Its a really bittersweet moment, as we get the big moment that’s supposed to serve as the payoff to all the investment we as viewers have put into this series. Its not a moment that disappoints at all, and yet the wealth of emotion that ones feels as the series throws gutt punch after gutt punch at you makes all of this a very hard pill to swallow. For those missing the big emotional roller coaster moments from the Key series of old, Little Busters! ~Refrain~ delivers what is arguably one of the most powerful moments that can be experienced from a story of this type.
While we got our big answers last episode, it was this episode that served as the true conclusion of everything this series was building up to. It was tough to see, as this was the true episode that served as a good bye to everything that both the Little Busters! and we as viewers had grown to love and become attached to.
The goodbye was a pretty fitting for the series as well, as it was one last baseball game between the first 5 members of the Little Busters! (With ghost images of the rest of the cast in Kyosuke’s reminiscence.)
A few episodes ago, I guessed that this series was about growing up into an adult and dealing with the harsh realities that you have to face when you become an adult. Its a theme that’s been covered in anime before, but the Little Busters! take is definitely unique. What Little Busters! and Refrain end up doing so well is showing this transformation of the youth from both perspectives, that of the parent and the child.
Kyosuke and everyone else in the Little Busters! are definitely the parents, trying to prepare their young for the big challenge ahead. And man! That challenge? Its something that no one should have to endure. There’s a real tragedy here that the series has been hiding behind those big smiles, those happy times that we’ve seen everyone living through the course of the story.
It speaks to the strength of Kyosuke and the rest, as they went through the whole situation knowing they were dead. Despite their own fates, they pushed forward trying to prepare Riki and Rin for the harsh reality that awaited them.
The good byes from the “parents”, the “seniors” the elders, whatever you want to call them, were intense. Again, while Riki and Rin are arguably the main characters of the story, for me, Little Busters! ~Refrain~ will be Kyosuke’s story moreso than theirs.
This whole episode, was one big helping of pain and love for anyone who’s adored Kyosuke as a character in this series. As Kyosuke reflected on all his friends, you could sense the nostalgia, the love and reflection in the voice. Hikaru Midorikawa has done an amazing job with the role of Kyosuke, making the character truly stand out in a cast with very attention grabbing characters.
It was through this reflection, that the series once again echoed the strength of all the Little Busters! that served to help prepare Riki and Rin.
Masato was perhaps, the most impressive of all. Faced with the harsh reality of his death, and the fact that this world was temporary, he still acted as normal as he could, to keep everyone happy, to keep the illusion of this world as powerful as possible.
Kengo, was the one who could never let go, and who could blame him? No time would be enough to spend with your friends, and that’s something I think anyone who’s had good friends can attest to. The celebration of friendship isn’t an old concept, especially in anime, but the realism with which its shown here is uniquely its own. Kengo, from the outset has been one who’s acted cool and reserved. Its easy to see Kengo’s transformation mid season one now, as he finally gave in and began to enjoy himself with his friends again, to the point where it became almost impossible to let go.
And lest we forget, in the real world, it’s due to Kengo and Masato’s efforts that Riki and Rin actually survive. The little hints we get about the real world’s events really painted a very tragic picture but one filled with heroic moments.
Everyone was indeed on that field trip, every one of the Little Busters! Everyone died, save for Riki and Rin, largely due to the efforts of Masato and Kengo’s heroics. It speaks to the strength of character that these friends sacrificed themselves and were able to save the youngest of the bunch at the cost of their lives.
And amidst that tragedy, one other thing is made clear, that the whole group of the Little Busters! did actually form in the real world. The actual events might be a bit different, but its definitely shown that everyone in the Little Busters! did indeed join up together and become friends prior to the events of this fake world.
