Little Busters! ~Refrain~ Episode 11: The End of the World
That was so emotional… FEELS EVERYWHERE ;_; I had chills right from the start, but it was only during Kyousuke’s pitch that I really started tearing up. Even though the artificial world did involve a great deal of suffering for Kyousuke, the Little Busters had fun, happy times as well – and in bolstering Riki’s success and growth, Kyousuke is also instigating the end of those times, forcing their cruel reality ever closer. His final moments walking around the school were so poignant… I was reminded of all those scenes where he’s shown in isolation, foreshadowing the huge burden he was carrying.
This episode was literally the end of the world – for whatever reason, Kyousuke’s power to maintain it is waning, and slowly everything’s falling apart. The people and cats have all disappeared, and the original five members of the Little Busters are the only ones left in the world. I found it very fitting that everything ended with baseball – after all, that’s how it started to begin with. It very much reminded me of the final scenes of Angel Beats (another Key work), where everyone moves on from the afterlife after fulfilling all their personal wishes – here however, the three of them move on after facilitating Riki and Rin’s growth. “Was my life… a happy one?” Kengo asks, before realizing that just like the others, he’s had the time of his life. It only made things even more touching to see a usually stoic guy break down completely, as he’s been doing more often recently. They’re all happy to see Riki mature, albeit alongside a lot of sadness in the knowledge that, in the real world, they didn’t survive the accident. I’m actually going to contest that thought – firstly, Kyousuke’s still alive somewhere near the crash site after having stopped the gas leak, and secondly, it’d be far too gruesome if they end up killing off the entire cast save for Riki and Rin. I don’t want any of them to die!
Speaking of death and accidents, Kyousuke’s finally revealed the secret of the world straight up. The bus accident that involved members of a certain “school” was indeed their own school, with the members (presumably) being the Little Busters among others. Masato and Kengo protect Riki and Rin, and they’re the only two to survive – but they won’t be able to handle the carnage and destruction awaiting them. As they were at the start of the first season, the despair would have probably left them mindbroken, Rin most of all. “We created a world just for the two of you,” says Kyousuke (using the special Key magic also featured in Clannad and Kanon) and they all repeated that one semester over and over again. It’s actually a really clever way to incorporate lots of routes into one story – it gives the VN reader small pieces of the puzzle with each playthrough, which culminates in a final Refrain route at the end. Most stories don’t do that, and their diverging route branches are completely alternate worlds that never ever meet.
So Riki’s remembered it all, and it’s time for him to move forward at last – I admit, the real world awaiting them beyond the school gates is what I’m anticipating the most! Just as a side note, have a look at Vladz0r’s amazing compilation of all the symbolism and foreshadowing in this season surrounding the secret of the world. It restores my faith in J.C. Staff even further – it’s those little things like making Kyousuke, Masato and Kengo appear from thin air in the OP (while Riki and Rin don’t) that really impress me.