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Visual Novel / Little Busters!

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"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 VisualArts/Key's 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 J.C. 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 season, and an adaptation for Ecstasy was released as a series of OVA episodes bundled with the Refrain DVDs and Blu-rays. The adaption, entitled Little Busters EX, is composed of eight episodes. There are seven volumes of Refrain released in all, and one episode was released with each volume (except for the final volume, which contains the final two episodes). The first volume and thus the first EX episode was released on the 29th of January, 2014.

On October 31, 2015, VisualArts/Key announced plans to release the Updated Re-Release of Little Busters!, originally titled Little Busters! Perfect Edition, on Steam with localization work being done by Fruitbat Factory using the Fan Translation of the original Little Busters! by Team Fluffy, a fan translation group that many Fruitbat Factory staff members were a part of, being used as a basis for the official English release. On November 1, 2017, the Perfect Edition was released on Steam under the title Little Busters! English Edition. The new content in the English Edition includes the three routes that were included in Ecstasy alongside the original content, but with the pornographic content removed.

This game provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Riki ends up in these situations a lot, particularly in Komari's route and the Ecstasy expansion.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: A few are caused by the anime. For example, in episode 7 of EX, Kanata is shown doing maintenance work, like checking on the lawns and setting up a new bulletin board, as part of her duties on the Disciplinary Committee. Shouldn't that be the job of the Maintenance Committee? This was explained in Haruka's route of the VN, where Kanata reveals that she had the Maintenance Committee disbanded and took on its duties on orders to take away everything that mattered to Haruka. That particular detail wasn't covered in the anime when that route was adapted.
  • Akashic Records: How the dream world works. As all but Riki and Rin were Only Mostly Dead, their minds connected to each other's and to those of the other people in their lives with this. This forms the foundation of a number of routes and provides blueprints for the "NPCs" created after real people, like family and classmates, who appear in the dream world. For example, Komari uncovering the thoughts of her family means that her route can tell Riki what happened from the perspective of someone who didn't try to forget Komari's dead brother, and Haruka connecting to Kanata's thoughts revealed that Kanata was trying to be Cruel to Be Kind.
  • 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).
  • Alpha Bitch: Sasami
  • 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.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's not really clear if Riki and Rin managed to save everyone in the real world, or if they created another, better Dream World. An audio drama tried to clarify that it was indeed the former, but fan theories remain.
  • Animal Motifs: 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)
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Replay segment of Saya's route skips any floors of the dungeon already cleared after she dies and resets, that way the player only ever has to worry about the current floor's puzzle, instead of having to remember every previous floor's puzzle.
  • Apocalypse How: Haruka thinks of this when cleaning too much.
  • Arc Words: Do you know the secret of the world?
  • Artistic License – Sports: The whole plot about Miyuki quitting archery because of the loss of an eye becomes pretty laughable when you realize that archery is perfectly possible with one eye and that a legally blind Korean archer is considered one of the best archers in the world. Might be a deeply Japanese thing though, because at least two other anime had a character quit the sport for similar reasons like a scarred shoulder.
  • Ascended Extra: Kanata and Sasami went from supporting characters to heroines with their own routes in the Ecstasy version of the game.
  • Asleep in Class: Due to traversing the underground dungeon with Saya at night, Riki ends up being too exhausted to function properly during the day. Saya realizes this and demands Riki to drop out of the ranking system his friends participate in. After all, fighting more fights than necessary would just exhaust Riki even more. To be better prepared, Saya also tells Riki to sleep in class so that he'll have enough energy to function at night. Riki can only get away with sleeping in class because the teachers know about his narcolepsy. However, that also backfires on Riki because being asleep left him vulnerable to an attack from an enemy agent.
  • 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Portmanteau Series Nickname, acknowledged by official sources, is "Litbus." Seems pretty normal, and in Japanese it is. It becomes painful for Anglophones, though, when it comes out that a "lit bus" rendered most of the cast Only Mostly Dead.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After a "Mission Failed" screen shows up:
    Riki : No, we weren't on a mission.
  • 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.
