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Little Busters!

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Not to be confused with Little Busters.
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Game
Developer Key
Publisher Visual Art's (PC)
Prototype (PS2, PSP)
Genre Eroge, Visual novel
Rating

Everyone (Original PC/Ecstasy all ages)
18+ (Original Ecstasy)

CERO: B (PS2)
Platform PC, PS2, PSP
Released July 27, 2007 (PC limited ed.)
July 25, 2008 (Ecstasy)

Little Busters! (リトルバスターズ! Ritoru Basutāzu!?) is a Japanese visual novel developed by Key which was originally released, rated for everyone as a limited edition version, on July 27, 2007 playable on the PC as a DVD; a regular edition, also rated for everyone, followed on September 28, 2007. Little Busters! is Key's sixth game, along with other titles such as Kanon, Air, and Clannad. Despite the first two releases of Little Busters! having a rating for everyone, there were still some suggestive computer graphics that provided fan service shots. An adult version of the game entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy was released on July 25, 2008, unlike Kanon and Air, which were first released with adult content and then had later versions with such content removed. The title Little Busters! comes from a group of friends in the story named the Little Busters in which the main protagonist, Riki Naoe, has been a member of since childhood. In June 2010, Key released an adult spin-off of Ecstasy called Kud Wafter, which expanded on the scenario of Kudryavka Noumi, one of the heroines from Little Busters! and Ecstasy.

The gameplay in Little Busters! follows a plot line which offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the six female main characters, which increases to nine in Ecstasy. There are additional minigames added into the gameplay, such as sequences that resemble fighting games or baseball games, which serve to give the characters experience, obtain accessories to use during battle, and improve their statistics. The game had an extended developmental staff which incorporated new members to the roles of an additional art director, scenario writer, and to work on the game's soundtrack.

There have been three manga adaptations based on Little Busters! and three based on Little Busters! Ecstasy. Two are serialized in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine, another two are serialized in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Festival! Comic, and the remaining two in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace. A series of illustrated short stories were also serialized in Dengeki G's Magazine. An Internet radio show began in June 2008 hosted by the voice actors of Rin and Kyousuke Natsume from the visual novel; the voice of Kudryavka Noumi joined as a host in March 2009.

Gameplay

Little Busters!' gameplay requires little interaction from the player as most of the duration of the game is spent on simply reading the text that appears on the game screen which represents either dialogue between the various characters, or the inner thoughts of the protagonist. Every so often, the player will come to a "decision point" where he or she is given the chance to choose from options that are displayed on the screen, typically two or three at a time. The time between these decision points is variable and can occur anywhere from a minute to much longer. During these times, gameplay pauses until a choice is made that furthers the plot in a specific direction, depending on which choice the player makes.

In the original release, there are six main plot lines that the player will have the chance to experience, one for each of the heroines in the story.[1] This is expanded to nine plot lines in Little Busters! Ecstasy due to two of the supporting cast being promoted to heroine status, plus the addition of a brand new character. In order to view all plot lines in their entirety, the player will have to replay the game multiple times and choose different choices during the decision points in order to further the plot to an alternate direction. Once a scenario for any heroine is completed, that scenario will be unavailable in the next play through because the last choice that will ultimately lead to that heroine's scenario becomes unavailable for players to choose.[1] After the scenarios for the heroines have been completed, a final scenario called Refrain is made available which serves to bring everything to a definite conclusion and answers questions brought up throughout the normal gameplay.[1] Completing the final scenario also again makes available all the heroine's scenarios that were previously made inaccessible during gameplay so that the player can revisit the scenarios again if he or she wishes, along with some extra decision points that were unavailable previously.[1]
File:Little Busters! fighting mode.jpg

Members of the Little Busters group will often get into physical fights with either each other or with others. These sequences are shown to resemble a fighting game, but no interaction from the player is required to fight.[1] Each member of the fight has a set of statistics attributed to them (which includes strength, stamina, agility, reflex, concentration, judgment, and luck) along with a life bar to keep track of how many hit points a fighter has left.[1] The maximum number of hit points is determined by the given fighter's stamina rating. Weapons may be used along with any accessories the fighter has in their possession.[1] There are additional "missions" that the members of the Little Busters will do to accomplish some goal that depends on the choices of the player whether the mission will be completed or failed. These missions are connected with the fighting game sequences and batting practice in that they serve to give the characters experience, obtain accessories to use during battle, and improve their statistics.[1] However, these missions do not affect the main plot in any way—the player even has the choice to turn off some of the events, such as fighting games or batting practice, so that the player may focus on the main plot.[1]

The first time that the game is played, Rin's statistics are too weak, but when the player completes several heroine's routes, Rin and Riki's statistics will start out higher than before when the player starts a new game, allowing Rin and Riki to stand a better chance against opponents with higher stats. Throughout the game, the player needs to direct Riki by choosing appropriate choices at decision points in order to solve the problem each girls are facing, excluding only Rin.

