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  • Author's Saving Throw: Haruka's route ended with the moral that no one was at fault for the terrible upbringing she and her sister had, meaning both the sisters or their parents. This completely ignores her abusive extended family, who are not addressed. Kanata's route is a rehash of Haruka's from the other side and clarifies that yes, they'll all be going to jail for child abuse. It's even indicated obliquely that this epilogue, at least, is in the real world.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
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    • Riki. Some like him because he's a refreshing change of pace from the Jerk with a Heart of Gold protagonists so common in Key's other works and think his Character Development is subtle and well-written enough to prove that the Nice Guy harem lead isn't automatically a bad thing. Others consider him a Vanilla Protagonist in comparison to Key's other protagonists and claim he's a step backwards for the company given their reputation for averting the trope in their other works. They also don't like how meek and passive he is at the start, and think his Character Development comes too late to matter.
    • Kanata. She's either a tragic Jerkass Woobie with no control over her life because of her family and the abuse they've dealt her, or a Karma Houdini whose Dark and Troubled Past isn't enough to justify the extreme ways she bullied Haruka during the latter's route, especially considering Haruka comes from the same abusive family she does.
  • Broken Base:
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    • The anime adaptation. Some people consider it to be a good adaptation that gets unjustly hated by fans who wanted Kyoto Animation to do the anime, and didn't give it a fair shot when JC Staff was announced to be in charge. Others think the anime suffers from Adaptation Distillation, and either cut out or shortened important parts of the story, which as a result, makes the story seem rushed in some places.
    • Haruka's route is very divisive. While a lot of people like it due to the focus on Haruka, who is one of the most popular heroines, there are also people who are bothered by the fact that it tries to end on a Rousseau Was Right moral, given how abusive her extended family is, thinking it turns the moral into a Broken Aesop. Most of the hatred for Kanata also stems from her actions in this route. While her behavior towards Haruka was meant to be Cruel to Be Kind, it comes across as Unintentionally Unsympathetic to a lot of fans.
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    • Saya's route has split the fandom for several reasons. Some fans like Saya as a character and are interested in how the story expands on the nature of the artifical world. On the other hand, there are those who don't like how everyone except her and Riki was Demoted to Extra or ignored, as it makes it seem like Saya's characterization revolves around her relationship with Riki when he's the only one she interacts with. The anime OVAs further split the base, as she had four episodes dedicated to her route, which is as many as Sasami and Kanata had combined. Some people think it was necessary to give her four episodes due to how different the plot of her route is compared to the other eight routes. However, others point out that the adaptations for Sasami and Kanata's routes seem so rushed by comparison, and accuse the anime staff of favoritism towards Saya.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Haruka and Kanata being twin sisters isn't exactly hard to guess.
  • Critical Research Failure: The whole plot about Miyuki quitting archery because of the loss of an eye because 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.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Suginami is a minor character appearing in just two heroine routes and lacks a sprite in the visual novel. In spite of this, she has gained a following of fans who are even working on a fan route for her. There's a Game Mod to give her a sprite based on her appearance in the anime.
    • The dorm head, known only as A-chan-senpai, also seems to be quite popular.
    • Kudryavka, usually just called "Kud", is so beloved she got her own sequel.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Riki/Rin, Komari/Rin and Riki/Kyousuke. Also, Komari/Kyousuke and Kud/Masato seem to be the most popular non-canon straight ships in the fandom.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Early on, Mio hits a lot of the red flags for being suicidal, like her desire to live pure and separate from everyone else, her belief that she will be easily forgotten, and giving away her most precious possession. This thinking leads some to believe that her situation in the dream world is an allegory for a suicide attempt in the real world.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • A lot of things, as is Key tradition; see Rewatch Bonus. For example, how Mio is called "shadowless" for her lack of presence by the class bullies; she actually doesn't have a shadow in the dream world, as it manifests as Midori. A more subtle one is the set of CGs, used a few times in Haruka's route, where Haruka is at her parents' house at the kitchen table. She's awkwardly holding the fork in her left hand — a right-handed place setting, despite the fact that we know she's left-handed. Between two scenes that use the exact same CGs, we learn that Haruka's extended family used to beat her for being left-handed.
