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Little Busters! – OVA »« Little Busters Refrain – 10

Little Busters Refrain – 11

「世界の終わり」 (Sekai no Owari)
“The End of the World”

I really don’t think this is the time for a clever opening line.

I don’t think I need to say much about that episode of Little Busters!, really. If any anime episode ever spoke for itself, it was this one. And who wants to cloud such emotional purity with a bunch of analysis and value judgment? I certainly wasn’t surprised by anything that happened, but that didn’t lessen the impact one bit. It was a terrible, beautiful sadness – the kind of mono no aware-based poignancy that it seems the Japanese are better at communicating than anyone else in the world.

In hindsight, I probably made a mistake seeing Takahata Isao’s masterpiece Kaguya-hime no Monogatari the evening before watching this episode of LB. That pretty much wiped me out emotionally in its last 15 minutes, so going into this episode I was like someone with their immune system fried walking into a quarantine ward. I had no resistance, no chance – but in the end I think I was invested enough in this story and these characters for it not to have mattered. This was emotion that was so well-earned – which in my view is not always the case with Key – that it was impossible not to be devastated.

I’ll just share a few of the thoughts that are running through me as I think back on the journey to this point. First off, for all the emotional peaks of the episode, perhaps the most gutting moment was when Masato asked – practically begged – Riki to tell him how much he’d meant to him. Masato was always a favorite of mine. He “played his part well”, as Kyousuke said – the loveable idiot who always knew much more than he was letting on. Masato went out exactly as he should – running through the scoreboard to catch a pop-fly, and fading away with a grin on his face.

That’s not to say Kengo and Kyousuke were shortchanged, either. Kengo held on a bit longer, and what was hardest with him was seeing his strong facade slowly break down over the last couple of episodes till we saw him as he was here - the most sentimental and innocent of the lot. For that matter, the other “peripheral” members of the Little Busters were present as well – in spirit, if not in fact – and I think that was wholly appropriate given how important they were to the developments that led the characters to this point.

But it was always Kyousuke who was going to have the final say – for all the talk of souls joined together, it was never less than completely clear that this was his world, and it was his overpowering will that had created it and was holding it together. I think it could be said that seeing Kyousuke finally take off his mask and let his grief show through unabashedly was the emotional highlight, with 37 episode of buildup contributing to its power. Kyousuke had earlier told Riki that no crying would be allowed from this point onward, but it was a hollow command and I think they both knew it. It would have been so wrong for both of them not to let their tears flow in those final moments together.

I don’t know how the mechanics of this story work – and with Key, I know we might not get a real explanation even in the final two episodes. But my personal feeling in the big picture is that the whole business about Riki getting stronger – while important – was largely a cover story. The truth of the matter is, I think Kyousuke and the others simply loved each other too much to let their time together end so prematurely. Sure, Kyousuke was worried about Riki and Rin moving forward (the symbolism of Riki’s walk-off home run is a perfect choice to demonstrate that he will) – but I think the real truth is that all of them simply wanted to be together for a little while longer. Anyone who’s lost a loved one knows the feeling – “What would I give just to have one more day?” – but imagine that for a group of kids not even finished with high school, who should have decades to explore their lives and share them with each other. Even if that’s never expressed in the series, that’s the explanation that feels most right to me.

I have had issues with Maeda Jun’s work before – I think there’s too-much push-button melodrama in some of it – but this emotional climax of Little Busters completely works for me. It’s simple, honest and pure – a musing on the glorious but ephemeral joys of childhood, the agony of wanting your children to grow up but stay innocent and pure, and the pain of letting go and having to trust them to survive life’s journey without you. I love the fact that “love” is so central to all this – Koyusuke and Riki freely speak of how much they love the other Busters, and each other. It works because it’s so obvious that they do – very much, with all their, heart, and for good reasons. This is the story of their friendship – not of the tragedy that ended it, but of the love they shared with each other. Whatever the final two episodes have to add to that story, this episode spoke to the truth and power of it with supreme eloquence and honesty.