Despite the original release of Little Busters! having a rating for everyone, there is an ample amount of computer graphics featuring the female characters in risqué situations, though never to the point to be considered sexual in nature.[2] This is in stark contrast to Key's previous titles Clannad and Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume that also have ratings for everyone, but those titles contain no such risqué situations or even any fan service.[3][4] Adult elements to the game were added to the third release of the game, Little Busters! Ecstasy, along with additional story for the established scenarios and new scenarios for Kanata Futaki and Sasami Sasasegawa—two supporting characters from the original release. Also, a new heroine named Saya Tokido is only featured in Ecstasy. The new heroines' stories are unavailable to the player the first time the game is played.

Plot

File:Little Busters! baseball field.jpg

Setting and themes

The main part of the story takes place at a high school in Japan. There is a "secret of this world" that Kyousuke speaks of; Kengo and Masato are also aware of this.[5] The characters live in either the male or female dormitories on the school grounds which are adjacent to each other. Facing the dorms is the main school building where classes take place which also houses the cafeteria on the ground floor. The school is four floors tall and offers a roof that anyone can go up onto if they wish. Beyond the main school building is the large schoolyard, with the pool area adjacent to the yard. On the other side of the field, is the baseball field, with the gymnasium and tennis court beyond it which is closer to the main school building.

Childhood and adolescence are two important themes in Little Busters!.[6][7] The opening video of the visual novel starts with two lines written in English: "What 'Adolescence' do you have?" and "Do you remember 'Childhood'?". Riki Naoe, the male protagonist, has four childhood friends whom he grew up together with through adolescence and still hangs out with when the story begins. Thus, friendship[6][7] is another theme presented in the form of Riki's relationships with his friends in high school, and is thought to be irreplaceable. The opening video of the original visual novel contains a third line written in English, "The irreplaceable one existed there," though another line was added into the opening video of Little Busters! Ecstasy: "This will remind you that you have to recollect 'Adolescence'."

Principal characters

The player assumes the role of Riki Naoe, the protagonist of Little Busters!. He is seen as weak due to his girlish appearance and physical build but is very straightforward and has more common sense than most of his friends. He is a member of a group of friends called the Little Busters, which originally consisted of four members, but expanded to five with Riki during his childhood, and later to ten over the course of the story which includes the game's six heroines. The leader of the Little Busters is Kyousuke Natsume, who is the eldest member. He often comes up with absurd ideas, but almost always follows up with a reasonable explanation along with it. He suffers from a lolita complex, though he denies it.

Kyousuke's younger sister is Rin Natsume, the main heroine of Little Busters!, and is initially the only female member of the Little Busters. She does not communicate well with others due to her poor social skills and can be seen as inarticulate. Due to this, she is anti-social, and is usually seen alone. Rin loves cats and at school takes care of several strays; it is not uncommon for several cats to crawl onto her. Riki's roommate and fellow member of the Little Busters is Masato Inohara who loves to work out and improve his muscle mass. He has a particular fondness for Riki, which he is more than willing to express out aloud. Masato's rival and fellow member of the Little Busters is Kengo Miyazawa who is skilled in the art of kendo and seemingly has a cynical personality, but his passion for the Little Busters is unmatched by any of the other members.

Riki meets five other girls attending his high school who later become members of the Little Busters; they are also all heroines in the game. The first is Komari Kamikita, a very childish girl who takes great interest in fairy-tales, picture books, candy, and clothing with many layers of frills. She is very clumsy, and will often not think before she acts. She performs well in her studies and is also surprisingly athletic, though this is somewhat hampered by the fact that she is quite weak and has never participated in any sport properly before. Haruka Saigusa is a schoolmate of Riki's from a different class, but despite this, always seems to find time to hang around in Riki's classroom. She is a problem child and will start an uproar for her own personal enjoyment, which causes her twin sister, the public morals chairman Kanata Futaki, to chase after her.

Kudryavka Noumi, known as "Kud" (クド Kudo?) for short, is a girl who is one quarter Japanese, and three-quarters Russian. Her grandfather was Japanese, and per his influence on her, she came to know much about the Japanese culture, including the language. Despite having a poor handle on the English language, she was able to skip a year in school due to credits obtained through studying abroad, making her the youngest member of the Little Busters. Kudryavka will appear in Key's eighth game, Kud Wafter, as the main heroine. Yuiko Kurugaya is Riki's classmate who has a self-sufficient personality, and is sometimes seen carrying a replica of a katana called Muramasa. She is seen as an older sister to everyone despite being the same age of almost the entire cast, and is referred to as Anego (姉御?, "elder sister") by Haruka. She is fond of things or people she considers to be cute, such as several of the female cast of characters.[8] Mio Nishizono is a calm girl who is very diligent. Due to having weak health, she is always seen with a parasol when outside. She enjoys reading, especially when the story contains boys love elements, and her room is filled with books. She carries around a book of poems by Bokusui Wakayama.
File:Komari Kamikita Key screenshot.jpg

