I experienced something that changed my life...
In a nutshell, Clannad ~After Story~ influenced the way I will live for the rest of my life and not just in some half-assed way like any other show would. It legitimately moved me to make certain decisions, for better or for worse. In that sense, no other anime can compare, as no other anime has provided an equivalent reaction on my part.
Before you continue, you should know that Clannad ~After Story~ is a continuation of the story from Clannad and an adaptation from the original Visual Novel by KEY. Although knowledge of the first season is not necessary, it is highly recommended if you want to get the most out of ~After Story~ as well as this review. That being said, this review is tailored to all readers, and can be understood without knowledge of the first season. Note that there may be very minor spoilers. Now then, on to the meat and potatoes.
I won't spend much time on the individual components of Clannad ~After Story~ (or Clannad ~AS~ as I will call it now) like I have with my other reviews. At first glance, there is nothing notably outstanding about it as a whole. For those who are interested in the individual components, here they are and the reasons behind them are available at the end of the review:
Enjoyment (in this case influence): 10+/10
| Main Review |
It is difficult to convey the emotions that went through my mind as I watched Clannad ~AS~. For those of you who watched the first season and dropped the show, I urge you to pick up ~AS~ and give it a chance. The first few episodes run almost identically to those of the first season, but the true After Story part branches off in a manner that is unique only to ~AS~. What Clannad ~AS~ gives the viewer is a story of life. A story of despair. A story of forgiveness. A story of hope. Through this story, Clannad ~AS~ can powerfully change the way you perceive the world around you. I am well aware that not everyone enjoys Clannad and ~AS~, especially since the magical light orbs are outlandish to some, but for me it was a bit of a godsend among anime.
The concept of Clannad ~AS~ is neither truly unique nor breathtakingly wonderful. What the viewer gets when watching it is the story of a man. Nothing less and nothing more. What Clannad ~AS~ really excels at, however, is the way it tells the story of that man. While it may be classified as a romance or even a harem anime by some (at least the first season could be), I really classify Clannad ~AS~ as a slice of life. A slice out of the life of a delinquent who can’t seem to do anything right and struggles to protect what really matters to him as the world comes crashing down.
However, “slice of life” can be a deceptive term. As I watched Clannad ~AS~, it was not as much a slice out of Tomoya’s life but a slice out of mine. You see, what Kyoani succeeds in is hitting on the points that make life truly what it is. The continuation of time. The reality of truth. The genuine meaning of “life goes on.” Additionally, by extending over many years, the true significance of every event begins to emerge. Clannad ~AS~ takes the tale of the first season and shapes it around a single person. It is a respectable reflection of life and delves into what many shows do not, and cannot, represent: the story after the story.
While many of the situations may be overblown and excessively dramatized (at least in the opinion of some people), it is ultimately true that every facet of Clannad ~AS~ gives the audience some insight into life. Does it matter that there are miracles and magic orbs of light flying around? For me, no. For others, this could be the case. That is to say, not all aspects of Clannad ~AS~ are perfect, but the impact was enough for me.
If you are looking for a cheerful anime, turn away now. Kyoto Animation does many things with Clannad ~AS~ including some very effective humor in many places, but Clannad ~AS~ will make you cry and smile, often both in the same episode. I won’t lie, I cried at least 5 times throughout the season. Even when rewatching episodes, I cried again. Don’t get me wrong, Clannad ~AS~ really has some happy moments as well, but Kyoani tends to depress many, many times. Each sad moment is profound and beautiful, but nevertheless it is sad. The ending song, Torch, which is played in every episode, serves to alleviate this, for better or worse. Torch is very upbeat, but many people consider it unnecessary and I agree. Torch can be a real mood breaker at times.
The power that Clannad ~AS~ exerts comes from its characters. While the first season portrayed many main characters and their stories, ~AS~ focuses on the life of Tomoya and lightly on the lives of those who surround him. Tomoya is a failure in a cruel world. In a sense, he is a fatal hero. While he may not know it, he is destined to face pain and suffering through his life. There is a bit of controversy over the ending of ~AS~, but those who wish to have a “truer” ending can consider the second to last episode as such (don’t hate me for suggesting it). When seen in that light, Clannad ~AS~ effectively played out a story that neither catered to an audience nor skewed reality (except for the orbs of light, of course). What it presented was something that many people can relate to. The loss of a loved one. The pain of recovery. The neglect of a father. Rediscovering love and friendship. Coping with suffering. *SPOILER* The feeling of holding a daughter in your arms for the first time. The pains and joys of being a father. */SPOLER* What it ended with was a realistic ending and a message for the future. Additionally, if seen that way, the last episode can be portrayed as Kyoani staying true to the visual novel and respecting the source material.
*Unfortunately, more talk of the plot would undeniably lead to spoilers, which I am trying to keep free from this review, so please bear with me. Heck, if I’ve convinced you at this point, what are you waiting for? Go see for yourself what all the hype is about. Otherwise, read on!*
Ultimately, Clannad ~AS~ molded characters that I thought I was familiar with into something close to human. Their stories produced emotion that made me reconsider the situations of the people that I see every day. Through social commentary and moral struggles, the viewer can genuinely begin to respect Tomoya. I know I wouldn’t be able to withstand half of what he did, but I truly began to respect the fact that he kept going, despite him being a fictional character. Through his struggles, I began to learn about myself. Through the struggles of those around him, I began to respect those whom I had once hated. This may seem extreme, and you may think that I am crazy, but what I write is nothing but the truth. Every episode gripped me, and many episodes evoked tearful reactions, which I am not very prone to. As I continued to watch, I could hardly bear waiting a week for each new episode to come out. At the same time, however, I knew that each episode held a bomb - a flood of emotions that could affect the rest of my day. Clannad ~AS~ went way beyond enjoyment – it went into the realm of what I could call an “epiphany.”
Can the story of one man influence the lives of others? Is it still possible if that man is a fictional character? For me, I did not think it was possible for anime to extend its influence at such a level. Clannad ~AS~ proved me wrong time and time again. Look past the first season and the first few episodes, and perhaps you can begin to understand what I mean.
For those interested or who can relate after watching the show, this is the ultimate and most powerful result of the show as it applies to me. The following is the reason why I can’t keep my mind off of Clannad ~AS~ and the reason why it will remain as my #1 favorite for what I know will be many, many seasons: *SPOILER* Through Clannad ~AS~, I have basically committed to wanting to have a baby. Ushio love. */SPOILER*
| Analysis of components |
Clannad ~AS~ is unique in its storytelling, but the story itself is nothing special. The earlier episodes present almost unrelated stories just as the first season did, but Clannad ~AS~ takes a turn for the better with a focus on a single character and his ordeal. At this point, Clannad ~AS~ does nothing but follow the life of a young adult, Tomoya. Sure there is drama (oh, is there drama) and there is romance, in a sense, but in reality, there is no real plot to speak of. What there is, however, is the tale of a life experience that can change the way you live. A real deterrent might come from some of the magic that inexplicably finds its way into Clannad (both seasons), but that never really bothered me. The ending is also less-than-stellar and can be a bit confusing, but as stated before, there’s always the second to last episode to fall back on.
There is nothing blatantly wrong with the animation quality. Kyoto Animation produced Clannad ~AS~, so fans will know that there is nothing to fear. The character design is the same as that of Clannad and other KEY adaptations. The KEY character design is quite distinguishable, with its giant eyes. Personally, I am a fan, but other viewers might dislike the artwork. Other than that, Kyoani did another solid job with the animation, and there are no jerky movements that detract from the gorgeous lessons that unfold.
Kyoani had its ups and downs with the music for Clannad ~AS~. In many aspects, Clannad ~AS~ shoots beyond other KEY adaptations with its unique, unconventional plotline and incredibly well enacted scenes of what could very well be the life of an individual. In fact, many of the ordeals that Tomoya must face strike a particularly strong emotional chord among many people. Who knows, you might not be that certain type of person, but I definitely was. Anyways… back to the music. Clannad ~AS~’s opening sequence is a strong piano melody with deceptively deep lyrics. However, the ending sequence detracts from many of the spectacular moments, especially because Kyoani tends to end episodes on a sad note. As such, many would classify Torch (the ED) as an elaborate troll because it is too lively. Beyond the OP and ED, Clannad ~AS~ features tracks from the Visual Novel, which include very familiar tracks from the first season. Notable among these are the songs with lyrics, ie Ana. Certain parts of the OST mesh very well, and a powerful soundtrack can produce a powerful reaction. However, I don’t remember anything in particular clearly standing out to me, and as previously mentioned, Torch ruined quite a few strong moments.
While most of the other aspects of Clannad ~AS~ are very similar to their counterparts in the first season, character development in ~AS~ take a turn for the better. Kyoani successfully made me hate characters that I loved and love characters that I hated. Through a roller coaster complete with dips and turns, Clannad ~AS~ changed the way I perceive all type of people. From Tomoya’s seemingly disinterested, alcoholic father to Nagisa, a character who I actually deemed annoying in the first season, I came to understand what truly makes up a person. Every character really has a story behind their dejected or cheerful façade. Despite the usual “Clannad magic,” every character also turned out to be associable, adding to the personal level of the show. Even the more comical, secondary characters had their share of emotional moments, giving them real depth and giving the viewer a relatively accurate understanding of human nature. About half-way through the show, there is a certain character that changes many, many things. I won’t spoil it now, but her unique appearance is what truly brought Clannad ~AS~ to unmatchable levels.