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. Most of the secret is obviously revealed now, but VN veterans – please don’t speculate about the final two episodes outside of spoiler tags.


ED6 Sequence

December 14, 2013 at 7:44 pm
  • December 14, 2013 at 7:46 pmReianz

    Thank you Kyousuke for all you have done for both Riki and Rin. Your sacrifice shall not be in vain!

  • December 14, 2013 at 7:55 pmZephyr

    I played the VN and was anticipating this moment for a while… but even that didn’t stop the water works. The bit with Kyousuke at the very end just made it impossible. ;____;

    • December 18, 2013 at 4:28 amJayDrink

      This is the first time I’ve cried watching an anime in a long time.. Back when I was a kid, I used to cry to every single character death there was, but at some point I just stopped feeling. But hearing Kyousuke lose his cool-headedness and cry out like that was just too much for me. I’ve really missed crying to be honest.

      Next episode, “One Wish”, will probably be about Komari. Honestly, if her wish was that everyone would magically come back to life and they do, I would not dislike that one bit.

  • December 14, 2013 at 8:23 pmKuntzy

    I almost did it.

    I got through Masato and Kengo leaving just fine, just a little misty eyed. Then friggin’ Kyousuke has to make me start bawling again. Why you do this to me man?

    And of course then I, like the idiot I am, decided to watch the Steins;Gate movie right after….

    My heart… I can’t handle all these feels

    • December 15, 2013 at 5:32 amIncognito

      “My heart… I can’t handle all these feels…”

      Damnit, and just when I’m still in mourning over Takao‘s self-sacrifice…

  • December 14, 2013 at 8:25 pmstarss

    I knew what we were heading towards. Didn’t make me any less choked up. ;___; This will most likely be the last we’ll see of Kyousuke, even though I know we have 2 more episodes left.

  • December 14, 2013 at 9:03 pmMartianMage

    I didn’t like how Rin was almost irrelevant this episode. Like she almost never spoke for herself and she just did what she was told to do…

  • December 14, 2013 at 9:20 pmechykr

    The truth is out, this is a dream world that Kyousuke and the rest of the Little Busters that they created for Riki and Rin, and it is finally collapsing.


    A lot of parallels can be made with Inception, even though LB predates that movie. The dream world is held together by Kyousuke as its architect, with Masato and Kengo as its passive “moderators”, the five girls Kyousuke picked, Komari, Kurugaya, Kud, Haruka and Mio to fill up the world with their respective subconsciousness, as its anchors, with Riki and Rin as the quarries.

    The following has been tagged for some future spoilers and answers that were not previously discussed in the series. Recommended that this be read after the last two episodes instead. – Zephyr

    Show Spoiler ▼

    As Kyousuke reached his limit, the other NPC and animals also disappeared at last, creating an eerily quiet atmosphere as Riki learns the truth. This would also explain why Kanata, Sasami, Belka and Strelka et al were no longer seen in recent episodes, as they’re a part of the subconscious of other people, and with their departure, they too would disappear.

    • December 14, 2013 at 11:55 pmechykr

      Genuinely puzzled at the two downvotes here. For I’ve said nothing offensive or insulting to the spirit of the moving episode, unless people consider the comparison to Inception offensive, which I find quite absurd.

      • December 15, 2013 at 7:56 amReader

        To quote Enzo, “Most of the secret is obviously revealed now”. Most, not all of it. No idea why you’re talking about the “spirit of the moving episode”, but your post contains confirmations of guesses along with other unmarked VN spoilers (albeit “minor” ones), and that’s why I downvoted it.

      • December 15, 2013 at 8:05 amZephyr

        Yeah, some of your comment contains stuff that has not been discussed or mentioned yet in the series proper (and will be in the future). Whether that is speculation or not, the way it was worded seems to imply some kind of spoiler, which is why the downvotes (probably).

        I’ve spoilered part of your post in an abundance of caution just in case though, if you don’t mind.

