「終わりの始まる場所へ」 (Owari no Hajimaru Basho e)
“Where the End Begins”

Though there’s still plenty of mystery, that was an episode that clarified an awful lot of things in my mind.

I made the mistake of applying Occam’s Razor to the riddle of Nishizono Mio last post, but I should have known better – Occam’s Razor simply doesn’t apply when it comes to Key. As far as magical realism goes, with Key if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and sounds like a duck (DUCK-U!) it’s probably a duck. Even if it sits under a tree with a parasol, reading poetry and feeding its feathered friends.

Perhaps because in this adapted form it took so much longer to get there than I’m used to with Key, I wasn’t quite ready to accept that element of Little Busters. But it’s clearly here – the series has certainly proven that it has no qualms about shifting tone completely from pure slice-of-life comedy to hardcore drama, but this arc has a much weightier feel to it than Komari’s, both because of the quality of the heroine and the timing of the story. In many ways it feels as if the series has really just gotten started, but I wouldn’t go that far – I think the first cour serves the function of establishing both the characters and the character of the story itself. It will pay dividends later, as the drama really buffets the characters’ lives, and I think a case could be made that a bit more of this kind of patience would have been a net positive for Key’s other works (most especially Clannad). But that’s a matter of personal taste.

That something supernatural is going on with Mio certainly can’t be denied now, so in that sense it does serve the define the field that LB is playing on. Just exactly what that is I can’t say yet, but someone not having a shadow pretty much rules out multiple personal disorder or Porphyria. I find Mio’s story curiously affecting – there’s something quite moving about the forever alone girl sitting under a tree with her poems and her birds, waiting to disappear forever. I’d thought that the “Shadowless” moniker was merely a case of adolescent cruelty but it was literally true in this case – though somehow I suspect she wasn’t born that way. There’s a strong implication that this is something Mio wished for, and Midori tells Riki he’s “80% correct” when he guesses she’s actually Mio’s missing shadow. The fact that Midori has no shadow herself could either be taken as corroboration or refutation of Riki’s guess, depending on how you look at it.

What’s certain is that Riki has a connection for lost little birds, feeling like one himself. He’s keenly aware of just how desperate and unhappy his childhood and adolescence might have been had the Little Busters not come into his life, and beyond his natural kindness (and maybe just a hint of attraction) I think he sees it as his duty to try and throw Mio the same sort of lifeline. That’s really what this show seems to be about more than anything, I think – the connections that keep us tied to the world, without which our lives would lose all meaning, and why he’s so desperate not to forget about her as everyone else seems to be doing. Mio’s story seems to have a metaphorical significance in addition to its literal one.

The irony of course is that if indeed this destiny of Mio’s is self-inflicted, it’s happening just at the moment Riki has given her a reason to want to stay connected to the world herself. I’m with Riki here, I certainly prefer Mio to the viscerally false Midori, and I also suspect that Riki too may have a connection to the “Place where the end begins”, and that his narcolepsy holds a deeper meaning than we know so far – perhaps he has one foot in another world himself. I’ve also harbored a nagging suspicion that there’s more to Kyousuke than the straightforward ultra-bro that we see, and the fact that he has a penchant for finding four-leaf clovers does nothing to dissuade me of that suspicion. What’s clear is that – in true Key fashion – this is a world full of secrets that aren’t visible unless you know where (and how) to look for them. It’s just taken a little longer for that to become clear than usual.

 

Full-length images: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 28, 31, 35.

Preview

33 Comments

  1. They should have made the characters develop more so as they will be loved by viewers before they entered this stage. NOOO!!!
    If they the made a certain character lovable then people wouldn’t think that its possible for this certain lovable character to be in a emotional situation.

    I will still keep watching this.
    I want to see if JC staff still can make Kyousuke, Rin, Kengo, and Saya one of the best their is.

    1. Exactly. I kept thinking, “why is he so desperate to get Nizo back?? She’s been one of the most introverted characters on the planet! I’d say ‘eh, this second girl is a much better replacement.'”

      starss
  2. The thing most glaring in Enzo’s post are “forever alone girl” and “she wasn’t born that way”. Maybe should spend less time on those funny gag sits.

    On another note i think this episode was quite decent.

    Cybersteel
  3. I like Mio immensely but consider this: Mio is the last introduced character and has had the least time for development of all the heroines. Yet we go straight into her route second after Komari’s. Ponder this directorial decision for a moment.

    I may have postured this before, but it is entirely possible that JC Staff intends to skip one or more routes. In this case it would be strange to spend so much time on the skipped heroines; it’s wasted tempo. Alternatively, they intend to do all the routes. In that case it’s strange to have Mio positioned where she is. Either way, I cannot give as much credit as Enzo to JC Staff this time.

    Anyways, Mio’s route. Since JC Staff does not always opt to animate shadows anyway they hid our little detail rather well. Not that we ever see shadows in the VN either. But since it’s an anime, I would have liked there to have been more deliberate shots of Mio’s shadow completely subsumed by her parasol. I like detail like that, but I guess on this budget I’m not getting it.

    The overarching poetry of Mio’s route loses some substance when it isn’t romantic, but I’m still crossing my fingers that JC Staff can deliver next episode. It’s a surprisingly deep story, especially when it remembers to be subtle.

    Passerby
  4. Personally, I quite liked this episode. While it’s true that Mio should’ve had more development, I’ve grown quite fond of her and I’m interested to see where this story is going (more than Komari’s, in any case). My earlier suspicions about Mio’s true nature were off the mark, after all, and then there’s Midori too (who’s kind of a bitch).

    Little Busters may not recapture the same magic shows like ‘Kanon’ had, but it still has a special type of atmosphere regardless. Not to mention these episodes make me wish for sunny skies again. Stupid winter.

    Dvalinn
  5. Non-VN readers are expecting way too much of this show.. ¬¬
    So far they have managed to put an impressive amount of VN plot into it. If anything they deserve praise (The VN starts far more slowly FYI)
    My only qualm as a KEY fan and LB VN reader is the poor animation quality, which of course, delivers no justice to the novel. (but we have talked enough about that. Little Busters true beauty does not lie on its visuals)
    I may be flamed for this but.. stop bitching about the show being boring or average.
    You know what? I loved Clannad (anime) but the first season was a very rough summary of the main girls routes, and they even skipped Kyou and Ryou for God’s sake! Then afterstory starts slow again with the supporting girls’ routes and only the drama kicks in near the end.. You get it right? The important thing is the build up and how the little things connect together and prepare things for the crowning moment.
    What we have seen so far is not even the effeing tip of the hugeass iceberg that is Little Busters, so shut up keep watching and decide that you hate once it’s over.

    Helvetica Standard
    1. You tell ’em Helvetica!

      In the words of Terriermon, “Momantai!”
      Take it easy, people! Wait till the end.

      IMO, this episode was riveting! I mean, we might just have an antagonist on our hands!

      NoSicko
  6. I can actually understand why they decided to go into Mio route now and approved of that. Good episode overall, still kinda sad to see my fav girl going out of focus early though.

    Takurannyan
  7. this is indeed an average episode. i thought it would be in PAR with fuuko’s arc but well still a disappointment.

    glad that sakurasou is there to remove this disappointment.

    TheLastMan
  8. this production has none of the finesse or subtlety of other key-based stuff. i find the self monologue of the main character (He’s such a forgettable character i cant remember his name) to be incredibly unnecessary. looks good and pretty, some good animation, characters look the part but the execution has been very very poor. JC staff has let us down very badly here.

    Ebbicake

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