Okay, I’ll start off this post with a silly joke that just kinda escalated that originally happened in a PM thread with @Karifean (as it wouldn’t fit anywhere else).
Also you will only understand this joke if you have finished episode 2 of Umineko (so slight spoilers for that)
She should read Umineko then. People die all the time there.
then again, her commentary might be “The detective is an inexperienced young man” for that.
seriously, you just need to change a few words, and this would be a summary of Umineko’s premise
I don’t even
The joke is writing itself here, with Umi’s reception
Little Busters falls into this, according to Aspi
Future me talking here, Mio’s route qualifies for that as well.
Also later on I could continue this joke:
Also said continuation is just one of many instances of foreshadowing.
And now I’ll actually start talking about the important stuff. I recently said on discord that Mio is basically me. That was at a point where I was still in common. So I didn’t yet know the reasons for why she acts the way she does. And I have to say, there are differences between us. The most glaring one is that I don’t loathe myself. I’m honestly pretty contempt with myself, which seems to be surprisingly rare. Perhaps I’m a bit arrogant thanks to that, but honestly, I don’t care. Anyway, back to Mio. Where we are similar however is that we both like reading, are a bit silent, and are both socially awkward and not. Now you are probably wondering “socially awkward and not? How does that work? Aren’t these things exclusive?” Well, let me explain. Mio is socially awkward in that she doesn’t interact with others on her own. Her reason for that is because she wants to be isolated because of the whole Midori thing. My reason by the way is that I’m just a bit afraid of complete strangers and what reactions they might have to me. In that sense, we’re both socially awkward. However, we aren’t actually socially awkward. We very much understand societal norms, and once we’re integrated in a group, we can do all the fun and crazy stuff as well. As a matter of fact, to speak of myself again, if you’re one of my friends reading this, you probably thought to yourself “You, socially awkward? No way!” So that’s Mio. But what of her shadow and twin sister, Midori?
Well, she’s way more energetic, and also pretty mischievous, and she plays the role of the villain in this route. I did expect that she wasn’t really a villainous character, although my reason for thinking this was different from how it actually was. Going from the coma theory, my thought pretty much was that the Mio we got to know in the common route is really just a part of the “true” Mio Nishizono, to be precise the part of Mio that Riki likes the most. I was expecting that the twist was going to go in a direction that Riki must accept both Mio and Midori being part of the same person, personality wise. (He still had to accept Midori so to speak in the twist this route was going for in the end though).
Now that I have spoken about both Mio and Midori, I wanna talk about the route itself a bit. And holy shit, that’s some amazing writing. The amount of foreshadowing is daunting. Already early on, when Mio talks about mysteries, she seems to be most fascinated by the twins, saying later on they’re her favorite characters. The mystery novels themselves also are great foreshadowing, giving the reader the idea of a duality where you can’t tell fact from fiction. And since this is such a central theme that needs to be established so that the reader doesn’t flip out once the memory screwage with Midori and Mio happens, it is no wonder that I was able to make a stupid Umineko joke in the beginning, considering that Fantasy versus Reality is one of Umi’s main themes. Continuing with the talk of presentation, let’s talk about the art for a bit.
This background is very obviously a real photo put through some filters. By doing that, the sea is immediately ingrained in the reader’s memory, along with the scenes happening there. And this is very much a concious choice, especially once you consider that the actual CGs that are shown at the sea have instead a typical anime beach drawn.
Another presentation thing I wanna talk about are the names Mio and Midori. And I’m just a little bit peeved that @cjlim2007 already presented this information, and from memory to boot. Reason for that was that I was really excited about that. Both @Karifean and this discord log can bear witness to that:
I guess I can still provide some links proving his claim of the meaning of the kanji:
What I find interesting here is that Mio is the beautiful fish and Midori is the beautiful bird, even though Mio is otherwise linked to the bird in the poem. But once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. First of all, I think that the bird and the fish in their names are more a reference to the sky and the sea, and less the actual bird in between them. Second, it fits that Mio is the fish because a fish is silent, out of reach in the ocean, and thus isolated. A bird meanwhile is loud, especially during mating season, and generally seen as more juvenile and lively. But then we get to third. Mio wants to be the bird. So once the two switch, Midori becomes Mio, thus giving free the bird.
But I didn’t want to stop there. We saw that the given names of the two were chosen conciously. So what about her given name, Nishizono? Well, I decided that I would research this as well:
Nishi, meaning either west or Spain:
and Zono, or Sono rather (what I had to enter to find it), meaning park, garden, yard or farm:
Now the zono part is pretty obvious, referencing the courtyard, that place under the zelkova tree, which you could consider to be a park. But why west (I doubt they were going for Spain)? What’s the meaning behind Nishi? Once we consider that this plays in Japan, I think we can explain west. Because then west could refer to the West, where many of the forum users live, Europe and America basically. And what is the West for a Japanese person? It’s foreign, alien, and far away. Just like Nishizono-san is when Riki first meets her. Furthermore, Mio likes all kinds of fiction, both Japanese and Western alike. So that could reference that as well.
By the way, I think I’ll try to research each name for their respective routes, see if there’s meaning to find as well.
I have come so far and I’m still not done gushing about the writing. One thing that stood out to me was the usage of Thin Chronicle in this route. I really got concious about the theme when it was playing in scenes with Midori, namely in ones where she was still playing the role of th villain. You have this confrontation thing going on, where you’re cheering Riki on to not give in, and yet such a happy tune is playing. So I started thinking “Why is this theme used?” Then I remembered MagusVerborum explaining the symbolic meaning of bells back in the common route discussion. It’s used both to signify happiness and a transportation to the spirit world, or to view it more generally, going from one world to another. And, well, I think this second one is what the usage of the theme is going for here, as viewed from a metaphoric view, Midori is Riki’s entrypoint to first not forgetting Mio and second entering her world.
Another great thing is how the choices form a bookend. The first really important choice still during the common route is when Mio loses her book and you’re asked if you assume Itou to have good intentions or bad intentions. And what is the final choice?
I also really love how in the bad ending Midori seemingly breaks the fourth wall talking about how time’s up, and that they need to leave the stage now, and that Riki made the wrong choice. This segues me into theory time.
So overall, this route seems to be the token “Throw common sense out the window”-route. From what I’ve seen and heard every Key game has such a route. Unlike the other Key games though Little Busters! doesn’t give any sorts of hints that we have a slightly supernatural setting to begin with. So for that reason this route shouldn’t fit. But once we assume the whole coma/brain trauma theory to be correct, then the supernatural things like people forgetting Mio or the two literally not having a shadow, or the symbolic imagery heavy ending can perfectly happen. I think that what really actually happened is that Mio did open up to Riki at some point, but in the reality Riki wasn’t able to find a happy ending for her and Midori. Since Mio was a philosophical person to some degree, it isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that Riki’s imagination was influenced by that. For that matter, I think this route gives us a big hint why we need to complete all routes before we can go into Rin2 and Refrain:
I think that in the real world Riki’s time with his friends was cut short abruptly and that he will only be ready to move on once he has created happy memories with all of his friends, and a happy life for each of them. For that matter, like I said earlier, the heavy use of bells in Thin Chronicle can also signify happiness, so I expect to hear this theme in at least most of the other routes, if not all of them. On top of that, it can be seen as signifying getting one step closer to exit this dream Riki is having. And even if those memories are technically fake, they will still be part of his memory then, and therefore a happy life for every Little Buster will be his reality. Just like Midori at the end of this route, it will be invisible, impossible to spot, and yet still exist.