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Futaki Kanata - Unrelenting Will

Analysis Aug 15, 2021

[SPOILERS FOR LITTLE BUSTERS]

I must say that I initially thought of Kanata as a waifu material and nothing else. Inexplicably, the more time I spent on LB, the more I got to appreciate her as a character.

Don't get me wrong, the rest of the cast is solid. Rin, Haruka, and Kurugaya, in particular, are just something. I don't think I've grown to dislike any of them throughout the ride (except the trash ass Futakis and Saigusas main house).

All said and done, I am inclined to believe that Kanata is doubtlessly a cut or two above her peers for several reasons.

It's natural for people to hold contempt against Kanata. After all, even I could not evade incurring a significant amount of annoyance and disgust toward her at some point in the story.

But in the end, it all paid off.

There's just so much going under the hood for Kanata that she keeps blowing my mind the more I think about her.

So yes, brace yourself for another fanboying section of mine over a certain someone.

I don't mean to brag, but I have spent roughly 60hrs on the VN and half as much for its anime adaptation (fr). Therefore, I think my feeling for Kanata is justified.

The Grim Past

Let's go back in time for a bit.

You know the drill, it's the same old having absurd family custom (Japan sure like this kind of thing huh), and Kanata was made to decide between continuing this atrocious farce and switching place with her sister.

Given her constant rambling about her sister's love, it's understandable to call Kanata a hypocrite for not choosing what was best for her sister.

Nevertheless, there's more to this than meets the eye.

Firstly, Kanata was only at elementary; hence, she couldn't possibly develop rational thinking or steel herself against the thought of taking all of the abuse Haruka had been enduring.

Not to mention, by the time of the proposition, Kanata had experienced first-hand the Futakis' training method for their successors.

Honestly, I find it difficult to comprehend how one would blame Kanata in such abysmal conditions.

Moreover, what guarantee is there that Haruka will avoid getting any ill-treatments had she replaced Kanata since facts remain that she almost always lost against her older sister in every competition.

The Futakis set an immoderately high standard for their public image. To be worthy of inheriting the family's mantle, one must be well-versed at everything, which is a responsibility befitting the elder of the twin alone.

To put it in layman's terms, I don't think much would have changed had Kanata decided to accept the deal. Not that it clears away her guilt, but again, she was just a kid at that time.

Together with the amount of fatigue, expectations, and physical pain that had been weighing on her, Kanata was at a death's end, unable to make the "right" call for her sister's well-being.

Hope and Despair

Despite the "bad blood" propaganda, being told to shun, trample, and bully Haruka intensely, Kanata had never given up her soul while assuming this distasteful role.

Instead, she proceeded to hatch a plan, a dream of her own.

She yearned for a day to come that Haruka and herself would be free and have an ordinary, fully functional family with their parents.

In other words, Kanata was taking the long shot by feigning obedience in tandem with looking after her sister from the shadow.

Ironically, as the twins' combined first name suggests (Haruka Kanata - Far Away), fate seemed to have entangled them in a spiral of sorrow.

As every day passed by, their bond deteriorated.

Before long, unbeknownst to them, the rivalry had already crossed the line of being mere competition.

Notwithstanding, this was just the beginning of the dismal period of the twins.

On the one hand, Haruka went complete berserk.

Her cheerful, noisy facade is but a self-defense mechanism that helped her make it through the days.

In reality, the drawn-out injustice inflicted upon Haruka had taken a tremendous toll on her mind. She could no longer differentiate her sister from "them."

As for Kanata, her daily grind threshold had far exceeded what should be plausible for a normal human being to handle.

They didn't call her a doll for no reason.

She "existed" solely to answer people's demands without having a chance to decide anything for herself.

In essence, her future was "stolen."

Those Tedious Days

Haruka (pre-Refrain) often remarked that Kanata deserves to "feel" her pain but little did she know...

True enough, both had undergone unspeakable misdeeds since juvenescence, but the damage delivered on Kanata is permanent and, worse, visible.

To most teens, a day at school is like any ordinary day. But for these two, it's war, a war that happens on all fronts. Be it physical contact, indirect, or mind game, they went all out against each other as if their lives depend on it.

