「わたし、必ず戻ってきます (Watashi, Kanarazu Modotte Kimasu/i>)
“I’ll Definitely Come Back
In summing up my thoughts about this episode, I can do no better than to quite Riki himself: “What was that??”
This was another very solid episode of Little Busters drama, successful because it’s anchored around a character sympathetic enough to pull it off in Kud. A bit too much crying for my tastes, perhaps, but this is Key after all and LB certainly still has a solid lead in the "no more tears" department over the likes of Clannad at 22 episodes – there haven’t been many tears at all, really. But I can’t help but wonder if this was episode 2 of the Kud Arc or episode 1 of the "Little Busters" Arc, because it seems as if the gloves have really come off now in terms of the mystery underlying the main storyline.
Let me preface the rest of the post by pleading with those of you who know the details to please, for goodness sakes spoiler tag any and all comments which remotely spoil any of the "secret of this world" and all its extensions. I’ve already seen a few scraps in the process of deleting and tagging comments as is, and I hope VN veterans will result the urge to "help" new viewers and make clever insinuations about what’s really going on here. With that said, here are a few things that stuck in my mind after watching the episode:
Kyousuke for damn sure knows more than he’s letting on. His conversation with Kud was a strange one, to say the least.
"It seems you’ve remembered everything. You’ll just experience the same thing – the same time? Has your wish changed?"
The mind certainly does wander, doesn’t it… Time loop? Riki interpreted it as simply Kyousuke disapproving of Kud not going home to Tevua, but there was surely more to it than that. To add weight to this notion we also have Kud waking from a dream of being in prison – and shots of shackles in the preview.
Then we have the obvious, the sequence where Riki had a Tsuritama-esque vision, though altogether a disturbing one. What was he seeing – and why was he seeing it? It’s surely not coincidental that this happened on the heels of his trying to call Haruka, and being unable to reach her. That’s especially interesting given that Haruka and Mio are strangely absent in the third act – not even coming to see Kud-o off as she departs for home. That’s surely not normal. There’s the fact that both Mio and Haruka were part of unusual sister (or twin) oriented plotlines, though I’m not sure I’m ready to believe there’s a connection.
There’s certainly more weirdness here. Riki seems genuinely in the dark about whatever’s happening, but his words after his speech convincing Kud to go home and deal with her problems rather than run away from them – "My words were probably meant for myself" – had the ring of ones spoken at a later time by someone who knows a lot more than they did at the moment they’re speaking of. What is Riki running away from that we know of, exactly? Kud’s mention of a “curse for good luck” is certainly an odd choice of words. And then there’s the strangely extemporaneous appearance of this girl, Suginami (who briefly appeared before, bullying Kud), delivering a notice for a class trip which seemingly has no connection to events in the episode – which happens right before Riki has his vision. She’s played by Hanazawa Kana (who isn’t these days) and thus, seems sure to be an important factor in some sense.
All of that conspiracy-related white noise shouldn’t overshadow the fact that this was a very good episode about a very good character, and it did a really nice job expositing the details of Kud’s situation (which is weird and painful enough even without factoring in whatever she was discussing with Kyousuke – ans by the looks of the preview it seems as if it’s going to get even worse for her). I love all the contradictions in Kud – her great intellect and her total inability to deploy it in academic situations, her appearance and her true nature. Whatever else is happening, what’s going on with Kud and her mother is pretty dark stuff – there are obviously political issues at play (her mother seems to be a powerful propaganda tool) but of more direct concern to Kud is her conviction that she’s a disappointment to her mother. The fact that she was willing to burn her box of memories because they’d come to represent her failures is a pretty harsh declaration of just how far into despair she’d fallen – but I certainly felt from the beginning (before things got really weird) that going to deal with whatever faced her there was the right thing to do.
Kanata – who I noted was very much present after Riki’s attempted phone call to Haruka, even though Haruka was not – said something very interesting to Kud – "Rather than staying here and regretting it, it may be better to go and regret it." If you followed my move to Japan, that will sound strikingly similar to the words I used at the time (and have tried to follow as much as possible): "Most of our regrets in life aren’t what we did and wish we hadn’t, but what we didn’t do and wish we had". It follows a trend I’ve seen in Little Busters, in that it’s a very simple series in terms of philosophy – it extols the virtues of common sense and decency, and the ideas it promotes indeed make a good deal of sense. I don’t know what’s going on in the big picture and frankly, I’m reluctant to even speculate because I don’t want to encourage denials or confirmations of anything I guess. But what we have now is a very interesting duality – this very innocent and good-hearted show about immensely likeable and decent kids, existing side-by-side with a mystery which more and more is casting a rather creepy and ominous shadow over everything. If it wasn’t before it should certainly be a given now that we have a second season on the way, and while I suspect it will be enormously different from this one, I look forward to seeing the other side of Little Busters take center stage.