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Visual Novel: Little Busters!

"What 'Adolescence' do you have?
Do you remember 'Childhood'?
This will remind you that you have to recollect 'Adolescence'.
The irreplaceable one existed there."

Little Busters! is Key Visual Arts' sixth Visual Novel. Like CLANNAD and Planetarian, it is entirely "clean", although an "adult" version titled Little Busters! Ecstasy (also known as Little Busters! EX) was released which featured additional heroines.

Little Busters! tells the story of protagonist Riki Naoe, who is a member of the titular Little Busters, a group consisting of four boys and one girl who have all been close friends since childhood. The other members are the leader Kyousuke, his shy and quiet sister Rin, the muscle-obsessed Masato and the kendo user Kengo. The story begins one day in the Little Busters' second year of high school, when they decide to play a game of baseball but need more players. Riki recruits five new girls to join them: childlike Komari, troublemaker Haruka, big-sisterly Yuiko, frail Mio, and But Not Too Foreign Kudryavka.

And thus begins a laid-back and certainly not horribly depressing Dating Sim-type Visual Novel with a touch of Fighting Game, wherein you (as Riki) try to befriend the various girls, while getting into fights with the other Little Busters and several other people at your school. Or at least, they'd like you to think that's what it is. But it's Key Visual Arts, so of course there's more to it than that.

(Before reading the list of tropes, note that some of them are, in and of themselves, spoilers.)

Not to be confused with the song by the pillows that was featured in FLCL

The characters sheet is under heavy construction here.

Little Busters finally got an anime adaptation that began airing in October 2012 and is animated by JC Staff. Viewers living in the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, and Scandinavia may watch the anime legally at Crunchyroll. A second season titled Little Busters! ~Refrain~ aired during the Fall 2013 Anime season, and an adaptation for Ecstasy will be released as a series of OVA episodes bundled with the Refrain DVDs and Blu-rays. The adaption, entitled Little Busters EX, will be composed of eight episodes. There will be seven volumes of Refrain released in all, and one episode will be released with each volume (except for the final volume, which will contain the final two episodes). The first volume and thus the first EX episode is set to be released on the 29th of January, 2014.

