ajthefourth: First, a housekeeping announcement. Otou-san will not be here this week due to the fact that he has become a real-life dad, as opposed to a figurative one to all of us in the anime blogging community. He will be back in due time. What this means for this week is decidedly less vitriol, unfortunately, and a mystery guest that I dragged in here, kicking and screaming, who will be introduced in a few moments.
*Myst catches a rubber ducky* “What am I supposed to do with this!?”
*AJ catches a longsword* “Where did this come from? Ah well, let’s go with it.”
Myst: There has been a noticeable lack of direction in the narrative of Little Busters! these first three episodes.
We have some kind of plot in the quest to form a baseball team, but Kyousuke has admitted that the “Little Busters” could really be anything. Baseball was chosen on a whim, and is no more important than the drama club was to the over-arching story of Clannad. Gathering a group under the pretense of a specific goal is merely a plot device for the coming together of important characters and serves as a backdrop for the greater narrative of the story. However, in the case of Little Busters!, the greater narrative is almost non-existent because the protagonist of the story, Riki, is so inactive.
Unlike the other Key leads, who all are searching for something, Riki is content. He is happy where he is. However, the lack of any kind of desire makes him a passive character and an odd choice for the person that is supposed to be the protagonist. Other than the gravitational force he seems to exhibit on girls floating around school, Riki’s role has been limited to that of an observer because he is largely overshadowed by the bigger force in the show. Kyousuke is the one at the center of everything. He is the one driving the baseball plot forward. You might even say that the Kyousuke is like the protagonist, as the story and the school seems to revolve around him. Except that he isn’t, because Riki is the protagonist. Riki is the lens through which we see the story, but his role is almost non-existent while Kyousuke is present.
What I am expecting is that at some point in the not-too-distant future, Kyousuke will be removed from the story in order to give Riki room to grow. As long as Kyousuke remains in the picture his presence restricts Riki’s character. The two of them have a kind of mentor-student relationship, but that’s also why it is so important that he is removed. It is unorthodox for a Key story, but the most plausible narrative to emerge would be about how the effeminate and weak Riki graduates from his passive position into the kind of character that first reached out to him after he had lost his parents. Intentional or not, I think Kyousuke is going to be the catalyst for Riki’s character to grow.
On the subject of getting rid of characters, I’ve personally got my fingers crossed for a “disappearance” by Komari. The odds of that happening are low, but I think we can all agree that the less of her we see the better.
ajthefourth: Now, now, this is Key we’re talking about. Perhaps a part of the plot to squeeze tears from its audience will involve Little Busters! giving Komari an untimely disappearance. Tears will not be shed on my end, if this is the case.
My partner touches upon the splitting of the protagonist role, which is a curious choice. In previous Key works (and in most visual novel narratives) the male lead is both the driving force behind the plot and the insert character for the audience to immerse themselves into the story. Little Busters! has chosen to separate these two roles between the characters of Kyousuke and Riki respectively, but only focuses on Riki as the true protagonist, leaving Kyousuke as a sort of shadow protagonist or pure catalyst.
If it is a deliberate choice, the question of, “To what end is this separation preparing its audience for?” arises. Watching Little Busters! has become tedious due to the fact that Riki is a willing participant, generally happy, and is not the one driving the story forward. By choosing to primarily follow Riki, Little Busters! is also, to some extent, removing the audience from the driver’s seat. Like Riki, the audience is observing and simply letting things happen to them instead of feeling like an active participant in the proceedings. The series’ shift into a more slice-of-life perspective creates an active dissonance with the nature of a visual novel’s idea of the player character.
Again, the dread specter of “potential” looms over Little Busters! in this narrative shift. It could set the audience, and Riki, up for an emotionally-fulfilling story later on. If Kyousuke is preparing Riki for some mysterious purpose, and Riki’s narrative involves him genuinely getting stronger, it could be interesting. As it stands right now, it’s seems to be spinning its wheels aimlessly.