Little Busters! - Refrain Arc Discussion

If you count Kyousuke imagining himself being killed by her, yes.


Nope…but they were partner in crimes…and besides they have same ‘fondness’ toward Riki…

I can imagine if they going date, they will talking about Riki for all days…

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Randomly feeling like rambling about the “It’s not enough” ending for a bit.

In my eyes, the “It’s not enough” ending is a good example of ‘bad concept, great execution’. In a story partly centered around moving on from sad occurrences, having those looming occurrences suddenly not happen after all seems like the silliest idea in the world, undercutting its own message and rendering much of what the main characters learn kinda pointless.

But there’s a reason it never bothered me, at least not since I read the visual novel (I watched the anime first), and that is the absolutely stellar execution of the idea in question.

We get the choice after the ‘fake’ ending which is the actual ending if we decide that it’s enough. Even more than that, it’s right after Riki and Rin promise each other that they will go on as long as they are by each other’s side. That they can and will overcome this tragedy and not lose themselves over it. Put another way, they’ve already gone through all the development and maturing to keep going. That’s when we are given the decision.

The decision isn’t that difficult for us as players, but for Riki and Rin it’s a whole different matter. Going back for another try means risking not only their own lives, but everything Kyousuke and the others worked for. Riki and Rin are willing to bet all this for the chance of a ‘miracle’ where everyone survives. This isn’t something they do because they’re weak. This is a choice they make because they’re strong. Because they - Riki especially - can step up as a leader. It’s not easily achieved either as conveyed by the six choices in succession you have to get right lest Riki gets caught up in the explosion. A lot could have gone wrong, but getting everything right implies that Riki’s choice was correct; he could take responsibility for betting the entire artificial world experience for the possibility a miracle, and bring it about by his own hands.

This is something I felt the anime sorely lacked, by the way. In the anime it feels less like Riki and Rin managed to make good on their bet and save everyone because they “do everything right”, and more because they got lucky. They’re a lot less calm and level-headed, and Riki succumbs to his narcolepsy. In fact you could see this as them risking everything the entire series built up to even though they don’t have the strength to back that sort of bet up. It’s idealistic in the same way as the VN, but it appears a lot more naive. Nowhere near the kind of leaderlike taking of responsibility that even Kyousuke can look up to in the VN.

Also, just in my personal experience, both making the “It’s not enough” choice as well as guiding Riki through the process of saving everyone are some of the most poignant and gripping moments in the game. The writing is phenomenal in how it gets you attached to the situation at hand and want to see it through safely.

There’s also the fact that I appreciate the notion of “A SAD ENDING? NO FUCK YOU. WHY THE HELL SHOULD WE BE SATISFIED WITH THAT? WE’RE ALL GETTING OUT OF THIS ALIVE.” As in not being satisfied with an oh so meaningful outcome, but pursuing the best, the happiest one, instead. I like that a lot.


Hmm, I would have said that was the most difficult decision in the game for me. As a reader, I wasnt thinking about this in terms of “Have I done enough?”, but more as in “Was I able to overcome what Kyousuke had prepared me for?” In which case the answer was “Yes, Riki just overcame the biggest challenge of his life. And its over now.”

But its interesting, because many people have begun to call the hospital scene “the fake ending”, because it seems as if the question “Was it enough?” is coming from Kyousuke. Kyousuke has “spoken” to Riki like this in the past, so it follows that pattern. But of course, that could not have happened if the hospital scene was real and Kyousuke was actually dead.

But to me, it makes sense as a question that Riki would ask himself while lying in the hospital bed. “All of my friends made all these sacrifices, and Im the only one who made it out alive? Wasnt there anything else I could do…? And in the end, didnt I fail, again, because of my narcolepsy? Did I really do enough?”

Again, to me as a reader, the answer was, probably sympathetic with Kyousuke, “Yes, yes, yes Riki you have done enough. Now you need to live.” Just because the second answer required strength, does not mean that choosing the first is being weak.

But there is a scene later on, in which Riki comes to terms with his narcolepsy, and decides to move on from it. I can imagine that that moment in the hospital is actually when this scene is taking place. His entire life Riki has criticized himself: “I could do more, if only for my narcolepsy.” But here he chooses: “I can do more. In spite of my narcolepsy.”

And thus, “No, it wasn’t enough. Because, I had to be strong to get here, but I believe that I can be even stronger.”