Story

Little Busters!' story revolves around the main protagonist Riki Naoe, a young male high school student. When Riki was a child, his parents died, leaving him hopeless and depressed. A group of three young boys and one girl his age saved him who referred to themselves as the Little Busters, a group dedicated to fighting evil and preserving justice.[9] The leader of the group was Kyousuke Natsume who had a younger sister named Rin. The other two members were Masato Inohara and Kengo Miyazawa, who were rivals despite being friends. They took Riki out and played together with him during his time of need, making him the fifth Little Busters member. In time, Riki enjoyed playing with them, and his grief over his parents gradually faded away.[9] When the story begins, Riki and his friends are seemingly in their second year of high school, except for Kyousuke who is in his third year. They still hang out together, and enjoy their school life.

The story opens on Sunday May 13, 2007, and the next day at school, Kyousuke decides that the Little Busters are going to play a baseball game, except they do not have enough members to have a complete team. Kyousuke gives Riki and Rin the task of going around school to find more members to join, preferably girls so as not to leave Rin the lone girl. Riki finds five girls his age willing to help him out. They are: Komari Kamikita, a childish girl who is very clumsy; Haruka Saigusa, a problem child who likes to start uproars for her own enjoyment; Kudryavka Noumi, a one-quarter Japanese girl in the home economics club who is very bad in English; Yuiko Kurugaya, a girl who is given respect from her peers, and has a self-sufficient personality; and Mio Nishizono, a calm girl with a weak body who is always seen holding a parasol when outside. Throughout the game, Riki hangs out with these girls and learns more about them.

The story's main par takes place in what seems to be a normal high school, but in fact all took place in the school term previous to Little Busters!, and Riki and Rin are reliving it in an artificial world created by Kyousuke. They, and the other main characters, were involved in a bus accident during a school excursion, and only the two of them will survive. Kyousuke created the artificial world to make them strong enough to deal with what will happen when they awaken in the real world. The world loops, but though they forget what happens, Riki and Rin do grow stronger, and Kyousuke hopes that they will eventually be strong enough to leave the world. They do manage to survive and get away from the crash site before Riki collapses because he has narcolepsy. Riki vows to fight against his narcoleptic condition, which was the reason why he was only able to save Rin and merely get away from the explosion before collapsing.

Rin travels back into the artificial world again (which is created by Riki and Rin) where she uses Komari's star-shaped hair band to send herself and Riki back in time to the crash site. It is revealed that Kyousuke, who sneaked onto the bus (as a third year he was not allowed to go), managed to block the leak hole on the gas tank to prevent the explosion, despite his injuries being far greater than anyone else. Due to this, Riki and Rin work together to save everyone including Kyousuke at the crash scene. Everyone in the bus recovers from their injuries, although Kyousuke's recovery takes longer due to extensive injuries. Right after Kyousuke returns, which takes even longer than usual since he was trying to earn a driver's license, the members of the Little Busters set out for another trip.

Development

For the first time in Key's history, two artists were given the position of art director for the visual novel: Itaru Hinoue and Na-Ga.[10] Hinoue has been Key's signature art director since Key's first game Kanon, and Na-Ga has been with Key since the production of Air working as one of the computer graphics artists to render background art used in Key's games. Due to having two art directors, character design was split between the two, though Na-Ga is responsible for the character design of the majority of the cast. Of the six heroines in the story, three were designed by each artist; Komari, Haruka, and Yuiko were designed by Hinoue while Rin, Kudryavka, and Mio were done by Na-Ga. For work on the scenario, Jun Maeda contributed along with helping with composing some of the game's music.[10] Little Busters! is to be the last game that Maeda will contribute to through work on the scenario.[11] Further writers include Leo Kashida who had worked on Tomoyo After: It's a Wonderful Life, and two new scenario writers to Key—Yūto Tonokawa, and Chika Shirokiri. Maeda wrote the scenarios for Rin and the entire male cast; Kashida wrote the scenario for Mio; Tonokawa wrote the scenarios for Komari and Yuiko; finally, Shirokiri wrote the scenarios for Haruka and Kudryavka.[12] The music in the game, not counting Maeda's, was composed by four additional people including Key's signature composers Shinji Orito and Magome Togoshi, and two new composers—Manack and PMMK.[10] Togoshi left Key in October 2006 before the visual novel went on sale.[13]