Enjoyment is really up to the beholder. My view of enjoyment may be somewhat different from others’. Clannad is not for everybody, but for those who dropped the first season, ~AS~ is truly on a league of its own and worth another shot. Every person has that one anime that leaps up above the rest and leaves a lasting impression. For me, that anime was Clannad ~AS~. No other words can describe the effect it had on me, and I hope that this review has at least made you, the reader, consider picking up this diamond in the rough.
| Final Thoughts |
Thank you for your time (I know the review was long), and I sincerely wish that you give Clannad ~AS~ a chance. Who knows, it may change your life. As always, comments about how effectively this review worked are welcome. Also, a helpful rating is always appreciated.read more
Recently I had the absolute pleasure of watching Clannad: After Story. I had previously seen the original Clannad and liked it as a light-hearted slice of life anime, good but not amazing. I went into After Story expecting the same thing, but what I got was something fantastically different.
As I said before, I started After Story expecting it to have the same light-hearted high school drama feel as the first season and, unfortunately, the first eight episodes did nothing to prove me wrong. The first eight episodes are Clannad at its storytelling worst, more specifically the Sunohara arc. Thankfully, Clannad at its storytelling worst is simply "okay". The Sunohara arc makes Youhei's younger sister, Mei, seem like a nosy and irrational little girl in contrast to the mature-beyond-her-years character that the writers seemed to be trying to present her as. The Yukine arc was better, but it pushes the boundaries of Tomoya's "good Samaritan" personality a bit too far. The Misae arc is good by itself, but has very little to do with the story or the characters that we care about. If it weren't for each arc each containing details that are vital to the enjoyment of understanding of the later part of the anime, I would recommend skipping the first eight episodes altogether to get straight to the real good stuff.
Thankfully, the latter part of After Story more than makes up for its mediocre first act with the absolute greatest storytelling in anime. After Story quickly gets back on its feet and shows what truly makes it great as we ride the greatest emotional rollercoaster in recent memory. The ending has caused some controversy for being too ambiguous to fully understand without having played the video game, but I feel otherwise. Granted, I had to see the anime twice before I truly understood it, but I was nonetheless able to figure out exactly what happened without any outside help. It's a tough one, but it's very possible.
While the main setting has its moments of visual awe, the artistic aspect of the anime truly shines in the beautiful and surreal "hidden world". The impact differs greatly from the main world, boasting beautiful lighting, animation, and colors. In the main world, colors do a great job of changing from bright to dull based on the situation and animation is polished to a shine.
I've always been a big fan of a musical score acting as a compliment to whats happening on screen rather than a mere accompaniment. Clannad: After Story masterfully pairs its score with each event to further the emotional impact of each scene. It is done so well, in fact, that one cannot hear the music on its own without feeling some kind of emotion attached to that song by a certain event from the anime. The OP is good and very versatile in setting the correct emotional tone for each episode. On the downside, the bouncy, poppy ED is often horribly inappropriate to the emotions that you are left with at the end of each episode and is almost guaranteed to ruin the mood if you aren't quick enough to stop it. I found myself sometimes ending the episode early when the scene seemed like an ending due to my fear of facing the buzzkill of an ED.
On the voice acting side, the English performances are top-notch. Each character is paired with a voice that fits their appearance and personality very well and that can easily be recognized among other voices. Luci Christian gives a flawless performance as both English Nagisa and Ushio, and Andrew Love does really great stuff with the situations he is put in as Akio.
The characters are without a doubt the strongest aspect of After Story. Each one is as incredibly human as they are likable, and their easiness to get attached to is one of the biggest reasons that the anime has such a great emotional impact. When the characters are suffering, it as if one of our friends is suffering, and when they are happy, we are happy for them. I have never felt such an attachment to a set of characters as I did in After Story. Each character plays so well off of each other, including Tomoya and Nagisa, who are without a doubt the greatest couple in anime. In most stories, be it in books, cinema, or television, the romance sub plot is almost always one of two things, the incredibly good-looking and nice alpha-male protagonist gets paired with the incredibly good-looking romantic interest, or the incredibly good-looking and nice but shy protagonist gets paired with the incredibly good-looking romantic interest. In both scenarios, the two characters are always blessed with the perfect personalities and that's why they go so well together. Tomoya and Nagisa are different. Neither of them have perfect personalities, but both of their personalities are able to compliment the other's. Tomoya's hot headedness is able to be cooled by Nagisa's quiet, strong demeanor. It's not perfect gets paired with perfect, it's human finds human.
After I finished Clannad: After Story for the first time, there was only one thing I wanted to do: watch the entire series again, so I did. I know that the word "experience" is overused in film and television, but that's exactly what After Story is. I don't cry during movies or anime. I've seen Elfen Lied, Old Yeller, My Dog Skip, Grave of the Fireflies, etc. You name it, I've seen it and didn't shed a tear. Clannad: After Story made me cry like a girl multiple times, and the reason it did is because it's different from anything else I've ever seen before in one way. It is able to appeal to the most human parts of you, whether it's Tomoya's responsibility as a man or Nagisa's inherent ability to remain positive for the sake of the people she loves, the one thing that makes this anime so emotionally powerful is the fact that you could see it happening to you. read more
Emotions are a powerful thing; they have the capability to override any modicum of rationality and force even the ficklest of beings to succumb to their emotional disposition. Due to this, often times, those of us who claim ourselves to be critics of various mediums fall short of our own expectations. “Clannad After Story”, a series described as “life-changing” by many is the perfect suspect; a production that captured the hearts of the majority that viewed it while instantly becoming a classic within its genre. Littered with subpar designed moe characters, irrelevant arcs, contradictory elements, forced plot devices, and a plethora of other obvious issues, it truly is baffling how effective an appeal to pathos can be. Although, the series has plenty of redeeming qualities, the title it has so profusely clenched--that of a masterpiece by a large consensus, must indeed be questioned.
“After Story” takes place right after the first season of Clannad and chronicles the lives of certain characters from the first season, primarily focusing on Tomoya, his relationship with Nagisa and more importantly, himself. It attempts to bring a sense of realism to its viewer through the joys and hardships that Tomoya goes through and accomplishes that for a while. It also eliminates the harem aspect of season one and adopts a much more serious tone.
The series spans 24-episodes with the first 10-episodes composed of various arcs dealing with other characters and their corresponding dilemmas while the rest of the show focuses on the primary protagonists. This brings up the problem of structure and inconsistency. The initial problem with “After Story” is the characters that are focused on for the first 10 episodes. With the exception of the Misae arc as it LOOSELY connects to the magical component of the show, the other arcs have no direct relevance to the overarching story nor do they serve any function in moving the plot, but are just thrown in there, forcing unnecessary drama. This also causes a huge gap in consistency between the first part of the show and the rest, especially in regards to quality. However, the next few episodes are a pleasure to watch as they highlight Tomoya’s evolution as a character along with his relationship with Nagisa. Structurally, “After Story” fell short, consequently causing a gap in quality and consistency.
Substantially, “After Story” has its share of delightful moments, but those are restricted to a very limited amount of episodes. The story is unoriginal, but imbues concepts and themes that are very real and relatable such as: imploring responsibility and growing up, the innateness of hardships, the importance of relationships, moving on, and many others that are close to home. Yet, “After Story” manages to ruin the very thing it tries to achieve. The show spends a great deal of time trying to evoke “realism” through manifesting the aforementioned themes, but subsequently destroys that with its detachment from reality and deus ex machina resolve. For example, one of the arcs in the earlier part of the series shows how two supposedly bitter and rival gangs end up being bros4lyfe via some [extraneous] female side-character. I may not have a proper grasp on gang psychology, but I’m fairly certain that the odds of something like a dudefest and “understanding” blossoming between two rival gangs are astronomical. This notion of “bonds of friendships overcoming everything” is extremely over exaggerated deeming many of the earlier arcs unrealistic, effectively leaving me in a state of overwhelming ennui.
For a series that tries to emphasize real life, especially while trying to deal with issues such as loss, acceptance, etc., it negates all validity by embracing a faux idealism grounded in wish fulfillment. The realism juxtaposed with magical idealism/wish fulfillment really disintegrates the show by the end. However, that is probably one of the overarching reasons the show is as popular it is, because instead of staying true to its realistic core, it defaults into fantasy, idealism, and wish fulfillment. It’s successful but at the cost of complete contradiction therefore making After Story somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory. It should be noted that there is nothing wrong with having a plot based on supernatural/metaphysical notions, however, when the show is simultaneously trying to bring a strong sense of realism to the front, it becomes counter-productive and contradictory. I can’t even incorporate this under efficient “magical realism” because of how badly the two are handled when looked at as a pair.
Essentially, where “After Story” excels at is deception. It does an excellent job serenading its viewer into a false lull making it seem exponentially better than it actually is by manipulating sympathetic themes and completely over exaggerating them, however, when dissected the story offers nothing unique, let alone life altering. It’s a good effort, but that’s all it is, an effort, that has its comely yet ephemeral moments. Conclusively, "After Story" ends up stumbling within its own narrative and resolution.
“After Story” gets a ridiculous amount of praise for having “human-like” characters, however, the series lacks greatly in terms of balanced characterization. Tomoya is well developed and one can partly empathize with his struggles as he tries to shuffle through the various challenges he encounters. Tomoya’s progression is probably the most realistic part of the show and is fairly well-executed. While the show gives us a dynamic Tomoya, we are left face-palming in deep regret and resentment with the lack of attention given to Nagisa. There is nothing memorable about her; struck with some unknown illness, we often see her washing dishes for like three continuous episodes. I felt no sort of attachment, relation, or even empathy towards Nagisa, rather her lack of progression had the opposite effect. Her static, ingénue personality got unbearable. Oh and she can’t hold her liquor. That just heightened my insouciance even further. The futility of Nagisa truly is a burden on “After Story”.