      • December 15, 2013 at 8:02 pmechykr

        Reader, first of all, thank you for actually bothering to come on and explain why you have disagreed with me. This internet idea of people passively/lazily disagreeing without giving any reasons has never sat well with me. Maybe I’m getting old.

        Anyway, with all due respect, you and Zephyr’s allegation about my post containing spoilers is totally errorneous and unfounded. What I have said is simply an extrapolation of what has been shown so far.

        For those of us who know the story, posting on LB threads without the intention to spoil AT ALL feels like one of those frustrating to understand traffic rules concerning parking your car, where the rules are totally arbitrary and undefined regarding spoilers. Just when you think you’ve parked your car properly, you find you’ve earned a parking ticket for no reason.

  • December 14, 2013 at 9:48 pmQQ

    A VN veteran here. Thought this episode would simply be a small renewal of emotions for me but nope… twas waterworks all the way. Kengo’s and Kyousuke’s farewells were just too much to handle. The only thing I would’ve liked better was if Masato’s farewell had been done akin to the VN’s; more straight forward, sans blushing. It struck me really hard in the VN hearing Masato’s serious but honest farewell.

    Angel Beats hit me right in the feels. Clannad AS made me tear up during Tomoya’s reconciliation with his dad. But the only time I’ve straight up cried during an anime would via Little Busters.

    • December 14, 2013 at 10:44 pmGilgamesh92

      Yeah it was great. The only problem just like you said was Masato. But his character was pretty much changed in the whole anime. VN Masato is one of my favorite characters but anime Masato…

      That aside Kyousuke got me just like he always does.

  • December 14, 2013 at 11:05 pmVladz0r

    If you guys want, check out my gallery- http://imgur.com/a/fSJLK
    It’s full of symbolism, foreshadowing, and some explanations for stuff.

    • December 15, 2013 at 2:01 amechykr

      Good job at the caps. Pretty much covers everything there.

      Most noiceable was Riki waking up while lying on the same position everytime the loop gets reset:
      Beginning of season 1 episode 7, right after Komari’s arc.
      Beginning of season 1 episode 15, right after Mio’s arc.
      Beginning of season 1 episode 19, right after Haruka’s arc. Prior to waking up, Riki even has visions of past loops. As if to make this hint very clear, it even shows Masato up and ready for his brawl with Kengo at the beginning of every loop.
      Beginning of season 1 episode 24, right after Kud’s arc. After waking up, Riki feels somewhat disoriented by the sense of deja vu.

      Season 1 episode 22 showed how other characters besides Riki and Rin are affected by the constant looping world, with Kud becoming aware of herself being in one.

    • December 15, 2013 at 10:44 amstarss


  • December 15, 2013 at 12:08 amTarage

    I hope you are ready for the real world.

  • December 15, 2013 at 12:53 amthedarktower

    even when you think you’re ready for it. it can’t be helped. my heart was…I think I skipped a few beats throughout the episode. and that was one hell of an episode.
    seeing everyone and everything disappear, it tears me apart. my beloved fellows.
    some might say it was too much melodrama and crying at the end. I really don’t think so. LB accompanied us almost 40 eps, in good times, in bad times, it can’t be helped but love those little busters(!) especially looking at Kyousuke, the man who never cried, not a single time. never complained to anyone. the man who bear the burden almost by himself. seeing him like that..how much it means to truly love someone. he has infinite amount of love inside him. so as everyone else in LB.
    if someone had their doubts about what kyousuke was hiding and doubts about some of his actions, they all gone long ago.

    well, we all know now the truth behind those ripples and why they were so important. even throughout S1 you can find ripple’s scenes. it was all about it (this isn’t JoJo) and it was there all along, flickering from time to time.

    2 more eps left.

  • December 15, 2013 at 1:00 amSnooSnoo

    All these god damn ninjas chopping onions in my room ;_;

  • December 15, 2013 at 3:23 amTechim

    If this episode also be known as “The Parting of The Boys”,
    I’m wondering how (VN spoiler) Show Spoiler ▼

  • December 15, 2013 at 3:46 amzeroyuki92

    Well done, JC Staff. Well done.

