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Little Busters Refrain – 10

「そして俺は繰り返す」 (Soshite Ore wa Kurikaesu)
“And So I’ll Do It Over Again”

At last, the cat is out of the bag.

I won’t say there were a whole lot of surprises in this episode of Little Busters, starting with the fact that most (but not all) of the secret of this world was revealed. But that didn’t stop it from being one of the best episodes in LB’s three cours of anime. The general nature of what was happening has been pretty clear for a while now, and nothing that Kyousuke revealed will likely have contradicted what most new viewers had guessed was going on. There’s still one big outstanding question – just how, exactly, did Kyousuke do what he did? But given Key’s track record I think there’s a good chance we’ll never get a definitive answer on that one beyond the usual Key “Stuff just happens, deal with it”.

The way I see it there are two principal questions that are central to the story and likely to be addressed in the remaining three episodes:

  • Was Kyousuke right to do what he did?

  • What happens next?

  • You can start with the second question, which is obviously unavoidable. We have three episodes remaining, and the next is titled “The End of the World”. I think it was quite a fitting choice that J.C. Staff chose to end this episode with the OP rather than the ED, because in a sense this was the beginning that Kyousuke has been building towards all along – “The frozen time will start to move”. But I don’t think it’s as simple as him taking Riki’s hand and finally saying goodbye, the artificial world he built succumbing to the void and taking the others with it.

    In practical terms, I don’t think it’s wholly clear yet just what happened on the terrible night we finally see in detail this week. Obviously a bus crashed, obviously Kyousuke and the “outer ring” of the Little Busters – Komari, Haruka, Mio, Kuragaya and Kud – were on-board. Clearly, they all died. But were Kengo and Masato on that bus as well? I presume so, but that isn’t explicitly spelled out. And what of Riki and Rin themselves – did they survive the crash, or (as Kyousuke implies) were they not on-board that bus at all and would only find out what happens later? Somehow, Kyousuke – let’s just say using the power of love for now – managed to freeze time in an effort to try and help Riki and Rin grow strong enough to survive the horror of what they’re going to have to live with.

    So much is explained by that, certainly. Kyousuke’s seemingly cruelty (“I could punch myself”). The seeming duality of Masato’s personality (“He played the idiot successfully as usual”). Kud’s desire to be a “good gear that helps the world to move”. And of course, Riki’s narcolepsy – as always seemed likely, a kind of circuit-breaker that Kyousuke tripped whenever Riki was headed towards a “bad end” and needed a reset. But whatever magic Kyousuke used to do all this apparently has limits – “My grip on this world is starting to weaken” (which in turn seems to explain the random character disappearances and weather irregularities) – and in a symbolic sense, these repeating false worlds seem to be contained in a single teardrop in Kyousuke’s eye as he’s waiting for the end on that fateful night. Thus by delaying it for even a few moments (stopping a leak of gasoline that will presumable cause the bus to explode, for example) he gives Riki that one more chance to grow into the man Kyousuke believes can shoulder the burdens he’s going to have to carry.

    It’s really Kyousuke’s tragedy that defines this episode, and in many ways Little Busters itself. If you look at all this from his perspective it’s pretty damn heartbreaking. He’s always been the guy who takes care of everyone – the big brother, the defender, the ringleader. All he wants to do is take Riki or Rin’s hand and say “Everything is going to be all right” – and then go make sure it is. It’s what he’s done for his entire life, and all of the other Busters are much better off for it. But that’s no longer possible once the geas that he’s used to stop time runs out, and the idea that he has to turn Riki and Rin lose on the world without his protection is more painful to him that death itself. If there was one moment in the episode that really gutted me, it was Kyousuke’s “It’s all right… I’ll do something. Follow me… I want to say. But I can’t.” It perfectly exemplifies Kyousuke’s agony at having to let go, which is the most unnatural thing in the world for him to do.

    It hurts, watching Kyousuke – dying both outside and inside. It’s supposed to hurt. But if there’s a fundamental philosophical question LitBus asks, I think it’s this – is it possible to love someone too much? If the first season was thematically obsessed with friendship and innocence, Refrain has cut that with a large dose of parental responsibility. Kyouskue’s intentions – as are the thoughts of most overprotective parents – are good, and driven by love. But perhaps he should have trusted Riki and Rin – believed in them a little more, because the strength he now sees in Riki was there all along, nurtured by the mentoring he got from Kyousuke and the group friendship that sustained him. I’m reminded of Kamina’s “Don’t believe in you. Believe in the me that believes in you” to Simon here – perhaps Kyousuke should have had more faith that the friendship and brotherhood he’d extended to Riki and Rin for all those years had helped shaped them into strong and good people. And that notion may very well be a big part of the story in the final three episodes of Refrain.

