「そのときも雨が降っていた」 (Sono Toki mo Ame ga Futte Ita)
“It Was Also Raining at That Time”

I can’t help but be excited when I look ahead to the rest of Refrain. It’s going to be an amazing ride.

This was a pretty wonderful episode of Little Busters!, but that’s been the exception more than the rule as the series has progressed. Was this the best episode yet? That’s up to individual tastes, but in terms of execution, as an anime-only Buster I thought it was close to flawless. The sense I have in watching Refrain is that everything is magnified, intensified – this is like Little Busters! distilled into cask-strength form. Everything I liked about the first season is better than ever, and the spectre of the secret hanging over everything gives the entire experience a much weightier feel. It’s a powerful combination.

There’s another thing I thought of when watching this episode, and that was the "Remember Me" ep of Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you recall, (spoiler alert for a 23 year-old show) Beverly Crusher was trapped inside a warp bubble, which is constantly shrinking – and as this is Beverly’s reality, the world she perceives around her is slowly shrinking too. It was hard not to envision Riki trapped in his own version of that, except that it’s not his space that’s shrinking – it’s his time. Riki having the feeling of deja vu is nothing new – Riki re-living a day immediately after having lived it is (at least for the viewers) a new experience. And for Riki, not a pleasant one.

One of the many questions hanging over everything is who among Riki’s friends knows more than he does, and how much they know. With "Anego" Kuragaya it’s hard to tell, because her basic personality is to act like she knows stuff no one else does. Her arc – and indeed, it seems we’re formally inside it – is tied together with the larger plot perhaps more directly than any of the arcs we’ve seen so far. The scene which begins this episode is groaning with the weight of significance, right from the moment Riki opens his eyes and Kuragaya tells him he "looks as if he’s still dreaming". Riki, it seems, has never had a stronger sense of wrongness than he does here – his suppressed (or repressed) memories seem more detailed than at any previous time.

There’s another sort of significance to this scene too, and that’s the chemistry between Riki and Kuragaya. Ultimately it’s the bonds between the Little Busters – all of them – and the way they interact that give this show its poignancy. Kuragaya isn’t someone who I immediately thought of as a romantic partner for Riki, but the two of them are pretty great together here. Kuragaya tortures the younger boy, but she does it affectionately and with humor – from her suggestive recollections of the time Riki was unconscious to her habit of blowing on him and freaking him out, "Onee-san" is clearly feeling something no matter how much she makes light of it as a joke.

For all that, it’s still a bit of a jolt to see Kyousuke get the bit and his teeth and take off the way he does, confronting Riki head-on about his supposed love for Kuragaya and even demanding to know if he’s ever been in love before. The "millionaire" scene in Riki and Masato’s room is stylistically the camp silliness of S1, but like all the scenes of the Busters screwing around it takes on a stronger emotional bite now. And apart from that it’s genuinely funny, especially the "loli-loli" bit and Kyousuke’s startled realization that "21" looks a lot like (loli). Masato is into maids, apparently, and Kengo, miko (me too). This all leads to a hare-brained scheme to set off fireworks to give Riki the right environment to confess (it’s almost as if Kyousuke is trying to force Riki to experience as much as he possibly can) – which eventually becomes a thank-you gesture to all the girls who threw the pancake party.

Not all the girls, in fact – and the off note in all this youthful irreverence is Rin, who’s clearly displeased with her brother’s antics and what follows. It’s simplest to see this as jealousy over Riki seemingly falling for Kuragaya (and he did look at Rin when Kyousuke asked him the "have you ever loved?" question) but I sense something deeper here, a different sort of disapproval. It’s also impossible to ignore the fact that Kyousuke was way too confident that the rain would stop in time for the fireworks. And while Kud was "Waka-waka nano desu!" in anticipation, Rin is nowhere to be seen when the fireworks finally do get launched – she’s off by herself, and definitely not in a celebratory mood.

