「誰かにそばにいて欲しかったんだ」 (Dareka ni Soba ni Ite Hoshikattan da)
“I Wanted Someone to Be Close to Me”

Well now, that was certainly an eye-opening ending.

Forgive me if I work backwards a bit when looking at this episode of Little Busters. It was an interesting ep generally, but it’s hard not to start with the finish, because it makes me call into question so much of what I’ve been watching for 17 weeks (including the OP). Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself a little, but Kanata’s little trick at least opens the door to the possibility that not everything we’ve been watching with Haruka so far is exactly what it seems.

Of course there’s plenty going on with Haruka anyway, without even needing to extrapolate too much from the ending. I could criticize Haruka’s story for being a bit broad emotionally, but let’s be blunt – since Hisaya Naoki’s departure, if you’re looking for emotional subtlety from Key you’re looking in the wrong place. They’re all about delivering emotion in primary colors with broad strokes, and if the ultimate test of whether a character drama is successful is whether or not you care about the characters, this one works for me. The themes of friendship have been effective for the entire series, and while Haruka’s plaintive need for acceptance is a bit emotionally manipulative, it’s hard for me not to connect with it because it’s so elementally human. If there’s a magic to the success of Key as drama, that’s probably it.

As it happens – and not all that surprisingly – it’s looking as if Kanata’s story might just be the more interesting of the two sisters’, and certainly the more nuanced. I think the events of this week confirm what I thought – the notion of Heteropaternal Superfecundation (twins by different fathers) was never directly addressed in episode 16, no matter what the LN veterans might have argued. It was only with Haruka’s speech at the start of #17 that we were told that she and Kanata have different fathers. I’m actually a bit skeptical on this, not because it’s not possible (it is, but it’s very rare) but because it makes far too convenient a scenario for the Saigusa/Futaki family to rid themselves of the stain of a “bad seed”. It might very well be true, but I’ll need some convincing – and the behavior of Haruka’s “father”, just released from prison, isn’t it. His reluctance to tell Haruka the truth leads me to believe the truth is different from what everyone believes it is.

I never really believed Kanata had distributed the flyers linking Haruka to her father, so confirmation of that was no surprise. But the moment it happened was still an important and interesting one for many reasons, starting with the vicious slap the woman in the car delivered as punishment for suggesting that distributing the flyers (done by their “spy” no doubt) had “gone too far”. That and her conversation with Riki afterwards were quite pivotal, I think – and Kud’s reaction to seeing Kanata leave the shower could be coupled with that slap to infer that Kanata is dealing with much worse. Her words to Riki are rank with bitterness – the notion of happiness being a “zero-sum game”. In effect it’s a fancy way of re-stating the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” idea, but thinking about it from Kanata’s perspective it fits like a glove. Just listen to Haruka’s words earlier in the episode – it’s clear she feels that the more unhappy she is, the happier Kanata is – and until she met the Little Busters the only happiness she got was in torturing her sister.

It’s not hard to see Kanata as the more tragic figure than Haruka. Maybe getting kicked out of the family was the best thing for Haruka – this way, she’s free of their daily supervision, which Kanata still has to endure. It seems that Kanata is just as jealous of Haruka’s freedom as Haruka is of Kanata’s status, and this drives each of them to try and make the other miserable. The difference is that Kanata seems to be self-aware, and knows this process is happening even as she’s helpless to break free of the cycle. Kanata seems quite incapable of grasping the simplicity of Riki’s feelings in their conversation – all he wants is to be a friend to someone the way Kyousuke was to him. Simple, yes, but genuine and honest – the very antithesis of everything about Kanata’s family relationships.

I found one moment especially striking, looking back – the one where Riki said “We hate you” to Kanata. It seems especially out of character for him, and it must have cut Kanata to the bone – not that she’d let that show after a lifetime’s practice of hiding pain. Much more in character was when Riki said “You should be thanking us” to Haruka – that was honest and direct, but not something you hear characters say too often. Having seen what he’s seen, Riki surely can no longer hate Kanata (though I’m skeptical he ever really did, apart from a moment of weakness). He’s incapable if seeing another person in pain without wanting to do something to help them, and now that he knows that applies to Kanata, she’s gone from being the enemy to just another lonely soul who’s life would be a little better with one more person who accepted her for who she is. I started out thinking this was the Haruka Arc, but more and more it seems to be the Kanata Arc, and I’m thinking that might be a more interesting path to tread.