I have recently just finished playing the final route. I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed but I really do love this VN a lot and I like to thank @Yerian for recommending me playing this before watching the anime adaptation. My thoughts through this was that both endings were not bad but I think that the normal ending probably might have sufficed because it showed Riki and Rin could have made it out with each other despite so much that have happened through each branching route points. The true ending is just as memorable as well as fun to look at it as a whole. The ending sequence and the credits was pretty awesome as well. It was really one of my favorite if not one of the most endearing and most wonderful experience of visual novels I have ever played since CLANNAD. Little Busters SAIKOU!


saw someone tweet this just now
ooh my fucking god refrain is so good


Regarding the accident, Does anyone remember any mentionings of nearby constructions, particularly a bypass?

I don’t remember anything of the sort. I think, at some point, Kyousuke mentioned that it was no one’s fault.

IIRC, the accident simply happened, just like the one where Riki’s parents died.

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I know this was mentioned by Aspirety in the thread somewhere but regardlessly…

The fact that they all end up living in the end end both surprised and bothered me for a few days and night… It just makes a lot more sense thematically and following up with the overarching theme to deliver the “bombshell” (their death). Wasn’t one of the main theme of Refrain was to move on? For Riki to grow up after having been taught of how to live life as an adult by Kyousuke? It just seemed so weird that they would all survive in the end (lol)… It’s kind of like the magic realism in Kud’s route; Key could have found several different way to convey the feeling that Riki’s friendship and bond with Kud but they decided to keymagic the gear into Kud’s hand (which works since it shows that their bond was so powerful that they could magically modify reality itself… the point is that I felt the same for the ending of Refrain, it seems like something that they didn’t have to do, but decided to anyway, to convey some other point that I haven’t understood yet.

And I remember someone (I think it was Aspirety) saying something about that it was about the point of them learning the value of their bond and growing together as a result of it… but I feel like if that was the case then it wouldn’t have really been necessary (if not, far fetched) for Kyousuke and Kengo to say things like having to leave Riki and Rin behind for them to grow up by themselves, I truly felt like the point of Little Busters! was what Kyousuke tried to accomplished throughout the show: to turn Rin and Riki into independent adults that can live by themselves. Kyousuke and the rest of them knew that they wouldn’t be able to cope with losing them so suddenly, so with their final wish, they would create an alternate world where Kyousuke would be able to raise Riki and Rin into adulthood so that they would be able to cope with their friends’ death, so with that wouldn’t the point of Little Busters be more about growing up and moving on?

Honestly, I don’t know, maybe in contradiction to Key’s previous works that inevitably involved some sort of heart-tearing death in the end, they really decided to stick with the more light hearted and comically nature of Little Busters. I wanted them to die (lol) but at the same time I was really happy that they all survived.

And they went on a field trip (the death-event that caused them to be here in the first place) at the end too, I thought that was the most ironically hilarious thing ever.

EDIT: so I read the thread again and Karifean mentioned that they decided took a different attitude in the end, which would result in having all of them survive the incident and going on continuing being the eternal Little Busters… Honestly, yeah, in that perspective I can definitely see that being one of the possibility, since Little Busters had a really wacky and (for lack of better words) shounen-y attitude to it, so if they decided the ending with the basis of that reasoning, I’d definitely buy into it (lol) so I guess even if it’s keymagic in a sense it does actually make sense and feel better with this context.


I remember hearing in the podcast about Key in 2017 that Maeda Jun intended to only have the “it’s enough” end but another writer convinced him that that ending would have simply been too sad without another option.

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Yeah, the choice surprised me because all of the Key works have really sad endings lol, Little Busters other hand just had a really happy (fantasy-esque) ending in the end despite all that happen.

Casualty number is too high for the other writer to handle :komue:

Uhh, yeah, “reality.” Kud’s issue isn’t that some maniacs threw her in a rape dungeon. It’s the metaphorical rape dungeon she’s put herself into because she abandoned her country and family.

Up front, that is Kyousuke’s plan. Riki just happened to grow strong enough to say, “fuck you,” to that plan. It’s a real shame that seemingly all the screen shots in this thread have been nuked to oblivion because there used to be a post detailing how Kyousuke essentially predicts how Riki and Rin save the day. A part of him believed in that possibility.


