Final Review: Little Busters (Season 1?)

Little Busters! is based on a school life, romance visual novel by Key. Unlike its previous titles, Little Busters! is animated by J.C. Staff instead of Kyoto Animation, which of course caused much outrage prior to the beginning of the series. However, J.C. Staff and co. promised to deliver a “full and faithful” adaptation of the of Little Busters! visual novel. Little Busters! ran from Fall 2012 through Winter 2012/2013. It was simulcasted half way through its run by CrunchyRoll and licensed by Sentai Filmworks. A sequel anime adaptation, Little Busters! Refrain has been announced for production.

Little Busters! is a show many visual novel fans came in with low expectations. Key visual novels are often difficult to adapt due to their long (albeit linear) story branches and so in the hands of J.C. Staff, it raised many eyebrows. One thing, however, is J.C. Staff has thus far stayed “faithful” to some extent in animating the visual novel by picking on some of the nook and cranny aspects of the visual novel (insert Riki Trap here). Unfortunately, it’s approach is a bit lopsided. The show starts off as generally as bland with lackluster humor. While gathering the members of the Little Busters! team takes time, it jumps immediately into heroine arcs, most notably Komari’s arc from the get go and progresses from there. The arcs are generally quick to wrap up which makes it hard to really associate with any character despite hitting on the “main” aspects of them. Overall, the arcs remain mostly rush jobs than anything else. Little Busters! is not something that can be animated in a measly 26 episodes so unless J.C. Staff has some way of really generating traction with the character development/interactions in season 2, I don’t really see them dwelling into many more characters aside from Rin, Kud, and the Ecstasy cast (if at all), which they had hinted at a number of times this run through. Conclusion wise, it’s certainly open but felt more like a filler end after wrapping up Kud’s arc. The preview to the second season foreshadowed what parts they planned to animate but again, the traction with the characters were relatively poor this time around as is.

Art is generally weak. The scenery can be beautiful at times but rather inconsistent. Character designs stick pretty close to their original counterparts though their sketches are often rough. Animation is mostly basic unless it involves Kud spinning. J.C. Staff continue to not improve their general animation quality despite doing even fewer shows over the past year.

OP/ED are remixes of the main visual novel OP/ED. Nice that they kept both and I generally didn’t have a problem with the remixes. Some of the background music are also kept from the original visual novel but it sounded like they abused certain tracks more than others. The variety didn’t seem that great. Sound effects are basic. Seiyuu wise, I’m pretty sure they retained most of the original cast, which is a very nice touch. It’s actually rare to see this happen for a large cast so that’s a major plus in terms of sticking to the source. Whether it meant they spent the budget in the wrong place is another matter.

Enjoyment? Little Busters! had ups and downs. Some arcs were decent while others were a really big drag to watch, most notably the first few episodes. To be honest, I still think Yosuga no Sora’s approach in terms of visual novel anime adaptations or even Amagami SS’s approach are quite good as they keep the visual novel like feel while making proper branches in the character stories. It doesn’t really make sense to always attempt to weave it all together as it may only opens up questions such as “In arc A, event X happened yet in arc B, they treat it like a continuation but at the same time not.” That said, Little Busters! has pretty poor transitions. It clearly indicates the end of an arc but it often just goes off on a weird tangent afterwards (or even mid-arc).

Overall, Little Busters! is indeed a disappointment as expected. It lacked any sort of impact that AIR, Kanon 2002 and 2006, or CLANNAD anime adaptations had and I should note that I didn’t really enjoy CLANNAD both visual novel and anime. While Little Busters! has a sequel coming (soon?) I can’t really say I have a motivation to watch it despite it being the more “drama” heavy portion. It’s not terrible, but the adaptation has thus far lacked steam to keep it moving consistently despite the fact that it’s difficult to animate a 50+ hour visual novel. Given that Key has began to open up its options in who can adapt their works, I only fear what will happen to Rewrite as I enjoyed that series even more than Little Busters! and that it’s much longer.


Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Generic. Attempts to be funny but unsuccessful
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Lacking in emotions
  • Character Development (1.5/2): It’s there but feels shallow and rushed.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Some characters kind of just disappear after their arc is finished.
  • Pacing: (0/1): Poor
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2): Everything except Kud’s escape. While cool, seems unrealistic.
  • Conclusion (0/1): Kind of just hangs there
  • Total: 4/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Inconsistent
  • Character Designs (1/2): Close to the source. Inconsistent
  • Fluidity (1/2): Basic.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Seems overly washed out for no reason.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Bakuman 3 had better quality this season. I think that tells you where Little Busters! ranks.
  • Total: 5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): Possibly the strongest point of the series?
  • Background Music (1/2): From the visual novel but certain tracks abused
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): From the original visual novel.
  • Total: 7/10


  • Amusement (1/2): Some good stuff at times. Can be overly repetitive
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Certain arcs where nice like Mio’s and Kud’s. Haruka’s arc as also not bad. Komari’s was just plain bad.
  • Presentation: (0/2): Feels like a mess. Random filler like episodes (though they were in the game) inserted in the most arbitrary locations.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Nope
  • Recommendation (0/2): Kanon 2002 and 2006 does this better. Yosuga no Sora and Amagami SS are effectively the new model examples of how to adapt multiple routes of a visual novel.
  • Value (0/1): Not really…Unless Saya “truly” appears
  • Total: 2/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 5/10

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