was mostly about Rin, I’ve been getting the feeling more and more that Rin is an outlier in this world, just as Riki is. She’s an odd one – nominally the main girl, but her role seems to come as a sort of constant that runs through stories that focus on everyone else. That’s true of Riki too, of course, though he’s more critical in all those other arcs and he’s the POV character, besides. Then there’s Kud-o’s comment last week about how she “has to help Riki and Rin” – further cementing the notion in my head that those two are connected in a way the others in this cast are not. The fact is that although the plot of this episode revolved around Rin and her knee-jerk decision to promise a puppet show the next day in response to another cat-tail message (seriously – don’t do that, Kids) it was Komari whose involvement seemed to speak more directly to the conspiracy.
What seemed odd here? First of all Komari’s story: not the diabetic-coma inducing tale of the try-hard Penguin, but the one about the eight dwarves who each get helped by a boy and girl, and then disappear after their problems are solved. That there was deeper meaning behind that was about as subtle as a sack of hammers to the head. Then there was the group of kids who Rin and Riki bumped into and for whom she performs the puppet show. They’re not the l’il Little Busters – the details don’t match up exactly – but they’re close enough to make me wonder whether or not it’s just a matter of character design. I mean, we even had the small, sickly-looking quiet boy and the tough kid with the wild black hair. As for Rin’s panic after the show when she was looking for Komari – only to find her on the roof, staring into the sunset – there was a trollish but not-trollish quality to it that leaves me wondering whether it was foreshadowing or a head-fake. Of Komari’s gift to Rin of one of her wishes – and her promise to “think of a great one” – I have no such uncertainty.
Of course Riki has finally figured out the weird thing about these notes with assigned tasks – they seem to imply knowledge of future events (such as the need for puppet shows or emergency cafeteria help). I can’t help but be put in mind of Kyousuke when I think of assigning missions, though I can’t figure out just yet why he’d choose such a method to do so when he’s perfectly willing to openly assign them face-to-face. And indeed, the first season is seemingly going to end with the Little Busters finally starting to fulfill the big one he laid out for them – playing a baseball game. Given how much attention that premise has gotten it would have been odd to break without something happening with it, so baseball seems like a good landing-spot for the season. And there’s certainly no shortage of possibilities for the second, if JC Staff does indeed announce it as a full two-cour one like the first – we have at least two major characters whose arcs could be covered, and Rin seems like a given – and then there’s that little matter of unraveling the mystery underlying the entire series.