「(理樹と鈴」 (Riki to Rin)
“Riki and Rin”

For now, at least, the osananajimi fans are in the ascendancy.

This is without question a nexus point for Little Busters!, one of those places where anime and visual novels must tearfully part and board separate trains. And no doubt the same applies to anime-only viewers like me and VN veterans, who will likewise largely be on divergent paths. The nature of VNs is defined by routes, but an anime must tell a complete story from start to finish unless it chooses the omnibus format (which as far as I can tell would have been a disaster for LitBus).

That leaves us where we are now, with Riki at long last entering into a true relationship with a girl – and it’s Rin, the “one that’s been by his side” since their childhood days. That’s going to leave some hurt feelings among partisans of the other girls, no doubt – I myself am as big a Kudo partisan as you could ever wish to see – but this is a path that seems to make narrative sense for me. I don’t see “Riki and Rin” being ultimately the point of LitBus, as it’s always seemed to me that it’s The Secret that’s the main story driver here, and that this is a series about friendship more than romance. But as an anime-only viewer, like Kyousuke and the others this was a day I’ve been expecting for a very long time.

In point of fact, the anime gave us what felt very much like a VN moment when Rin matter-of-factly said “Let’s go out” to Riki. I mean, you could literally see the world change – waves rippling out from the two of them – and Riki himself comments later how “The world looks different!” now that he has a girlfriend. The hint could hardly be less subtle – this is a game-changer, quite literally. There are really two separate issues here, how the Riki-Rin story plays on screen and what it means for the larger conspiracy plot.

On the former, while I’ve always felt Riki had the best chemistry with Kud, I like the bond with Rin too – especially as I see the way she can only feel relaxed in the world when she’s by his side (Riki and cats, that’s all she needs). There was a whole bunch of Riki flashing why he’s the real moe character in LitBus, from his brief preening over being confessed to by Suginami to his grinding over why Rin’s face kept popping up in his head to his blushing efforts to be a gallant boyfriend after he and Rin decided to give it a go. My favorite scene of the ep, though, was when he and Rin breathlessly traded pointless texts from their respective bedrooms. It was pretty adorable, frankly, and about as natural a depiction of first boyfriend/girlfriend euphoria as I’ve seen in anime. Some teenagers are old for their age, but Riki and Rin really are still kids – that’s part of their charm, and it made that scene work beautifully.

In the big picture, though, I’m pretty confident that it’s the reaction of the others that’s more important than the relationship itself. It gave us the funniest moment of the episode – as so often, from Masato, who panics at the thought of being separated from Riki and exclaims, “Am I supposed to live on my own in a concrete pipe?!” More than that, though, there’s no hiding the significance of the moment – the others act more relieved than genuinely pleased, especially as if this were something that had to happen before events (“the frozen time”?) could move forward. Kuragaya’s (who was literally absent this week) last message was “Promise you’ll take care of Rin”, and Kyousuke admonishes Riki that he and Rin should take care of each other “after I’m gone” – and it’s clear he doesn’t mean on to college. And then there’s the other three “extra” characters Kud (noooooo!), Mio and Haruka unmistakably offering their silent farewells and walking off into the light. Subtle, definitely not.

It’s the nature of Little Busters! that a new viewer will look for signs everywhere, see ghosts in the shadows in every corner – and as such, Riki’s simple “We won’t stay kids forever” comment to Rin seems loaded with significance. There’s a new task (the sender hardly seems a mystery anymore) attached to Lennon’s tail – “In homeroom, volunteer” – after whose completion Riki assumes The Secret of This World will finally be revealed. I’m not sure it’s that simple – in fact I’m pretty sure it isn’t – but it’s clear we’re getting closer, and dark clouds are (literally) gathering). It seems now that only the original five Little Busters remain, plus Komari – which seems to take baseball off the table at the very least. How will Riki justify this in his mind? Will he remember? For all the hints and all the progress the fundamental mystery remains, and in that sense the story really hasn’t even started yet. It’s all the more reason to think Little Busters! isn’t a conventional Key romance scenario, because rather than being the culmination of the story it seems that “Riki and Rin” is really the beginning of it.


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. Nope. No one actually forgot about Kurugaya. It’s just that Kurugaya rarely shows up in the classroom. She is already intelligent that lesson in the classroom bores her. She’s also a person who always loiter and wonder around the school. This triggers in everyone’s mind that shes just somewhere around the school were in fact we don’t know what actually happened to her.

  1. The girls walking to the light man..Maybe they share the same fate as Kurogaya?My guess is that we are not going to hear about then for now.This episode makes more clear that the only ones that doesn´t know about what is happening to that world is Riki and Rin,which can be related to the growing up process,that maybe Rin,is runing from it.


      Random joke aside, I think the comparison is quite reasonable. Kyousuke for some reason has that kind of “anti-hero aura”, although I guess it’s stretching the line too much.

  2. where anime and visual novels must tearfully part and board separate trains

    what makes say so?
    I think both mediums are tied together. yes, there are necessary modficiations.
    but as I said once – LB is dating-sim. and actually the love which just bloomed between Riki and Rin is genuine. moreover, it’s quite clear that the main course of events involves her.
    then why part ways? :O
    anyway..so actually it felt much more close to the VN due to the that love. ’cause mostly so far we haven’t seen that.

    that season continue to feel different from the previous.
    not only the love which bloomed, but also the pace of events. clearly they are focusing so much of the main course of events(clearly the secret of the world) so there isn’t much time in between.
    that very episode continue in this direction and it actually shouted “starting now, it’s gonna be a bumpy road”.

    the farewall from the girls..was so emotional to me.
    and kurugaya’s apperance again at the beginning. 🙁
    Show Spoiler ▼

  3. “This is without question a nexus point for
    Little Busters!, one of those places where
    anime and visual novels must tearfully part
    and board separate trains.”