  • Bonding Through Shared Earbuds: In Haruka's route, one of the first quiet and genuinely romantic moments that occurs between her and Riki comes when they sit in a classroom together at sunset and listen to music together through shared earbuds. She even reveals she's made a couple of songs herself and puts them on for him.
  • Broken Aesop: Mio's route tries to end on the aesop that people can't naturally understand one another no matter how close they are, so they need to talk about their problems with one another to avoid misunderstandings spiraling out of control. However, the start of Kurugaya's route treats telling Kurugaya about the girls harassing Riki as the wrong choice since it leads to an early bad end. The correct choice for that situation is to keep her in the dark about what's going on, yet despite keeping it a secret from her, Kurugaya still manages to figure out what's troubling Riki without any misunderstandings. Haruka's route also breaks this aesop because at one point in her route, you have to lie to her about how you learned what class she's in since telling her the truth leads to a bad end as well.
  • 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.
    • The Ecstasy heroine routes remain locked until Refrain is completed, which itself requires completing the original six heroines' routes.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • This happens 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.
    • The choices in Refrain have only one correct option, and picking a wrong option will just send you back to the selection of choices while getting rid of the wrong choice you made. However, after Riki and Rin escape the artificial world, wrong choices can lead to bad ends.
  • Catchphrase: "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.
  • 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.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Haruka's initial goal in her route is to try and get one of these done to prove whether she or Kanata is the family's rightful heir and who is the "bad one." Their parents refuse to submit one unless they're approached by both sisters, because they know the family has kept the girls apart and turned them against each other and that submitting a DNA test would just encourage that.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Butt-Monkey: Flashbacks of Masato's childhood in Refrain reveals that he was bullied by other kids for being stupid, but that in turn led to him becoming violent to scare people from mocking him anymore, which still alienated him from other kids until he met the Natsume siblings.
    • Funny Foreigner: Kud's route reveals how alienated she feels from the other students because they see her as one of these, even though she's been exposed to Japanese culture most of her life because of her grandfather and genuinely considers Japan her home.
    • Genki Girl: Haruka's energetic personality is an act she created because she Desperately Craves Affection. Behind her energetic exterior is an emotionally unstable girl that has dealt with years of physical and emotional abuse from her family. Because of the lack of love from her family, Haruka is willing to act out and cause commotions in the hope of gaining attention from others.
    • Heavy Sleeper: Riki's narcolepsy is shown to be an issue that seriously limits his options in life. One example of it coming to haunt him is late in Rin's second route after the two have run away. Riki decides to help a lady out on her farm because he needs to make money, but his narcolepsy triggers on him, causing him to lose a whole day's work. The woman he worked for then forbids him from working on her farm afterwards out of fear for his health. He ends up in tears over the fact that the most he could do with his life is office work.
    • Heir to the Dojo: Kengo is the heir to his family's kendo dojo, and as such, has been trained in kendo from a young age. However, as revealed in Refrain, he actually resented his obligations to the kendo club and his family's dojo because all the time he spent focused on training could've been used having fun with his friends.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Due to having to be harsh and cold towards Haruka all the time by orders of their family, Kanata ends up Becoming the Mask due to the front she has put up and comes across as cruel and distant even in situations where she doesn't intend for it.
    • The Pollyanna: Komari maintains her cheerful and optimistic personality because her older brother Takuya didn't want to see her sad. When her brother realized he was going to die, he told Komari that his death was just a dream. This causes Komari to have Trauma-Induced Amnesia and any indicators of death will trigger a Heroic BSoD which causes her to see the first guy she sees as Takuya, and it takes weeks for her to snap out of this. This whole situation makes her unable to deal with death or anything sad.
    • Shrinking Violet: Rin's shyness only applies to strangers, but it gets to the point where she freezes up in fear around them. However, given that everyone she knows besides Riki would've died in the bus explosion, the only way she would be able to get by in the aftermath of their deaths is by learning to overcome her shyness.
  • 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.
  • Different as Night and Day: Subverted. Haruka seems incredibly irresponsible, carefree and social while Kanata is uptight, tense and shut off. However, Haruka cleans up the school grounds simply because she wants to, has a lot of emotional issues and is more timid than she looks. Kanata on the other hand will often overlook the rules when she can, often slips up on her controlled facade in little ways and is shut off and grumpy for basically the same reasons Haruka is. Both of them are just gravitating towards different extremes from their normal happy mediums.
