When Key/Visual Arts announced back in spring of 2012 that JC Staff would be animating Little Busters, some fans didn’t like the idea. With the second season concluding earlier this week, how do the prequel and the sequel stacks up? (Image Source)
As for the prequel, it had a rough start. To me, I felt that Haruka’s and Komari’s arc were somewhat weak compared to Mio’s and Kud’s arc that aired a bit later in the series. I felt that Haruka’s situation looked a bit ridiculous not for the fact that she and her older sister had to pretend that they are enemies just to prevent their family from killing one of them, but for the fact that the family assumed that Haruka was the criminal’s child through some test rather than through a DNA test. Ether way, the family would still crazy to even consider child abuse. As for Komari’s arc, it felt more straightforward for the fact that she followed her older brother’s wishes and forget about his existence while he was dying. In contrast, Kud’s and Mio’s arc were more emotional for the fact that I could relate to them a bit more for the difficulties they faced.
In comparison to the prequel, I felt that the sequel improved a lot since it focused more on the dramatic and emotional arc, the Refrain. While Yuiko gets her three episodes, it was not as emotional for the fact that the adaptation removed most of the romantic aspects of her arc. Still, I enjoyed her arc not because she is one of my favorite characters, but for the fact that she wanted to spend time with her friends for as long as she can. As for the rest of the story, while I don’t want to spoil too much of it, Episode 11 was the most emotional episode as Kyousuke reveals that he wants to be with his friends, but reality is unfair and won’t let him because of the bus accident. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case as Rin and Riki manages to save all their friends, including Kyousuke through the strength they gained while they were in the dream world. As a result, the ending felt more satisfying rather than feeling like a deus ex machina mostly for the amount of effort to get there.
Overall Production Values & Conclusion
For the production values, I had mixed feelings since the animation wasn’t up to par compared to previous adaptations. While it improve towards the end of the first season, it’s quite obvious that the budget wasn’t as big enough for the fact that they had to animate 26 episodes. In the sequel, I noticed that JC Staff made a lot of improvements to their animation. This was noticeable in Yuiko’s arc with the summer snow.
As a whole, while the first season had some weak points, JC Staff’s adaptation of Little Busters is still a masterpiece showing the true power of friendship. While there were some moments that could have been better, the difficulties Riki and Rin experienced throughout the whole story left an impression on me for the fact that their friends were supporting them along the way. So, if you like previous Key adaptations or Angel Beats, I think you will enjoy it.
Refrain Overall Rating: 9.5/10, A, Masterpiece
First Season Overall Rating: 8.5/10, B, Good
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