The over-development of one protagonist and under-development of the other did not have a neutralizing effect, but a detrimental one. Their relationship is the foundation of “After Story” but it remains immature, mainly due to Nagisa’s incomplete characterization. Instead of spending the initial 10 episodes on completely useless characters, the series could have utilized the same time to construct Nagisa into a character with dimension, personality, and purpose. The show spent so much time trying to build this false delusion about how “friendship solves everything” that essential aspects got completely disregarded. Tomoya along with an unmentioned character carry the weight of “After Story”. In hopes of keeping this review spoiler free, only the two main protagonists (Tomoya x Nagisa) are discussed.
There are plenty of supporting/side characters in the show, some making cameos (from season one), others for reasons I have yet to understand. The only notable side characters are Nagisa’s parents who provide some comedic relief (which is the same recycled humor of the first season) but they still manage to maintain their likability.
Don’t hold your breath expecting anything aesthetically orgasmic. The girls are molded with “moe” in mind at all times: Unrealistic character designs for a “realistic” anime. In terms of the actual art, “After Story” does a fairly good job. Bright colors are often used to accompany the magical atmosphere and vibrancy of life that the show is grounded upon. There are instances of visually striking scenes scattered here and there, especially with some of the natural backgrounds. There is always light illuminating from somewhere, even in the darker scenes. The one place where the animation did shine is while depicting the “illusionary” world. The background, colors, and overall depiction of that world is nicely done as it provides a very surreal atmosphere to the viewer. However, don’t expect gorgeous animation akin to something like “5 centimeter”. It’s nice, but nothing exceptional.
“After Story” has a viable soundtrack that fit its purposes. Composed of subtle, soft, and sometimes melancholic piano music, the OST is pleasant, but conventional. It wasn't something that compelled me to go download or re-listen to. The same applies to the OP/ED selections. They are very imminent and “of-the-moment” in the sense that they are enjoyable and appropriate at the time they played. However, I almost always forwarded the OP and rarely listened to ED. The voice actors are fitting in regards to their respective roles.
Undoubtedly, “After Story” is at the forefront its genre because of its inherent ability to capitalize on emotions and “feels” to the point where many “manly” tears are shed and lives are changed. However, I could not relate; as the anime defied all levels of logic with convenient plot devices, contradicted its own pursuit of realism, over-dramatized situations, wasted 11 episodes of my time with frankly fatuous arcs, and underestimated the importance of complete characterization--emotions no longer mattered. After all, feels and impact are evanescent, quality is what remains.
"After Story” therefore didn’t really leave a strong impact on me nor did I learn some particularly significant lesson about life nor did I put my feels on suicide watch. Nevertheless, the four or five episodes towards the middle/end are truly poignant and laudable—if “After Story” could have maintained that level of quality throughout and refrained from committing some of the aforementioned blunders, the series would have lived up to its hype. Alas, I cannot rate a 24-episode series any higher based on my enjoyment of five episodes. My “After Story” experience is a step away from the norm and that’s the reason I spewed all of this—to offer some solace to those who couldn’t cry those manly tears or indulge in wish fulfillment, while also providing another perspective to those who have yet to watch it that isn’t soaked in sheer “feels”.
After watching many anime and reading many manga, I would recommend Clannad AS to most people just as strongly as when I first finished it. (I cry to it just as much too.) What sets After Story apart for me is the encompassing world it develops in addition to the main story. The completeness of the narrative is beautiful and rare, since many other media products of our time give up on telling a complete story for a variety of reasons. A plethora of stories are all told at once for the imaginative viewer who appreciates all of the series' nuances. Without spoilers, by the final episode many if not all side characters have matured and you feel this maturity authentically. This leads you to consider how you yourself, your friends, your family, and your community have matured. I think After Story appeals most to reflective viewers.
After Story is quintessentially Japanese with no compromises. It both frames the world with elements of traditional culture (slightly patriarchal approach to relationship with fragile female protagonist, refusing money from parents for the sake of honor, immediate respect for grandparent) and shows the world with elements of modern life (changing city, new construction, environmental preservation, long working hours). (Also, there aren't yet cell phones, which itself is fascinating to think about for sociological purposes.) This is both refreshing and realistic in the world of anime: After Story doesn't seem like it's using a medium with fantasy elements only to escape reality. It takes life as it is and, overlooking a few contrived missteps, shows how the characters change the existing reality for themselves while being inextricably tied to it. Tomoya even considers running away from his problems by leaving the city with Nagisa (metaphorically escaping almost everything about his reality), but she reasons with him about the family he has in the city.
That said, I found myself quite able to interpret the story in my own way. Outside of the humor and occasional filler, there are many important moments available for reflection. This appreciation for stillness and reflection (even occasionally outside of slice of life), I think, is the strongest argument for why anime is a medium and not a genre, and why it appeals to certain types of people more than others. One of my highlights in the first season was Tomoyo's conversation at sunset with Tomoya, where they theorized about 'family'. The essence of 'family' further explored by After Story is complex and multithreaded, and remains the defining question and legacy of the whole series. If you personally identify with the series, the questions raised by the series may remain a part of your everyday reality no matter what stage of life you are in. They may even cause you to think about everyone else in your life in new ways.
The music of the series was the strongest aspect for me, both in After Story and the first series. It opened my mind up through emotions to consider the realities and struggles of the different characters. Consider all of the scenarios presented in the first season. What must life be like for Kotomi, studying all alone in the library those long hours, living a life completely different from the high schoolers around her? In the real world with degree inflation in Asia where university has become a safe haven for students who can't get jobs yet are quite intelligent, what will become of students like her? Will all her domain-specific scientific knowledge become obsolete thanks to databases and her inexperience with cutting-edge electronic equipment? Think about Tomoyo. In a world of big data and near-total destruction of privacy, there may be less chance to change who society believes you are. Think about Kyou's future role as providing familial comfort and understanding to all the primary schoolchildren who don't have a family life as both parents work long hours. Think about Nagisa's parents, who would have a tough or impossible time paying for Nagisa's college with their modest-income jobs after sacrificing their dream careers. Are such parents realistic in families of the future? And the future Yusukes in developed countries may need to sacrifice even more family time to their jobs to sustain services in societies with many retired seniors. On a level closer to the canon, how will changes in Nagisa and Tomoya's life impact the people and the city around them over the years? More abstractly, to what degree do changes in the family of the city affect the family of friends and actual families? In After Story, just as in the first season, the music encourages thoughtful, probing questions for imaginative types and shows how much change time can bring. Perhaps the music can become a part of your life as you associate a song with a certain time period. For me, "To the Same Heights" contains a wonderful mixture of hope, uncertainty, and wonder in facing the future.
Some people will not enjoy this anime. The moe art style may seem unsuited to the depth of the storyline (although for me, it seems merely an extreme case of the wonderful juxtaposition of innocence and hope against harsh realities in a similar vein as Madoka vs Kyubey, Akane vs Makishima and Sibyl, or even Honoka, Umi, and Kotori in front of an empty theater). The story arc before episode 9 in After Story is not realistic. The drama may be too intense for them, and the everyday dialogue too melodramatic. Yet starting with episode 9, I think what follows is the finest piece of storytelling that will exist in anime for a very long time.
Take all the happy and sad things and roll them up. Dango dango daikazoku~read more
*Yet another successful heart warming series produced by Kyoto Animation that surpasses its predecessor.*
“… an astounding series with a slightly less astounding conclusion.”
Due to the frequent references to Clannad (first season), from here on, the term “Clannad” will be used when referring to season 1 and “After Story” will be used for season 2 and the term “Clannad After Story” will be used when referring to the Clannad series as a whole. A few friendly reminders before we begin. After Story is a direct continuation of Clannad, thus it is not very “new audience-friendly”. Knowledge of certain key events and character relations are expected from viewers. Again, due to After Story being a direct continuation (in story) from Clannad, and the latter ended with a climax of sort, it is unreasonable for us to expect After Story to start off with the same level of intensity. In layman’s term, don’t expect the show to start with a bang.
What exactly is After Story? In short, it is an emotion evoking machine designed in such a way as to suck dry your tears. By combining music, dialogue, and animation (often from the facial expression), After Story has the ability to dominate even the mightiest cold blooded person on this planet. Crappy live drama should learn/adopt some of the plots/techniques used in the anime. They should be ashamed of themselves because some anime by the name of Clannad After Story can present a much better dramatic story as a whole. In addition, After Story can squeeze the deep down juicy emotions inside you that not much live drama (if there is any) can ever accomplish.
Those who are familiar with Clannad should have no difficulty identifying various strong points evident in After Story (such as high quality animation), but perhaps one may not be too familiar with the weaknesses of After Story. While some may claim the following “ugly” facts to be minor issues, it is only fair on my part to present both sides of an argument, so to speak.
Inappropriate ending theme. The MUSIC makes Clannad what it is (more into that later), but sadly there are occasions when the ending theme just ruins everything the episode worked so hard for. It is important to note that the ED song itself is not bad; it just does not fit in especially with the latter half of After Story.