    Actually I think the opposite. Rin actualy is the route where all of clues that scattered in all of the other routes, finally will culminate in one. This is the final train that we’ve been looking for despite of our different tastes. It’s the train that leads to Refrain and Secret of The World.

    While of course RikixRin shippers will be delighted, in narrative sense it’s not the result that was naturally expected. It’s more like the result that were required and long wished by everyone else. It’s not “they were naturally going out”, but “we finally arrive in a point where they finally develelop in a way that they choose to going out”, especially if we’re looking at Kyousuke/Komari reaction. Combine this with event in ep 1 refrain, then everything will be clear. This is the result that were “desperately needed” from going over 27 episodes and whatever length that were not shown in anime.

    That’s why everything seems like a random whims, especially since a lot of factor that push them to be a couple come from external and random chance. This is not meant to be romantic route, at least not yet. Just like what you said, this is the beginning of whatever that was avoided up till now, and I’m sure it’s not going to be fluffy and fun.

    1. Yeah, I would say the anime experience is actually similar to the VN, since you need to go through other girls –> Rin2 –> Refrain. There’s really no way to go through the story of Little Busters without the Riki/Rin relationship sparking the transition to Refrain.

    2. I must agree on this point. Up until this point the anime could potentially have meandered in any number of directions and presented itself in many different ways. Now that we have gotten to Rin 2–>Refrain, the story is fairly railroaded, so to speak. I suppose Enzo is not familiar with the visual novel, but as someone who has actually read it I feel that I must offer a countering view to his opening assertions. Little Busters, both anime and visual novel, is entirely one story. The Common–>Rin–>Refrain progression is the essence of Little Busters, and the side-routes subplots. And while the subplots do branch out, they still play into the greater scheme of Little Busters. Let me re-emphasise. There is a greater scheme, and it should not change between the anime and the visual novel. If it does then I suppose someone needs to be shot.

      I also think that Little Busters could have worked rather well as an omnibus (not necessarily superior, just doable) albeit adapted to fit its particular conceits. But that’s neither here nor there.

  4. It’s too bad that they decided to omit half of Kurugaya’s route. I understand why they left out the romance portions, but I wish that “operation love-love hunters” was included because it really doesn’t conflict with Refrain at all and is one of the funnier parts. Mio’s deadpan responses are especially hilarious.

    Anyway, looking forward to finally starting Maeda Jun’s storyline.

    1. I missed operation love-love hunters too, but it really would have fit better if Kurugaya’s route was part of season 1, rather than refrain. Humor this season should probably be limited to things like Masato’s outburst in this episode, rather than extended chunks like operation love-love hunters.

  5. Yeah. No spoilers, but Rin 2 route is vital to getting to Refrain. Had they not had Rin and Riki go out… well… then we would have boarded an entirely different train. One called ‘the bastardization of the source material’.

  6. Riki is the true heroine here, folks, what with his swooning over being told someone likes him, as well as going into denial mode everytime images of Rin flashes in his mind. XD

    The way Kyousuke and the girls looked relieved at seeing Riki and Rin bonding for good before heading off into a mysterious light, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to not see anything unominous about that.

  7. Gosh what can I say that Enzo hasn’t said already?? I was laughing and smiling the whole way through.

    Except for one scene. The Mood Whiplash when the club members except for Kyousuke left the room was expected by still shocking. Like he’s thinking “My plans for world domination are finally coming to fruition!” I can’t get over how this looks like a metaphor for change in general. You hook up with someone. Suddenly, your whole world feels different. Your chemistry with your friend circle is changed, they are aware of it too, and their opinion of yourself derails into an unpredictable direction. There is definitely a feeling of “we are down the rabbit hole. Buckle up!”

    1. most of it (if not all of it) came directly from VN.
      at first I didn’t think it would work, ’cause VN medium (epsecially its OST) is different from anime medium. but it fitted itself amazingly to the mood.

      song for friends by Rita is LB best song <3

    2. I must say that, in my own opinion, that if any viewers of the anime are new to Little Busters they should avoid the soundtrack until we are finished with the story. The music of Little Busters is very strong and relied on heavily to tell its story. Spoiling yourself of the music would very much be comparable to spoiling the plot, and will diminish your experience in a similar way. In that sense, Youtube is a baleful place.

  8. Amazing episode as always. I love RikixRin and the confession was as casual as in the vn. Oh, and the Haruka, Mio, and Kud scene was very, very sad ;A;.
    Next episode: Last mission. So hyped to see how it will be handled
    Thanks for the post!

  9. I love that it just suddenly happens for them to start going out together, even without Riki fully realizing his feelings yet. It made the reactions of LB team really be the key of this episode. Also it makes maybe a bit awkwardly looking at first, but an ultimate childhood friend happy ending which so many anime never gets – in the way of “let’s just make it official, as we’ve always been together anyways”.

  10. Kud (noooooo!), Mio and Haruka unmistakably offering their silent farewells and walking off into the light. Subtle, definitely not.

    Wait, does that mean they will die?!!? NOOOOOO!!!! D,: I actually didn’t catch that, and now, I’m feeling the feelz, and I bet more feelz coming.

  11. this episode left me confused, really.
    the confession part itself is… well, so not memorable.

    I guess I compare it to Clannad so kinda disappointed, well maybe next episodes will tell me “why” the scene is so simple like that…

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