I’m pretty confident that Riki and Kuragaya aren’t going to end up as a couple when this is all said and done, but that doesn’t really lessen the effectiveness of what we’re seeing. There seems to be a general undercurrent of everyone wanting things they can’t have that’s running through Refrain, but the living for the moment is definitely an important part of the story – and Riki and Kuragaya making this connection is still a fine thing to see. Another element that really works in this episode in the BGM, which I haven’t singled out for praise often enough. It’s mostly carried over from the VN, and while it suits the material perfectly it’s also a fact that Yamakawa Yoshiki is doing a masterful job of using it judiciously to set the mood at just the right moments. Watching Refrain right now is a process of seeing all the elements come together to take Little Busters! to another level, a confident and focused series that knows exactly where it’s going and how it plans to get there. It’s hard not to be excited at the prospect of where Yamakawa takes us from here.


Author’s note: Please “refrain” from posting any unmarked VN spoilers (or hints, or confirmations or denials of guesses, or clever spoilers disguised as jokes) into the comments section. I don’t want this experience ruined for me, and I don’t want it ruined for any other new viewers. Read the comments at your own risk,. Zephyr has kindly offered to pop his head in here and look for spoiler comments, but that will not necessarily be before any potential spoilers have been posted for a while. Untagged spoiler comments will of course be deleted, and serial offenders will meet with further and more decisive response. Let’s be respectful and keep this a safe place for people who want to experience Refrain to the fullest without having to worry about that experience being spoiled because they want to participate in a discussion.


  1. LB saiko!
    another episode to LB pantheon.

    Was this the best episode yet?

    yes, I think so too. but don’t worry, there is still..awesomeness to come (:

    Rabu Rabu Hunter was so great, funny and..has the LB style and spirit so much. it was executed really good.

    we have entered much deeper into kurugaya scene. so we could see in her eyes the..spark when she saw the fireworks.

    what really has changed in LB this episode, alot more than the rest so far, is that the real first interaction with romance. cause LB is actually a dating-sim, and so far it..didn’t express this side.
    Show Spoiler ▼

      1. I had similar feeling aka I was confused like you when the episode has ended. so I can understand your mixed emotions about that episode.
        Show Spoiler ▼

        I think no matter what, I can’t dislike LB. I am so much “fanboy” of it..that every scene is a blessing. for me LB is a masterpiece (;

    1. kurugaya best girl <3 and most beautiful one 😛
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Yeah I really feel they are suited for each other
        But…Show Spoiler ▼

      2. Well actually Refrain and the Kurugaya Route aren’t really mutually exclusive

        Show Spoiler ▼

        So looking at it from that point of view Refrain and the Kurugaya True Route can actually work together and I hope they do that here.

      3. I just can´t see Riki with other girl than Rin.
        Show Spoiler ▼

  2. Personally, I think that Kurugaya and Kud always had the strongest natural chemistry with Riki. Unfortunately, Rin and Riki’s chemistry doesn’t seem to flow as naturally as the other two characters, but on the other hand, the First Season has already done an excellent job in showing how much at ease Rin and Riki also are with one another. In other words, Riki x Rin has a head-start advantage, and therefore, all the prior strength of relationship we have seen, but I think Riki and Kud and Riki and Kurugaya clicked faster with one another.

    Realistically, there are only three popular ships in LB (disregarding the Kyousuke x Riki option) – Riki x Rin, Riki x Kud and Riki x Kurugaya. I think one thing the anime did right was doing justice to the last two, and I am confident that it would do justice to Riki x Rin when it comes the inevitable Rin arc.

    That being said, the lack of Love Love Hunters actually getting animated was quite a shame, since in the VN, it went beyond being discussed, to actually being carried out. I guess we wouldn’t be seeing it in the anime in that case.

      1. I think that Kurugaya’s chemistry with Riki rivals the chemistry Riki has with Kud. That being said, I do see the Body Painting scene as one of the best executed scenes of the First Season. The three principle ships are subtly different relationships though. Kurugaya x Riki is a relationship where Kurugaya is the dominant partner, while Riki and Kud’s relationship feels like it’s between equals. On the other hand, I think Riki is in the traditional male dominant side of the relationship when it comes to Rin.

