I’m amazed at how Little Busters! Refrain has been able to continue to tease the big reveal for this series for 5 weeks now. It feels like we’re kind of stuck in the time right before the big secret that this series has been building up to since it started. Yet, every week I come into this series expecting answers and every week I get the same response: “Next week for sure!”
I’m sure its not actually that way, but I feel like the show and story are avoiding the big elephant in the room and delaying as much as possible. My frustrations with having to be patient aside, this was a pretty solid episode.
The events of this episode largely revolved on Rin and Riki volunteering to show a bunch of Inspectors around the school. This was an important event in itself, because there’s been a lack of presence of adults in this series. Mostly we see the high school students operate in almost a vacuum.
We got to see the school in a much different context, and then also see Rin trip up on her words as she tried to act as formal as possible. The tour ended with success, and too much success at that.
Rin ended up being selected for an exchange program to another school. It was interesting to note that this was a school suffering from a really bad environment after an accident and so the solution was to send students from different schools to inject some positive atmosphere.
Like Riki, I had some serious worries about Rin going out and being the one. It would make a lot more sense for Riki to be the one chosen, as Riki’s shown the most capacity for empathy and friendship in the series. I guess Rin made a better impression though, and hence, it was she that was faced with the choice of going far away and leaving her friends (if only for a semester).
The one thing that really stood out to me this episode was the scenario that ended up addressing how weird the whole Riki x Rin thing was. I’m all for romance, but as Riki finally deduced near the end of the episode, Rin didn’t actually love him. Rin was, in fact, not capable of such things because she still hadn’t matured enough yet.
In a very startling and impressive resolution, Riki understood that Rin needed to grow up more and become her own person. She was clinging to her friends, especially Riki. And while I’m sure the Riki x Rin shippers will disagree, I totally see Rin actually not being interested in Riki in the future.
If Riki were a selfish person, or a manipulative person, he could’ve kept Rin around himself and molded her to be with him, forever dependent on him. He didn’t even have to have bad intentions, it would just happen subconsciously. Good on him to sacrifice the potential relationship he’d have with Rin, for her benefit.
In many ways, I think I spoke to soon when I said last week that Rin was too two-dimensional. The correct analysis would be to call her childish (something I did mention last week as I tried to wrap my head around her character). Rin has indeed come far since the start of the story, and the logical end of her character arc is for her to become independent and move out on her own.
Now, while we didn’t get clear answers to the secret of the world, things did inch ever closer. Riki, after his realization of what was best for Rin, finally put two and two together.
I still found it creepy how Riki continued to ignore the fact that a good chunk of his friends were absent, but it seems that Riki is at the center of whatever is going on just as much as Kyosuke is.Riki may not have figured out how he ties into everything, but he did at least go and confront Kyosuke. And man, that confrontation sent chills down my spine.
Its not that Kyosuke was hostile or even felt remotely evil. He just seemed indifferent, and extremely cold. It was completely different from the way he’s been acting till this point. Kyosuke has always been cheerful and supportive of Riki, but this time, there was nothing of the sort.
I suspect that Riki has the “big question” confused indeed, as Kyosuke points out. Sure, one interpretation of events is that Kyosuke did all of this to make Rin grow, but the same could be said for Riki as well. Riki was as dependant on Kyosuke and his three friends as Rin was. In fact, I suspect Riki needed their support a lot more than he realizes.
Its only after making all these new friends and comrades, and dealing with each issue that arose, that Riki was able to let his friends go, and allow someone like Rin to go off on her own. Riki’s grown just as much from these events as Rin.
Kyosuke’s goal might have been to actually make Riki independant in the end. We don’t know yet though, what the real secret is, and are as in the dark as Riki. The one thing that’s being abundantly clear, is that Riki is slowly getting more and more isolated. He’s lost a good chunk of his friends and fails to notice it, and now with Rin gone, all he’s really got is four more friends not counting Kyosuke.
Its not a stretch to say that those remaining friends have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. It was pretty weird to see Masato, for example, so calm and focused and confident. Generally this is a guy who really flip flops around and acts confused, but when Riki asked him for his opinion, he simply stated that even if he had an opinion, he wouldn’t share it. That was his decision all along. Riki does catch the all along part as weird, but dismisses it in the end.
My enthusiasm for the big reveal is still there, though I’m unsure now, if we’ll get it next episode. This slow crawl to the answers we seek might be the way this series is until the final episode. Given that its being done so well, I’m cool with it.
The next episode is titled “After The Escape” eh? Does that mean that the world that the Little Busters! are stuck in gets destroyed? That they escape its confines? I’ll say that this episode title alone has me pretty excited!
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