“Clannad Magic”. The magic might work on some viewers, but for the rest of us who are looking for a more realistic story it was somewhat a let down to say the very least. I still recall people used to ask me the difference between Kanon and Clannad, and usually my reply will be the following, “… well Clannad is the more realistic version of Kanon as far as the main story between the protagonists is concerned … nothing too supernatural …” but the magical performance totally destroyed it.
As previously stated, the author of this review (ie. me) is simply presenting issues of what seem to be hindrances to After Story from achieving a perfect 10/10 masterpiece for some demanding viewers. In fact, After Story is a show overwhelmed with prettiness. Depending on your definition of prettiness it could mean any or all of the following but let me assure you that there is absolutely no exaggeration involved.
Lyrics, Music and BGM! Normally song lyrics are not a big factor in an anime, but After Story’s OP is just too fabulous to ignore. Slowly, I began to learn the meaning behind the song. If you read the lyrics in detail, it is clear that the song is a summary of the story of Clannad After Story. A particularly heart warming chunk of the song lyrics is provided below.
“The chilly days continue on, even though it’s already spring.
On the mornings I woke earlier than the alarm clock,
You, making breakfast for three,
Would be standing there.”
I would refrain myself from explaining the meanings behind the lyrics, but I hope you can have a rough picture of what kind of story Clannad is getting at just by that one simple verse. You can find the lyrics (in English and Japanese) from the link below.
As mentioned earlier, music is one of the key features making Clannad After Story a successful business. Music in Clannad After Story is not simply music. Likewise, BGM is not simply BGM either in the context of After Story. They blend in with the animation, characters, and story. They all compliment each other to bring out the maximum effect to each scene.
Animation! The animation quality is slightly better than previous Key adapations by Kyoto Animation. For those who are not familiar with the producer, Kyoto Animation (products include Kanon (2006), AIR, Full Metal Panic series, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kiddy Grade, et cetera.) has a pretty good reputation for its high level animation. Simply put, one will be find nothing but beautifully drawn girls, dynamic backgrounds, silky smooth scenes transition, and completely fluid movements in this touching anime. There is, however, not much difference (if at all) in the quality between Clannad and After Story.
Characters! One great thing about the characters in Clannad After Story is no matter if they are main or supporting casts, they all seem to be part of a jigsaw puzzle. The show would not be the same without any one of them. What makes After Story superior from its predecessor is its focus on the main protagonists (ie. Nagisa and Tomoya) for the most part of the show. This is evidently lacking in season one because other heroines’ story had to be covered, thus leading to an ambiguous character relationships development between Tomoya and various heroines. Although not a major Nagisa fan myself, one should realize the importance of her character and how it all connect to the story’s main theme.
Story! After Story is all about the story! It is by far the prettiest of all the pretty traits that one can think of about Clannad After Story. On the whole, the Clannad series is an astounding series with a slightly less astounding ending. Slightly less astounding partly due to the magic, but could also be due to another reason. Assuming some of us has been paying attention to what Kotomi has been explaining regarding the works of her parents, then perhaps we can take a more scientific analytical approach to the ending via something known as the Omega Point Theory. Due to the lack of spoiler tags, further analysis of the ending will not be possible for this review. However, the following blog will prove to be extremely valuable.
--> thanks goes to fellow member Eternal-Dragon for providing me with the diagram.***
Simply put, Clannad is LIFE, period. It lets you experience a wide variety of emotions such as anger, jealousy, joy, love, sorrow, pain, hardship, friendship, and most importantly the care from your family. From the ridiculous comedies presented by Sunohara (or Fuko), to the naivety shown by Nagisa (or Fuko), one can always relate characters and/or events in Clannad to some direct/indirect personal experiences. Additionally, Clannad also teach you the meaning to LIFE. Next time when you are on the verge of starting an argument with your parents, just think about Tomoya and his dad. Think of all the hardships and difficulties your parents went through to feed you and raise you to make you become who you are. You will never know, maybe Clannad can really teach you a thing or two.
In an unrelated note, for those who enjoyed watching the Nagisa x Tomoya pairing and at the same time disliked the magical performances throughout the show (particularly the ending), then it is recommended that you give the Clannad movie a try.read more
"Do you like this school? I really, really love it. But nothing can stay unchanged. Fun things... Happy things... They can't all possibly stay unchanged. Even so, can you keep on loving this place?"
How does one cope in a world that is always changing? And are we ever truly alone?
The above questions are foundational to the series of Clannad After Story, a story of love, loss, redemption, happiness, sadness, togetherness, and change.
I will start by commending Key, the brains behind this show. Like other works of theirs, (Notably Kanon, Air, and the first season of Clannad), it is beautifully written and incredibly aesthetically detailed, with well designed environments and a soundtrack that fits the context to a tee. Added to the compelling characters, this anime is in my somewhat biased opinion a masterpiece. I'll start with the story.
As a story by Key, I went into the anime with some expectations. Not only was I not disappointed, I was sent from small fits of laughter to open sobs and bawling more quickly than I would have liked (very manly, testosterone-charged sobs and bawling, of course).
The anime starts right near the end of the first season of Clannad and picks up quickly. Nearly all of those "minor" characters from the first season are given more time, their stories are displayed in a very accessible manner, and there is a feeling of very little "filler". Almost all of the characters have you caring about them (and feeling happy or sad for their situations,) by the time the story ends.
These stories play out against the backdrop of Nagisa and Tomoya's relationship, their trials and happy times, as Tomoya becomes a man of society. A distinct shift of the angle and scope of the anime is witnessed, as Tomoya moves into the "real world". One of my favorite parts of the story came from the implementation of Nagisa's parents, Akio and Sanae. I will discuss this implementation later.
During most of the story, I felt as if I was actually living the lives of the characters I was watching. Realistic scripting, well chosen voice actors (Mostly the same from the first season), and strong writing right from the beginning gave me the impression that this could actually be a real story, happening somewhere on the planet (with some minor exceptions that are related to the story).
The themes of change and family are expressed continuously, from the changing city to the powerful interconnectedness of family, friends, or larger communities. The OP and ED become more powerful as the story continues on, and the connections made to the first season are near perfect.
There is more than one climax to this story, and it is barely short of amazing how there can be so much emotion packed into 24 episodes (though the 24 of the first season play a role here).
The ending was very pretty, I especially liked the ending of the 24th "recap" episode (which I would consider a part of the After Story experience as it provides some final closure).
Overall, the story is so beautifully done that aside from one potentially confusing part near the end, the plot is watertight and expressed in a way that is easy to connect with. Next I will discuss the art and sound.
If the entire After Story anime consisted of just the OP and ED, I would have awarded it somewhere around an 8.5. The combination of theme song (Toki wo Kizamu Uta by Lia,) and stunning visuals sent shivers down my spine many of the times I watched it. Both the OP and ED gain more as the story goes on, as more subtle details are revealed in the plot.
I have always been a big fan of the Key visual style, but the visual style of this anime is very impressive. The characters as can be expected are very well detailed, but what is stunning about this anime is the amount of detail in the environments. Every building and nearly every person, near or far, important or not, is well detailed. Seeing the wood grain in a power pole when the pole is barely hanging in the scene. Or the swaying of each individual plant in a field during sunset, as the orangeish hue nearly matches that of a sunset in the real world. This and more all combines to produce a very appealing look and serves to immerse the viewer in a world that is not their own (though one might wish it were, for how pretty it is).
The soundtrack is impressive. Many of the songs come from the first season, but some less well used songs in the original get used more often in this season. The choice of where the soundtrack is implemented is pivotal, and this anime is very good at knowing when to emphasize the emotion or when to provide a contrast that might nudge the viewer, "Time still goes forward; life still goes on!"
Lastly, I will talk about what I believe is the most important portion of any story, and especially so for this one: the characters.
After Story provides an amazing level of character depth. None of the first season of Clannad is forgotten, and various past issues and memories are brought back.
The development of the "minor" characters plays a very important role in this anime. Though Tomoya is the main character, one gets the sense that there are no arbitrary characters in the anime at all. Everyone has a past, a story, and a place where they can fit into the extended family of Tomoya.
Tomoya is one of the most realistically portrayed anime characters I have seen in some time. Viewers will remember him as the slightly hot-headed but caring figure from the first season. Tomoya undergoes a remarkable transformation in this series, and the contrast (which is well-emphasized in After Story) is very well done. Finally, I want to take a quick second to recognize something I liked that Key did with this anime: the implementation of Nagisa's parents.
Though they had relatively brief appearances in the first season, Akio and Sanae play incredibly powerful roles in After Story. They are characterized as deeply caring parents that will do anything for the happiness of their family. They stand as a beacon of love and support for both Nagisa and Tomoya, and can be as funny as they are compassionate.Though not always on the front lines, viewers can expect any issues encountered by the characters to be thoughtfully and thoroughly dealt with by these two.
In conclusion, this anime is borderline phenomenal. In between moments of laughing and crying, there is a plethora of amazing characters, portrayed with the right music, detailed in beautiful environments, and built into a fantastic story that is very pretty, both in concept and implementation. I would heavily recommend this anime to anyone who is into Key stuff, who has seen Clannad, or just someone who wants to use a whole box of tissues from all of the happy/sad crying one is bound to do.
In response to the first quote of this (longer than I had expected) review in the words of Tomoya,
"Just find them; just find new fun and happy things. C'mon, let's get going."