Kanata once said happiness and misery are to complement each other. Though I still object to this notion, it's basically inevitable from the context of her and Haruka's story.

Haruka would not stop hating her older sister to have a purpose in life.

In the same vein, Kanata would uphold the title of the necessary evil as part of the deal with the adults and an effort to keep Haruka's spirit away from being extinguished.

It's a vicious cycle.

unless someone else interfered, the deadlock would persist

In hindsight, Haruka did remember the vow. She even craved to see her sister's smile again, as showcased in her POV featuring Kud.

Unfortunately, hatred had seduced her mind and, as a result, ridden Haruka of any wishful thinking.

Nonetheless, this is a vital key point that would resurface later on.

As things stand, one can argue why Kanata didn't spill the bean out from the get-go. Why bother dragging this out and overcomplicating the situation even further.

For one thing, Kanata had got her hands tied by the main family's crooked satisfaction, coupled with the pressure of helping her parents (revealed in her route).

On top of that, the ridiculous spy network that had taken root in her school would deny Kanata a favorable position to set things clear with Haruka.

Self-Sabotage

I'm a bitch (Hito de nashi)
I don't need anyone's help
I'm born a liar
What an honor, I don't care if everyone hates me

It's no strange sight to see Kanata making wild claims like these.

One of the most disturbing things about her is probably the tendency to attract negativity to repent for her past sins.

I get where that came from, and while it does make me feel bad for Kanata a great lot, I must admit that her mindset is too extreme, and that can even come up as rude to those surrounding her.

Speaking of extreme, why was Kanata so dead set on the idea that trying to "save" someone means appearing as a hero/god to them? Riki briefly stated that he wanted to help Haruka out of his desire to be a savior.

Besides, feeling pity for someone can result in unwanted collateral damage, like that fateful cooking contest between the sisters.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

In a sense, Kanata was being an overprotective big sis.

From her standpoint, everything in life came at a cost, and to offer help out of free will should not belong to the realm of practicality.

She didn't trust anyone, and she wouldn't tolerate any attempt of gaining merit from saving her sister, for it holds the potential of making things way worse than they are right now.

Other than that, I think Kanata was a firm believer in the notion that their circumstance was beyond salvation.

The mess they had got themselves into, plus the looming threat known as the Futakis - Saigusas main house had led her to conclude that no amount of aid could ever be enough to save them.

In short, a textbook example of abandoning all hope and resorting to co-dependency, or something like that.

On another note, I could be reading too much into this, but Kanata was most likely fixated on the idea that she had no right to embrace any of the good things in life.

Think about it; she never got a chance to partake in what normal teenagers would do or make any friends. A life so tedious and colorless where orders and etiquette are all she knew.

Yet, she wasn't bothered by that.

Everything and everyone else mattered little, so long as Haruka is safe and sound, or at least alive, Kanata would do anything, even if it means, according to her own words, becoming the lowest of the low.

As stated earlier in the despair section, Kanata had gone fully emotionless.

Her mind became numb and immune to all kinds of insult, humiliation, and the likes, to the point that she would casually accept any harsh words thrown at her like they're nothing.

But no way in hell I am letting this slide!

I really want to give this girl a hug and tell her to treasure herself more.

Conviction

IMO this is the one element that defines Kanata as a character.

During the fierce conflict against Haruka, Kanata bit the bullet and endured everything as a way to "protect" her sister.

I hate you so much (daikirai) - Haruka
I hate you too (kirai) - Kanata

First off, in this iconic moment of the twins, a subtle irregularity made its appearance.

For Haruka, her sentiment was real, burning more vigorous than ever, and packed with a decisive tone.

In contrast, Kanata simply responded in a carefree manner. Yes, it's her default mode, but the real takeaway here is her word choice being less aggressive than that of Haruka (from the Japanese's perspective).

And have I mentioned that one time when she almost addressed Haruka by her first name in public? (Calling a person by first name has lots of meaning for Japanese people)

I saw what you did there Kanata

Loathe as I am to say this, Kanata's introduction as a character was a total mess.