This game provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert - Riki
  • Alpha Bitch - Sasami
  • All Just a Dream - Almost the entire story takes place in a dream world formed by the Little Busters as they lay about to die in the real world, minus Riki and Rin, with Kyousuke directing the world and Masato and Kengo acting as his subordinates to keep the plan going. The events of the girl's routes appear to be based on wishes or desires of theirs.
    • Or Was It a Dream? - But is that all there is to it? Taking a closer look at Kud's route implies that the rioting in her home country already took place and the shuttle already failed with her having her mother's dog tag and a half melted gear. So those wishes and desires appear to based on real events. Taking that into account, some routes like Kurugaya's, Mio's and Kud's only seem possible in the Dream World, since they involve a lot of symbolism and Mind Screw. Haruka's and Komari's are the opposite, since these routes use little to no symbolism and throw the harsh reality in the faces of the characters. Yet even Kurugaya's route, one that surely takes place in the dream world, explicitly has a post Refrain epilogue/alternate ending! How much of the story only happened inside the dream world, how much outside it? Of course, Ecstasy goes the other route with Sasami's route taking place post Refrain, and Saya's route being entirely in the dream world.
      • To add even more Mind Screw into it, Kanata's route in Ecstasy goes the same way Haruka's and Komari's, i.e., it's down to earth without supernatural things happening, but Sasami's, even if set after Refrain, uses quite a bit,since she transforms into a cat and can't turn back anywhere but in Riki's room.
    • It can also apply to the epilogue: Did Riki and Rin really save everyone via a reset button to the moment of the crash, or did they just build a new dream world more stable than the last? One that wouldn't collapse with a few minor contradictions like Kyousuke's.
      • Kyousuke denies that theory in the Drama Disc, but it's plausible that Kyousuke wouldn't be able to detect it, given that he didn't create that world (after all, Riki had no idea that he'd been in a dream world the whole time).
  • Alternate Universe - Almost the whole story (including all the girls routes) is set on one.
    • Except for Sasami's route, in Ecstasy, that happens after the events of Refrain.
  • Animal Motif - Komari has one for every Little Busters member - Kyousuke (Wolf), Masato (Bear), Kengo (Tiger), Rin (Kitty), Komari (Penguin), Kurugaya (Leopard), Haruka (Duck), Kud (Puppy), Mio (Owl), Riki (Pelican)
  • Apocalypse How - Haruka thinks of this when cleaning too much.
  • Arc Words - Do you know the secret of the world?
  • Ascended Extra - Kanata and Sasami went from supporting characters to heroines with their own routes in the Ecstasy version of the game.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family - Haruka's family. Though it's unclear how much of this is real and how much of it is exaggeration in Haruka's mind. For example, in the game world, she goes to Riki's class to escape the class with Futaki in it, but in reality, Futaki is in the same class, or she would not have been on the bus. It would explain why the family and its crazy, arbitrary rules sometimes head into cartoon villainy territory.
  • Bishounen - Kyousuke
    • Riki, heck even Kyousuke calls him cute, and when he is forced to crossdress, he looks like a girl (those twintail wigs from Saya help too)!
  • Bleached Underpants: Inverted with Ecstasy, which added graphic sex scenes to a previously all ages game. And then played straight with the PS2, PSP and PSV versions, along with a limited edition rerelease of the PC version - they have all the extra routes and other content of Ecstasy, excluding all of the porn.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After a "Mission Failed" screen shows up:
    Riki : No, we weren't on a mission.
  • Bi the Way: Riki seriously admits, on several occasions, that he does indeed feel romantic love towards Kyousuke. This makes him either bisexual or at least Kyousuke-sexual.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Saya Tokido's true route turns out to be this. She even comments on it when they finally find the treasure. While she still takes her own life, it is implied that Kyousuke either activated a "time machine" after all similar to the supposed "reset button", or the combined strength of Saya and Riki's wishes created a more stable dream world for her. Either way, her soul gets to live out the life she wanted.
  • Broken Bridge: Riki lampshades on how he's just like an RPG protagonist who can't cross a river with anything other than a bridge when he finds himself in a situation where he is mysteriously unable to exit the school.
  • But Thou Must - When Saya asks Riki about his opinion on Kyousuke (and subsequently, how it would turn out if she challenges him). Riki mercilessly lampshades on it after both "choices". Kengo will overrule you if you say you don't want to go to Kyousuke's room when he's bored, and at another point you are asked if you want to go to town with Kyousuke and can refuse up to three times before you're still forced to go anyway.
