Don’t worry, no one drowns or disappears
Oh, Little Busters!. What can I say of you? Well, I can acknowledge that I would’ve found this more exciting if it had aired about two years ago or so, although I’m satisfied to see it at all. I could also mention that I’d forgotten how horribly obnoxious Rin’s voice was in the visual novel (same VA here), but that Rin seems a lot dumber than she did there. I could also talk about the fact that I’m eagerly awaiting the surfacing of an underlying problem for our group of intrepid friends, one that will likely make folks who dislike the element of the supernatural in Clannad scream and tear at their hair (although I’m hoping that it’ll be executed more effectively here than was in Clannad’s adaptations). But, let’s be honest: there’s a massive elephant in the room, and that elephant is named KyoAni.
Right up front, I’ll say, yes, J.C. Staff did a perfectly fine job with this. I will also say that, yes, it probably isn’t entirely fair to expect J.C. Staff to become KyoAni overnight; they’re a studio with quite a bit of their own history under their belt, so of course they will approach LB! differently than KyoAni approached the KeyAni trifecta. Even so, I could nevertheless not shake the, “How would this be if KyoAni was doing it?” feeling throughout the first episode. This escalated to “This would be better if KyoAni had done it.” when I took note of the art and animation. And, quite frankly, there’s really no argument to be had here – it would look better if animated by KyoAni. But its not, and even if I find that a bit disappointing, we might as well move on from it, since that isn’t going to change.
Evaluating the first episode on its own merits as opposed to be experiences with the visual novel, it was a decent if unremarkable episode. I laughed a little bit during the fight scene, and I smiled a little watching the kids vanquish the wasps’ nest. I like that we’ve got an anime who seems to have finally figured out the trick to having a lead whose lack of ultra-manliness doesn’t necessitate him being a total loser and waste of space – Riki’s obviously meeker than his other male friends, but he’s on completely equal footing with them. He is also our catalyst for the initial formation of the baseball team. So woohoo for that.
Some folks have made a lot of noise about LB! feeling dated versus newer visual novel adaptations, but as I’m not big on any newer visual novel adaptations of this stripe (i.e. dating sims for dudes), I didn’t find this bothersome at all. I suspect that fans of the KeyAni trifecta won’t take issue with this, either. We’ll take a Kanon any day over a Mashiro-iro Symphony or a Yosuga no Sora, thanks.
Do I really need to give a recommendation on whether to watch this or not? I think most of us already have tried it, and those who haven’t either haven’t gotten the time yet, or are never going to watch his sort of show regardless of what I say. If you’re on the fence about it, give it a go – its less than half an hour of your life you’ll spend on it, after all, and its decent enough that you aren’t going to want to claw your eyes loose afterward.