DVD Review: Little Busters! – The Complete Series

Does MVM Entertainment’s latest DVD release manage to offer a home run or will it strike out? Well you’ll have to find out in our latest DVD review for Little Busters – The Complete Series.

Synopsis:

When tragedy struck Riki Naoe as a child, he was rescued from grief over his parent’s deaths when four other kids “recruited” him for their group, the “Little Busters.” Now in high school, Riki and the other Busters are still fast friends, and though their vision of being heroes for justice may have faded, they’d still do anything for each other – which is why Riki is now on TWO special missions.

The not-so-secret one: recruiting new members so the Busters can form a baseball team. Preferably female recruits, as the current dude/babe ratio is an inconvenient 4 to 1. The other mission, though, that’s the strange one. Riki and Rin, the group’s singular girl, are receiving odd messages delivered by cats concerning the existence of a “secret world” and assigning them tasks they have to complete. Were their youthful dreams of being crusaders not so fanciful after all? Or is there something even more vital at stake?

Our View:

Adapted from the Japanese visual novel of the same name, and animated by J.C. Staff, Little Busters is a series which follows the events of a group of friends as they attempt to create their own Baseball Club in hopes of leaving a mark at their school. This single goal soon leads our main protagonist, who goes by the name of Riki, to recruit new members for the club with each character receiving their own emotional storyline and backstory unfold on screen. Bizarrely enough that’s not all; as throughout this ongoing story of recruiting members and helping them out Riki, as well as the female lead of the Little Busters group known as Rin, soon find themselves agreeing to requests delivered by cats; each of which become more difficult s the series moves forward.

As you can probably tell Little Busters offers variety within its main story; but sadly while it excels at variety it lacks in a linear story with an ending. The introductory and recruitment phase of Little Busters is done to an extent we can all enjoy, although at times you do wonder what the purpose of this series is; but when the new recruits, namely Komari Kamikita, Haruka Saigusa, Kanata Futaki, Kudryavka Noumi, Yuiko Kurugaya and Mio Nishizono, have their back stories and trouble shared we not only learn more about each respective character but the series (as a whole) dives into something completely random and unexpected.

For instance Mio Nishizono, a girl who is often seen reading books outside in the shade, is revealed to have no shadow and (more bizarrely) have an imaginary friend that is battling to take control of her body and personality. Kudryavka Noumi, a young often bubbly girl who speaks Russian and English, is revealed to be from a small nation that’s currently in revolt and upon returning to her country finds herself being kidnapped a rebel fraction. It’s these ‘bizarre’ storylines which raise more questions and answers about the realism that the series initially started to present itself with and even then several more questions are raised with the other characters; such as domestic abuse, sleeping disorders and random fights between two of the male characters within Little Busters. It’s all a bit random, chaotic and uninformative.

In hindsight Little Busters starts off offering a slice-of-life school comedy about leaving a mark; but as the story starts to explore the back stories of each character and their own experiences personal things go a bit random and weird. What’s even more frustrating is that these stories rarely ever give a satisfying ending; as when that characters arc comes to an end the next episode starts as if the previous events did not happen. A lack of continuity and progressive ‘overall’ story telling is what brings Little Busters down; as while some events within the series are entertaining (especially Kud’s trip back home) others just feel far-fetched, incomplete and disappointing. In my eyes Little Busters is an entertaining disappointment with the only positive merits being the characters themselves with each one offering a unique and charming personality; but aside from that it’s a bit mediocre.

Extras:

Little Busters overall story might be underwhelming but this DVD release does receive some positive remarks for the selection of bonus materials included as viewers will find twelve trailers for other Sentai Filmwork licensed shows, a selection of opening and closing songs and more importantly a range of promotional trailers for the series itself.

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It’s a well rounded selection of content and they are spread out across four of the six DVD discs; specifically Disc 1 and Disc 4 feature trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases while Disc 2 and 5 feature the textless songs and promotional assets.

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The third and sixth disc of this set on the other hand contain five episodes per disc as opposed to the four episodes on others. In short; everything is spread evenly to provide the best (and constant) picture quality throughout both episodic content and bonus materials of which we are grateful for.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x6
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:40:48 (Disc 1 & 2), 2:06:00 (Disc 3), 1:42:44 (Disc 4 & 5), 2:08:31 (Disc 6)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps

Overall:

Animated by J.C. Staff, the studio which brought us iconic shows such as Shakugan No Shana, The Familiar of Zero and Toradora, comes Little Busters; an animated TV series based upon the events of the Japanese visual novel of the same name which sees a group of friends known as Little Busters as they attempt to recruit class-mates for their Baseball club. Interestingly enough this ‘recruitment’ is just a pretence for the real story; a story which explores the troubles and hardships that each of the characters (and new recruits) within the Little Busters group have to deal with.

As a visual novel Little Busters would work quite well, with its introduction and then multiple routes for the various different characters and their hardships being portrayed to the player; but as an animated TV series it hasn’t transcended across very well. This is mostly due to the disconnect between each of the episodes and a lack of ‘focal point’ that binds them all together. Sure enough it starts off well with Riki, who is considered the protagonist within this series, managing to locate and recruit new members; but after this the episodes go and explore each of the characters back stories and the troubles that they are experience. As a result the ‘focal point’ of becoming a baseball club takes a backburner and instead the focal point is moved to the characters.

It’s not exactly a bad thing; as some of the characters back stories are quite interesting, especially Kuds, but it doesn’t feel like a proper animated series with a start, middle and an end; instead it’s just a bunch of episodes with a loosely based set of events tying them all together. It’s disappointing; but it has some good moments. In regards to this DVD release then MVM Entertainment have (once again) opted to use disc masters provided by Sentai Filmworks and as such the content, quality and presentation is exactly the same as those in America. The positives of course mean we receive a NTSC product and that the subtitles are untampered with Yellow (for dialogue) and White (for translation notes) being clearly presented throughout in addition to an English Dub (which is just terrible I might add). Supplementary features are also a nice touch; as a wide-selection of bonus content (including promotional materials for both the TV broadcast and Home Video release) are also included; a feature which is often not included on Sentai Filmwork titles.

Overall the series is disappointingly entertaining with a poor quality English Dub and yet despite this this release has some positive aspects. For starters the characters, which I guess are the main draw to this series, are superb with each being memorable and entertaining on screen – it’s just unfortunate that majority of the storyline content that involves these said characters (except for Kud) are not as memorable. As a DVD release then it’s pretty much everything you’d come to expect with the added bonus of a variety of supplementary content in addition to the episodic content. Is Little Busters worth the watch? Probably not but if you need something to pass the time then it’s worth giving it a go as you may be surprised at some of the stories it has to offer.

Score: review-stars-3

Little Busters – The Complete Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 17th April 2017 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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