  • Catch Phrase - "Mission Start!"
  • Cerebus Retcon - A few, naturally. Some of the easiest examples are realizing the actual significance of several scenes in the opening song.
  • Cerebus Syndrome - Once you reach the 1/3 mark or so of Rin's route (which can't be reached until all of the other routes have already been completed) things start going wrong and apart from some brief high points in the first half of Refrain only get steadily worse and worse until the very end.
  • Chekhov's Gun - In the anime, if Riki mentions narcolepsy you can pretty much guarantee he'll be out by the end of the episode.
  • Chick Magnet - For once not limited to the protagonist. In fact, Kengo and Kyousuke are both more popular. Kurugaya says he attracts people that want to mother him rather than Kengo's stoicism and strength and Kyousuke's good looks and innocence.
  • Childhood Friends - The eponymous Little Busters are five childhood friends and more or less inseparable.
  • Class Trip: Kickstarts the whole plot. Not that we find out until near the very end.
  • Cry Cute: Haruka
  • Cuteness Proximity - Yuiko when it comes to anything Moe
    • In one battle scene of her vs Komari, after Komari starts calling her Yui-chan, Hilarity Ensues.
    • The manga version explains the scene further.
  • Defeat Means Friendship - Kyousuke and Rin were able to recruit Masato to Little Busters by defeating him when they're all young. Riki lampshades on this when he hears of it. And then he and Rin re-recruits Masato to their cause via the same way, and Kengo too.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Bits and pieces here and there, but the award goes to a scene in Haruka's route before they go to fix the bench.
    Haruka : "Wanna do 'it' with me?"
    Riki : "Do what?"
    Haruka : "When I say 'it', I mean 'it'. First it's like 'nnh', then there's 'hnng', and then its time for the sticky stuff."
    Riki : "nnh, then hnng, then sticky?"
    Haruka : "And it'll feel really good~"
  • Downer Ending - Kurugaya Yuiko's route ends in failure the first reading as a way of giving the reader more information about the story. There is an alternate True Ending after the game has been completed, however. Also, the first ending is slightly ambiguous anyway, so not a complete downer.
    • The endings of Rin's routes (both the first playthrough and second) are complete downers. Good thing there's refrain after that...
      • In fact, the 'Rin epilogue' after refrain is the most horrific downer of them all. At least, there is the option of romance with Rin in the final (general) ending.
  • Driven by Envy - In the beginning of Kurugaya's route, the nicest of the three girls trying (and failing) to bully her is doing it because she's friends with Riki and likes him herself. So she envies Kurugaya and tries to drive the two apart.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The dungeon that Saya's route features needs to be passed through twice to access the end. The game is merciful enough not let the player pass through it a third time - by giving Saya a heavy machine gun that she uses to simply blast through every floor by making an entrance with it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending - In the final ending for the game, everyone is rescued, but it requires you to have Riki live through the 'real' events where the bus crash killed everyone but him and Rin, and then fix that reality so they all live.
  • Everybody Lives: Apart from Miyuki Koshiki, who committed suicide before the story begins, Riki and Rin manage to save everyone in the end.
  • Fan Translation: The people at TLWiki released a full English patch for the Windows game on December 18 2011.
    • It's good to warn that the patch is for the original version of the VN and works only partially with the EX/ME versions.
  • Final Speech - Kengo and Masato to Riki, after Kyousuke revealing the secrets of the world they are living in
  • Fission Mailed - The whole point of the 'replay' part of Saya's route. Arguably the point of the first playthrough of her route too.
  • Foreshadowing: Heaps.
    • When Masato hears that Kengo has been talking with a girl on a bunch at the back of the school, he suggests that he and Riki go scare them by tipping it over, and when Kengo complains, Masato tells him that he'd probably be okay even if he fell off a roof. Every common route except the first, he dives from the school roof to save his friend from committing suicide and is pretty much unharmed.
    • Each time you start the game again after completing a route, Riki and Rin's stats get higher, and there are lots of little changes in the common route scenes and dialogue. Specifically, Rin gets better at dealing with people. this foreshadows the fact that the routes all happen in succession as repeated timelines and that the purpose of the timelines is to make them more independent.