Full-length images: 2, 9, 10, 14, 16, 21, 22, 24, 26, 30.




  1. Thankfully he seems to have realised it to some point towards the end but Riki really was being quite horrible towards Kanata. Being more successful than someone else can’t be called a fault and the only wrong thing here is her attitude which is apparently because she’s not in fact as happy as Haruka believes so having her act like she’s so much more unfortunate seemed ridiculous. And Riki was basically telling her please either make Haruka’s situation even worse or ruin yourself by revealing the father. It’s quite obvious that the “bad guys” here are the other family members but I wonder if that’s just pure evil strictness or if there will be more depth there.

  2. @ HakumeiJin
    Yeah Riki definitely have noticed that what he said was being very inconsiderate towards Kanata. It’s pretty clear by now that he too have notices that Kanata is not living a “great” life as Haruka have always been thinking.

    There were a few times in previous episodes that I have somewhat noticed that Kanata perhaps is not as bad as she may seem through her actions. Her kindness to Kud to me was a first hint. And now with the OP where Haruka was shown feeling lonely while the next scene with Kanata with a very bruised back speaks a lot.

    It may sound a bit weird but I actually was more interested in Kanata many episodes ago. She just seems like someone who has a lot more to deal with than Haruka who thinks she’s suffering but still have the freedom to play pranks.

    1. I was also more interested in Kanata few episodes ago.

      The truth is that neither Kanata nor Haruka is to blame. But they are both as guilty for making each other lives more miserable too. Haruka confessed that she would do menial pranks because she wanted Kanata to feel as miserable as her. And Kanata leashes her anger on Haruka on the open with her student council power as well.

      But as we all know, the common theme here is that adults and their pride in front of society is the source of the problem.

    1. Give up on what?

      Surely you should know by now to adapt to expectations. If you’re still expecting the “5-star hotel” treatment of Kyo-Ani after 17 whole episodes, then of course you’ll continue to be disappointed.

      To be fair to JC Staff, I thought they did quite well so far. Of course it pales in comparison to previous Kyo-Ani adapted Key works, but on its own, I can’t complain too much of JC Staff.

      Kinny Riddle
      1. No, he’s right.
        The adaptation fell short in this episode.
        Haruka’s route is one of the emotionally heavier (VN wise)
        however writers mercilessly rushed it and clipped several stuff.
        Sort of like a lazy videogame port.

        Helvetica Standard
  3. Speaking from the view of someone who’s read the VN, I must point out that how they delivered this episode in the anime was very effective, especially since they seem to be avoiding any sort of romance (from Riki’s side, anyway) in the routes.

    Anyway, with this, we have another episode of the Haruka/Kanata route. Wanna hear Faraway again. But with 9 episodes left, I wonder how they’ll fit the baseball game, the other three routes, and the epiclogue? I have a feeling that they’ll end with “Do you want to get stronger?”, though. Then we go to the next cour! Please let this have one more cour. Or better yet, two more, like with Clannad.

    1. According to Animenewsnetwork the director noted that they wouldn’t be able to make it to the final route, but that he had a nice surprise when the series aired it’s last episode. Maybe there’ll be an extra cour, or OVA episodes.

  4. I’m sure you notice that in the second to the last screenshot, Kanata “disguised” herself (for a lack of a better term) as Haruka and face the real one. I’m haven’t played any VN, but is there a rationale on this?

    Nanami Kamimura
    1. – Spite. Out of poisonous hatred, she’s donned the other’s garb to ruin the LB’s perception of her and sow the seeds of discord. Notice how she dropped the tray deliberately.

      – Jealousy. She wanted to experience the unfettered life of her sister.

      – Concern. She wanted to gauge Riki’s intentions (directly) to determine the sincerity of his motives.