It felt super annoying, infuriating even. If I had not the patience to stick with it to the very end, I might very well have her at the bottom of my list now.

However, I guess there is a clear intention behind this weird behavior of Key because I honestly can't remember a time when they painted a character in any of their work with such outrageous traits.

For real, even Sasami, who follows that "arrogant rich girl" trope, had a way better attitude than Kanata.

But I digress. Kanata is a character that is meant to be hated one way or another.

It doesn't matter how you feel about her when you finish Haruka's route or hers or the whole game. Essentially, you must grow to despise Kanata first to grasp the scope and complexity of her story at the turning points.

But to get back on track, the whole point of Kanata's doing these horrendous deeds is to shield Haruka from self-destruction.

As shown in the bad endings of her route, Haruka was highly vulnerable and in dire need of attention, affection, or a "shelter."

That is the exact reason why Kanata must severe any contact that could make Haruka being dependent on, for the moment she got "separated" from them is when things start to crumble.

To make matters worse, not like the main family from the mountain would sit tight and let things roam free either.

Seriously, they went out of their way to establish an intricate intelligence network just to track down every movement of Haruka and respond to any sight of anomaly.

Remember when Haruka mentioned that she got bullied in elementary school and nobody batted an eye? Or how everyone in her class, or even the whole school at present, would not go easy on her.

It would not be an overstatement to call the Futakis/Saigusa OP.

Consequently, Kanata didn't warn the Busters randomly but rather because she legit thought of the best for them, at least that's what she believed, given the tricky position she was placed in.

Regarding the father issue, though undisclosed in the story, I am quite positive that Kanata already got it figured out because, as the family heir, she could make good use of the resources at her disposal on top of her talents in various fields.

Evidently, when you look at Haruka's bad endings again, had she been told of the truth, she would have 100% suffered another major mental breakdown, despite the pretense of seeking closure.

Haruka is just that innocent and fragile, which is why Kanata must do whatever it takes to preserve that one distinct feature of her sister.

At the same time, the anime adaptation actually provided some hints supporting the idea that Haruka is Shou's daughter, as the other father shares the same eye color as Kanata.

Therefore, though this is my headcanon, it would hit home if Kanata had figured out everything since she could have released herself from the Futaki's relentless skepticism.

But that was out of the question. Kanata would rather have Haruka take the "blue pill" to continue her life without knowing the why than being torn apart any further.

Try as she might, nobody was willing to accept Kanata.

External Factor

For an ambitious world-building like Little Busters, I tend to avoid overthinking about the meta. Welp, maybe if the execution feels organic enough, then yeah, I guess there's no point sweating over the small details.

Surprisingly, for Kanata's route, this was the one time in my LB journey that forced me to spend extra effort trying to piece together what was running behind the scene.

The result? More or less thought-provoking.

To cut down to the chase, Haruka's route, along with any of the routes that took place pre-Refrain, is a product of the "other" realm; thus they are hardly canonical or part of the prime world.

That is not to say that everything that happened back then was irrelevant as the story passed that Refrain's landmark.

As shown in one of the interclude in Kanata's route, there was this strange scene where the twins exchanged words in what seemed to be the transitioning phase.

Maybe, just maybe, all of the events in Haruka's route were merely an illusion of the misfortuned girl who thought of her older sister as nothing but a tyrant, villainous existence.

I must once again emphasize that the way Key built Kanata up in Haruka's route felt incredibly out of their character.

It was abundantly toxic and filled with a mega "F U" tone. Therefore, one plausible explanation for this transgression lies in the structure of Haruka's route:

  • Her pain:
    • Haruka could only view Kanata as a ruthless and bullying sister. This, however, seems to be Haruka's projection thanks to her obsession stemming from the hellish days of the past.
    • I mean, Haruka was right there when Kanata gave up her "future" to get her out of that shithole...
  • Her regret:
    • Kanata had always been that same caretaking older sis who would always do 110% for her precious Haruka.
    • I also pointed out earlier that Haruka did REMEMBER the promise between the two; hence, it would make perfect sense for her to "formulate" her convenient image of Kanata in this dreamworld, thus resulting in that poignant revelation at the endgame.
    • This would answer why things went so smoothly for the twins post-Refrain.
  • Her desire:
    • Simply put, Haruka subconsciously orchestrated all of the commotions AND solved them on her own, which aligns with the "search in your heart" thingy at the finale 😂
    • Disregarding that corny aspect, everything else is quite clear when you pay attention to Haruka's monologues as well as the way things resolved at her endgame.