    Not perfect, but still excellent. Also, Midorikawa Hikaru’s performance is flawless, he made me cried twice in a row these two weeks.

  • December 15, 2013 at 3:51 amTechim

    On another note, Midorikawa Hikaru (VA for Kyousuke both Refrain & Original VN) seems to be really crying at Kyousuke’s farewell scene in Refrain..
    Those who have access to both the episode & the VN should compare those two scenes..
    The crying tone is more obvious in the episode in my opinion.

  • December 15, 2013 at 5:13 amRed HeartGold ZX

    Well done for making me shed more tears than I did back in Clannad Afterstory…

    Sometimes, really, Friendship just beats Romance, and this show shows REAL friendship.

  • December 15, 2013 at 6:40 amedo

    Could you explain me why kanata,sasami,saya were in the fake world too? they were not part of the LB group…

    Also please could you explain me how Mio’s arc is related to all this… I did,’t understan her arc( even tough I liked it)

    • December 15, 2013 at 6:41 amedo

      * didn’t understand

      • December 15, 2013 at 11:31 amedo

        Fine thanks

    • December 15, 2013 at 8:42 amLinkark07

      Kanata and Sasami think of them as NPCs. Saya is another story.

    • December 15, 2013 at 9:03 amzeroyuki92

      Basically all of the other heroine routes are “another chances” for them to solve their regrets in their life. As for Mio, her route was pretty heavy with symbolism so I guess you could rewatch her route again, especially since you already know about Secret of The World and could see her route in another perspective.

    • December 16, 2013 at 6:57 amechykr

      Like I said, it’s like the movie Inception, where the girls fill the world their subconscious, with those of the original Little Busters, with Kyousuke as the Architect.

  • December 15, 2013 at 7:00 amcundc

    Only two series gonna get me to cry at this great moments; Clannad After Story and Little Buster Refrain.

  • December 15, 2013 at 8:43 amGermanguy

    Well, in the end of Season 1, i was thinking the real Accident had something to do with the Burned House, we saw nearly the End. But looks like for Season 2, they build in the Bus Accident

    Well, let us enjoy the Final. Let us Enjoy the end

    • December 15, 2013 at 8:45 amGermanguy

      and that in this World, only Riki was a True “Soul”. All others was only a Imagination of his subconsciousness

      The role for Rin was Love, but that took someone other. Looks like i nearly miss again :)

  • December 15, 2013 at 2:50 pmBlaBlaBla

    Back your bags kids, we’re going on the feel trip

    • December 15, 2013 at 2:51 pmBlaBlaBla


    • December 15, 2013 at 9:30 pmSK

      I hope you booked a van and not a bus.

    • December 16, 2013 at 8:32 amstarss

      Better prepare, kids, or you will find yourself on the waaambulance!

  • December 15, 2013 at 8:37 pmBlueBomberTurbo

    …and not a Kleenex was spared.

  • December 16, 2013 at 11:15 amTakaii

    My brain hurts. I think the loss of liquid from my eye sockets is really getting to me.

  • December 18, 2013 at 3:35 amAndmeuths

    It may be heresy, but I felt that the Parting of the Boys in this episode is far more reminiscent of the Graduation Ceremony of the SSS in Angel Beats, than of Maeda’s older works. I don’t mean this in the emotional sense – Angel Beats couldn’t pull that “trope” off, while Little Busters did, because of pace. I mean this in the thematic sense – in many ways, Little Busters is a spiritual predecessor that Angel Beats tried to succeed.

    For me at least, Little Buster’s Parting of the Boys worked very well.

  • December 19, 2013 at 6:23 amkyurenjo

    Man, I cried a little when I read the VN, but this episode, I cried harder.

    Kyousuke ;_;

    • December 21, 2013 at 11:01 amGermanguy

      Me, too. And i am not an Manga or Game player. I am just an Anime fan

      Beware Men. in Episode 12, you will Cry a lot, too