     

    Author’s note: The LiA Winter 2014 Season Preview and Poll is out – please stop by, check it out and share your votes! And as always, 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. There are still secrets remaining, so please 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.

     

    December 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm
    28 comments »
    • December 7, 2013 at 8:05 pmstarss

      This should have been my favorite episode, as it finally answered MOST of all what this Secret of the World is! But I kinda don’t like the way it’s formatted. It plays like a recap episode with a twist, that being Kyousuke’s voice-over explaining why he did what he did in both seasons, and I can’t help wondering if the writer could’ve come up with a better way to reveal them all. We have an idea that Kyousuke and maybe others died in a bus crash, and that started his resolve to restart everything in a new world he created and would orchestrate in a direction that would save everybody. But because Riki has been constantly going against what he wanted, they’re now at odds.

      • December 7, 2013 at 8:17 pmFrank

        Yeah, even as a VN reader I didn’t particularly like how it was nothing but a huge exposition dump, even it if wasn’t that much different in the original. Might have been more interesting to start out in the real world and actually show how the crash happened and go on from there instead of already having it crashed.

        • December 8, 2013 at 4:54 amTechim

          Compared to the VN version of Episode: Kyousuke, I’d say the anime version is better..
          To those complaining about JC Staff doing a sort of recap episode, that’s how it is in the original Visual Novel, a summary/flashback all the way from the beginning of the series but from Kyousuke’s perspective.
          The anime version is better since it depicts Kyousuke’s tragic crawling to the bus scene..(VN only has it in text with an eerie background image of trees)

      • December 7, 2013 at 8:45 pmGuardian Enzo

        Well, I’m not a VN reader but I can say that this style worked very well for me. The one thing we really haven’t gotten yet is Kyousuke’s perspective on all this – he’s been the external force pulling the strings, and I think we needed to see and feel where he was coming from. In that sense I think the episode worked very well, call it a “recap with a twist” or whatever you like.

        • December 7, 2013 at 8:57 pmstarss

          It LOOKS incredible though. Like an art student’s wet dream!

    • December 7, 2013 at 10:02 pmbanzemanga

      I am still confused. So, everything began with the accident. I am guessing that Kyousuke was originally not part of the accident. He traveled to the past to alter the future. He tries to change the future then and again but always fails. Then he trains Riki and Rin to become stronger and independent instead. In his last try Rin and Riki ran way.

      But how is that bad? I mean, did they still get involved in the accident after that? Does it mean that they still had a school trip or whatever after that? In this last episode, I am guessing he seems to finally able to get to the point of accident on time with the price of his life? And now with him stopping the gasoline he thinks he will save everyone?

      What if it still doesn’t save anyone? Or what if hey were all dead before the gasoline leaked?

      My last guess is that if they survive, Riki should go back to the past instead and save everyone including Kyousuke.

      • December 7, 2013 at 10:30 pmJack

        Why would you think Kyosuke wasn’t part of the accident? He was shown right there at the crash site and said that he created this new world to help Riki and Rin grow stronger because he wouldn’t be able to help them anymore. There’s no way for him to not make the accident happen. If he had that power he would have done so from the start instead of creating an illusionary world.

        • December 7, 2013 at 11:00 pmbanzemanga

          Because it made more sense to me that for someone to go to the past, they have to be alive. But if you put it your way, it makes somehow more sense in some other way.

        • December 7, 2013 at 11:10 pmstarss

          Why do you think they never bothered to show Kyousuke’s lower half in those scenes? Why did you think he had to move by using his hands? ;)

        • December 8, 2013 at 4:56 amTechim

          His legs are still there if I get what you’re implying..
          It was depicted last episode..http://bit.ly/18tiSfP

        • December 8, 2013 at 10:21 amstarss

          So why block out his lower half in the other shots?

        • December 8, 2013 at 11:15 amTechim

          Technically they did show his lower half (femur, knees, tibia/fibula)
          or heavily imply he still has them.
          You just don’t remember them…
          They did not depict his feet, though, come to think of it.

          2:16 – 2:20 Kyousuke obviously brings himself to stand up. LEGS DEPICTED.
          15:08 – 15:12 Kyousuke is obviously walking, though he falls down after a while.
          15:39 – 15:42 He stands again, but falls again as well.

          Judging from the very last scene of him in the OP where Kyousuke smiles at the camera from a school desk, I’d say he has a left foot injury. Either that, or he’s only wearing his right shoe in the last few seconds of the OP.