  • 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~"
  • Doorstopper: This VN weighs in at approximately 511,000 words (721,000 for EX/ME), and can take up to 55-85 hours to complete.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dying Dream: The entire world of the visual novel is one created by Kyousuke and the rest of the Little Busters save for Riki and Rin, the survivors of the bus crash.
  • 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's Dead, Dave: It's revealed that only Riki and Rin survived the bus crash initially.
  • Everybody Lives: Apart from Miyuki Koshiki, who committed suicide before the story begins, Riki and Rin manage to save everyone in the end.
  • Everyone Is Bi: There's both subtext and outright text for both same-sex and different-sex attraction from a lot of characters, the protagonist included (even if the game only has het romance routes). For a bonus, both Riki and Komari either seem to be or outright are attracted to both Natsume siblings.
  • Exact Words: One of the missions Lennon gave Riki and Rin involved curing a student named Aikawa of his love sickness towards Sasami. It got to the point where he was too distracted by her to be able to focus on his studies. At first, Riki and Rin interpret this as playing The Matchmaker for the two. However, because of Sasami's interest in Kengo, they fail on that end, though in the process, Aikawa manages to study properly once he realizes Sasami isn't interested in him. Riki realizes this still qualifies as completing the mission since it said to cure Aikawa's love sickness, not get him a girlfriend.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In Kurugaya's route, there's a segment called Operation Little Love Love Hunters where Masato, Kengo, and Kyousuke, each make a move on one of four girls (the choices are Komari, Haruka, Mio, and Kud) to give Riki an idea on how to ask out Kurugaya. No matter which combination is chosen, their attempts to hit on the girls end in failure, and Riki just asks her directly instead of relying on the other guys' shenanigans.
  • 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.
  • Foil:
    • Rin and Sasami. Rin's a Tomboy with a Girly Streak and a Kindhearted Cat Lover, while Sasami is a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak who prefers dogs. Before the story, Rin's only friends were the male members of the Little Busters, while Sasami is the leader of a Girl Posse. Both of them are Dude Magnets who don't care about the attention, though for different reasons. Rin's unfamiliar with the concept of love, while Sasami is interested in Kengo. Their routes also serve as foils to one another, in that Rin's route has her and Riki running away from school, and Sasami's route has her remain holed up in Riki's room since she'll transform into a cat if she goes outside. Rin would be an example of First Girl Wins since she's the only Childhood Friend among the heroines, while Sasami would be a case of Last Girl Wins since her route is the only route explicitly stated to take place after the events of Refrain.
    • Masato and Kengo. Masato is the Dumb Muscle of the group, yet he can occassionally provide useful advice to the surprise of others. Kengo, on the other hand, seems like the most level-headed character alongside Riki, until he proves he's Not So Above It All in the common route, with his sudden change in personality throwing his friends for a loop. Masato is interested in muscle training to the point of obsession, while Kengo secretly resented his kendo training since it gave him less time to bond with his friends. Masato accepted his role in the artifical world and put up a front of Obfuscating Stupidity, while Kengo rebelled against Kyousuke because he couldn't stand how he was treating Riki and Rin for the sake of their growth.
  • Foreshadowing: Heaps.
    • When Masato hears that Kengo has been talking with a girl on a bench 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.
  • From Bad to Worse: Rin 2 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.
  • 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Unlike the routes for most of the other original heroines, Komari's route doesn't get locked after completing it the first time. This is because even though Riki helped her accept the death of her brother Takuya, she still remains in the dream world, due to a desire to see Rin again.
  • Girl Posse: Sasami's trio of softball juniors.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Kanata and Haruka's plan to pretend to hate each other just to survive their family's abuse. Thanks to the treatment they received, the gaslighting Haruka went through causing her memory to constantly fail, and Kanata's desperation to keep up appearances for Haruka's own good, they both ended up Becoming the Mask.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Komari's brother tried to shield her from his death by making her think of it like a dream. She ended up heavily broken by the concept of death instead.
