DVD Review: Little Busters! Refrain – The Complete Series

No baseball puns required; but MVM Entertainment does bring us a second strike with their DVD release of Little Busters! Refrain. So what can one expect from this release? Well let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Riki Naoe and his teammates have finally formed a complete baseball team for the Little Busters. When they reunite, there’s a strange sense of deja vu as the personal mysteries and idiosyncrasies that have permeated the game coalesce into something unexpected.

As the team members fall into their roles, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. Riki learns the secrets behind his narcolepsy and a stunning truth about this world will be revealed, one that will change everything.

Our View:

Despite its extended title Little Busters! Refrain is not a spin-off or an alternate story within a parallel universe but it is actually the second season of the twenty-six anime series based upon a visual novel that saw a group of friends form a baseball club at school. As a result of this Little Busters! Refrain picks up shortly after the events of the first season, which saw the group enter their first official baseball match, to deliver a story that revolves solely around Rin and Riki’s personal difficulties and the truth behind the entire events leading up to it.

Story-wise Little Busters Refrain! Is a continuation to the events that transpired within the first season; however this is not immediately noticeable when watching this series and it’s not until the final four episodes that you’ll realize Little Busters has more in common with Angel Beats than it does with your traditional high-school slice of life anime. Why exactly? SPOILERS Well the world that these characters inhabit is actually a ‘shared dream’ created by Kyousuke in an attempt to make Riki and Rin’s souls stronger so that they can survive the crash they were in which has left them (and everyone else within the school) on the brink of death END SPOILER.

It is an interesting plot twist that I (personally) never saw coming and it makes the events of the previous season, such as Mio’s a split personality and Kud’s sudden arrival of a metal object half-way across the world, more understandable. The same can also be said for events within this second season; as one particular scenario sees Riki repeat the same day over-and-over again until a solution can be triggered to make the day move forward. Unfortunately despite this ‘rather emotional’ truth being revealed the ending of this series spoils any drama that it could have created; with both Riki and Rin managing to become stronger and rescue everyone that was involved.

Naturally its not all disappointing; as while the ‘story’ of Little Busters Refrain and its ending leave much to be desired the character relationships it builds throughout these thirteen episodes has merit. For instance we’ve always known that Rin and Riki share a bond with each other; so its great to see these two characters get together in a boyfriend & girlfriend scenario which leaves then confused on what to do as well as their own feelings. It’s a nice refreshing break from the ‘actual events’ which make little to no sense with its puzzling presentation and lack of context. But alas; these aspects may have been presented in the original entertainment media rather than this adapted anime series but on the whole this series leaves much to be desired – even if it did have some good points.

Extras:

As per usual the only selection of bonus materials is a selection of trailers from other Sentai Filmwork releases as well as the textless opening and closing animations for the anime itself. All of these bonus features are on the first DVD disc as opposed to being spread out across numerous discs like other Sentai Filmwork authored releases.

In total six trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases can be found on the first DVD disc; with majority of them being available from MVM Entertainment (namely Log Horizon, Muv-Luv Alternate, Ef: A Tale of Memories and Infinite Stratos 2) while Non Non Biyori and The World God Only Knows Goddesses has yet to receive a UK release. In short its not a lot of supplementary content; but it is the bare minimum we expect from a Sentai Filmworks authored release nowadays.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x3
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:40:48 (Disc 1 & 2), 2:06:00 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow for Dialogue & White for Translations)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps

Overall:

Little Busters Refrain continues the exploits of the Little Busters group to deliver a rather emotionally challenging storyline that opts to forget majority of the characters from the first season to focus primarily on Riki and Rin. Personally I enjoyed this perspective as (with the exception of Kud and Komari) these were my favourite characters and as such we see Riki and Rin go through hardships that will not only strength their bond but develop their characters into stronger people – which is the only purpose of this season so that they can overcome the hardships delivered to them towards the end of the series.

Generally speaking the episodes contained with Little Busters Refrain are different to those within the previous season; sure enough the original season featured relatively dark tones relating to each characters personalities; but in this we just have a rather lacklusture story that sees various ‘bad things’ happen to our group of characters – that is until the truth is revealed to which the whole storyline changes to deliver an ending. It’s not what expected, it’s not entirely what you wanted – it is just mediocre and a bit disappointing; especially when assumptions you make based on facts turn out to be false.

Disregarding my questionable opinion about Little Busters! Refrain this DVD release by MVM Entertainment is pretty much how would expect it to be; with the series spread across three DVD discs to deliver a constant stream of quality throughout. The series, just like its season one release, is presented in NTSC format – which delivers the better picture and audio quality when compared to PAL format – and features both English and Japanese dialogue with the Japanese dialogue containing English subtitles that are presented in Yellow text (or white) depending on the circumstances. Basically it is your typical Sentai Filmworks authored disc master and the quality remains consistent throughout – well except the English Dub that is which of course remains questionably poor.

On the whole Little Busters! Refrain wraps-up the events of the anime series to create a story that falls in line with its original source material and while I find that material to be relatively disappointing there are a few surprises in store and its great to see these characters again on screen. Little Busters! Refrain doesn’t follow the same pattern laid out by the previous season and it does not feature the same cast of characters (although they may make a brief apperence); but it does provide that conclusive ending which was absent from the first season.

Score: review-stars-3

Little Busters! Refrain – The Complete Series is now available on DVD and Blu-ray 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 at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock 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, PS4 or Xbox One.

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