  5. Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

        That said, I’ve always wanted to try getting into VNs, but the barrier is too high. Finding them, getting them translated, reading all the way through (which takes more time than watching the anime), etc.

    1. I don’t know who’s telling the truth, but confirming speculation – even in the act of accusing someone of being a VN veteran posing as a newbie – is effectively spoiling. Let’s tag it all, leave it there and avoid any further damage.

  6. I found Shou’s reaction to Haruka a bit melodramatic. The guy was just let out of prison for umpteen years & he reacts to her like those events just happened yesterday. Just what is going to change if they knew fathered who. They already alienated the parents & raised the daughters how they saw fit, terrorizing one as a goat & the other for the actions of the goat – ruining both lives in the process.

  7. I’m still going to say that twins with two fathers, one mother and different names are about as clear as it could be without spelling things out. And I’m the kind of guy who thinks that things never really need to be explicitly spelt out. Letting the responder do the math himself is much more satisfying for all parties involved. And this is not even hard maths. But no matter.

    Of all the routes, my experience was that Haruka’s was the most emotionally heavy-handed of them all, even more so than Komari’s route (if only because there are more players). I mean this not necessarily in a negative way; it’s just that the drama is everywhere here. Compared to Kud and Komari’s route, mostly driven by stuff happening, Haruka’s route had a more soap-opera strategy. I should note that there is a Kanata route, but I have not played it, so I can only guess at how much of the other side of the story they get into there. Still, the Prince and Pauper is not such a new archetype that we cannot at least guess at the kind of mutual dissatisfaction both girls have.

    When reading the VN I never really got to hating Kanata (just like I never got to really hating Midori) and it’s not because of innate mellowness. Neither side (Haruka nor Kanata) really present themselves completely upstandingly or transparently, which makes one more curious about their motivations than anything else.

  8. Another pretty good episode for Little Busters! (Kurugaya rocks! You know the drill.) Anyway, what I kind of like about this arc is that it is the most complex route so far. It calls forth the question of who really is right or wrong in the situation and both sisters definitely have legitimate reasons to make each other miserable. I really like where this arc is going. Bench Scene aside (Although my previous argument that what JC Staff did with that scene made the whole thing better still stands) I have this arc in the 9/10 range. The problem I fear though is that we may have too quick a resolution like with Komari’s arc, but time will tell. As for the scene where Riki says “We hate you” to Kanata may seem out of character, he was really talking for the Little Busters and not purely himself, but even so, considering the VN is written where several authors are in charge of different routes, those out of character moments are par for the course. Let’s just be glad that it was a one time occurrence and that Riki saw the error of his ways so to speak (Another scene from this episode I really liked. How many male leads would even consider their way of life as arrogant?)

  9. The concept of “mukoyoshi” (adopted son-in-law) is not uncommon in the more traditional big Japanese families.

    Though the Saigusas have taken the concept to a very brutal extreme, to the point of Shou snapping from the unspeakable duties he had to perform and the family dishing out such abuses to the sisters just to pick an heir.

    Haruka may sound embittered about losing out on the succession battle, but Kanata’s conversation with Riki has revealed that being the winner isn’t all that rosy either.

    There is yet a chance for reconciliation for the sisters, and not the continuous vindictive paybacks. (Haruka finding out who the real father is; Kanata disguised as Haruka just to get Riki to “compare” them and thus spite Haruka)

    If you pay attention to this flashback shot, you’ll realize it’s seemingly cut off just as Kanata was about to walk closer towards Haruka, suggesting Haruka has purposely suppressed that memory in order to justify her current hatred for Kanata.

    Second, the fact Kanata actually appealed to the elders from the family about the Haruka smear posters being overkill and suffered a slap for it, suggests she is purposely playing the “bad guy” towards Haruka, so that the family agents would not be able to lay a hand on her. She willingly bears the brunt of hatred from Haruka, in order to prevent the family from retaliating against Haruka, as she knows the family can be brutal if they want to.

    Kinny Riddle
  10. I’ve always been more interested in Kanata than Haruka anyway.