Clannad: After Story is one of the highest rated and most beloved anime to ever be created; it's as simple as that. Rarely will you find a more passionate and dedicated group of fans who genuinely believe that an anime "changed their life". If that is the case, I am by no means trying to take that away from you; I would never tell someone that a show is meaningless if it legitimately meant something to them. However, I am going to be very harsh on this anime; I think I am very justified in giving it this rating. There are way, WAY too many perfect reviews for this series that refuse to acknowledge its flaws, so this review will focus primarily on the negatives of the series, even though there are many things that it does well. In other words: CLANNAD FANS, READ WITH CAUTION!
My main problem with the show is simply this: The first half of After Story is guilty of going down the worst possible road that a shoujo anime can go down: the dreaded road of "emotion porn", and some of it is absolutely unbearable. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, "emotion porn" refers any story/storyarc in a form of media that is incredibly shallow and uses gratuitous amounts of melodrama in order to get a cheap cry out of it's audience. "Emotion Porn" is directed at the emotionally immature and at those who are desperate for a cry, and unfortunately, After Story's first half is jam packed with it.
"How dare you!!!", cried the Clannad fans.
"There is nothing shallow about Clannad After Story!!! It's a masterpiece with tons of depth to it at ALL times!!!" they continued.
Well, stereotypical Clannad fanboy/girl, I beg to differ:
How about After Story's humiliatingly bad portrayal of gang violence? Is that "deep"? Or how about its unnecessary focus on characters that aren't even in the second half of the anime and had no reason to be in season two to begin with? Is that not shallow? Perhaps it's the lack on any real chemistry or development between the only two characters that actually matter until very late in the show?
I will eventually get to the good part of the anime (the last third), but for now, lets get through my negatives:
What do you think of when you hear the word "gang"? The Bloods? The Crips? The Pyros? Maybe the Mafia? What ever you think of, it should definitely involve brutal, merciless people. Basically, heartless thugs who settle their differences with guns and deal in shady businesses such drug dealing. Clannad After Story offers, well.... a "different" take on gang violence. Apparently, in Clannad-world, gangs are just a bunch of dudes who hang out together, sometimes beat each other up, and then run crying to a teenage girl to patch up their wounds. Oh, and the best part? If you deliver a nice, heart-felt speech to them, they all stop fighting and start being friends with each other! Isn't that nice?
Okay, honestly, who the hell could possibly take this arc seriously? Out of all the hilarious examples of Clannad, Kanon, and Air's horribly written, sappy melodrama, this one just might take the cake. THIS. IS. NOT. SAD. Only a complete sap who wants a mindless excuse to cry would be even slightly touched by this kind of emotion porn. Everything is exaggerated to be 10X more dramatic then it would be in real life, nothing about it is emotionally investing, and when you aren't laughing at how this crap is supposed to be sad, you will be bored out of your mind. Never have I seen such a laughable portrayal of something that is a real-life tragedy! Be prepared to deal with this for about 16 episodes before the show actually gets sad.
Contributing to the pointlessness and boredom of the first half of After Story: I give you the characters! There are only three characters that matter even slightly in the grand scheme of this anime: Tomoyo, Nagisa (oh god, we will get to her), and a someone I can't reveal due to spoilers (Nagisa's parents are plot devices more then they are characters). And guess what; NONE of them are focused on until about episode 12! The main characters are basically just bystanders or plot devices for story-arcs that revolve around pointless side characters that, as I mentioned before, aren't even in the second half of the anime! These side stories are pointless, forgotten by the plot right after they are completed, and do nothing but waste the time of the viewer.
"Why the hell are the writers trying to develop characters only to write them out of the show?" You might ask. To answer, they weren't trying to develop characters; they were just giving the viewers some classic Clannad emotion porn. The plot doesn't matter, the characters don't matter, all that matters is making the viewer cry in as cheap a way as possible. Emotionally mature people will see right through this. And as a consequence of ignoring the main characters for so long, there is no development between them what so ever until very late in the anime! After watching Clannad, you could start After Story at about episode 12 and miss nothing relevant, and that is NOT okay!
Oh, and that's not even mentioning that one of the only three important characters is an absolute JOKE! I thought they couldn't possibly be serious with this shit, but they certainly were. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Nagisa Furukawa; the anime girl who has single handedly re-written the term "mary-sue". They should just go ahead and change the name of the term to "Furukawa", because this is some unbelievable stuff right here. She is a shameless, misogynistic idealization of women to the extent of which I've never seen. She is kind, obedient, never questions anyone or anything, has stereotypical ambitions (having a family), and has no discernable personality what so ever. The only thing I can say about this character is that, well, she f*cking exists. Nagisa Furukawa is the most one-dimensional character I've ever had the misfortune of watching; she's an embodiment of an unrealistic idealization of a "perfect wife" rather then a portrayal of a realistic human being, which works against the point of the entire anime. NAGISA FURUKAWA IS AN AWFUL CHARACTER. JUST INDESCRIBABLY AWFUL.
Okay, now that the negatives are out of the way, here are the positives: The last few episodes of Clannad After Story are unique, well written, and offer an unspeakably rare take on high-school romance animes; "what happens after high school?" If Clannad has established anything up to this point, it is that Tomoya and Nagisa are in love with each other. It is at this point that the writing of the show takes a direction it should have had from the start: realism. It abandons all the bullsh*t side stories, supernatural elements, and emotion porn (until it blows it all with a deus-ex machina ending, but I digress). It finally does what I was waiting 1 2/3 seasons for it to do; tell a legitimate tragedy with relatable, heart-wrenching, elements. To give you an idea of how sad and tragic the last few episodes of After Story are, consider that at this point, I saw no way this anime could save itself. I don't even know why I kept watching, I was just looking forward to it to being over. Then, suddenly, I was completely emotionally invested in the characters and the environment to the point that I came damn close to crying. When I say this anime gets sad, I mean it! It took way too long, but After Story eventually developed into a tragic story that simply captures how unfair life really is, and it really is beautiful.
The last and only significant arc is a masterpiece, but the first half of the show is not cohesive and is unbearably sappy/boring for the most part.
Beautiful animation. The settings all look fantastic, but the character designs really bother me. Like I mentioned with Kanon 2006, the female characters have heads that are like 50% eye! Anime characters all have big eyes, but this is ridiculous! It's kind of creepy…
A decent opening and a good soundtrack, but it has the worst ending theme of any anime ever created. You will not understand why just by listening to it, but watch the show and you will see what I mean. The voice acting is pretty good in the sub, and it's pretty average in the dub.
The only important ones are not focused on nearly as much as they should be. All the pointless side characters spend so much time on screen in the first half of the show, and then they just leave at around the halfway point. I simply don't understand why that is considered okay. I like Tomoyo, but he is a bit bland at times. And Nagisa is AWFUL, as previously mentioned.
Overall, Clannad After Story does not get criticized the way is deserves to. People romanticize about this show as if it is the second coming of Jesus Christ, but the truth is that it's simply unworthy of such lofty praise. Is it still worth a watch? Probably, but certainly not with the expectations of it being one of the greatest anime masterpieces of all time, because it simply isn't in my opinion. I understand the appeal, but it simply wasn't for me.read more
The original series, the highly rated "Clannad", was one painful viewing experience for me - not because it's full of tragic tales, but because of how dire it is. Female characters sugary enough to induce diabetes in a lump of rock, combined with atrociously forced "drama" fast tracked it to a lofty position on my "Overrated Shite" list. And yet its ratings pales in comparison to that of its sequel, "Clannad: After Story".
Given my experiences with the first series, I hadn't originally intended to watch "Clannad: After Story", but people kept telling me how much better it was and how different it was compared to the first season. Intrigued, I decided to give it shot...
...and boy was I disappointed.
"Clannad: After Story" was supposedly a different kettle of fish from "Clannad", but it's obvious to me I that it's the same kettle, with mostly the same fish inside - it's still very moe; the melodrama is still clumsily manipulative; it's still unmistakably "Clannad".
Unlike "Clannad" though, "Clannad: After Story" is somewhat inconsistent. But I mean that as a back hand compliment, in that "Clannad: After Story" had the some good moments amongst the crap, while "Clannad" was just consistently crap.
The first part of "Clannad: After Story" is almost indistinguishable from "Clannad". It continues from where the original series left off, taking on a similar format comprising mini-arcs of various happenings around the school. Since Tomoya and Brown Haired Girl are already an item at the start of this series, there is no longer a harem aspect. You would think this would improve things, but in the case of this anime, all it meant was that it concentrated on mass producing contrived melodrama instead.
The first arc, starring Sunohara, was one of the worst offenders. It started off as a comedy, and although some parts were a bit tasteless, it was at least tolerable. Half way through though, it tried to turn into a serious drama, and it was all downhill from there on. The problem is that, as with most stories involving Sunohara, the comedy is quite ridiculous, involving an absurd set up that you simply can't take seriously, but the drama directly extends from that set up, and the anime seems to think it's fine to try and deliver emotional punches off this same platform that was used to deliver goofy punchlines shortly before. There are also glaring problems in the plot and inconsistencies in the portrayal of Sunohara's character, but the real crux is this: these problems are not oversights - these are the consequences of the show's willingness to sacrifice everything in order to crank up drama to 11. Not surprising then, that I found it so unconvincing.
And so "Clannad: After Story" continues in typical "Clannad" fashion, spinning implausible, almost surreal sob stories about its bizarrely troubled characters ... until around episode 10. This is the point where Tomoya and his ex-harem members graduate and make their way into the big wide world. It marks the beginning of what made many consider "Clannad: After Story" to be one of the greatest anime ever made. So I approached the show renewed hope...