  • Gratuitous English: Kud loves to drop random English phrases (with "nano desu" for extra Moe). Haruka does it, too, but not as often, and usually with a better grasp of the language.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: 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.
    • Also supposedly the motivation of Saigusa Shou in Haruka's backstory. The story goes that he was upset, as an outsider, that the Saigusa family had a rule to marry all their female heirs to two people each, so he attacked the family heads because he wanted to keep his wife to himself. When you notice that all three parties in the Love Triangle were disinherited, it sounds a little off. Though the three parents' stories differ, all three of them agree that it wasn't a love-envy situation at all; all three had decided on the escape plan together and Shou attacked the family heads because they were treating their daughter like a breeding animal or a piece of furniture.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Riki notices in Kurugaya's route that the 20th of June is repeating over and over and despite a few changing events is basically always the same.
  • Guide Dang It!: Saya Route. There are so many instances of 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.
  • 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 near 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."
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Riki and Kyousuke, depending on the adaptation. In the VN, Riki outright admits he has a bit of a crush on Kyousuke, but it never comes up again and Kyousuke's feelings aren't explicitly stated; meanwhile, in the anime it's ambiguous on both sides. Even so, a recurring theme of the game is them Holding Hands, which they do quite oftennote , they're very touchy, and (at least on Riki's part) wouldn't mind sharing Indirect Kisses. This reaches its logical conclusion in Refrain; before Kyousuke disappears, he and Riki end up yelling at each other passionately that they like each other and wish they could spend their whole lives together.
    • Riki and Masato. Multiple times Masato acts jealous when Riki shows interest in someone else, and while he says it's just because he won't be able to hang out with Riki as much, Riki instinctively interprets it as romantic jealousy. And one of the losing titles Kengo can give to Riki is 'In a love triangle between Masato and Kyousuke'...
    • When Rin unexpectedly compliments Haruka, she is so pleased she starts staring after her and wondering whether what she's feeling is love.
    • After Riki sees her panties, Komari starts to worry that she would never be able to get a bride (not be one, get one).
  • 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.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Haruka and Kanata have different hairstyles (with the same hair decs) and eye colours, looking the same otherwise, and they turn out to be twins.
  • I Have This Friend: Played with between Riki and Kud during Sasami's route. At one point, Riki can choose to ask either Kud or Haruka for romantic advice, which he plans to apply to Sasami and Kengo as The Matchmaker. If the player chooses Kud, then she gets upset because she still retains her feelings for Riki from her route inside the artificial world, and thinks Riki is using this trope to get advice for himself to use on another girl. Things get sorted out when Riki clarifies that this is advice for a girl (Sasami) to use on a boy she likes (Kengo), while keeping secret the names of the girl and boy in this situation.
  • Is That Cute Kid Yours?: In Haruka's route, she and Riki find a lost child in the school when the disciplinary committee catches up with her. Haruka being an immoral delinquent who knows no bounds according to the prefects, they immediately assume that it's her kid and that she's "flaunting her sexual deviance in school."
  • Joke Item: Basically every weapon except some of Mio's science team weapons and Kurugaya's machine gun (yes really).
  • Karma Houdini: Haruka and Kanata's family as of the end of Ecstasy. Even though Kanata's Arranged Marriage was thwarted, the main characters decided just to lay low after rescuing her from the event, rather than to pursue legal action against them for all the years of abuse the two girls endured. They do call the cops on them though, but the result is never shown.
  • Kevlard: Rin's cat Dorj is fat enough that any baseballs that hit him during practice don't hurt him like the other cats, but instead bounce back to Riki.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Seen only in Rin's route where Kyousuke give Masato a certain role. If you know what I mean. No really.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: All three Ecstasy heroine routes expect the player to have finished the other routes and Refrain. In order to avoid spoiling newcomers, these routes are locked until the original six heroine routes and Refrain are completed. However, this can be ignored in the Japanese version of the game. When the game is started up for the first time, the player is asked if they know the secret of the world. Answering yes gives the player access to the new heroine routes from the beginning. However, the prompt in the Japanese version does not exist in the English Edition.
  • 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.
