Little Busters! has just been officially released on Steam this month, and boy am I glad that fans of anime and visual novel (VN) will now be able to experience what I personally hold to be Jun Maeda’s greatest creation, in HD!
© Key/Visual Art’s
The anime fanbase would be familiar with Jun Maeda as the creator of feelsy stuff like Clannad and Angel Beats!. As a brief background, he is a VN writer, and one of the co-founders of the VN studio, Key.
Little Busters! is the studio’s sixth work. Its first edition was released in 2006, which had six heroine routes followed by a culminating arc called Refrain.” Another few editions of the game had additional three routes, accessible after Refrain. Before the Steam release, only the first edition was fan-translated.
Established fans of the VN may check out the Steam release for the extra stories and visual upgrades, but anyone looking for an excellent (and emotionally moving ofc) visual novel would certainly want to pick this up! ₱750 is understandably pricey, but not quite a bad price for such a massive game.
As for the story, this one puts friendship and youth into the limelight, like how Clannad does with family. The protagonist, Riki, spends his time with his wacky group of childhood friends led by a certain Kyousuke. One time, he proposed that they form a baseball (heh) team and call themselves the titular Little Busters, but there’s only five of them, so they have to look for more members. Because this is a romance visual novel, he ends up scouting a harem of cute girls. There are also nice mini-games that are legit engaging and not annoying.
Aside from that, there are also some mysteries surrounding some “secret of the world.” Also, feels ensue because this is Key we’re talking about.
That’s all I can say about the story without massively spoiling it. As a couple of caveats, the common route is long and not for the impatient, and the art can be acquired taste. I mean
Ahem. Beyond that, there’s a lot to look forward from this one. The six heroines routes are all well-written and meaningful, and there’s a lot to love from them. I’m especially very fond of Kurugaya and Komari routes: the former is a compelling romance that subverts gendered expectations (to be fair, the VN isn’t exactly the pinnacle of feminism, but seeing this route is great), while the latter is standard but beautifully written drama. The others are that of Rin, Mio, Haruka, and Kudryavka, and they’re all neat in their own way. I have yet to check out the three additional routes though.
The real meat of the story, however, is in Refrain, which is focused on the aforementioned central five characters, and one of the only three routes that Maeda wrote here. Yeah. Feels hit the fan and tears will be shed. This is a riveting tale of friendship as they try to help each other so they can move forward even if tragedy abounds them. *sniffle*
It also helps that, unlike Clannad (I’m so sorry), Little Busters! ties itself neatly in the ending, making sure that its conclusion feels earned, which is great.
So, if you are looking for an emotionally moving VN to read perhaps after Finals, this is definitely worth checking out!