...only to be disappointed once more.
However much "Clannad: After Story" changes its settings, it still approaches drama with the subtle touch of a rapist. While I admit that the show does mature somewhat, its maturity is much like the way Brown Haired Girl matures during the show - she became more like a 15 year-old than a 10 year-old. An improvement it may be, but it's debatable whether this 50% increase in maturity is worthy of lavish praise when
1) the initial bar was set so stupidly low, and
2) she's supposed to be in her twenties by the end of the show.
But allow me to pause in the middle of my acid spewing in order to acknowledge that there are definitely merits found in this part of the story, and that's enough to make it by far the best part of the whole franchise.
As is always the case, these best parts centred around Tomoya himself and not some dipshit moe girl or some other retarded side character. One of the stories dealt with Tomoya trying to settle into a job and striving to overcome, amongst other difficulties, his physical handicap. This I liked, because above all, it was unembellished, believable drama - he actually had plausible real world problems to deal with, which isn't something to take for granted in the world of "Clannad", despite it often being labelled as a real life drama.
It's fair to say that the franchise would be a lot worse without Tomoya; he was almost carrying the show single handedly. But there was one other, newly introduced in "Clannad: After Story", who shared his burden of being a rare good character stuck in the cesspit of shit ones. It's not too surprising then, that the stretch of episodes focusing almost solely on the two of them are the best ones that "Clannad: After Story" has to offer. Its emotional apex, a gorgeous scene set in a field of golden flowers tinted red in the setting sun, is hands down the most touching moment in the combined two seasons of the show. Emotional but not forcefully so, it captured the central theme of family with a poignancy and sincerity that's most unusual for the show.
But that, I'm afraid, is the last remaining good thing I have to say about "Clannad: After Story".
In between the aforementioned high points, and even entwined with them, crappy arcs and sub-plots are found in abundance. Amongst them, there's the incident of an all important decision reached via baseball, and another one that dealt with matters between Tomoya and his dad. The former looks to be an instance of "Clannad: After Story" trying to be subtle by approaching the matter at hand in a round-a-bout manner, in the same way that an elephant might try to do ballet; the latter is another classic case of the show sacrificing its characters to the drama. Time and time again over the course of the two seasons I witnessed Human Plot Device, aka Tomoya's dad, demonstrate his immense capability by taking on whatever personality the plot required, and this unsurprisingly resulted in his character feeling like an unfathonable, contradicting mess.
To say the remaining episodes were unsatisfactory would be an understatement. To begin with there was the re-appearance of one of the most fucking annoying characters I've ever had misfortune of encountering, which invoked more sadness within me than all the sad stories in the whole series put together. And then there's the ending. I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll just say that not only was it confusing, but I would have felt cheated if I didn't have so little emotional investment in the show to be cheated out of.
That aside, there's also some weird business going on with the ending to the main story not being the last episode of the series. There are two more episodes after the main ending: the first one is an alternative reality side story; the other one, the final episode, is just a recap. It's as if the show was going for the most anti-climatic end to a series ever. The purpose of throwing in that side story eludes me, but the re-cap's summarising did help to make the ending clearer. It doesn't clear up everything though, and there are major plot elements that remain baffling to the end. I did come across an informative time line that made references to the visual novel, and in all honesty, I was quite impressed with the grand scheme of what I saw. Unfortunately, various aspects of the plot failed to translate during the adaptation. Most notably, the visual novel mechanics they tried to port across caused plenty of confusion. The irony is that by trying to be more faithful to the source material, the anime actually ended up being worse off.
That said, the ending is just a single nail in a rather large coffin; the show's problems run far deeper, right down to the conceptual level. Other than being filled with moe blobs that barely qualifies as characters, I get the impression that the franchise has been developed from a completely wrong approach. Instead of starting with some good ideas and letting them grow into good stories organically, it feels like the writers started with the intention of making the biggest fucking weepfest ever, then threw in whatever ludicrous ideas that came into their heads in order to achieve their goal. As a result, values like story and character integrity were continuously being compromised to make the show more tragic superficially. This might have been forgivable if it only happened on occasion, but when it's the bread and butter aspects of the story, the end product simply isn't a good drama.
If a work of fiction drags its audience into the depths of hell with tragedy, does it retain its artistic merit if the entire experience is nullified by the conclusion?
This is the principal question faced when attempting to reach a verdict on Clannad: After Story, a work of fiction which has a compelling power to manipulate the emotions of its audience: to make them laugh, to bring them to tears, and to leave their hearts warm with joy. Exploring themes such as redemption and heartbreak, it does many of these things wonderfully, but in desperation to end with a certain tone, it destroys everything it achieves in a single moment.
After Story is the continuation of the first series of Clannad, a harem anime which distinguished itself from its contemporaries by treating its subject tactfully and managing to be amusing along the way. This is largely because of the strength of the main protagonist Tomoya Okazaki. In a genre which is infamous for bland main characters with no purpose other than being a body the audience can insert themselves into, Okazaki is a breath of fresh air. He had a back-story, a personality, and a sharp wit. That he spent so much time around women was not surprising, because his character was charismatic and interesting. His relationship with best friend Sunohara was also like a comedy double act, and was genuinely funny to watch.
The female cast, while based on familiar archetypes and not as strong characters as Okazaki, also had more depth than their contemporaries in the genre. They had their own interesting stories and subplots, and most of these were entertaining to watch. It was pretty clear from the offset that Okazaki would end up with Nagisa, and yet these diversions from the main storyline did not feel like distractions. Those characters were important to the story as a whole and their subplots helped to develop them. Afterstory takes things to another level. While the myriad of female characters are still present, it progresses from a harem story to a pure romance. Those female characters from the previous series are retained but they become less like groupies and more like a community. Their relationships with Okazaki and Nagisa are not just on good terms, but they behave like real friends. There is no underlying sense of competition among them for Tomoya’s attention and they interact with the couple cordially.
Similarly, the presentation in Afterstory is up to the high standards of the first series, with excellent animation and a quality soundtrack. While the art style is primarily a question of taste (though I question the legitimacy of the ‘bug eye’ critique) there is no doubt that the animation is consistently smooth and polished. It’s not daring or experimental, but it is highly articulate. The soundtrack fits the series wonderfully too, tugging at your heart strings at the appropriate moment, and easing you into laughter when Okazaki and Sunohara are up to their antics. It never errs and even if the same melodies are used time and time again, they never feel repetitive, and they linger on in memory long after the series is over.
In short much of the original series’ qualities are retained; the most striking difference between the two is the storyline, which in After Story develops into something far grander than its predecessor. While the first series of Clannad works as a piece of entertainment, in Afterstory the saga evolves into a work of art that explores complex themes, principally the theme of redemption. It does not do so with religious imagery or symbolism, but by masterfully crafting a story around the principle itself. Okazaki, as is known from the first series, is dealt a fairly bad hand early in life. Despite these difficulties he strives to help others and eventually manages to take some control of his existence and improve his situation. After Story does this without coming across as moralising or feeling contrived, a difficult task for a story with such themes. The series also contains a fair amount of tragedy, and this executed masterfully. In one key scene, a blissful moment is thwarted suddenly, quickly spiralling downwards into sorrow. One cannot help but shed a tear for poor Tomoya, whom life had finally begun shining upon. The theme of redemption resurfaces later in the story, where it is played to even greater effect. After reaching a catastrophic low, Okazaki is eventually able to reconcile his relationship with a character he earlier abandoned, in a climactic and touching scene which frames the rest of the series beautifully. This scene is balanced perfectly with the tragic scene mentioned earlier, and the emotional swing between misery and bliss leaves the audience with a feeling bittersweet happiness that every work of fiction strives to instil in its audience accomplished with finesse. Then, in front of our eyes, the beauty of everything before us unravels into something unspeakably ugly.
In a decision which can only be described as madness, the story incorporates another tragedy into the storyline- one which serves no greater artistic purpose or develops Okazaki’s character further. It is merely a tragedy for tragedy’s sake. And at that point, After Story enters into the void of sentimentality and emotional exploitation. One cannot empathise any further with the characters or feel any sorrow. In fact, the most appropriate response is anger. Anger that creating something interesting or making any kind of statement was never the intention of the creators, only to toy with our emotions in the hope it would provide us with some kind of masochistic pleasure.
It is a plot development from which no story could recover; any meaning one had found in the story until that point is completely lost, and we find ourselves unable to care in the slightest what else might happen to Okazaki. It is perhaps only the desire to get the damned thing over with that compels us to continue with the rest of the series. But continuing the series is an even greater mistake, because the rest of the story serves no purpose other than to add insult to injury.
While the second tragedy is nothing more than emotional blackmail, we could say that at least it doesn’t betray the emotions we had felt prior to it. To end on another low point seems meaningless but one still has the beautiful journey reaching it to reflect upon and the opportunity to ponder over its significance. One could satisfy oneself with the fact that while the narrative was obliterated, that such unfortunate double tragedies do occur and that the story is at least ‘real’.
Yet even this is desecrated by the conclusion, in which everything preceding it is rendered moot. We are inexplicably transported to a world where all the terrible events of the story do not occur and Okazaki is able to experience the happy life he had always longed for. This is completely unforgivable.
If you read any book on writing fiction, there will invariably be a chapter on ‘bad endings’ and the most prominent of these is ‘it was all a dream’. The reason being that such endings mean any inconsistencies do not need to be explained, that no real development occurs, and that anything that did occur is now meaningless. Afterstory’s ending is more or less equivalent to this. As the story had been cohesive and logical until this point, it is unlikely they did so to cover up for any errors made previously or to escape any inconsistencies. Clannad’s underlying supernatural themes go some way into explaining how the series ends the way it does, but does nothing to justify why it should end that way.