    • December 7, 2013 at 10:10 pmthedarktower

      it hurts.
      seeing our beloved Kyousuke like that. our LB fellows.
      it’s true, somehow it was a recap, but the way they executed the episode (episode Kyousuke)..damn.

      you’ve mentioned LB philosophical question. well, there are a few themes LB is talking about. one of them as you’ve said is about love. not necessary romantic one, but a strong bond between friends. and it’s more stronger than a mere friendship, not out of disrespect or something, but in LB it’s really get stronger meaning.
      I think that love you’ve mentioned, contributes to the other main theme that LB is talking about – dealing with difficulties. throughout the entire LB, S1 and refrain, is all about it. how you deal with difficulties of life – Komari’s case is a good example. in a way, what happened to her is not so much different of what happened to Riki in the past.
      and we can see it throughout the routes, the missions, playing baseball and everything.
      Kyousuke knows how hard it is to become stronger, to stand up for others even if it’s hard for you (like Kyousuke who bears the burden all this time) . that road is tough, but Riki has made it, with all those difficulties. with love (not only romantic) it was possible.
      even the so called “mistake”(the decision to run away with Rin) isn’t that a mistake IMHO. Kyousuke admit it was too much. and Riki did what he did for Rin, not necessary out of running away. he was also clueless and confused with the change.

      final moments are in front of us..I don’t know if I am ready, being VN veteran isn’t making it easier.

    • December 7, 2013 at 10:11 pmTheVoid

      I doubt if believing in them a little more would help at all. It’s likely he would have continued to use Kyousuke and the others as a crutch until forced into a situation where he can’t, just like he did when he took Rin and ran away. Even Rin only lasted a couple days at that other school and reverted back to her old ways when put into a situation where she had only contact with Riki.

      Now when they only vaguely remember the past do the two of them try to bring back the Little Busters, and even then it took Kyousuke showing the despair and not acting the way they’ve always known Kyousuke to act for them to do it.

    • December 7, 2013 at 11:12 pmechykr

      I always knew the very first episode where the lights of the town just flicked on all at once as Kyousuke arrived had some profound meaning.

      To avert whatever unspoken disaster from befalling Riki and Rin, Kyousuke would do a Homura in this protected world, slowly building Riki up mentally until he’s strong enough to leave the custodianship of this world and out to whatever calamity awaits them “outside”.

      Though he overestimated Rin’s mental ability, and forcefully had her separated from Riki too soon, causing his plan to backfire and earning the rage of Kengo.

      I always thought the reason he decided to take a hands-off approach by this present loop (Refrain) was due to him regretting his heavy-handedness in the previous loop, and allowed Riki to figure things out himself, with the occasional nudge via Lennon. Now with things being animated, I understand better that Kyousuke was pre-occupied with whatever “imminent crisis” was going on “outside” that he had to “preserve his energy” inside and remained immobile in his room.

    • December 7, 2013 at 11:29 pmechykr

      First there was Madoka Magica, recently there’s Kyoukai no Kanata and Little Busters Refrain, what’s with resolution episodes taking place in the 10th episode of the series? :)

      Anyway, to elaborate further, the surreal resolutions to Mio and Kud’s stories now begin to make more sense, if Kyousuke is the god of this world, then he’ll do whatever it takes to assist Riki in his quest to help the girls, including resetting the world whenever Riki encounters a “Bad End”

      I’m not sure how aware the girls themselves are to the reality of this world. Though I believe with the exception of Kurugaya, they were all initially oblivious to it until later on, when through their own emotional revelations or Kyousuke telling them that they learned. They did not begrudge Kyousuke as this world allowed them to resolve their regrets and attain closure before they await the “calamity” of the world outside.

      Kurugaya had the least emotional baggage of all the girls and was probably the first to realize it. Mio noticed something unusual, and decided to use this opportunity to let Chidori live in her stead which she was unable to do “outside” before Riki brought her back. Kud realized that this world was a constructed one after waking up from a “dream” where she was in a rocky prison, and her subsequent conversation with Kyousuke.

      • December 8, 2013 at 12:25 amamado

        dont forget komari’s drawings. seems like she sensed a bit of how this world was working(the chick forgetting and repeating) and how it would end(the dwarfs fading after a task).

        man this episode was really good. seems like only the VN guys expected more, but from what ive heard from some of the readers the anime actually made it work better such as kyousuke crawling around. they said there really wasnt much difference, while the VN was just plain flashbacks whilst anime made kyousuke struggle.

        • December 8, 2013 at 4:31 amJack

          I just looked at that part in the Visual Novel and I’d say Kyosuke seems to struggle more in the original. The anime made it seem like he just crawls to the gasoline leak once while the illusionary world is somehow running concurrently.
          However in the VN with every reset Kyosuke is also reset to his starting position, meaning he has to struggle all over again to stop it from leaking.

