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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

Interesting Routes: Yuiko Kurugaya

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Every now and then you come across a character route that stands out above the others. A route that breaks conventions and does something interesting you wouldn't normally expect. One such route is Kurugaya's from Little Busters.

Overall the character routes in Little Busters are rather formulaic. Boy hangs out with girl, girl runs into problems, boy solves them, happy end. Basic stuff. Although Little Busters gets away with it since the main character's growth is one of the most important parts of the visual novel in general, and seeing all the different routes bring him into wildly different situations is half the fun.

But Kurugaya's route is different. While she does have a 'trauma' of sorts the same way the other heroines do, she doesn't wait until it's her turn to take the spotlight to do something about it. She has a very hard time feeling joy and seeing the beautiful things in life, but she's well aware of this. Her joining the Little Busters in the first place is her fighting this problem. Through exposing herself to the guys' intoxicating love of life she's pretty much over it by the time the common route ends. So what then is it that actually happens in her route?

Romance, that's what. Kurugaya's route is easily the most romance-focused of all of Little Busters' routes. But I would hardly be making this post if it went by in an ordinary fashion. What's interesting about the romance in Kurugaya's route is that the usual situation is casually flipped on its head. Through the early events of the route, Riki, the protagonist, develops a crush on Kurugaya. And he goes on to spend the next few hours trying to make her fall for him.

Not gonna lie, with all the anime I've watched and visual novels I've read this was such a joy to read. I swear that 99% of visual novel protagonists do not even have to lift a goddamn finger. Hell Riki is much the same in the other routes. Seeing a protagonist honestly try to get closer to a heroine, not because of X tragic past, not because of X other cliché reason, simply because he wants to be in a relationship with her, is so damn refreshing.

First things first, Riki confesses to Kurugaya, and promptly gets rejected. This is where the route concludes in a bad end if you haven't been paying attention, but if you have, Riki won't give up with that. Cue best part of the route, where you can feel both Riki and Kurugaya's feelings for one another grow. Riki goes from having a crush on her "because she's cool" and looking up to her to actually loving her for the person she is and becoming an equal partner. Kurugaya gets more than she could've ever hoped for by joining the Little Busters as she becomes more and more aware of who she is, what she's feeling and what that means for her. And for a while there's nothing more going on that a simple love story.

Of course it all goes to trout after that as the very thing that drives the main plot of Little Busters ends up becoming the adversary in this route which ends up causing days to loop and memories to be forgotten, including Kurugaya's. As things start breaking down more and more, the route simply ends, and on an extremely unsatisfying note no less. In the end, the main conflict of the route had nothing to do with Kurugaya in particular, but rather happened because, for mysterious reasons, the story could not progress this way.

Obviously your first time reading it you're just gonna be like "what the smurf just happened". But through reading on through Refrain you'll eventually realize what exactly was going on in that route, and if you so happen to decide to return to it then, you'll find that the route now has a new ending; a much more satisfying one that also carries the potential implication that Riki x Kurugaya is the couple that ends up together after the events of Refrain.

Put side by side against the other routes in Little Busters, this one just sticks out like a sore thumb. None of the other routes really focus on romance, pretty much all of them end when the relationship would've just gotten started. There's also no real 'understandable' conflict taking place and you'll inevitably feel lost following the story. Add to that the extremely unsatisfying first ending and it's no wonder this route doesn't make many favorites lists. But even though it's not my favorite route either, it's the most unique and special to me. Routes like this one are rare to come by but provide a very welcome change of pace.

And to top it all off in the most perfect way possible, the song that plays during the credit roll... is Song for Friends.


  1. Shauna's Avatar
    see told you she was best girl
  2. Pumpkin's Avatar
    I wish there was a Steam release of this
  3. Karifean's Avatar
    I wish that as well. But there is one in the making so it'll be on there... someday... eventually...
  4. Pumpkin's Avatar
    Oh is there? That's good news