Release history

On June 1, 2007, a free game demo of Little Busters! became available for download at Key's official website. In the demo, the player was introduced to the characters of the Little Busters group in the game through a short sequence that is typical of the gameplay found in a visual novel. The demo did not give the player the chance to interact with the scene presented, making the demo a short kinetic novel. The full game was first introduced to the public in Japan as a limited edition version on July 27, 2007 as a DVD playable only on a Microsoft Windows PC. The regular edition was released on September 28, 2007.[10] The limited edition contained an arrange album of some of the music featured in the game, and a 128-page visual guide book entitled Natsume Kyousuke Fūrai Ki (棗恭介風来記?).[10] The book contained information and images on characters, background CG, the art exhibition, images of the heroines published in various Japanese anime and gaming magazines, a question and answer section, information on the creators of the game, and lyrics of a couple of songs featured in the game. In an interview of Jun Maeda and Yūto Tonokawa in the August 2007 issue of Push!!, it was reported that the story of Little Busters! is twice as long as Air's, but only half as long as Clannad's. However, this does not take into account the minigames in Little Busters! which serve to lengthen the game.[14]

An adult version of the game under the title Little Busters! Ecstasy (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー Ritoru Basutāzu Ekusutashī?), or Little Busters-EX for short, was released as a limited edition version on July 25, 2008 as two DVDs playable only on a Microsoft Windows PC; the regular edition followed on September 26, 2008. The limited edition came bundled with a remix album of music featured in the game, and a 22-minute length CD containing a special broadcast of the Little Busters! Internet radio show.[15][16] Ecstasy contains new scenarios and new CGs, which includes two of the supporting female characters—Kanata Futaki and Sasami Sasasegawa—being promoted to heroines of the game, in much the same fashion as the existing female lead characters,[17] along with the introduction of an entirely new heroine named Saya Tokido designed by Na-Ga and whose story is written by Jun Maeda. Tonokawa wrote Sasami's scenario, and Shirokiri wrote Kanata's story. Lines from the original game were rewritten as well for Ecstasy, and the total number of lines with spoken dialogue comes to 43,347 lines.[18][19] The total word count in Ecstasy exceeds that of Clannad by about 4000 words, making it Key's longest work, and carries so much data that Ecstasy was released on two DVD discs instead of one for the original release.[16][20]

It was not decided until three or four months before the initial sale of Little Busters! that Ecstasy would be created.[21] The regular edition for Ecstasy has several minor additions and changes to scenarios and minigames, including the addition of weapons available for use in the battle minigames.[22] An updated version, 1.01, for the limited edition of Ecstasy was released by Key for free on their website on September 22, 2008; the regular edition of Ecstasy contains this update.[23][24] An all-ages version of Ecstasy for the PC was released by Key on July 31, 2009 in a box set containing five other Key visual novels called Key 10th Memorial Box.[25] Prototype released a PlayStation 2 (PS2) port of Ecstasy entitled Little Busters! Converted Edition on December 24, 2009, which removed the adult elements of the game.[26] The PS2 version was available to try at Key 10th Memorial Fes, an event held in commemoration of Key's ten-year anniversary between February 28 and March 1, 2009.[27] A PlayStation Portable version of Little Busters! Converted Edition, also by Prototype, will be released on November 25, 2010.[28]

Adaptations

Books and publications

A series of twelve short stories were serialized in the Japanese bishōjo magazine Dengeki G's Magazine, published by ASCII Media Works. The stories, under the collective title Official Episode Collection, were published in two batches: the first six stories were published between the March 2006 and August 2006 issues, while the second batch of six were serialized between the October 2006 and March 2007 issues.[29][30][31][32] In each of the two batches, one of the six stories centered on one of the six heroines, and were accompanied by a large image of the given heroine which took up most of the space for the first page in each story. This configuration left a small block of text on the first page, followed by usually a full page of text, with the given heroine's image used as a backdrop. Komari, Haruka, and Yuiko were drawn by Itaru Hinoue, and Rin, Kudryavka, and Mio were drawn by Na-Ga. The stories were written by the respective scenario writer for each girl: Jun Maeda wrote Rin's, Leo Kashida wrote Mio's, Yūto Tonokawa wrote Komari's and Yuiko's, and Chika Shirokiri wrote Haruka's and Kudryavka's stories.[29][30][31][32]

