Recap: This week Komari’s story comes to close as her sad back story is fully revealed. Whenever she sees someone or something die she remembers that her brother is gone, and breaks down. Komari is unable to face the truth head on so instead she finds her finds solace in forgetting that it ever happened. In the past Komari in her broken state believed her brothers lie that it was all a dream, just like the picture book he drew for her.
Unable to bear the thought of leaving Komari the way she is Riki creates an updated version of the picture book where the hen remembers everything, and the story continues on. Riki uses this book to force Komari to realize the truth. He tells her that together with the rest of the Little Busters they can overcome her sadness, and return her smile. In the end her bright smile is returned, and everyone is happy.
Lifesong’s Thoughts: This episode did some good things, and it also did some things very poorly. Maybe I am just being particularly heartless, but I can’t help feeling that something is very off here with Komari. Stuff like allowing a child who literally has a mental breakdown whenever she sees someone die volunteer at a retirement home seems like a stretch for one, but I can get over that one. Maybe they don’t know? Seems unlikely.. Maybe they know her situation, and make sure to avoid letting her get attached to the dying folks, or keep it a secret from her or something?
Little Busters tries to do something poetic with the picture book, but the execution was just all wrong. All the right pieces are here, but try as I might I can’t find anything to like about the way Komari was handled. For me this episode felt like watching a piece of high grade poetry get dropped into a meat grinder, and watching while the pieces splatter the wall in a grotesque display. I think the real problem here is that the pacing is turned up to 220% for this episode, and scenes that should be meaningful such as when Komari drops the picture book into the pool of water wind up feeling rushed, cutting off the intended emotional impact.
Now it’s not that I hate Komari quite the opposite actually, and I did still find things to enjoy about this episode, but this is probably the worst sad girl in snow story that I’ve seen in anime form; I can’t praise Little Busters for placing last. I like what this story tried to do by connecting the picture book with Komari, but they botched it. Instead of connecting us the heroine emotionally the episode rushed through events in a painfully unbelievable fashion.
In the end connections where had in the episode, but they came in the form of the rest of the Little Busters cast. Riki drawing an expanded picture book worked nicely to give us a connection to him, but it failed to connect us with the heroine. I honestly had more feelings for Riki’s dedication than Komari’s sadness herself, and Rin’s concern was more heartfelt than any of Komari’s tears. Muscle-Chan, and the rest also prove to be bros in their own way, and even Yuiko helps out in her own way. Little Busters brought the cast together very nicely in that sense it’s just a shame Komari herself was sacrificed as a mechanic to draw out the best in the rest of the cast.
I’ve continued reading the visual novel this past week. I am not quite up to the point where the date with Komari happens, but I think I am getting close now. The more I read the more I wonder how many of the existing Little Busters fans are being overly forgiving of this anime due to already knowing the characters. What I mean by that is while reading the visual novel there are common theme’s that are obvious, and apparent between each of the characters as they are introduced. Those same introductions are very similar in the anime, but a deal of that common unifying common thread just isn’t noticeable in the anime, or gets such a brief nod in passing that it’s almost impossible to catch unless you know what to look for.
I re-watched Kurugaya’s intro scene from the anime right after reading it in the visual novel. Kurugaya feel like a one-dimensional oneesan archetype in the anime, but she is established as a kindred spirit to Kyousuke in the visual novel. The anime feels completely chaotic, and aimless where the visual novel feels structured with a heavy emphasis on the theme of friendship, and individuality. I’ve found the same thing with Sasami, and Kud. In the anime their introductions establish nothing, and are just comedic fluff. In the visual novels we get hints of how their personalities fit in right off the bat. I know that things need to be cut, but I can’t help feel that poor directing is working to cause some serious adaption decay that any existing fans may not even notice.
So I had some harsh words this episode, but I am still looking forward to the rest. This is probably the first episode I would actually call bad, but honestly thanks to the visual novel I am able to keep my enthusiasm for this anime from dropping even when I don’t like a particular episode. What do the rest of you think? Am I crazy for thinking this adaption is gutting the story, and disliking the director for it? I will admit part of my basis comes from watching Sakurasou each week which is quite obviously J.C. Staff’s A team while Little Busters has been given to the B team both in terms of animation, and directing, but I think it’s been a legitimate problem. But hey, next episode is another route right? Hopefully this one will pan out better.