    Props need to be given to the writers of this show. I knew it was Kanata dressed up as Haruka the second she said: “Are thoughts of me troubling you?” It just didn’t sound like something Haruka would say. That’a a credit to how well they’ve established the characters to the point we can interpret these subtle differences. It’s also a credit to the VA for doing such a good good voicing both characters. It also begs a question: How many times has Kanata pretended to be Haruka that we’ve seen but were unaware of?

    I also think that the ‘twins from different fathers’ thing is a little too convienient; also I think that Haruka is a bit too hard on Kanata, and vice versa. I almost hate to say it but I’ve always found Haruka a bit annoying and frankly selfish in many ways even though it is somewhat warrented. Kanata just seems trapped within the family. Neither girl has had a chance to grow up to be themselves.

    Dat face right when she said “Do you like me?”, I couldn’t help but grin too as I was proven right about her true identity.

    Also I suspect now that Kanata was fully aware it was Riki in the girls dorm back when he was forced to cross-dress; A twin would be able to figure that out.

  11. i was always in doubt on how JC staff animated LB! as evidenced by my previous comments… but now, WELL… i SOMEHOW found what i’m looking for and that is the STORY… this current arc is WHAT WE CALL STORY… though its true that the emotional impact is kinda bland or plain, the plot overall is a beauty. YEP. THIS IS WHAT STORY SHOULD BE NOT THE PREVIOUS FOR ME, “WASTED ARCS” (SORRY)

  12. Yes, i think too, that Haruka is doing all this to Protect her Sister. i just see a “Fake” jealousy on Haruka emotions trough Kanata. Perhaps it was Haruka’s work that Kanata got in the same School. But she must keep the “Strong, Bad!” Sister up, because of the “Spys”. So with this “Fakes” she is trying to have Kanata save. Even with her “way” to let go the Past and move along, she is helping Kanata. But She is doing it the “worst hardest” way. Dam Spys. Haruka knows how frighting the Main Branch could be…

    She is Protecting her Sister, and in the same time she is cutting in her Flesh

    Thats a real hard Stone to break… I am curious for Episode 18

    1. The same can be said about Kanata. Everything she does so far shows that her actions were all intentional and the purposes all seem is to push Haruka out. It already seems that the family have influences in the school so if Kanata can make Haruka hate her so much and leave school, in a way, it seems that Haruka can finally leave the family and be completely free.

      So perhaps both sisters are trying to save each other?

    2. Germanguy, your post would make infinitely more sense if you would switch “Haruka” with “Kanata” and vice versa.

      Otherwise, I have no idea what you’re talking about. 😉

      Kinny Riddle
    1. Excellent Question. I haven’t read the VN, but it seems to me this was the first time Kanata tried to masquerade as Haruka. She didn’t seem to take into account Haruka’s actual cooking skills.

  13. I like how this arc is kind of an emotional rollercoaster. It switches a lot between moods, throws heaps of hate-figures at you, only to reveal they have reasons for acting the way they do (I wonder what the deal is with Shou, for that matter) and makes you feel for the characters involved due to all the crap they have to deal with. Emotionally subtle it is not, but it’s working for me, at least.

    Little Busters! really hit its stride with this episode, and with this arc I can finally feel that it gives me something on par with the other Key adaptations. This arc is definitely the most interesting so far, and I hope it can keep this up.

  14. Is Kanata whether evil or good-natured? Is it possible to judge her in standard criteria? I think both Kanata and Haruka have in common which they are inevitable in their house policy…. Blood and flair is justice in Saigusa-Ke and led tragic ending…. How absurd the rule is..

    1. I can’t say for certain as I haven’t read the VN, but there are probably two reasons. One would be she wants to convince Riki that she doesn’t need to see Saigusa Shou anymore (Cause Riki most certainly would bring it up again). Two would be she wanted to instill deceit into the Little Busters and Riki was the easiest target at the time. We’ll probably find out next episode. As for why Kanata was surprised by the muffins was that she didn’t know that Haruka was a terrible cook or she knew Haruka was good at cooking, just not at making the muffins. She probably got the info that Haruka was cooking from those girls who were watching.


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