In addition, a single-volume light novel anthology was released by Ichijinsha on January 25, 2008 under their DMC Novel imprint entitled Little Busters! Novel Anthology. The anthology was written by six authors, and illustrated by six artists.[33] Four volumes of a short story compilation series by several authors entitled Little Busters! SSS were published by Harvest between April and November 2008.[34][35] Harvest published a novel by Tasuku Saika entitled Little Busters! Haruka Saigusa's Trouble Record Book (リトルバスターズ!三枝葉留佳の事件簿 Ritoru Basutāzu! Saigusa Haruka no Jikenbo?) in September 2008.[36] Ten volumes of another short story compilation series by several authors called Little Busters! Ecstasy SSS were published by Harvest between January 2009 and October 2010.[37][38] Five volumes of an adult novel series entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy H&H written by several authors were published by Harvest between February and June 2009.[39][40] Harvest published a novel by Osamu Murata entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy: Our School Festival War (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー 僕らの学園祭戦争 Ritoru Basutāzu! Ekusutashī Bokura no Gakuensai Sensō?) in March 2009.[41] The first volume of a short story anthology compilation series written by Shin'ichirō Kodama, Ken'ichi Itoi, and Kachō entitled LittBus. (りとばす。 Ritobasu.?) was released in May 2009; the second volume was released in July 2009.[42][43] Paradigm began publishing a light novel anthology character series titled Little Busters! Ecstasy Anthology written and illustrated by multiple authors and artists, starting with Rin; the first novel was released in February 2010 and the third volume was released in June 2010.[44][45] Harvest began publishing a light novel anthology character series as well titled Little Busters! Ecstasy Character Anthology, starting with Kudryavka; the first volume was released in June 2010 and the second volume was released in October 2010.[46][47]

An art book entitled Little Busters! Perfect Visual Book (リトルバスターズ! パーフェクトビジュアルブック Ritoru Basutāzu! Pāfekkto Bijuaru Bukku?) was released on December 20, 2007.[48] Published by ASCII Media Works, the 206-page, hard-cover bound book contains a compilation of the published and promotional art from the visual novel, detailed character profiles and memo sections, and an overview of the visual novel's plot.[1] Also included are all the CG cut scenes from the game, concept illustrations, staff interviews, as well as a short story "'Our' Morning" (「僕ら」の朝 'Bokura' no Asa?) written by Yūto Tonokawa. A short section at the end of the book finally concludes the compilation with the melodic sheet music and lyrics of the vocal songs featured in the game.[1] Included with the actual book were two pencil boards. The statistics of the battle equipment used in the mini-games were listed on one of the boards.[1] Another art book entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy Perfect Visual Book (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー パーフェクトビジュアルブック Ritoru Basutāzu! Ekusutashī Pāfekkto Bijuaru Bukku?) was released on December 19, 2008 by ASCII Media Works.

Manga

File:Little Busters manga volume 1 cover.jpg

A four-panel comic strip manga entitled Little Busters! The 4-koma was serialized between the March 2006 and March 2010 issues of ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine.[29][49] Despite the manga being released before the visual novel, the story was inspired from the game and is illustrated by Yūya Sasagiri. Most chapters contain eight pages, and 15 separate comic strips. Some chapters such as 17 and 22 begin as a normal manga layout and follow with eight pages containing 16 comic strips. An additional "extra" chapter, published in the ninth volume of Dengeki G's Festival! on June 30, 2007, contained ten pages, and 19 full-color comic strips. Special chapters of the manga have been published in ASCII Media Works's manga magazine Dengeki G's Festival! Comic.[50] The first bound volume containing the first 17 chapters was released on August 27, 2007, and was published by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Comics EX imprint. The end of the first volume also contained a bonus comic that is four pages long and in a normal manga layout as well as two pages of comments by four Key staff members: Itaru Hinoue, Jun Maeda, Na-Ga, and Yūto Tonokawa. The fourth and final volume was released on April 27, 2010. Yūya Sasagiri also illustrates the Little Busters! EX The 4-koma four-panel comic strip manga, which had a preview in the April 2010 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine and began regular serialization in the June 2010 issue.[51]

Another manga titled Little Busters! and illustrated by Nobuyuki Takagi started serialization in Dengeki G's Festival! Comic on November 26, 2007.[52] The first volume of Takagi's manga was released on April 27, 2009; the second followed on March 27, 2010. A fourth manga, referred to as the "official Little Busters! comic",[53] began serialization in the May 2008 issue of Kadokawa Shoten's magazine Comp Ace and is illustrated by Mogura Anagura.[53] The first volume of Anagura's manga was released on September 26, 2008, and the second volume followed in April 2010. A fifth manga adaptation titled Little Busters! Ecstasy (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー Ritoru Basutāzu! Ekusutashī?) began serialization in Dengeki G's Festival! Comic on January 26, 2009 and is illustrated by Zen.[54] The first volume of Zen's manga was released on April 27, 2010. A sixth manga titled Little Busters! Ecstasy: Wonderbit Wandering (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー ワンダービット ワンダリング?) began serialization in the May 2010 issue of Comp Ace and is illustrated by Juri Misaki.[55][56] The first volume of Misaki's manga was released on September 25, 2010.