Did I hear someone complain about both Kud route AND Refrain? :kyouevil:

Yes, there’s much more to Kud’s route than just the writer “Keymagicing” their characters out of a hopeless situation. Just read your way through the Kud route topic where I’ve provided a detailed explanation on its easily misunderstood aspects. There’s some tricky parts to it and you need some knowledge from Refrain in order to fully understand them. To give you a hint on the way, it was never the goal of the route to physically escape from a dangerous predicament.

As for the ending of Refrain, I’ve stated my honest opinion earlier in this topic. In fact, I believe that the Little Busters surviving is part of what I think is the most powerful message in all of Key.
Rather than simply accepting tragedy in life, I believe that the point of Little Busters is to not only becoming stronger, but actually putting said strength to use. The Riki who said “it’s not enough” is much stronger than he would’ve been, had he simply accepted his friends’ fate. For only by going that extra mile did he overcome his greatest weakness and fear, namely narcolepsy.
Of course, what made the happy ending possible in the first place is Key magic, but I always say that Key magic is a wonderful thing because it always rewards effort.

@HeliosAlpha, can we high-five now? xD



The usage of “Keymagic” in my posts is just to identify a common trope within Key’s works, the fact that there’s a lot of people who don’t like this kind of plot device certainly exists, but I don’t fall into that section XP I used it to say that it was a plot device used to signify how powerful their bond was and how there were different way that they could have resolve it but instead chose “Keymagic” simply because it’s much more powerful but I guess the way that I phrased it was pretty misleading.

The same goes for Refrain of course, at the end of the day I was just wondering why Key decided to save all of them (then again I did made a lengthy point about how it doesn’t make sense)

But yeah in my edit I did agreed with Karifean about how Key chooses to have Riki save all of them to deliver a certain message. Thanks for clarifying on the most important message though, I can definitely accept this explanation since I really like the idea of Riki becoming strong enough to even decide his own ending and act upon it.

And as for Kud’s dungeon, I felt like it was realistic enough :stuck_out_tongue: if anything the setting of Kud’s route was the most interesting and innovative thing that I’ve read: coming home into the midst of a fucking civil war? That’s something that I feel like could happen in real life, so in short I felt like Kud’s route was more about the predicament of her situation and how Riki’s bond with Kud saved her. Of course I could be entirely wrong, and of course the dungeon part alone would may very well be a metaphor just from the mysterious nature on its presentation.

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I think the Refrain Arc is living proof that even if a sad ending is supported thematically, it doesn’t have to be. Refrain is all about ‘carving out a new path’. Honestly, if everything worked out exactly as Kyousuke planned, then I dunno, I feel like it would’ve felt cheap. It’s like, we’re introduced to this conflict, and there’s no resolution, there’s just acceptance. I mean it’s lifelike, but from a storytelling perspective there’s not really any progression.

Little Busters is all about… You know that sad ending you had baked up? Fuck that, we’re gonna forge a new path because we’re the fucking little busters! You CAN have your cake and eat it too, because everyone DID grow stronger that day, and I’m sure they’ll be ready to face any hardships that follow as they grow older. But they don’t HAVE TO sit around being lonely every day.

Don’t get caught up in the mode of thinking that tragedy is the only way to form a cohesive narrative here. It’s not, you’re just too caught up in Kyousuke’s way of thinking. I know because I’ve been there. Sure, it’s a miracle. But aren’t miracles fine every once in a while?


It’s not, you’re just too caught up in Kyousuke’s way of thinking.

Yep, this pretty much sums it up for me (lol), now that I think back I really was only referring to it in Kyousuke’s perspective when he’s not the only main character instead of looking at the bigger picture (what the Little Busters is all about) to begin with.

Despite Little Busters! being almost overbearingly optimistic with its “You can do anything if you’re strong” vibe I agree that this is an important theme, and ultimately its the reason I love LB so much. Riki feeling useless is a big part of the story, so the contrast in Refrain is noticeable. SO much has already been said about this already but to highlight it: growth is the point; don’t put mental limits on how much you can grow. Riki and Rin become strong enough to save everyone because they didn’t give up

But if there’s one thing that bothers me its this:

(CLANNAD and Rewrite tone spoilers)

Yeah every once and a while a happy ending is nice, but Refrain has a happy ending, at the end of CLANNAD’s After Story we got a happy ending, and Rewrite was similar with Terra. Not all Key stories have happy endings but happy endings get used a lot in storytelling in generally.

