05 July 2011


(CREDIT: to the makers.)
Rank: 4.9 out of 5 <-- ...

Okazaki Tomoya is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he'll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away. One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes Nagisa Furukawa muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims "Anpan!" (a popular Japanese food) in self-motivation which catches Tomoya's attention. Soon after, they become friends at school. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and that her dream is to revive the school's drama club. Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls.
As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realize life isn't as dull as he once thought.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]

This show was far more brutal than Ef - A Tale of Memories. Clannad is such an emotionally stimulating clusterfuck that I have died of dehydration. I have lost the ability to cry...


So yeah. Here it goes. I might as well break everything down into categories for the sake of covering a two-season anime.

CHARACTERS: Clannad does have a lot of characters in stereotypical roles (a punching bag, a lolita, a shy girl, a sweet girl, etc), yet they still come off as endearing. Each character has at least some development and relevance despite the large cast. Each arc focuses on one of the friends Tomoya makes through the end of his high school life; however, the delivery is a hit or miss. One of the biggest offenders is Fuko's arc which took up nearly half of the first season. Although it was the only time when I considered dropping the show, the slow pacing was not easy to sit through. Otherwise, the stories are taken care of very well, although some characters have not much screen time ever again.

Hands down, I liked Tomoya the most. He's blunt, cynical, and loves to pull pranks every now and then (wait... that's like me kinda... o_O.) He is a love or hate sort of guy and many don't like him for his distance from his dad and how Tomoya is willing to help his friends but not his dad. As someone who is going through family difficulty, I can understand his unwillingness to deal with his issues. I loved him the most in Clannad: After Story, where he matures so much and becomes a very strong protagonist despite his double whammy downfall near the end...

Nagisa, on the other hand, is Tohru Honda... minus the strength and the "fixing up" duty: they are placed all on Tomoya. Nagisa is a decent character, but she is significantly weaker and is quite needy. Sometimes I felt that Tomoya should have stopped taking care of her like a lost puppy. Though she gets stronger and more confident, she still feels like a passive Tohru Honda for no reason. In fact, all the characters - except Tomoya a good chunk of the time - is passive. I forgot how many times an "'I'm sorry!' 'It's okay!'" moment occurred in 50 episodes!

PLOT: Have a box of tissues with you. Clannad is very emotional roller coaster ride, even to the point that you become numb in a time when you should be bawling your eyes out. It's very annoying, especially near the end of Clannad: After Story, when Tomoya is in the darkest moment in his life. To sum it up, I was so stuffed from the appetizers that I had little room to enjoy the main meal. At least I threw a teary-eyed hissy fit at episode 21; oh, the foul language that the neighbor's heard at 3 in the morning... But since Arkada marked that scene as the 2nd saddest moment in anime... I should have been better prepared.

Despite the fact that some arcs are not well paced, and some characters have a far better story than others, Clannad does well in delivery on an emotional level. So much so that I can't really critique it to the fullest; I can agree that this show is manipulative with emotions, but I still gave a crap anyway. Just like me with Naruto.

ART: Fluid and beautiful! Despite the "moe" character designs of the females, everyone moves naturally. In After Story, we get to see Tomoya fight a gang member, and hands down that scene was executed far better than one in any action anime I have seen. Even in the "parallel world" where there is a young girl and a robot, everything felt so real and not stiff and choppy. Otherwise, not much can be said here. It's not groundbreaking, but it was truly a new experience for me.

SOUND: The opening songs of both seasons are wonderful; I have "Megumeru" on my iPod and "Toki wo Kizamu Uta" fits season two in a bittersweet way. The ending songs are okay, with "Dango Daikazoku" as a strong highlight. That song appears many times as an instrumental in some sweet scenes and is sung a few times by some characters in After Story. Background music was fitting and noticeable, but nothing award-winning.

As for voice acting... I stuck with the English dub, which was done well. You could go with Japanese subtitles or English dub depending on what you stick with because you can't go wrong. But be warned that the dub started off pretty shaky at first, but things settled down relatively and quickly.

Overall, Clannad has some rehashed story elements, but is delivered in a very emotional fashion to make you love it or hate it. I'm tempted to call it a masterpiece in its own way, but at the end of the day, I felt it was realistic at first with cynical Tomoya, but the show progressed into an idealistic fashion. Honestly, that was why I loved Ef - A Tale of Memories so much; it was surreal and trippy at times, but the events and interactions were realistic. Despite that, on a subjective level, I want give Clannad a 6 out of 5 for my expectations being blown out of the water. But my objective side would probably rate this as a 3.8. So I'll compromise the two by giving Clannad... a 4.9 out of 5.

Geez, this show makes Titanic look like a comedy... I gotta stop giving these romance stories high praise. Dammit...

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