      2. those are indeed the popular relationship,
        as Andmeuths said, Riki X kurugaya will end up in kurugaya’s domination (though it’s quite exaggeration, otherwise there wasnt really route, and it’s not necessarly much a bad thing).
        in Kud X Riki…well there’s Kud wafter which I haven’t read yet, but there is a wide gap between them. Kud is cute indeed..but she hasn’t that…”wavelength” which riki has, maybe we can call tem equal..but the relationship won’t be that optimal. Riki is much more mature and devoted to LB and his memories, than Kud who is quite different in those terms.
        that being said, clearly Riki X Rin is more optimal relationship. we saw them cooperating together, when necessary Rin is more dominant and viceversa.
        yet it was a bit odd to see Rin react so strong like that, she used to be more childish and shy, she pay attention much more the her cats and so on…so it was a bit strong reaction IMO, THO not a bad thing and probably will serve its goal later on.

      3. I get what you’re saying, but I can’t agree about Kud. Obviously she’s cute, but the thing that makes her really interesting to me is the disconnect between her physical appearance and mannerisms and her character itself. She’s highly intelligent, neurotic, and full of darkness that she seems to try and keep at bay with her sunny disposition. I think Kud is actually pretty deep, and I think that’s where she and Riki form a real connection that goes beyond the superficial.

      4. If we’re discussing shipping now I’m always rooting for Riki x Kurugaya.
        With all the teasing & jokes, as well as Show Spoiler ▼

        Kind of waiting for LB: Ex though, I wanna see how Riki gets involved with the main trio girls there, Show Spoiler ▼

        Since EX got greenlit, I wonder if they’ll greenlit Kud Wafter as well.

        Btw, you guys left out an option other than Riki x Kyousuke.
        Riki x Masato !!!!! 🙂

      5. @Guardian Enzo
        don’t get me wrong – I can’t say that they can’t form a stable relationship, cause they sure can (and somehow did(?)). yet, you have mentioned some of Kud advantages…what about her disadvantages, aka her behavior?yes she’s cute, smart, deep and all…but she is more..childish (similar to Rin in that manner but a lot more). sometimes too much. those times when she’s acting like hmmm “dog” (forgive me Kud, I love you <3)…it's definitely not healthy to their connection. besides, Riki has much more influence when necessary on Rin (and viceversa of course)..than the rest.

        nonetheless, I agree that the romantic spark with Kud was the strongest in all LB thanks that painting scene (:

      6. In term of chemistry, somehow I always think that Kud would be a perfect (and awoeiruwoeirfCUTE) match for Masato (also supported by current ED hahaha), so that’s my ship. As for Riki, I’m classic : Riki x Rin all the way.

        Kurugaya is still an awesome character, though. A fitting heroine for the arc before the main dishes.

  3. (21) Trivia
    *Enzo its ロり not ろり.

    Operation Love Love Hunters in the anime that they didn’t cover:
    What do you think of Kurugaya(Though this is before Love Love Hunters was declared though)
    • Kyousuke title “Lolicon Suspect” declared.
    The Start of Operation Little Love-Love Hunters(00:00 to 11:20)
    Kyousuke title change from “True Lolicon Supect” to “Lolicon

    And in my honest opinion of this episode and as a comedy lover of the original VN, I actually didn’t like this episode.

  4. As an anime-watcher & a VN player…I dunno what to say..I’m enjoying both versions of Kurugaya’s arc so far…but upon comparison, well, seems like they cut out stuff that could be worth 1-2 episodes…wait, doesn’t that make her arc the shortest of the girls?

