Saturday, 5 October 2013

Little Busters! Refrain - Episode 1

Just as Clannad had its After Story, so Little Busters has its Refrain, meaning that this autumn sees this Key visual novel adaptation continue as it reunites its cast of students and their baseball team that isn't.

Despite suffering from a strange dream in which someone seemed to be crying out for his help, Naoe awakens to find some fun times ahead, courtesy of the first ever Little Busters pancake party - cue far too much eating and lots of goofing around as the gang have fun together for the first time since the baseball match which closed out the first series.

Of course, this series being what it is drama is never far away, and this time Kurugaya is the centrepiece of it all courtesy of some fellow students who seem to have taken exception to her demeanour and past behaviour and are determined to make her pay.  To get their revenge, the two girls at the forefront of their plot seek out not Kurugaya directly, but instead her friends, targeting Kud and Komai for maximum effect.  The game is soon up however, and to say that Kurugaya is none too pleased at someone trying to bully her friends would be an understatement.  Such is the viciousness of Kurugaya's temper that she and Riki have to run to avoid the attentions of a teacher - an escape which takes them to the broadcasting club's room, in turn triggering a strange memory which Naoe simply can't reconcile as her drops into another bout of narcolepsy.

So, Little Busters is back, and judging by this first episode Refrain still feels like it's inherited a lot of the same problems as its predecessor.  In an opener that feels a little rushed at times, the tonal shift between its light-hearted moments and drama are simply too severe to the point of being jarring, and because of that aforementioned fast pace nothing really has time to sink in to have any impact.  That said, Little Busters did at least have some notable moments within its first season so it's far from a complete write-off, and perhaps if it can recapture some of those more successful efforts over the course of Refrain my early concerns will prove unfounded.

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