Suppose they planned it that way to be canon, then hats off to them for taking this ballsy approach and didn't hesitate to break off their "shell" for once.

But on the off chance that my deduction was correct, the dots should all be connected with how Kanata miraculously turned 180degree the moment we pick her route choices.

Either that or I'm overanalyzing, and things are as straightforward as they are.

Nevertheless, this gave rise to a new puzzle: how was Kanata granted access to that dreamland despite having no connection to the field trip accident whatsoever?

From my understanding, that hallucination verse should be exclusive to the LB gang, and any other characters introduced there were basically NPC or some sort, meaning they couldn't have a "will" of their own or such, but whatever, lol.

Never Let Up

When it comes to Kanata's design, I can only think of one word: unstoppable.

Spanned across the entirety of her story, Kanata had her gaze fixed solely on what lies ahead, not on what was left behind.

Her conversations with Kud indicated that she, too, held plenty of regrets and wished for "those days" to come back. Still, she had to keep moving forward, or there would be nothing left for either of the twins.

It goes without saying, Kanata always gives off this "boss music" vibe whenever she's on a roll.

Even if the whole world were against her, she would still hold her head high, fending off any threat that dare challenge her stance.

At first, this feels a bit edgy, but as I got to revisit some of her infamous moments, knowing the full context of the story, I got to admire her determination even more.

On a different note, I know I'm committing heresy for saying this, but the anime really knows how to illustrate this unique side of Kanata.

Every time she's on-screen, be it on her casual school "police" routine or that full metal bitch mode, there's this strange and mesmerizing air that accompanies her.

Additionally, every bit of Kanata's gesture, facial/eye expression, and especially voice acting were pushed to the limit to depict the absolute worn-out state of this miserable life of hers.

Damn, it was tough sitting through such heart-wrenching divulgence and the clusterfuck that engulfed Kanata and Haruka.

Just end her suffering already 😔

Furthermore, the sister-swap incident was legit a rollercoaster ride.

It took me two reads to pinpoint the actual first "infiltration" of hers. The hint is the clever usage of an audio cue, Haruka's theme track, for it felt very out of place given how gloomy this route had been up until this point.

Weird text formatting 😓

To put it into perspective, the main selling point of this subplot is associated with Kanata's character polishing.

Technically speaking, she didn't do this to push Haruka down to a pit of despair, but rather, she was trying to have a taste of what a "normal" school life involves, which sadly didn't last long.

And holy shiet, that fallout under the rain is easily one of my favorite moments in the whole franchise.

With Kanata radiating a raw and uncompromising aura, combined with that piercing glare under a pessimistic setting of the torrential rain, everything felt so desolated yet enthralling at the same time.

Peak Kanata's VA performance 🔥

Her Confession

When the pain in my body was gone...
I had to deal with the pain in my heart

Admittedly, building up strong characters only to reveal their weak sides later is not so uncommon.

Despite having seen that coming from miles away, I must say that Kanata's endgame was kino from a thematic standpoint.

Yes, the plot is pretty dumb and full of bs, but it's not like it completely deflected the whole flow of the story and even managed to squeeze a few good themes out of it, so fine by me.

Why do they always have to pull this same old harsh family tradition crap, but whatever

Anyhow, the reason why Kanata's emotional outburst won over me is partially due to how weak I am against that kind of sisterhood, for it's a rarely explored theme in 2D stuff.

Moreover, this is probably the first time I got to immerse myself in such a fiery sister's dispute.

I mean, the two of them were coming at each other's throats for a myriad of occasions, spitting out insults, trying to "steal" from the other, and even going as far as attempting second-degree murder.

But in the end, like one of their fathers said, it's just a sibling quarrel. They are family, and family take care of one another.