As for the actual secret to the world, If you were expecting some big clever theory behind why it was created, I’m sure you were disappointed. You also kind of missed the point, as Little Busters! has always been a show about people, friendship and of course the idea of growing up. The Magic, was mostly a plot device that was used to great effect to bring about the ideas and moments that the series wanted to presented. So yes, I was fine with the idea that the combined feelings of love and care that all the friends had for Riki and Rin was enough to able to create the world that the series took place in.
And in the end, while everyone of the Little Busters! gave their all to help their two surviving friends, its also true that they got something out of this as well. Every character had an issue or a regret, and while some that might have been taken care of in the real world, there were some things that I’m sure only the magical world of Little Busters! could fix. I’m sure Kuud’s situation in particular, had a much different ending to it than what we saw in the first season.
This whole concept really makes me want to see the real world’s story, the original timeline, and see how everything played out before this world was created. I’m sure people in the Light Novel actually got to play through and see the “true path”, and I might actually go back and play through the visual novel to get the extra details.
Moving back to the episode though, the big thing that really got me was Kyosuke’s good bye. While Masato and Kengo’s goodbyes were definitely heartfelt and very emotional, it was Kyosuke’s release of feelings that really got me.
As Kyosuke finally let everything pour out, his regrets, his emotions, his feelings of loss, the tears were sure to follow for anyone watching. If you didn’t tear up as Kyosuke cried and told Riki that he himself was the most devastated by the fact that he had to leave the people he loved the most, then you really have no heart.
The change… First Kyosuke tried, even at the end, to remain strong and push Riki to become stronger, and then… Even he broke down. That moment, was both the most powerful moment of the series and the most significant. It truly symbolized the passing of the baton from Kyosuke to Riki, with Riki being the one to hear out and console Kyosuke. The man who loved his friends the most, who wanted to be with them the most, could not.
It was not only true, but I think its an indisputable fact that Kyosuke really did love his friends the most. For everything that he did, everything he bore for the sake of his friends, Kyosuke really was the strongest and best of his friends. He adored, cared for and improved the lives of everyone around him and to lose a person like that would be devastating for anyone.
Kyosuke’s big achievement was definitely achieved. He prepared Riki to assume the responsibility of caring for all that he held dear. As the world crumbled around them, and Riki and Rin left through the gates and exited the world, Kyosuke had definitely triumphed.
The final moments, with Kyosuke going around the school one more time and reminiscing, was a great way to bring closure. All the Little Busters! appearing at the end was also a nice touch.
At the end of it all, I think that the way Little Busters! deals with the idea of loss, of coping with the harsh realities of life is what’s so beautiful about this story. In life things just happen, terrible things that are beyond anyone’s control. Its no one’s fault, and no one deserves it, but it just happens. Yet we have to all deal with it and live through these unhappy events and trying to move forward.
The big gift that the magical world created by the intense desires of all the dead Little Busters! created was that of a goodbye. The dead were able to communicate their hopes and their love for the ones they loved, and were able to pass on in peace. Its something that many people don’t get an opportunity to do in the real world.
So where does the series go from here for its last episode? I’m not exactly sure. There’s one lingering plot point of Komari’s wish, which we haven’t gotten to yet, and then there’s Riki and Rin waking up to a world where all their friends have passed on.
I’m not sure what kind of ending Little Busters! ~Refrain~ is going to go for. Is Komari’s wish going to lead to some kind of happy ending? Is the story going to end on this tragic but poetically beautiful note? I don’t know. What I do know is that, more so than any other series, I’m willing to give Little Busters! ~Refrain~ a pass if it does indeed go for a magical “everyone is happy and alive” ending.
Its a testament to how strong and well done the story and characters are, that I truly want them to be happy and together from the depth of my being. Is the series going to be a realist or play in the bashful optimism that we saw in the first season for its finale? That’s the big question, and one that makes the next episode both important and hard to wait for.
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, despite the long wait, Little Busters! ~Refrain~ and J.C Staff delivered the goods.
The One wish. Komari’s wish comes into play and we’ll see what kind of ending we get for this story.
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