This really isn’t as much of a comment on Little Busters! itself as it is on Key/anime/storytelling in general. Everyone wants the impact of having a happy ending but not enough people want to write stories with bitter endings. So they happy ones don’t really stand out as much.


Well this is it, the last chapter. Since this may be to long I don’t think I will be able to try to summarize it really well, but well let’s try to focus on some points, key points.

You’re here just starting something new that is call refrain a kind of different route an you’re wondering what just happened. Well the world was restarted and starting as always Riki trying to stop Masato’s and Kengo’s fight, but something is different. Kyousuke is nowhere to be found and yeah Masato and Kengo get injured, specially Kengo apparently with a broken arm. You’re everyday routine is a little diferent too, you eat with Rin in your bedroom and take her to a different school, since she’s completly different from what she used to be, yeah really a burden for Riki, but he seems happy or something like that.

Riki is trying to recover Rin, asking for Masato’s and Kengo’s help, so Kengo suggest to play something and Rin get interested in baseball, yeah convenient. Next, Rin is making some progress with baseball so Riki came up with the idea to create a baseball’s team ( just what Kyousuke did) , Kengo disliked his idea and left and Masato stay with Riki and Rin for a while but he quit as well.

As a consequence of this Riki decided to restart the little busters just with Rin, asking her about how it all began. She told him that Masato was the first recruit and that Kyousuke made him join by beating him up.
Riki talked to him about joining them, Masato’s refused and left. The next day Masato was acting weird and was beating up everyone in his way , he even attacked Riki. Riki felt that history was repeating itself, so he decided he should fight him. After using different tricks Masato is beaten and he joins you , but you get to see his perspective and why he was acting weird.

After that the next one was Kengo, Kyousuke beat up Kengo’s father in order to had Kengo join the busters. Riki couldn’t find Kengo’s father location, so decided to confront Kengo itself expecting a change in his personality. However he was the same and told him that he will never join him and that Kyousuke is a liar. He talked with Kyousuke as well and he told him that Kengo is the liar and gave him a hint. Confronting Kengo again, Riki challenged him to a baseball match, of course Kengo is way more athletic so Riki didn’t feel confident, Kengo accepted and they faced off. Rin wanted to play as well so it was Riki and Rin against Kengo who emerged victorious over an astonished Kengo. You get to see Kengo’s perspective going back to Rin2 actually and returning to this point, getting to know interesting details, such as how Kengo and Riki lost against Kyousuke and Masato.

Now with Kengo joining you after his loss, the only one left is Kyousuke. Watching Kyousuke’s perspective of the events getting to see different things that are not easy to understand, Kyousuke in dark place trying to move to do something, but without making any progress every time he wakes up , yeah confusing. Then after finishing with this part Kyousuke is met with the rest of the busters and joins them happily.

Then the secret of the world is revealed, everything was set up by 8 members of the little busters (all of them without Riki and Rin) . The accident is revealed Masato and Kengo protected Rin and Riki with their lifes, but they were left alone in the world. Since they were not mature or strong enough all the busters put them in a fake world where they can grow, yeah nobody can explain how this just happens. Masato, Kengo and Kyousuke said their farewells and let them go to the real world since they’re ready to face it.
Riki and Rin wake up in the accident and they run away with Riki saving Rin and waking up in the hospital, glad that he saved Rin but not that much since all of their friends are dead.

Ok at this point it feels ok , but wait there is more at the end of this you had to choice it this is ok for you or not , was this really necessary. Anyways if you say it’s okay the game is over if you say it’s not okay, Riki and Rin create a new fake world in order to save everyone. This is where everything is screw up. Do not missunderstand I’m not saying it was a bad choice to save everyone, well not necessarily but let’s point out some details. Riki magically cures his narcolepsy yeah really cool don’t you think. Rin talks with Komari and reflect on her life and how everyone was important for her yeah her scene with Komari was supposed to have impact or her memories with everyone else, it has it but it was not strong enough. After their “experience” in this new fake world they overcame their weaknesses, manage to save everyone and they live happily ever after, yeah what a good ending don’t you think. No

Their first ending with Riki and Rin alone , was way better than the real one, or magic one and no don’t give me that , you choose what ending is real because that’s you know a damn lie. Even though the first ending may be better it is not something incredible it was ok or good at best. I mean yeah Masato’s and Kengo’s parts were good , Kyousuke well kinda ok it explain good points and was a little confusing at the beginning, then Riki and Rin parts yeah pretty magic and no don’t start with you don’t get the feels or the meaning or this scene or this one. If you want to hit me with feels you should give me characters that I should care about, little busters characters are not good or that strong to care about. I mean I can feel bad about Masato, Kengo or Haruka because they were built up (well not that much, but much more than anybody else) you can kind of understand them, but you want me too feel bad about Rin or Kyousuke characters that I don’t care since I know nothing about them, Rin is useless and Kyousuke is your always cool character with zero background so yeah It should hit me with feels right.