There have also been many sets of manga anthologies produced by different companies and drawn by a multitude of different artists. The first volume of the earliest anthology series, a collection of four-panel comic strips released by Enterbrain under the title Magi-Cu 4-koma Little Busters!, was released on September 25, 2007 under their MC Comics imprint; the sixth volume in the series was released on July 25, 2008.[57][58] The second anthology series, released by Ichijinsha under the title Little Busters! Comic Anthology, was released between October 25, 2007 and July 25, 2008 in three volumes under their DNA Media Comics imprint.[59][60] The first volume of the third anthology series, released by Ohzora under the title Little Busters, was released on November 24, 2007 under their Twin Heart Comics imprint; the third volume in the series was released on January 24, 2008.[61][62] Another anthology was released in a single volume by Harvest on December 20, 2007 entitled Go! Go! Our Little Busters! (いけ!いけ!僕らのリトルバスターズ! Ike! Ike! Bokura no Ritoru Basutāzu!?).[63] A manga anthology entitled Little Busters! Comic A La Carte (リトルバスターズ!コミックアラカルト?) appeared in Comp Ace.[64]

The first volume of a collection of four-panel comic strips released by Enterbrain under the title Magi-Cu 4-koma Little Busters! Ecstasy was released on November 25, 2008; the ninth volume was released on August 25, 2010.[65][66] The first volume of another anthology entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy Comic Anthology was released by Ichijinsha in November 2008; the second volume was released in March 2009.[67][68] The first volume of the anthology Little Busters! Ecstasy Ecstatic Anthology was released by Ichijinsha in July 2009; the fifth volume was released in November 2010.[69][70] An anthology published by Brain Navi entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy 4-koma Maximum (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー 4コマMAXIMUM Ritoru Basutāzu! Ekusutashī 4-koma MAXIMUM?) was released in December 2008.[71] Two volumes of a manga anthology based on the Little Busters! Ecstasy H&H novel anthologies were released by Harvest in June and August 2010.[72][73] Another anthology entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy Comic A La Carte (リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー コミックアラカルト?) appeared in Comp Ace and a bound volume was released in April 2010.[74] Each of the anthology series are written and drawn by an average of twenty people per volume.[59][75][76]

Internet radio show

An Internet radio show to promote Little Busters! called Natsume Brothers! (ナツメブラザーズ! Natsume Burazāzu!?) had a pre-broadcast on June 9, 2008, and started regular broadcasting on June 23, 2008.[77] The show is streamed online every Monday, and is produced by the Japanese Internet radio station Onsen. The show was hosted by Tomoe Tamiyasu and Hikaru Midorikawa, who voice Rin and Kyousuke Natsume from the Little Busters! visual novel, for the first 35 broadcasts.[78] Starting with the following broadcast on March 2, 2009, the show's title was changed to Natsume Brothers! (21) (ナツメブラザーズ! (21) Natsume Burazāzu! (21)?), and a third host was added, Miyako Suzuta, who voices Kudryavka Noumi from the Little Busters! visual novel.[79]

An exclusive 22-minute broadcast of the show was included with the first press release of Little Busters! Ecstasy sold on July 25, 2008.[80] The first volume of a CD compilation containing the first eight broadcasts (including the pre-broadcast) was sold on August 15, 2008 at Comiket 74, and was sold for general sale on September 24, 2008.[81] Volumes two through four were released between November 26, 2008 and March 26, 2009, containing the remaining broadcasts of Natsume Brothers! through episode 35.[82][83] The first volume of a CD compilation for Natsume Brothers! (21) containing the first nine broadcasts was released on June 26, 2009.[84] Volumes two through seven were released between September 25, 2009 and September 22, 2010, containing the broadcasts through episode 63 of Natsume Brothers! (21).[85][86] Volume eight will be released on November 26, 2010, containing the broadcasts from episode 99 to 107; episodes 64 through 98 of Natsume Brothers! (21) were not sold in CD compilation volumes.[87] An exclusive broadcast of Natsume Brothers! (21) was included with the release of the PlayStation 2 version of the game, Little Busters! Converted Edition, on December 24, 2009.[26]

Music

The visual novel Little Busters! has six main theme songs, starting with the opening theme "Little Busters!", sung by Rita. There are four different ending themes; three depend on what heroine's story is completed, and the last is the game's final ending theme. The ending theme for Rin and Yuiko's stories is "Song for friends"; the ending theme for Komari and Haruka is "Alicemagic"; the ending theme for Kudryavka and Mio is "Clear Weather After the Rain" (雨のち晴れ Amenochi Hare?); lastly, the final ending theme is "'Little Busters!' -Little Jumper Ver.-". One last theme song is an insert song played near the end of the game's story called "Faraway" (遥か彼方 Haruka Kanata?). The insert song and each of the ending themes are also sung by Rita. When the visual novel is completed at least once, a set of 45 music tracks are available to play on the menu screen. Seven of the main characters from Little Busters! have background music leitmotifs—the original six heroines, and Kyousuke Natsume.[88] Rin's theme is "Ring Ring Ring!"; Komari's theme is "Magic Ensemble" (魔法のアンサンブル Mahō no Ansanburu?); Haruka's theme is "Grief of a Noisy Girl" (騒がし乙女の憂愁 Sawagashi Otome no Yūshū?); Kudryavka's theme is "Exotic Toybox" (えきぞちっく・といぼっくす Ekizochikku Toibokkusu?); Yuiko's theme is "Heart-colored Capriccio" (心色綺想曲 Kokoroiro Kisōkyoku?); Mio's theme is "Approaching Light" (光に寄せて Hikari ni Yosete?); lastly, Kyousuke's theme is "Boys Don't Cry".[88]