    • In Haruka's route, she and Riki have a conversation in which she reveals how sad she is that they won't be able to go on a fun field trip together where they can just talk and enjoy themselves. He assumes she means that they won't be able to do that because she's in a different class. Thus it foreshadows that the field trip is important for much, much more serious reasons as well as why Haruka snuck on to his class's bus instead of going on her own.
    • And, of course, the whole story about the 'other school' and the terrible field trip bus crash Kyousuke tells in Rin's route literally tells you the main facts underlying Refrain potentially as early as an hour or two into the first route.
  • Funny Background Event: In episode four of the anime Kengo can be seen approaching a doorway, seeing Haruka arguing with Masato, and turning around and walking away without saying a word.
    • And again in episode 24, as the group members one by one jump on board with Rin's plans for a puppet show, Haruka holds her "shocked" pose for almost a full minute, even after Kud is standing in front of her.
  • From Bad to Worse: Rin2 is pretty much made of this. Things start off in a worrying way, but the more Riki tries to fix things the worse things get.
  • Girl Posse - Sasami's trio of softball juniors.
  • Go Out with a Smile - Same as Final Speech
    • And Episode 4 of the second season, Refrain in the anime, when Haruka, Mio, and Kud leave the dream world.
  • Guide Dang It - Saya Route. There are so much Failure Is the Only Option in it, it's not even funny.
    • The first time you go through Rin's route, the end screen tells you to go back and make the choice you didn't made before. You think the game is telling you to start again and go through her route again using different choices, right? Nope. If you actually do this you discover that there's no choice screen at all at that point. You have to go through her route for the second time only after completing the other girls routes, so Riki can make the choice in question... automatically. Let Rin go to another school.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop - Everything up to Refrain.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners - Riki, Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo are this, it comes with being Childhood Friends.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Masato and Kengo protected Riki and Rin from getting knocked out in the bus accident, and Kyousuke blocked a leak of gasoline (that would've caused an explosion) with his own body.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight - In Saya's route, she keeps watch on Riki's baseball practices while hiding behind a wooden barrel in a large grass field. It's kind of hard to say if she's trying hard to hide, though, considering that if the ball goes nearby her she'll come out and shoot the ball with her gun. It's pretty amusing how nobody ever catches on at all.
    • Even more amusing since one of her own phrases during the baseball practice is somewhere along the lines of "Perfectly Hidden. No one can see me here."
  • Hope Spot: In Rin's route, when Riki and Rin run away and things seem to be picking up. And if you haven't been paying attention to the foreshadowing, you'd be forgiven for thinking that when Riki recruits Kyousuke back into the Little Busters in Refrain things will really pick up. Instead, what follows immediately after is quite possibly the single most Tear Jerker-y scene in the entire game.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre - Seen only in Rin's route where Kyousuke give Masato a certain role. If you know what I mean. No really.
  • Left the Background Music On - The end of Kurugaya's route with the song Kurugaya played on the piano. Riki doesn't know how to make it stop.
  • Lethal Joke Item - The paper-made items are surprisingly powerful. Once the user manages to fold them in time, their opponents' lives are counted.
  • Licked by the Dog - Or cat, in this case.
    • Dog too, to Sasami
  • Joke Item - Basically every weapon except some of Mio's science team weapons and Kurugaya's machine gun (yes really).
  • Lotus-Eater Machine
  • Mind Screw - A lot, and in many many routes. Whenever the music "Thin Chronicle" plays, chances are you have one on your hands.
  • Multiple Endings: But not in the way you'd think. All of the route endings are canon as different iterations of the timeline - except Sasami's which, as explained above, happens after Refrain - but Refrain's epilogue is slightly but importantly different the first and second time you play through it. In the first, Rin asks Riki who he likes, and approves of all of the other girls, while he is too flustered to respond, which all seems to indicate that at least he and Rin aren't going out. But the second time around, you are shown a scene in which Rin kisses Riki, which naturally indicates that they are.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Rin's Cats. A list of their names - Lennon, Hitler, Audrey, Kobain, Tezuka, Gates, Einstein, Fedornote , Aristotle, Hokusainote , Jackie Chan, and Matsudanote . And those are just the cats in battle ranking plus the plot-important ones...
  • The Nicknamer - EVERYONE, after the battle the winner chooses a humiliating nickname for the loser.