  • Locker Mail: In Rin's route, Riki receives a very generic love letter in his shoe locker. It was written by the friends of Suginami, a shy girl he's never talked to, in an effort to force her to say something about her crush. He's flattered and polite but not interested.
  • 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.
  • Mundane Solution: During Operation Little Love Love Hunters, which takes place early on in Kurugaya's route, Kyousuke, Kengo, and Masato hit on the other girls (A combination of Mio, Kud, Komari, and Haruka based on the player's choice) to teach Riki how he should approach and ask out Kurugaya. Every possible combination ends in failure, and Riki decides to just directly ask Kurugaya if she wants to go out with him, which works.
  • My Parents Are Dead: Sasami and Mio both end up on the receiving end with Riki at different times, as they both make assumptions that his parents are alive, only for him to correct them.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Rin's cats. A list of their names - Lennon, Hitler (replaced with Isorokunote  in the anime), Audrey, Cobain, Tezuka, Gatesnote , Einstein, Fyodornote , Aristotle, Hokusainote , Jackie, and Yuusakunote . 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!!!"
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Sasami and her followers.
  • 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?
    • Going a step further, Sasami, Kanata, Kud, and Yuiko all have post Refrain endings that end in the real world, so yeah, just pick what you want.
  • One-Liner: Mixed in with variety of utterances made by participants engaged in baseball practice, in the visual novel.
  • 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 Kurugaya, whilst Na-Ga (Angel Beats) was responsible for Rin, Kud and Mio.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Subverted during Sasami's route. Masato tells Kengo that he was kicked out of his room by Riki, and has to stay with him. At first it seems like Kengo believes Masato, but it turns out he was humoring him, as Kengo knows Riki well enough to know that he would never do something like that without a good reason. Masato soon slips up and admits he's too scared of the cat that beat him up twice (In truth, it was Sasami who was afflicted with involuntary Animorphism), but didn't want to seem weak.
  • 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 Kyousuke created on a character from a manga she was reading, so Kyousuke thought it was his will that created her since he too was reading the same manga.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: It's almost painfully obvious to the viewers who Mask the Saito really is. It's slightly less painfully but still extremely obvious who Shun Tokikaze is, too.
  • Picked Flowers Are Dead: In Kurugaya's route, she describes an event from her childhood when she picked some beautiful flowers from the side of the road just because they looked pretty and was horrified and distressed later on when she realised that in doing so she had killed them.
  • Pretty Boy:
    • Kyousuke. Apparently, people visit his classroom to watch him read manga, fascinated by the sight.
    • 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)!
  • Pun-Based Title: The spinoff Kud Wafter is a pun on the word "after" and Kud's Verbal Tic ("wafuu").
  • Regular Caller: The task of giving "missions" usually falls on Rin's cats and Kyousuke.
  • The Scapegoat: Haruka's role in her extended family, enforced by their blood cult. While Kanata's role as heir and designated "good one" supposedly exempted her from this, she was actually under constant threat of falling into it as well, and she acknowledges that being head of the disciplinary committee means that she'll always be blamed for things by the students whose fun she's spoiling.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: In Ecstasy, a choice between feeling "hostility" or "friendliness" from Kanata will determine her attitude toward the rest of the cast (and whether or not her route is accessible) for the rest of the game.
  • Second Year Protagonist: All of the main characters except Kyousuke are in their second year. This is important because it means that Kyousuke will graduate in a year and the childhood friends will be split up, something that worries all of them (especially Riki).
  • 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.
  • True Companions: Riki, Rin, Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo are this, it comes with being Childhood Friends.
  • Updated Re-release: Ecstasy added graphic sex scenes to the previously all ages game. Then Little Busters ME is the clean version of the game but with all the extra routes and other content from the EX (Ecstasy) version, released on the Key 10th Anniversary Box, and the basis for the PSV and PSP versions.
    • 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. Haruka also greets people with "yaha" and uses random sound effects in her speech.
  • 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-Based Characterization: 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.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: The cast is full of characters with unusual hair colors that nobody ever comments on, such as Mio's blue hair, Haruka's magenta hair, and Sasami's purple hair.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: You get several fake epilogues before the true one in which Riki saves everyone.


Little Busters!

Rin is quite shy.

How well does it match the trope?

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