Little Busters! Ecstasy features a remixed version of "Little Busters!" as the game's opening theme, instead using the version that was included in the album Rockstar Busters!, making slight alterations and renaming it to "'Little Busters!' -Ecstacy [sic] Ver.-".[89] Ecstasy also features remixed versions of the ending themes "Song for friends" and "Alicemagic". The former is a remix version featuring less lyrics and is renamed to "'Song for friends' -No Intro Ver.-", while the latter is the remix included on Rockstar Busters!, but renamed to "'Alicemagic' -Rockstar Ver.-". The remix of "Alicemagic" is used as the ending theme for Kanata's and Sasami's stories, and the remix of "Song for friends" is used as a replacement for the original version as the ending theme for Rin and Yuiko. A new theme song featured in Ecstasy is Saya's personal ending theme "Saya's Song" and is sung by Lia.[89] Saya's leitmotif is called "Run" (駆ける Kakeru?) and is a remix version of the song "Run" (走る Hashiru?) on Riya's 2005 album Love Song released by Key Sounds Label. Kanata's leitmotif is "Will&Wish", and Sasami's theme is "Cat, Glass, and the Round Moon" (猫と硝子と円い月 Neko to Garasu to Marui Tsuki?).

The first music album released was a maxi single entitled Little Busters! released on May 25, 2007.[90] This first album contained "Little Busters!", "Faraway", and "Alicemagic" in original and instrumental versions. As with Key's previous works (excluding Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume), a music album came bundled with the limited edition release of the game; the album, released on July 27, 2007, was called Semicrystalline. and contained arranged versions of ten tracks of the game's music.[91] Eight of the tracks were background music while the last two were remix versions of "Little Busters!" and "Faraway". The game's original soundtrack was first released on August 17, 2007 at Comiket 72 containing three discs with 43 different tracks along with a piano version of one of the background music tracks, a short version of another BGM track, plus short and instrumental versions of the theme songs.[90] Of the fifty-three total tracks, three were left out of the visual novel. The original soundtrack was re-released in Japanese stores on September 28, 2007.[90] Two more albums were released at Comiket 73 on December 28, 2007: another arrange album entitled Rockstar Busters! and an image song single called "Rin no Hisokana Koi no Uta / Mission:Love sniper" sung by Tomoe Tamiyasu, the voice actress who voiced Rin in the game.[90]

On February 29, 2008, a trance remix album of Little Busters! themes entitled OTSU Club Music Compilation Vol.2 was released by OTSU—a disc jockey unit composed of a number of different remix artists.[90] An EP was released on May 4, 2008 containing original and remix versions of "Little Busters!", "Faraway", and "Alicemagic";[92] the remix versions are from the second OTSU Club Music Compilation album.[90] A remix album entitled Ontology containing arranged versions of nine tracks from Little Busters! Ecstasy was released bundled with the limited edition release of that game on July 25, 2008.[16] A soundtrack containing the additional music tracks in Ecstasy entitled Little Busters! Ecstasy Tracks was released on August 15, 2008 at Comiket 74.[89] An image song single called "Saya no Nemureru Requiem / Saya's Song" sung by Harumi Sakurai, the voice actress who voiced Saya in Little Busters! Ecstasy, was released in February 2009 as a limited edition, and for general sale in March 2009.[90] Two more image song singles were released in December 2009 at Comiket 77: "Raison / Pickles o Oishikusuru Tsukurikata" sung by Keiko Suzuki who voiced Kanata Futaki in Little Busters!, and "Neko to Garasu to Marui Tsuki / Alicemagic: Aroma Tablet mix" sung by Tomoe Tamiya who voiced Sasami Sasasegawa.[90] Each of the albums released were on Key's record label Key Sounds Label.

Reception

From mid-June to mid-July 2007, the limited edition of Little Busters! ranked second in national PC game pre-orders in Japan.[93] The limited edition version of Little Busters! ranked first in terms of national sales of PC games in Japan in July 2007.[94] The game (which includes the regular edition) ranked consecutively seven more times achieving sales rankings of fourteenth, twenty-fifth twice in a row, thirty-seventh, thirty-ninth twice in a row, and forty-first between the months of August 2007 and February 2008.[94] According to public sales information published at Gamasutra, taken from the Japanese Amazon website, Little Busters! was the number one top seller between July 26, 2007 and August 17, 2007 for Japanese PC game sales.[95][96][97] The game dropped to third highest the following week taken from August 24, 2007, which was also the game's last appearance in the ranking.[98][99] Little Busters! was the highest selling game for the month of July 2007 on Getchu.com, and dropped to twelfth in the ranking the following month.[100][101] Regardless of the drop in ratings earlier in the year, Little Busters! ended up as the most widely sold game of 2007 on Getchu.com.[102] A cover version of "Little Busters!" appeared in the sequel of Front Wing's visual novel Time Leap entitled Time Leap Paradise to be released on July 24, 2009.[103]

