「リトルバスターズ！EX」 (Ritoru Basutaazu! EX)
“Little Busters! EX”
Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?
The second episode of Little Busters! EX is very much more of the same. The same as the first episode, that is, which is quite a bit different than either season of LitBus the TV series. There still isn’t much of the original cast, there’s quite a bit of moderate Saya fanservice, and a very silly and wholly unbelievable plot which manages to be pretty entertaining in spite of that. I can’t imagine anyone being too surprised by what they’re getting here, for better or worse (mostly better), if they’ve seen the first ep.
I won’t speak for anyone else, but for me but the reason the extreme ridiculousness of the premise doesn’t bother me is that Key is making it very clear it’s very much not the main point (I’ve no idea if that’s as true of the other two EX heroines’ arcs). It’s an excuse to put Riki in new fun and embarrassing situations and to have him interact with a girl quite unlike any of the regular crew. I mentioned last time that it seemed as if there were elements of intentional parody in this story, and seeing a takeoff on Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with hissing cobras and giant boulders, doesn’t do anything to dissuade me of that view.
Given all that, I think you have to take any character-related stuff in context – it’s not like this is supposed to be realistic – but one of the things that strikes me is much the same as in the original series, namely that Riki is quite a good sport. He’s a pretty unusual MC for this sort of VN in that he pretty much gets by on being patient, good-natured, sweet and somewhat bolder and braver than your first impressions might indicate. In fact it’s no secret that Riki actually has some elements of a traditional female lead, but this strange mish-mosh of traits works very well in making him an appealing center for the madness around him without (usually) stealing too much of the spotlight for himself.
As for Saya, I’ll confess there’s a bit too much of the old-school 2000’s anime tsundere there for my tastes – I wasn’t a huge fan of the trope when it was the biggest thing in anime, and it hasn’t aged like a fine wine. We’ve seen this brash tough girl laid low by plushies and hunger pangs a thousand times before, and there’s really nothing new added to the pot here. But Saya’s not an especially egregious example of the trope – she doesn’t get physically violent with Riki at the drop of a hat (though she did try and assassinate him twice in the first episode), and her cute side actually is fairly cute.
As for the plot, which certainly exists even if it’s a “premise” in the truest sense of the word, it still finds Riki and Saya adventuring under the school looking for her treasure, dodging traps and Executives of Darkness. It’s basically characters in a VN playing a RPG, and the headline here is the bonding the two of them do as the dangerous mission starts to become fun. The onsen scene is definitely one of those “so cliche it must be parody” moments, especially given how absurd it was in context – I’m definitely happier assuming it was, anyway, because I found it hilarious. And of course, the MacGuffin is that Riki definitely knew Saya (and the other two EX girls) as children – the twist is that he’s starting to remember it now. He even says he “loved” Saya, and her reaction when he asks her about it seems to indicate it’s as big a deal as one might assume based on the OP and ED.
Author’s note: You know the drill by now – please, no VN spoilers whatsoever outside spoiler tags! Please let those of us watching this play out for the first time enjoy the experience of being surprised.