Regardless of her apparent disdain, Haruka wished to retake those regular days with her onee-chan.

Meanwhile, Kanata had been silently facing off against innumerable odds, all to preserve Haruka's last bit of sanity.

If not for her unshakable sister love, Kanata would have given up entirely and corrupted to something genuinely sinister.

They told me I was different from that sullied girl with her dirt blood.
But I don't understand, because she's my...my.. sister, no one in this world can replace her.
The anime completed Kanata's character, period

It was so depressing to see things played out that way, and the progression was downright thorny.

In fact, it reminded me of a similar scenario in the infamous Umineko saga, which also happens to feature one of my all-time favorite characters (you can guess who).

But you know what they say, at the end of the tunnel, there's light.

And I don't know about you; seeing Kanata breaking down in tears as she unraveled the truth with a heartfelt soundtrack playing in the background was simply cathartic.

I could not save you, I could not give you my hand

I'm not exaggerating one bit, but her voice still lingers over my mind as I'm writing this.

And damn, the visual novel was good, but the anime just had to kick it up a notch by further refining the climax in this fascinating "fragment" of the LB verse.

Usually, I would not take anime adaptations seriously, for they tend to be very lazily done in general.

That said, for this one rare exception, LB is truly blessed to have a powerful "assistance" at its side, complementing what the novel lacks in terms of visual clarity and sublime presentation.

Her Route

Though Futaki Kanata is unquestionably at her peak during Haruka's late-game (which is ironic), I would say her own "route" wasn't even half as bad.

It sure as hell was wonky for some parts. Nonetheless, the tradeoff is the emergence of some compelling substances to keep things fresh.

...

For instance, that immensely evocative flashback sequences almost made me shed a teardrop or two, which is a feat that not all drama series can achieve.

Aside, the connection between this route and Haruka's with Refrain as the middleman is pretty whimsical to see.

Vague as it was, I like how they tried to incorporate the meta into this route to make it feel interlinked.

Regarding the "don't come near me" early game, I feel like it could have been handled way better (in fact, the anime got that covered, damn) by balancing Kanata's tone and her intention, but that's just a minor issue.

Overall I'd say Kanata's route was decently planned from the start with some good hints and successfully maintained the integrity of Kanata's initial characterization in Haruka's route, namely how she chose to go against the "looks don't matter" trope, which is nice.

Apart from that, witnessing the esteemed chairwoman of the prefect regime breaking school regulations, going rogue, and eloping was quite fun and satisfying.

I'd say this is the happy ending she deserves.

Furthermore, it was a breath of fresh air exploring the unexpected sides of Kanata, from blushing, to tsun-tsun, to full maiden mode.

That ahoge makes it 100x better though 😂

And gosh, I could not stop replaying these flirting scenes while binging the anime because, again, they nailed her expression and gesture so well that it made my heart skip a beat.

Bottomline

To be blunt, Kanata as an entity is pure sensation.

I'm aware that I'm getting ahead of myself, but recently, I tend to prefer daring and transparent things. Even better, if they don't shy away from exposing the ugly sides and ridding themselves of the traditions, that's just icing on the cake.

Honestly, it's okay if you still find Kanata detestable so long as you acknowledge that it couldn't be helped.

Almost forgot. I can't stress enough how fucking awesome her VA is (Suzuki Keiko).

I mean, the ability to draw the stark contrast between TWIN characters and remain true to their personalities and behaviors simultaneously is no small feat.

She delivered so many great lines, but that "Come at me like you mean it" is probably my favorite performance of this fantastic seiyuu.

Ultimately, Futaki Kanata is an ever-stoic girl on the front, but deep within her lies a paramount emotional burden that spectacularly flipped everything upside down at the pivotal moment of the story.

Additionally, Kanata isn't just one tough cookie, but also a waifu that can cook, fix stuff (in the anime). More importantly, she always put her "family," the real, genuine one, above all else. To me, that alone is a big win as waifu material.

P/S: I've been having this weird fantasy of a bizarre crossover between LB and Muv-Luv Alternative where Kanata would be a major badass but not without some tragedy befalling upon her...

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Gaftonosh

Chilling out and rolling out.

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