    Hmm..I hope I won’t be inviting trouble here by pointing out anime-VN differences..
    *Can’t remember who requested it..
    Per author’s request, following next is a marked & tagged VN spoiler,
    though only until the events of this episode & no further.
    VN is about 6-years old btw. :p

    Consciously clicking on the VN spoiler is your own decision, guys. 🙂
    I’m trying to be quite general without being too specific as well.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Maybe I’ll post the details of the Operation Love-Love Hunters here for those interested..
      Its more of hilarious scenes that don’t really count as overall plot spoilers…
      As for voices and reactions, you can always try the VN for a better experience.
      Anyway, here you go. Masato’s part in the Operation:

      Show Spoiler ▼

    2. Kengo’s part in the operation

      Show Spoiler ▼

    3. Kyousuke’s part in the operation

      Show Spoiler ▼

    4. I think it was a good call to leave out Love-Love Hunters, it’s not exactly the most relevant thing to the plot, and would have completely went against the tone of Refrain. Though I’m willing to bet it’ll show up in its entirety in an OVA or three.

  5. I think this episode was quite different than it was in the VN, but I think the anime-only parts were actually really good and fitting, so I don’t have problems with it.
    I’m just a little bit sad that they cut some hilarious jokes regarding Loli Loli hunters xD like,
    Show Spoiler ▼

  6. Ah, my ship is still sailing (for now) but I was getting scared there for a minute with all of Riki’s rather bleh reactions to him liking Kurugaya. Then he almost got swept off his feet right there and I was all like “Kyaaaa!” Thankfully no one was around at the time or that would’ve been an extremely awkward moment…

    Now for some spoiler-y stuff so don’t open this unless you don’t care

    Show Spoiler ▼

  7. Anego has never been this cute before.

    Poor Rin, her jealousy is quite easy to read. Like I said, the way Riki fell in love with Kurugaya and pursued her in the game felt much more real than any other girls, with only Rin’s “childhood friend” factor counting in her favour.

    And (21) doesn’t resemble ろり (hiragana), it resembles ロリ (katakana).

  8. The momentum keeps increasing!

    I haven’t played Kurugaya’s Route in VN, but I can easily tell that some of Rin’s additional scenes are anime-only, and I would say that they’re really fitting in the long run (Especially since I know what happens in early Rin route). Make LB to be more cohesive rather than simply going independent arc-by-arcs. One more decision that I like in this adaptation.

    The rest are also very good. I like the effects that they give when Riki’s on “half-dreaming” scene, really make the scene seems beautiful and surreal compared to rest of normal scenes.

    Also, I would also underline one particular scene : When Kurugaya told Riki about “things that happening so far”, she only told Riki about test of courage, baseball game and pancake party. None of them are concerning any other heroine events

    When Riki said that “It feels like a lot more time than that has passed”, he suddenly has mini narcolepsy and Kurugaya not long after that deliberately change the topic. One more clue scattered here, asides of Kyousuke that were pushing (or manipulating) Riki’s direction harder than ever.

    1. You should play the VN. Source material is best material 🙂

      I’m not complaining about this episode at all. Converting a-choose-this-character-route story into a continuous story involving all the characters already sounds really difficult to me, & from the way I see it, JC Staff did well.

      If only they didn’t leave out the hilarious parts like Operation Love Love Hunters upon comparison..
      Though I guess that’s what bound to happen when they try to
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. I have played several routes actually, let’s just say that I stopped due to 3 reasons :
        1. Lack of time
        2. My own dislike toward one of LB’s writer (To be exact, Chika Shirokiri : The one’s responsible for Haruka and Kud. I even find anime adaptation for Haruka is much better than the lackluster VN, and I can’t even finish Kud due to his/her writing)
        3. For some reason I had a strange feeling that the anime will deliver (that happened when the anime receives the harshest hatestorm at the beginning of the adapatation).

        Thus, I decided to trust the anime and so far I’m satisfied. The real bet only started when the Refrain arc kicks in, though.

        P.S The decision is not related to “not used to VN medium” since I have played plenty of them.

  9. Pretty Please, i know dear Manga/LN Readers or Game players, you knowledge is burning under your nails, and you want to share it with us. But please try to understand, that our curiosity is the same as Strong as that. So, please. No pretty please, dont use Game or whatever Wisdom hidden in Spoilers.

    Stay Strong!.

    p.s. i wished, this here could be Pinned on Top, and should be a Basic rule for all Animes based on Game or Manga

    1. I think the ones who make spoilers are because they want to discuss somethin about the adaptation. Because every people I know they have played the vn wants the anime-only viewers to be as amazed as the vn players.

