Alright, this is gonna be my first post in the book club, since I didn’t find this forum until after finishing refrain. I’m gonna try and make any future posts a bit more detailed if possible, but Kud was the last regular route I did, so I’m not really ready to reread the whole thing and take notes… ;>_>
Also, uh, be warned for several spoilers about refrain and other routes? They’re behind spoiler tags, but just thought I’d mention it. I played Kud right before moving on to Rin2, so a lot of my thoughts about her route are very much in relation to the routes I read before and after her.
So, I’m gonna be honest, I feel really conflicted about Kud. I mean, I like her - she’s a cute kid, she has some legitimately really good moments with Riki in her route, like the body painting scene, and her interest in space is the sort of thing that usually rockets a character to a place among my favorites… but dammit, so much of the first half of the route just made me uncomfortable. Why did they give the loli possibly the most sexualized moments in the game? …And yet at the same time, it’s deeply unfair to her character to boil her down to just being a loli, but then that argument triggers a pavlovian disgust association in me with “she’s really a thousand years old she just looks and acts like a kid” arguments and augh…
Anyways, putting aside my own hangups with her ‘focus group appeal’, so to speak, I didn’t really like that the slice of life section of her route felt so… disconnected from her common route scenes, to me? Like, her common route was all about finding a roommate and moving in and all that, so I was expecting a heavy focus on that pre-established plotline, but then it seemed to just kind of veer off into something completely different even before the foreign conflict kicked off. (Refrain)Although based on what I saw in my re-read to get the post-refrain content and the TRUE END OF LITTLE BUSTERS(kinniku yay yay), that may have been partially just because at this point in my playthrough Mio’s route was long gone. Overall, there were a few really great moments in this part of the route, but I think that my instinctual reaction to the romance in this route just kept me from enjoying all but the best moments in it.
I really liked Komari’s presence in this route; hers was the first route I saw in my own readthrough, so her scenes really made it feel like a book-ends to the open-ended section of Little Busters. The reminder of her picture books was neat, I loved how she helped build Riki’s resolve for the climax of the route, and it was especially nice to see her theme of “saving” a sad story recalled(or set up, I guess, if you read Kud first) outside of her route. I have strong Feelings about this theme and think it’s ultimately a lot more important than it seems to get credit for in what I’ve seen so far of the discussion about this game, but that’s an essay to prepare for another day.
Actually, I feel like Kud route in general had a lot of neat little references to other routes, like Komari and the star chart, or the fortune-telling fad that shows up in both this and Haruka. Although I guess I might have just been seeing them more since it was my last route…
I also really loved Masato’s contributions in this route; I think he’d proven himself one of my favorites already around my Haruka playthrough, but this route really hammered in just how hard he tries to help out, with him going so far as to try and help with the studying (even if his annotation of the physics text, if technically correct, was a little unhelpful.)
I really liked the more geopolitical parts of this route. I mean, I frigging love space, so obviously the fact that a space program was at the center was an automatic boost for my opinion, hehe… Kud’s route definitely had some of the highest holy shit quotient out of the baseline routes, imo - only Mio really came close, and even with her the stakes were still much more personal, as opposed to Kud being caught up in a country-wide conflict. In general, it worked really well as the last base route I read, from Kyousuke’s hint in the bad ending to Riki finally learning that sometimes he has to let people leave for their own good (a particular reason why I think doing Mio early and Kud late was a great choice - (Mio)Mio relies on the better side of Riki’s refusal to let go of people he cares about, while Kud route can sort of be seen as teaching him to make the other choice when necessary, (Rin)a good lead-in to him finally crossing the bridge from Rin1 to Rin2.
Kud leaving was a legitimately really sad moment, and then the whole sequence of events after she left did an amazing job of ratcheting up some serious tension imo. And although I’ve read some arguments from people who disliked the super-metaphysical ending, I really enjoyed it since it showed Riki proactively making use of all the bizarre stuff for the first time and was pretty much the perfect way to get hyped up to finally pursue the secret of the world. (Refrain)Although I haven’t really re-evaluated it in the lens of what the secret of the world actually was, since I was seriously off the mark with my guesses at that point.
(post-refrain alt)I also really liked the post-refrain alternate ending, and how it sort of ended up being like a rin2 to the bad end of the route. One of this end’s Mio scenes also brought up some more really nice themes and such that tie into the end of Refrain really well imo, but that’s still an essay to prepare for another day.
Overall, I’m kinda mixed on this route. There’s definitely stuff in there that turns me off, but there are also some really high high points. I ultimately don’t think I like this route as much as Komari(I will die on this hill) or Haruka, but it definitely wasn’t bad by any measure, and was even quite good by several of them.