Sasami’s route refelcts what I feel to be the most airtight writeing in the entirety of little busters. That is not to say that its innternal consistancy or general content are in any way head or shoulders above that which has been observed thus, but rather that the methods of storytelling and the pacing are some of the finest the game has to offer.
Little Busters and by extent more or less every arc in the studio key games have a tendancy to follow a general sort of foremula. That being an opening section that is light on content but heavy in jokes and slice of life material that hints at some character conflict followed by a defining tragic event that leads to a downwords spiral of despair before a final uplifting conclusion. While this foremula is maleable it is certainly present. Now let us compare how certain arcs utilize that foremula.
Kud and Kanata suffer, to different extents, from dissonance between their slice of life portions and their heavier portions in that the content is largely separated between the two segments. It’s easy in this way to think of their arcs not really “starting” until the content grows darker. With Sasami, her struggle is omnipresent in the fact that it is physical. This allows for the narrative to present jokey and light elements to itself while also pushing forward the core plot, as opposed to presenting the jokey elements and only after that introducing the core plot. The result is a narrative that does not waste time. Even when it meanders, as it does later with Kengo a bit, the story has much more of a present and definite drive to it than, say, Kud’s arc. This also applies to the romance, which is done in a much more tangible way than Komari for example. Sasami and Riki have moments of closeness, atraction, and emotional bonding leading up to the inevitable confession in a way that feels much more real–like Kurugaya–than some of the other heroines. It’s scenes like discussing Riki’s past and sharing a meal between tears that really sell me on the romance.
This compositional deftness is also to say nothing of the themes of the route itself. While Kanata’s route focuses on the theme of empathy, natural as it is related to Haruka’s route which discusses the same things, Sasami lingers on regret, guilt, and what it takes to grow and to move on from the past. As I disicussed with the good boy Eisen, the tone and the thematic framework are very similar to Kanon in that way. Much like the girls in Kanon, Sasami’s character struggle is how she is trapped coping with a long time loss and doing so poorly. She carries a regret about her due to never being able to find Kuro on that day, a regret that informs her actions at present–though not quite to the extent that it did for the Kanon girls. The final message is the same as that presented in Kanon: when faced with loss one must never forget that the ache they feel comes from the love that was so integral to them.
The ending of the arc is fantastic in a number of ways. Sasami is able to let go of the regret that she felt for so long as she and Kuro both feel the mutual love for one another that had been lost many years ago. Furthermore, Sasami herself is able to learn greater empathy, accepting that Kuro never hated her and of course going as far as to happily join the little busters at the end. Once again and for the last time, the circle of friends has grown one person larger. The characters are able to accept the inevitability of loss, but go on remembering the love they felt far into the future.
None of this is to say that the arc is perfect. As Natsubae and plenty of other have discussed, the mechanics of the Kuro world are in many ways contradictory to those established in refrain. Furthermore the red herring about Sasami and Kengo is a bit too obviously a red herring for the segment to not seem like a waste of time. And even the premise itself, as my lad Zosonte pointed out, is by nature of its existence a forced excuse to place these two characters who otherwise would not at all talk to one another in a situation where they can grow close. However, the emotional heart of the story and the direction is stunning and the ultimate message is so relevant to the rest of the story, about how nothing lasts forever and it is because of that that we must make the most of the time we have, that it feels and works perfectly as a cap off to the narrative, even if it is not necessarily so.
Furthermore, to quote a scholar, “I do like the black lace.”