    • December 8, 2013 at 1:40 amCTT

      I can’t remember the last time an anime has broken my heart the way this one has. Almost against my will, I grew attached to these characters, and then Kyousuke went and he spent twenty minutes tearing into my emotions like a chain saw. To be honest, I don’t think he had a right to put Rin and Riki through the grinder the way he did, sending them into despair over and over so they would grow stronger, but I can’t hate him for it. If I was going to die and leave my sister behind, I’d want to know she’d be all right without me too.

    • December 8, 2013 at 2:27 amJayDrink

      In practical terms, I don’t think it’s wholly clear yet just what happened on the terrible night we finally see in detail this week. Obviously a bus crashed, obviously Kyousuke and the “outer ring” of the Little Busters – Komari, Haruka, Mio, Kuragaya and Kud – were on-board. Clearly, they all died.

      I really don’t want to believe it, but it really does seem like that’s exactly the case. Kyousuke’s constant struggle to force Riki and Rin to grow up and be able to stand on their own, everything he has worked so hard to achieve has all been to prepare them for that final moment when the “world ends”.. the bus crash. A crash that most likely results in everyone in the Little Busters dying, except for Riki and Rin who somehow survive. Kyousuke ends up in that state, and before he dies he wants to make sure that the both of them have grown up enough to be able to handle whatever comes after the bus crash. And thus he turns back time, over and over again. How he does it, I have no idea.

      But this all sounds like a “Very, Very Bad End”, and I’m really dreading such an ending.. If this is indeed what’s about to happen, I wish I’d have a Kyousuke that would turn back time to prepare me for such a dark ending to what has become one of my favourite animes.

    • December 8, 2013 at 2:40 amzeroyuki92

      Just one correction, Enzo. I don’t think Riki’s narcolepsy is something like “circuit-breaker that Kyousuke tripped whenever Riki was headed towards a “bad end”. I think Riki already said that he has narcolepsy right after his childhood accident (OP animation also confirm this, we can saw Little Busters members caring for Riki when he had an attack), something that I assume triggers when he was on extremely insecure state.

      What I found on Wikipedia is this : “Cataplexy is a sudden and transient episode of loss of muscle tone accompanied by full conscious awareness, often triggered by emotions such as laughing, crying, terror, etc. It is a rare disease (prevalence of fewer than 5 per 10,000 in the community), but affects roughly 70% of people who have narcolepsy.”, so I guess that’s the base for Riki’s narcolepsy.

      Kyousuke basically just trigger the reset the world almost every times when Riki had narcolepsy since that’s a sign of failure to bring Riki strong enough to face that hardship.

      That said, I have guessed (at least almost) everything right, but still this is a very great episode. First time I cried in LB I think, and since I have no idea how will they end this series I think this could only go deeper ;______;

      • December 8, 2013 at 8:46 amGermanguy

        that, or he dont have a “Plan” for Continue thia Path, so he use it to “reset” him

    • December 8, 2013 at 2:57 amRed HeartGold ZX

      For a second there, I thought this was going to be the last episode the way that ED rolled.

      • December 8, 2013 at 5:03 amTechim

        Putting the OP as ED in this episode is fitting, as pretty much a lot of the viewers should understand the significance of the scenes depicted in it by now..
        Though the part of the OP where Riki is Show Spoiler ▼

        Btw, here’s a compilation done by the editor of a subber group.
        Little Busters Anime Foreshadowing, Implicit Dialogue and Explanations
        *Updated every week
        (MAJOR SPOILERS): http://imgur.com/a/fSJLK

    • December 8, 2013 at 3:49 amAngelus

      As for the question of whether it’s possible to love someone too much, I don’t really see it as a fundamental philosophical question at all, unless you invoke some sort of sophistry about what “too much” actually means. And that’s not because I’m ignorant about philosophy (after all, I am the one who made the post about Kierkegaard a few weeks back), it’s because it’s a question that can be answered empirically by simply looking at the world. I have experienced both being loved too much and loving too much at different times in my own life and seen the corrosive effects it has, so for me, the answer is an obvious one.

    • December 8, 2013 at 3:53 ambaseone

      Good to see the girls again even for only a glimpse especially Anego.

    • December 8, 2013 at 5:35 amBreedo

      Looking at the scenes of the presumed fallen girls I realized when I saw Haruka and Kud that Kanata must be devastated. Makes me wish they’d included her a bit more at least in the refrain section. At least she has her parents unlike Riki.

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:07 pmAdam

      My favorite episode so far and as someone who played the VN I can say, that the next episode is going to be my favorite one. Can’t wait!