Such an ending does have one use though, and that is making a happy ending possible despite the previous plot developments. But why do we necessarily need such a conclusion? There is an implicit point being made that the audience would be unable to cope with a sad ending, making it necessary to conjure a happy ending by any means, even at the expense of the rest of the story. This is nothing less than an insult to the intelligence of the viewer. It is disgraceful. To take the audience into their emotional depths under the pretence that there will be a message or something meaningful behind it, only to betray their sense of empathy by providing an escape no-one who faces such tragedies in the real world shall ever have. Such abuse of emotions in works of fiction can only cause harm. It only leads one to refrain from investing too much feeling into fictional characters, making them hesitant to do so in the future. Worse still, while the audience is able to take in the sadness of the situation the characters experience, the opportunity for contemplation of its wider significance is severed. The consequences mean nothing because the problem has ceased to be a problem.
In works of fiction, the conclusions you reach are not as important as the journey taken to reach them, since the journey itself is what should lead one to reach those conclusions. In the case of Clannad Afterstory this process has been, not even reversed, but completely ignored. There is no connection between the two events. The journey exists, and it is a wonderful experience. It exhibits a kaleidoscope of human emotions on a powerful level, and does so beautifully. But that journey has no bearing on the conclusions reached either by the plot, or in the mind of the audience.
Hence the dilemma posed in reaching a verdict on this series. Does one simply praise the series for what it does well, criticise its faults and attempt to find a balance between the two? This is the approach one would usually take, but when the conclusion is not only disconnected from the journey but contradicts it entirely, that is something which cannot simply be forgotten. It obliterates all meaning, it excavates all depth, it makes the whole damned thing sum up to nought. Take your wish fulfilment and intellectual depravity if you wish, but I would rather be left in the depths of hell.read more
To be frank, I despised the first season with a passion. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what was so great about it. Yet I still saw the fandom of Clannad everywhere; from the forums to it being favourited on every other profile. I promised to stay away from ~After Story~ after witnessing the fail or rather mediocrity of Clannad. However, seeing the rage of it rising faster and louder with it being currently ranked #1 on the site I caved. Like a kid being peer pressured into smoking I reluctantly watched it. And I’m glad I did.
This is a continuation of the previous series and opens up with the conclusion of Clannad: That Nagisa and Tomoya has finally started dating. But by no means does it stop here. Not many anime, or any stories even, tell a story where the couple are already together and go off from there. Most of the time it’s about how the two love interests get together and fall in love, which is all well and fine but what about after? Do they actually live happily ever after? Are their futures sure to be fine and dandy now that they are together?
I never thought highly of ‘slice of life’ anime. If I wanted to watch an anime about people’s lives I would just record myself, or better yet - watch Big Brother. Anime is all about the supernatural, fantasy, badass and beautiful characters, action, over the top romances and comedic situations -- the unreal!
Or so I thought.
Clannad ~After Story~ proves you don’t need any of these to make a great anime. There’s no world destruction, huge responsibility, convenient coincidences, twists of fate, gore, blood, lovey-dovey romance or any of the usual routine. It’s life. With heart-wrenching drama. With every day real life events that could happen to any of us. And with bittersweet moments.
It does have some supernatural elements though, but if anything, it adds a touch of realism rather than the opposite. Who’s to say these supernatural mysteries do not take place in real life after all?
The main cast remains the same, however unlike the first series, ~After Story~ concentrates more on Nagisa and Tomoya, especially in the second half of the series -- one of the many reasons why I enjoyed this. There are also many episodes which are dedicated to characters whom are important and dear to Tomoya and holds value in his life. I also found these a great joy and equally inspiring. The quality of content in these episodes are much higher than those in the prequel series and of faster pace. They don’t draw out one character’s story for five episodes, but instead packs one or two episodes with such inspiring stories that moves a person emotionally.
The series has a strong family theme, with Nagisa’s parents being central characters in the story. Tomoya’s father has a bigger part in this series, as we see a progression and revelation between Tomoya and his father. Rarely is there ever a family theme in anime. We hardly ever see parents being shown, never mind being main characters - they really do well in pulling off such a delicate theme.
What really made the anime for me was the animation and sound. The animation was so surreal, so vivid it simply made me stare in awe. Key’s animation really impressed me; at times they would they would do sweeping camera follow ups, follow the movement of a flying baseball in slow motion or even chase the movement of a little girl as she runs through a field. The sound was beautiful too. I usually never sit through every single episode’s opening however I could never resist ~After Story’s~ opening. It always sets the mood of the anime and prepares you for what’s to come. Even the opening could twinge your feelings a little. The other themes were wonderful as well. It could go from happy, joyful tunes to melancholic, depressing ones to uplifting and inspirational instrumentals. Nagisa’s Dango Song affected me the most as it would be soft and cute at first then go on to be so painfully uplifting with the use of percussions.
Another beautiful thing is Nagisa and Tomoya’s relationship. Not once in the entire show are they shown to kiss and even holding hands was a rare see. Yet, their relationship is truly on another level. What they have is a bond so strong and pure that those sort of actions do not need to be shown to tell us that they are undeniably close.
I disliked Clannad. This feeling I cannot change. But Clannad ~After Story~ is a whole other world in anime. It has the art of anime, but has the feel of an old time classic love story of happiness, tragedy and bittersweet revelations. I sought an anime that would make me cry. And sure enough it did. Even the most stone-hearted person would feel a heart aching twinge. Either that or bucket loads of tears. It’s simply beautiful.read more
Disclaimer 1: Please excuse some colorful language that may or may not have found its way into this review.
Disclaimer 2: This review is NOT free of spoilers, so read at your own risk.
CLANNAD: Afterstory Review
-The animation is still great. Yeah.
-Extra focus on characterization. For some people. For the rest, it kind of sucks, but for Akio, Sanae, Yoshino, Tomoya and Nagisa it's great.
-More Tomoya! Afterstory builds up on Tomoya's development from the first season and kicks it into overdrive. We see him struggle to grow up, enter society, become a man, care for his family, etc etc. His character progression is solid and moves at a good pace. By the end he looks and acts like an adult(except when he kind of kills his kid, but yeah), albeit a unique one forged by his circumstances. He and his journey are the main reason the story holds up as well it does.
-Nagisa is a person! Not really, but kinda. Over the sacrifices of literally ALL of the supporting cast excluding her parents, Nagisa is given some actual characterization and even, dare I say it, growth. Even her death, perhaps meant to be nothing more than a tearjerker, was an important milestone in Tomoya's development. It's a shame and yet not that she died. On one hand, she was just beginning to feel like a real person. On the other, the show should not have waited until episode 16 of the second season to give their female lead a personality.
-Ignore stuff, it helps. I have found that I cannot remember much before episode 9 or so. That's fine, because what I do remember of them isn't amazing. They weren't bad (except the whole cat/boy thing, WTF) but they didn't really add much as the show was picking up speed.
Similarly, I found that my view of the show rose by several orders of magnitude if I ignored the last couple episodes. I will talk about those in the cons section, but the point is that if the show ended on episode 21-22, it would be fucking amazing.
-Tomoya(again). Continuing from the previous point, I like to think that the show ended on episode 21-22 because it is by that point that Tomoya has gone full circle, he has grown beyond a teenager, beyond a boy struggling to be a man, has grown past most of his grief, and is ready to live his life for his daughter despite his major fuck-up earlier. That right there, was a perfect moment to end it. The show's focus on the importance of family would have been perfectly encapsulated.
But of course, more tearjerkers were needed so Ushio dies in what has to be the most retarded and forced way in history but waaaaait it doesn't matter because magical power of happiness double time travel happens. Yay for finales.
So yeah, ignoring the last episode actually makes me think that the show ended on a great way that surprised me a lot, and managed to pass on a real world message through an entertaining medium and likable characters.
-Akio is awesome. Well, he is.
-Disappearance of the supporting cast. I get what Afterstory was going for. The focus on Nagisa and Tomoya's family was actually pretty good, all things considered, but all other characters that were in every episode of CLANNAD literally dissapeared and are seen maybe twice (if at all) throughout all of Afterstory. Sunohara's absence was especially jarring, considering he was (supposed to be) Okazaki's best friend.
-The first 8-9 episodes. As I said earlier, they weren't bad, they felt really separate from the rest of the show, and not in a good way. Oh, that reminds me:
-The cat-boy bestiality case. Seriously. Misae is hot and if I were a cat turned into a boy I'd wanna bang her too but what the actual f-.
Which leads me to:
-The supernatural elements/other world storyline. F- this. F- this sideways with a rusty spoon. Whoever decided it was a good idea to add the supernatural stuff and then give exactly fuckall explanation for them, just so he could undo two seasons' worth of character development should go eat a pile of dog shit and then apologize to every single CLANNAD fan in existence, personally.
The supernatural elements were stupid as f-, the other world storyline was boring and it was time/money that could have been invested better, and the final episode fucking ruins fucking everything by undoing anything of note that ever happened, BUT ONLY THE SAD STUFF, so that the perfect happy ending can be achieved in a show that was poised to show that even though life and reality are both bitches, happiness can be achieved if you try your best for the people closest to you.
All the better, then, that the last episode doesn't exist for me. Boy, I'd be mad as balls if it did.