    Schoolboy : "Now Rin-sama pick a title for that Loser."
    Rin : "Waste."
    Masato : "Uwaaa! I don't want this title!!!"
  • Nonstandard Game Over - By choosing to hang out with Masato at every opportunity and following the Kud route, you open the Muscles Sensation mini route, which starts the Muscle Revolution! Kurugaya will stop you the first time, but if you choose to do it a second time the revolution apparently takes over the world.
    Everyone: Muscles yay yay! Muscles yay yay!
  • No Romantic Resolution - Refrain route ends up working out like this which may come as quite the surprise considering the heavy Rin emphasis that had dominated the last route and the first half of the route itself. Thus, the story itself becomes an example.
    • It's actually kind of confusing, in that there are two different, contradictory Refrain epilogues: the first one, which heavily implies that Riki and Rin aren't going out, and the second one that can only be seen by playing through Refrain again, which heavily implies that they are. Pick and choose, maybe?
  • Only Sane Man - Riki
  • Only Six Faces - Somewhat averted, at least when compared to prior KEY games. Little Busters! is a unique game in that there were actually two character designers working on the project, each working on three of the six heroines; Hinoue Itaru (who was the primary character designer for Kanon, AIR and Clannad) designed Komari, Haruka and Kuragaya, whilst Na-Ga (Angel Beats) was responsible for Rin, Kud and Mio.
  • Otaku - Kyousuke (he based lots of the missions on manga)
    • Part of the reason he doesn't do anything at the beginning of Saya's route, since Aya, the real life counterpart of Saya, based her avatar in the world Kyosuke created on a character from a manga she was reading, so Kyosuke thought it was his will that created her since he too was reading the same manga.
  • Panty Shot
  • Paper-Thin Disguise - It's almost painfully obvious to the views who Mask the Saito really is. It's slightly less painfully but still extremely obvious who Shun Tokikaze is, too.
  • Pun-Based Title: The spinoff Kud Wafter is a pun on the word "after" and Kud's Verbal Tic ("wafuu").
  • Schrödinger's Gun - In Ecstasy, a choice between feeling "hatred" or "friendliness" from a character will determine her attitude toward the rest of the cast (and the story path) for the rest of the game.
  • Second Year Protagonist - Except Kyosuke, all of the Little Busters are Second Years and all but two of them are in the same class.This is a minor plot point.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong
  • Shout-Out - One to Final Fantasy :
    • Right after a Final Fantasy-style fanfare plays.
    Saigusa : "Saigusa Haruka changed jobs from 'Useless' !"
  • There Are No Therapists: And in the one route where that's averted, therapy only deepened the problem rather than solving it.
  • Updated Re-release: Little Busters ME, it is the clean version of the game but with all the extras from the EX (Ecstasy) version, released on the Key 10th Anniversary Box, and the basis for the PSV version.
    • And now there's Little Busters PE, made in honor of the release of the Anime adaptation, its basically ME but fully voiced (except Riki) like the PS Vita version.
  • Utsuge: Not evident at first, but gradually getting there. Especially once you enter a Heroine route.
  • Verbal Tic - Kudryavka - wafuu, Riki - Iyaiyaiya (means No no no!), Saya - Gigigouee, Ungaa
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: During the baseball practices, you can help your team members gain bonus stats by hitting the ball towards them. Problem is, sometimes two of the girls are resting or doing something that makes them defenseless to incoming balls, and those two girls happen to be weaker than the others and could use a lot of stat raising... Also, all but one of Rin's pitches are learned (randomly?) after you piss her off by hitting one of the many cats (although it's harder to feel sympathy for the cats, as sometimes they'll block the ball that would've went to someone behind them, or jump in mid-air to intercept incoming flyballs with their body...)
  • Weapon of Choice - Kengo uses a Shinai (Wooden Sword), Masato his FIST, and Rin uses her cats as weapons. The other girls also have their own weapons of choice for the battle mini-games:
    • Komari can use a penguin doll and her sketchbook.
    • Kurugaya can use her wooden sword and a machine gun (yes really!)
    • Kud can use her dogs
    • Haruka can use glass marbles and a spinning top
    • Mio has her parasol, book, and eventually cyber weapons like a lab-grown virus, Lightsabers, and finally a man-portable railgun.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: You get several fake epilogues before the true one in which Riki saves everyone.

KanonSeinenKing of Thorn
Last Exile: Fam, the Silver WingCreator/Toei AnimationLupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
LittleBigPlanetPlay Station VitaLord Of Arcana
Limit PanicVisual NovelLong Live the Queen

alternative title(s): Little Busters; Little Busters Esctacy
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