From mid-May to mid-July 2008, Little Busters! Ecstasy ranked first in national PC game pre-orders in Japan.[93] The limited edition version of Little Busters! Ecstasy ranked first in terms of national sales of PC games in Japan in July 2008.[94] Ecstasy sold quickly in Akihabara on its first day of sales, and by the end of the first day about half the stores were already sold out of the game. By the next day, the majority of stores in Akihabara were sold out of Ecstasy.[104] Only four days after Ecstasy's initial release, Key reported that many stores were already sold out of the game as well.[105] Three months after Ecstasy's initial release, Key reported that the game had already sold over 100,000 units.[106]

Getchu.com hosts a yearly voting poll called the "Getchu.com Bishōjo Game Ranking" where game users vote online for the best games of the previous year in several different categories. For the 2007 ranking, the categories were: overall, scenario, theme songs, background music, visuals, gameplay system, and heroines. In February 2008, users cast votes for more than 470 different titles released in 2007, and among the rankings, Little Busters! ranked first in all categories aside from visuals (placing third), and gameplay system (placing second).[11][107][108][109][110][111][112] Rin ranked as the number one most popular heroine, while Kudryavka ranked fourth, and Komari ranked thirteenth.[112] For the 2008 ranking, the categories were: overall, scenario, gameplay system, graphics, opening theme video, vocal theme songs, background music, individual characters, individual voices, and game title naming. In early 2009, users cast votes for more than 400 different titles released in 2008, and among the rankings, Little Busters! Ecstasy ranked second overall,[113] second in scenario,[114] third in gameplay system,[115] twelfth in graphics,[116] fifth in opening theme video,[117] third in vocal theme songs,[118] second in background music,[119] fifth (Saya Tokido) and tenth (Kudryavka Noumi) for individual characters,[120] first (Kazane's role as Saya Tokido) and sixth (Tomoe Tamiyasu's role as Rin Natsume) for individual voices,[121] and second for game title naming.[122]

Exhibitions

Little Busters! was the only Key title to receive coverage in an entire issue of Dengeki G's Festival!, a special edition version of Dengeki G's Magazine which is published in irregular intervals each year by ASCII Media Works; the issue in question was the ninth, published on June 30, 2007. Along with a full eighty pages of information on Little Busters!, the magazine came bundled with a double-sided hug pillowcase, a small cell phone cleaner which could also attach to a cell phone, and a B5 size jigsaw puzzle.[12] ASCII Media Works published the third volume of another special edition version of Dengeki G's Magazine named Dengeki G's Festival! Deluxe on June 30, 2008 which had a focus on Little Busters! Ecstasy. Along with again containing about eighty pages of information pertaining to the visual novel, the magazine also comes bundled with an ergonomic mousepad, a jigsaw puzzle, and a deck of playing cards.[123] The third volume of another magazine in the Festival! line, Dengeki G's Festival! Comic, was sold on July 26, 2008 with Rin and Dorj on the cover, and the magazine came bundled with a hug pillowcase, a notepad, and a B2 size poster.[124]

An art exhibition of Little Busters! was held in Osaka, Japan between May 3 and May 4, 2007,[125] and in Tokyo, Japan between May 24 and May 25, 2007.[126] A large amount of the character and background art featured in the game was showcased, along with original art used to promote the character artwork, and other production sketches drawn when the game was still in development. Flowcharts outlining the story for the game were on display, along with the flowcharts for Clannad.[127] Also at the exhibition was a life-size mannequin of Rin Natsume with a baseball glove in one hand, though instead of a baseball, a cat was in the glove.[126] This mannequin was later put onto the Japanese Yahoo! Auction website in late September 2007 and sold for 764,000 yen (about US$6,500),[128] a far cry from the original wish of selling the figure for 5,000,000 yen (about US$42,600).[128]

Notes and references

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  3. Key. Clannad. (Visual Art's). PC. (in Japanese).
  4. Key. Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume. (Visual Art's). PC. (in Japanese).
  5. Untranslated quote: この世界には秘密がある
    Translated quote: "This world has a secret."
    Key. Little Busters!. (Visual Art's). (in Japanese). (July 27, 2007)
  6. 6.0 6.1 {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  7. 7.0 7.1 {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  8. Untranslated quote: 可愛いものは好きだよ、私は
    Translated quote: "I like cute things."
    Key. Little Busters!. (Visual Art's). (in Japanese). (July 27, 2007)
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External links

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