DVD Review: Little Busters EX – The Complete Collection

The Little Busters return for a third outing but not all is what it seems; so with this being said does Little Busters EX have what it takes to stand up to the rest of the franchise? That all depends on what you would rather watch; but Little Busters EX is a nice change of pace as we find out in our review of the Little Busters EX DVD Collection by MVM Entertainment.

Synopsis:

Does the new girl in Riki Naoe’s life need his help, or is she actually trying to kill him? After a chance encounter on a rooftop brings the enigmatic Saya Tokido into the Little Busters’ world, the only thing that’s certain is that trouble is sure to follow.

As if saving the lives of his teammates wasn’t enough of a task to handle, now Riki must also untangle a web of new mysteries that seem to be rooted in his own personal past! Who are the Dark Executives, why do they want to keep Saya and Riki apart, and what is the nature of the secret treasure that Saya seeks? Sometimes, answers lead to even more questions as Riki and the Little Busters discover that they weren’t the only people drawn into Kyousuke’s artificial world in LITTLE BUSTERS! EX!

Our View:

Taking place somewhere between near the end of the first season and before the middle half of the second season, Little Busters EX is a collection of episodes that further explore the imaginary world that Riki has become enveloped in and the interactions he has within it. Consisting of only eight episodes, which cover three different stories arcs, the events of Little Busters EX sees Riki as he becomes acquainted with three female characters and in turn help them with the troubles they face.

In some aspects the events of Little Busters EX are reminisce of those found within the first season; whereby Rikki would attempt to learn more about the character before actually getting involved in helping them. The difference here however is that Rikki isn’t trying to recruit members for the baseball club and is instead just doing it out of the goodness of his heart. Does this hamper the experience? Not at all as at times I completely forgot that this was the intention of Rikki during those episodes within the first season.

So what exactly happens? Well not to spoil too many details but these eight episodes are spread across two DVD discs, with four episodes per disc. The first disc focuses on Saya Tokido, a brand new character to franchise, who is seemingly trying to defeat mysterious enemies known as the ‘darkness executives’ by locating a ‘treasure’ found underneath the school. As this arc moves forward we see Riki and Saya become closer with one another to an extent that they begin to work together in order to accomplish their goal which eventually leads them to develop feelings for one another. Unlike past episodes of Little Busters this story arc offers a lot more action, with gun-fights and fist-fights, and a fair amount of fan-service (up skirts of Saya) and presents a different type of vibe to the normal Little Busters experience. It’s as if someone else entirely produced this part of the series.

The other two arcs however are more true to form; with the next two episodes focusing on Sasami, who bizarrely finds herself turning into a cat, and the final two episodes focusing on Kanata and her younger sister. Each of these two story arcs retain the style that was present in the both seasons of Little Busters; but for me the story arc revolving around Sasami provided a nice change of pace. Why exactly? Well Sasami is known for being self-righteous and stuck-up but during this small selection of episodes we see that personality change and adapt to the situation of being turned into a cat. Furthermore it also has a serious emotional side where a once lost pet returns home to its own (so to speak).

The final arc of the series meanwhile revolves around Kanata, who is of course Haruka’s older sister, and explores her side of the story surrounding their abuse as children as well as the arranged marriage. It covers interesting topics; but sadly it is done in a rather rushed fashion – especially the arranged marriage – and ends on a rather unresolved ending. Of course these are just ‘bonus episodes’ that cover the ecstasy element of the original PC Visual Novel and do not effect the overall storyline of the main series.

Like it or lump it Little Busters EX will offer something different for everyone. For me the personal highlights were the first two story arcs of the series as it provided a different change of pace to past season. Sure enough it features the same old ‘this is a dream’ scenario but because they offer something different to norm it is nice to watch. If you enjoyed what the main Little Busters series had to offer then you’ll enjoy the stories being told here; however just don’t expect any screen time from the other characters of the Little Busters team as other than a few brief lines of dialogue it’s pretty much a collection of episodes focused entirely on Rikki, Saya, Sasami, Haruka and Kanta.

Extras:

As per usual the only selection of bonus materials on this release is a selection of trailers from other Sentai Filmwork releases as well as the of textless opening and closing animations used throughout this OVA Collection. It’s not a lot of content; but it is better than receiving nothing at all.

As this set covers a variety of different character arcs the textless opening and closings songs are separated across both discs; with disc one featuring the opening and ending animations for Saya while the second disc having the opening and ending animations for Sasami and Kanata’s story arcs.

The trailers on the other hand are located on the first DVD disc and feature four trailers for other Sentai Filmwork licensed shows; in this case Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Wish Upon the Pleiades, Aoharu X Machinegun and RIN-NE.  The inclusion of these trailers highlights that MVM Entertainment are once again use disc masters authored via Sentai Filmworks but it is worth noting that Gatchaman Crowds Insight and Wish Upon the Pleiades are available through Animatsu Entertainment whilst the other two titles are not yet available within the UK.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:40:44 (Disc 1), 1:40:34 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow & White for Translations)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps

Overall:

Little Busters EX differs from the norm and opts to provide three independent stories that take place ‘at some point’ during the main storyline and as such do not disrupt the overall presentation of either series or this OVA Collection. Although that may be the case the events that transpire within this OVA Collection do not delivery any impact on further understanding the lead group of characters; instead it is more about putting focus on a selection of characters that were previously in the original visual novel but were left out of the main series.

Saya, Sasami and Kanata are the three female characters that have their own stand-a-lone stories played out on screen in this Collection and while Kanata’s is the most realistic, as it sees her being force married to someone, Saya and Sasami’s storylines provide the action and comedy that you may be seeking. Basically each storyline will offer something unique and different, especially when compared with events of the past seasons, so it is a nice change of pace – even if it does feel similar to the main series.

Also worth noting that although Little Busters EX takes place within the events of the main series no prior knowledge of the franchise – with the exception of character names (possibly?) – is needed as these episodes are all self-contained with an introduction and an ending. DVD Wise then this release is as you would expect it to be with constant picture quality and simple menu interactions. In regards to audio then you’ll be pleased to know this release features both English and Japanese audio with the English dub seeing the entire cast return to do their roles; although personally I would just recommend watching the Japanese audio track.

Overall Little Busters EX provides a different experience to that of the main season and while I found it more enjoyable to watch elements that I disliked of the main season still remain – such as an ending that doesn’t really have any value or meaning and leaves the viewer confused as to how this story ended.  If you enjoyed Little Busters then you’ll like what Little Busters EX has to offer; but it would be hard to recommend it to anyone else with so many alternatives available.

Score: review-stars-3

Little Busters EX – The Complete Collection will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 19th June 2017.

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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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