      1. an example.

        If ever Germany and Japan should play a Soccer game against each other. i spoil you that Japan will lose 0:2

        So, you know today(Manga or Game). that in near Future (Anime), they lose (Story). Are you Enjoying watching the Play, when the time comes?

        i hope i could explain it to you what i mean, no hard feelings here

      2. I understand you perfectly, I just don´t know how to express myself well because I don´t speak english haha. I am saying that I think people who spoil the vn don´t do it with that intention, they just want to discuss something about the show but they don´t know there are people who would consider what they said a spoiler. It happens to me all the time. But I´m with you, no one is gonna enjoy the story if they know what is going to happen.

    1. I still have no idea why someone still watch a series even though he/she skip a part (or more) of the episode at least once in every 25 episodes. Yes, you have every right to do so, but I wonder how many experiences, story clues and character developments that you skipped in doing that (since LB also puts some clues in the seemingly useless scenes). Even if you’re waiting for refrain, you won’t enjoy it if you don’t even enjoy the rest of the show (well, at least you liked the recent parts).

      Kinda reminds me of someone in a certain forum who always complaining (even insulting the show) at every single episode but he still watches it every week just to see the reason behind “refrain hype”. Are those kind of people are masochist or what? If you don’t like a show, just drop it, nobody force you to keep watching.

      1. I´m with you. If they just want to know why everyone are waiting refrain, they have the vn, a lot of webs telling the argument of the route, and also a lot of youtube walkthrough of the game. They are just stupid trolls.

  10. Wow. The first season was great, but this is just brilliant!
    I think Riki falling in love with Kurugaya was very natural. At first he just thinks is awesome, but, come one, Who could not fall in love with a sexy awesome girl saying “I like you?”. And if that was not enough for Riki, later his friends convince him that he was in love with her, something that friends usually do! In my opinion that is pretty natural and for nothing forced.
    Oh, and I also felt so bad for Rin. She was so lonely watching the fireworks I almost cry!
    Awesome episode, I hope other episodes to be as great as those first!

    1. Riki, is about to learn the Real meaning of Love. I think what he feels are “interest” on the Girl. But he really never thought to deepen the Relationship so far.
      The Bond with Rin, i think he feels like a Sister for him. They know each other for so long, that “Love” could not came into his mind. Perhaps if he begin to “lose” Rin, he will be true to his feelings for her. is she more then a Sister for him?

      1. I say it because a lot of people were complaining about the romance of the episodes saying that was “forced”. I´m with you, I don´t think Riki is deeply in love with Kurugaya. I think he is just somewhat confused.

  11. Shameless plug time! I’m writing about Little Busters: Refrain on my blog (link in my name ^). I’ll be talking more from the perspective of one who has read the VN, and talking about the way it’s being adapted into anime (hopefully without spoilers, though). I feel there’s plenty of interesting things to talk about.

    I feel like I have to kind of restrain myself when talking about Kurugaya’s route, though. Anything worth saying about its substance will probably be spoilerific, though from the way they’ve been dropping hints it’ll be nothing shocking. Looking forward to seeing more.

  12. I haven’t read the VNs, and the first season wasn’t perfect, but I like Little Busters. I have to agree that this season so far has been a lot better than the average episode last season. Things seem to be paced a little better, but then again all the characters and their relationships are introduced so they have the freedom to do so. While people have complained about changes from the VN I get the feeling this show would have been around 50-60 episodes if they tried to do a complete adaptation, though I think the first season might have been a little better in many ways if they had gone this route.

    Kuragaya is probably my favorite of the girls, since I like both her character design and personality. While some have stated up above that a Riki/Kuragaya relationship would see her as the dominant one I don’t necessarily see that as 100% the case or that either would be displeased with it.

  13. Some screencaps for episode 3 were up since thursday on the official web. Also they updated the tracks of the op/ed singles and there is a vocal version of “waking up in the morning” a BGM from the vn. Possibly second opening?


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