    • There's a line in Haruka's route where, as Haruka laments that anything she can do, Kanata can do better, Riki replies that there is something Kanata can't do: "You made me fall in love with you." That was a lot more heartwarming when Kanata didn't actually have her own route. The Updated Re-release giving her one just makes a reader cringe at that line now — even the writers are taking everything Haruka loves away from her.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Key/Visual Arts fandom long awaited an anime adaptation of Little Busters!, but expected that it would be from Kyoto Animation. It wasn't... but they did do another Ho Yay-laden sports anime with a tsundere, socially awkward childhood friend named Rin, a weird kid named Haruka with a Dark and Troubled Past, a side character obsessed with muscles, more fanservice than the creators were known for in the past, Animal Motifs for everyone, and a target audience other than the young boys sports anime are usually aimed at.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Between Riki and Kyousuke, and how. It ranges from simple Ho Yay (Mio's misinterpretations, Kengo's nicknames for Riki including things like 'loves Kyousuke') to ambiguous subtext (yes, leading someone by the hand is a main theme, but there are only so many times a couple of teenage boys can hold hands, think about holding hands, and reminisce at length about how they enjoy holding hands before you start to wonder...) to full-on Ship Tease (the whole scene where Riki stays with Kyousuke instead of going to the sleepover, not to mention the distinctly Anguished Declaration of Love-esque feeling to their final conversation before Riki exited the dream world.) The game lampshades it a lot, but given that Riki and Kyousuke's relationship is one of the most important in the entire game: arguably more so than for most of the love interests, it's likely this was all very deliberate.
  • Moe: All the girls (except Kuragaya). Kudryavka gets a special mention.
  • Narm:
    • In the Refrain path of episode Masato, in Masato's point of view, everyone becomes Masato. While it's intended to be a frightening way of showing Masato's delusion, when Masato visits the cafeteria, everyone is Masato, smiling and fooling around too!
    • The anime adaptation of this particular episode had some fans in hysterics. In his crazy state, Masato's movements were likened to that of a zombie. The glowing red eyes didn't help matters.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Kurugaya in the entire last third of the first episode of the Refrain anime.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Kyouriki for Kyousuke/Riki and Komarin for Komari/Rin. Masakud (Masato/Kud) is also used.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Downplayed with Kanata, in that she went from The Scrappy of the fandom to a Base-Breaking Character due to her route in the Updated Re-release. While her route did endear her to some fans and made her seem like a Jerkass Woobie, there are still those who think she was Easily Forgiven for her behavior in Haruka's route.
  • The Scrappy: Kanata is hated by certain audiences because of her behavior towards Haruka in the latter's route.
  • Ship Mates: People who like Riki/Rin like Kyousuke/Komari and people who like Kyousuke/Riki like Komari/Rin, since both Riki and Komari have canonically confirmed romantic feelings for both Natsume siblings. Same for people who like Haruka/Mio for freeing up Kurugaya, Haruka's crush, for Kud or Riki.
  • Strawman Has a Point: The bad end for Kud's route has Riki asking her to stay in Japan instead of going to Tevua to check in on her family. He's meant to be portrayed as selfish since this may be the last chance she has to see her family, and he's asking Kud to choose him over them. However, at this point in Kud's route, Tevua was in the middle of an armed conflict over its space program, which led to riots engulfing the region. Riki tries to rationalize his actions by pointing out Kud would be in danger if she were to leave, which is exactly what happens. If Riki lets Kud leave, then she ends up getting kidnapped by the rebels and gets chained up in a cave. She only manages to escape and come back to Japan unharmed due to her route's Deus ex Machina ending and the nature of the artificial world, which Riki was unaware of at the time and had no way of knowing.
  • Tainted by the Preview: When the anime was first announced to be done by JC Staff instead of Kyoto Animation, fans immediately went to disowning the anime before the first episode of the anime even aired.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-universe, what Kurugaya felt after that battle between her and Komari. Out-of-universe, half the haremettes.
  • Tear Jerker: Has its own page.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: One of the main reasons the anime is so hated is because JC Staff, who never worked on anything by Key before, was put in charge of the adaptation instead of Kyoto Animation, who did the anime adaptations for AIR, Kanon, and CLANNAD.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: A common complaint about Saya is that Riki is the only character she interacts with, while all of the other heroines interact with characters besides him, making Saya seem like a Satellite Love Interest in comparison to the other heroines. Although she does interact with Kyousuke, it's only when he's under the guise of Shun Tokikaze, so she doesn't really get a chance to interact with him in a more relaxed context.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Kanata gets this from fans for her behavior in Haruka's route. Alongside the disciplinary committee, she starts a Witch Hunt and accuses Haruka of breaking the rules even without having any proof that she did anything. She also disguised herself as Haruka and tried to use it to manipulate Riki into giving up the search into who between her and Haruka is Shou's daughter. Her disguise can even lead to Riki unknowingly kissing Kanata while disguised as Haruka in one of the route's bad ends. While the climax of Haruka's route and her own route reveal she was acting Cruel to Be Kind, Haruka's narration in the bad end where Riki cheats on her implies she was Driven to Suicide since Riki couldn't tell the two of them apart, which only happened as a result of Kanata's actions.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Haruka's route focuses heavily on the Japanese idea that a criminal parent would have a criminal child, whereas western nations ideally view each person individually. A criminal parent might be a matter of embarrassment or shame, but nowhere near the level of ostracization Haruka faced.
    • Kud's admiration for her mother can come across as fairly bizarre outside of Japan. Chernushka's dedication and work ethic over her personal life is a very noble act in Japanese society, but western ones would find her extreme Parental Abandonment as horribly misguided at best and flat-out Parental Neglect at worst.
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