The little busters work is not perfect is not even incredible, I mean you can consider it like that but that’s not true. It is a work ok for a casual fan, i’m not saying it’s bad, is actually good but just that. No don’t hit me with your subjectivity, the quality of the work is what I’m talking about, if you consider it perfect good for you, but that’s really far away from reality. The game is good, the second(true) ending a little innecesary (but you always need to have your happy endings don’t you, otherwise people will not like the product), it just make things worse there is a lot of Key’s magic. However, there are some good points in the game such as some routes or some parts of refrain, it could have been better but yeah seeing it as a whole it’s ok a good game nothing else.

Thank you, very much.

Well now a very… personal take you have of Refrain there.

This is a very controversial topic, to be honest (and if you read the previous posts, you’d know exactly why) which is why I can’t really argue with you on that one. However, for everything else…

That’s not a damn lie because that’s exactly how visual novels were meant to be and you know it. But hey, in a fictional world, nothing is real, after all.

I think it was made pretty apparent that the whole thing with Kyousuke “not moving” was a parallel to Riki, and how, when Kyosuke first inducted Riki to the Little Busters, Riki was the one stuck in a rut and not moving. The complete role reversal in Refrain and Riki growing to be like Kyousuke is probably the epitome of the story.

Hoo boy, you’re going to make a lot of enemies with that statement. But really, if at this point in time, you failed to care about Kyousuke, Masato, Kengo, Rin, Riki and all the rest of the little busters, then you’re probably missing something in the experience. Perhaps there’s a lacking perspective, or perhaps it fails to make things apparent to you as a reader. But, either way, by failing to care for the characters you also end up failing to care for the story itself. Just by saying:

Simply means that you failed to see the background that was shown to you. I won’t blame the writer, and neither will I blame the reader. Perhaps it’s just a disconnect in the mindset. After all, in creative works like this, it is pretty much impossible to satisfy every single human being.

But hey, I think Little Busters succeeds in hitting most bases for most people, so I guess it was just a strike for you, and you’re out.



I agree with @Pepe on his stance regarding your entire post, but I’m actually going to have to pay attention to this specifically because it seems based on the idea that nothing Little Busters do is within logic and it just refers to good old Key magic.

That’s not the case.

It may have used otherworldly imagery to represent it, but Riki’s narcolepsy wasn’t cured by “magic”. It was cured by him exploiting the world’s instability in regards to the dream worlds (the otherworldly imagery I mentioned) to confront the reason he’d grown narcoleptic in the first place: it was his coping method to avoid sadness and further traumatic events after he lost his parents. Riki decided to face his psychological issues because he’d realised that he would never be able to help anyone even with all the support he had been given otherwise.

This is a bit of speculation here, but let’s forget the “it’s not enough” scenario and head onto the “it’s enough” scenario. Rin2 shows that there was no way that Riki would’ve been able to support Rin through their mutual depression of loss with Riki remaining narcoleptic and being unable to have a job they could both live off of, and there were also problems in regards to the possibility that even with the Little Busters’ world to help her grow as a person, Rin could have developped psychological issues of her own after the accident or even something as simple as a fear of getting attached to anyone but Riki moving onwards.

If you paid attention, you’ll also realise there was a pattern and point to Riki’s narcolepsy attacks throughout the story, they weren’t just randomly put in because “oh crap NARUKOREPUSHI”.

What’s shown here isn’t “magic” as you seem to prefer putting it down, but rather a show of his psychological growth that none of the Little Busters could have forced on him because of how inherently traumatic his condition was and just how desperate he was to not waste Kyousuke and the Little Busters’ gift towards Rin and himself. It may have been supported by Key magic, but I find it insulting to the work that the psychological implications that went behind it aren’t being considered here.