-The copout regarding Tomoya's dad. Now, I'll admit that I kinda sorta liked the resolution of Tomoya and his dad seeing eye to eye and his dad finally returning home as a bent but not completely broken man, but I didn't like how it came to be.
It was one convenient thing after another, in a series of forced coincidences that only make me roll my eyes.
Moreover, it felt like a total waste of the subtle tension that the first season had created. It felt like the first season wove a silk thread, and then the second season came and beat it to death with a hammer, yelling all the while "IT'S FINE BECAUSE HE DID IT ALL FOR YOU AND YOU'RE THE SAME SO YOU SHOULD GET IT, RIGHT? RIGHT?!? I CAN'T HEAR OVER HOW NOTHING IN THE PAST MATTERS, SPEAK UP."
It's all incredibly convenient and in such a way as to dissolve the rift in the least confrontational way possible. Which can work, I suppose, but it's an incredible waste.
Having said that, I will have to disagree with people on this site (and the show itself) who think that Tomoya and his dad are the same. True, both are understandable in their actions considering the loves of their lives died, and I don't think you people are giving enough credit to the pits of despair such a sudden loss can lead some people to.
Still, Tomoya gave Ushio to Akio and Sanae for five years. While a terrible thing to do as a father, it was actually the better choice. Akio and Sanae are both model, loving parents who did a great job raising Ushio for her first 5 years, much better than a grief stricken Tomoya would have done. Tomoya's father tried to do it, he tried his best to go at it alone, and he failed. Even unconsciously, Tomoya took the best possible decision in those circumstances.
Btw, while I can buy the reconciliation once Tomoya knows what his father went through, I can't quite buy him thinking that Okazaki senior was a great father. We're seeing flashes of him being a great father through Tomoya's memories from when he was little but CLANNAD and Afterstory have no such examples, and in fact it is heavily implied that this has been the case for years.
So no, I'm not quite sold there. It was a very dissapointing copout.
-I think there were more, but I can't remember them right now.
My rating depends on what I choose to do with the final episode.
If I ignore it, it is a successful tale of a boy growing into a man that showcases the importance of family and learning to look at the positives in one's life. Yes it could have been better and it did several things wrong, but in the end Tomoya's journey is too well-crafted to be dragged down, and the supporting cast of Afterstory are all solid. Well worth an 8/10 rating.
If I don't ignore the final episode, it is all of the above, only smashed into pieces and then pissed upon for the sake of a classic happy ending whose avoidance was exactly the reason the show was any good through the use of unexplained, retarded plot devices.
In which case, not even Tomoya's journey could save the rating since it is basically invalidated (IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU LEARN IN LIFE, KIDS. ALL SAD THINGS GO AWAY THROUGH HAPPINESS LIGHT MAGIC TIME TRAVEL). In which case, a 5/10 would be generous.
For the sake of rating, I will just give it a 6.
tl;dr: CLANNAD/CLANNAD Afterstory are well worth a watch, though far, far from perfect. read more
I understand. I do understand. Yet all I can ask is why, why is this anime praised by so many people. Why is this anime given such high ratings that it is ranked 8 on MAL's toplist and in the top 20 on almost all other anime fansite toplists. It's ok, you can click unhelpful now, I won't mind.
This anime is ranked higher than Spirited Away.
I said I understand two times, yet it is really a mystery to me. Still I understand why people like this sort of thing, there are many fanboys and fangirls out there who wish they found that special no-personality, clumsy, sweet, IQ=fishstick person that's just right for them, but when people who I share anime preferences with and I think of as respected watchers of anime give this thing 9's and 10's then something is wrong, something is up, probably with me. There must be something I don't see in this, something great, something wonderful, something fabulous... yea I said fabulous. I can't find it, I have tried, same thing with the first season which I found slightly better than the second season, yet I have tried finding what makes this, apparently, one of the best anime ever made.
This anime is ranked higher than NANA.
This is an average romance/drama sprinkled with some supernatural on top to me. I can not for my life understand how anyone, anyone at all can give this anime a higher rating, when it comes to characters, than let's say a 6... and that's stretching it. This is all I'm going to say as I'm sure everyone has seen this anime and can make up their own mind about how wonderfully awesome it is, the engrossing elaborate plot and storyboard, the wonderful screenplay that is oh so breathtaking and don't get me started on that main protagonist who is truly a masterpiece when it comes to personality, he really underwent some serious character development during this anime... yeah!
This anime is ranked higher than Welcome to the NHK!read more
Our life is like a cycle, sometimes we are above and sometimes we are under
Clannad ~After Story~ is a sequel from Clannad and an adaptation from the original Visual Novel created by KEY. The anime often heard in my ear as one of the best anime. I always ask myself, ''Why? Why Clannad very famous? Is it really that good?". But now, I know something special is exist in this story.
If you looked Clannad AS, there is not much to say about the plot. It told us a tale of a man that suffer the difficulties of living, and how he pass through it. In the early episode, the storytelling almost looks same like the first season described as not too essential. But after that, the story run into one focused and unique storytelling.One of the other major fruitfulness is the story managed to wrap all of the mixed feelings that are not rigid and suitable with the story. There are various moral lessons we can learn, one of them is "even though you've had a painful past, you can overcome it by looking into the future with the ones you love", and many moral lessons includes in this story, it is the most powerful aspect of the story. The pacing it's relatively slow but fit with this kind of settings. Next, the ending, the most widely criticized part of Clannad After Story is its deus ex machina ending, it still abstract to understandable if the viewers don't understand the mysteries that lurked, which can bring a little bit confusion to the viewers.
The animation is wonderful, set in a beautiful world, have a great background details and colorful art. Although I know there is many people disliked the character big eyes design, but it really needs praise for the breathtaking environment. The sound settings are well-matched with the feeling of the story, the OP theme song "Toki wo Kizamu Uta (時を刻む唄)" by Lia really represents the expression of the story. The seiyuu did a wonderful job in bringing such character to the screen.
I almost shocked and silent, It's just so perfect & unmatchable. The main character grows to more mature. Every character has their proper development & plays their roles well. There is a process and the results come. It is one of the deepest and detail character development I ever saw.
There goes Clannad After Story, a story that made almost all of its audience draw their tears in their eyes. If you looking an anime that succeeds both in their perfect character development and deep plot, Clannad After Story is the answer.
"Sanae told me where it was okay to cry. It was in the bathroom and in daddy's arms."
Both Clannad and Clannad: After Story are amazing animes (and if you haven't watched Clannad and are planning to watch After Story first, make a U turn and rethink that... seriously), however none is flawless. For this review, I'll present, in the first place, the positive aspects of each category and then proceed to present the negative ones.
Clannad:After Story proceeds with Clannad's story and does a wonderful job at that. What makes this story so good is that it's a slice of life tale of forgiveness and hope which deals with important matters such as the responsibility one gains while growing up, recovering from something and moving on, etc. The story doesn't move forward at a fast pace, dedicating the needed time to each scene and not rushing everything.
Now, for the negatives aspects, the first episodes/arcs presented can be seen as instruments to diminish the anime's consistency and quality, since they're not essential to the outcome. I personally liked them a lot, though, and think that they're good to clear your head before getting to the heavy stuff (but that might be just my love for Sunohara talking). Additionally, the overly dramatized situations and the fantasy part might lead to the loss of the sense of reality that the anime plans to achieve.
The art in this anime is amazing. It's easy to understand what each character is feeling based on their expressions and the way the colors and lights are manipulated in the surreal world is very impressive.
The only downside to the art is that the characters don't seem to get older physically.
The voices of the characters match with their personality and are easily distinguished.
However, even though the opening theme is very versatile and helps setting the mood for every episode, the ending theme has the opposite effect.
Character : 8/10
The characters are very human, in other words, their personalities are compatible with the ones that the people we know have and it's easy to create a connection with them and like them.
The "Character" category is the one who has the lowest score because it sins in the development of Nagisa in contradiction to the development of Tomoya, which makes their relationship seem a bit immature. Even more, on the second half of the anime, the only secondary characters which are shown and which take any part in the action are Sanae and Akio, so if one of your favorite characters is from the "school gang", I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you won't be seeing them for a while.
I enjoyed watching this anime because it has a little bit of everything, it makes you think about your own future and makes you see people in a different way, which will make you try to understand their opinions and struggles.
If you love slice of life animes and are ready to have some strong feelings for fictional characters, this is the anime for you!read more
Honestly, I don't know where to start. At the part where I refused to watch this because "Who wants to watch something like that?" or the part where I found myself watching 20 episodes in one sitting with a runny nose and slightly red eyes?
For a while, I threw both Clannad seasons off because I didn't think it could interest me (and the first season almost confirmed that) but I stayed along because the amount of recommendations I received and I was not disappointed.
Personally, I believe that the stand out points for this anime are the sounds and characters. My God, the OST's! Just listening to them after watching the series will have you mentally reliving the scenes and all the emotions along with it, they're so damn perfect! And characters, I constantly found small connections with the MC here and there, and that added so much more to my viewing experience.
The story has moderate progression all the way up until the last 8 episodes or so, but it has some strange attraction that makes you want more and more. Following Okazaki through his life - from being a high school delinquent to finding his own feet as a man and a father, you really grow attached to it.
Then comes the parts which Clannad is known for - the sorrow. This is what everyone points out when they recommend After Story, and rightly so. You are in for a ride on the feel train with this series, whether you cry, shed a slight tear, or keep a poker face.
I gave this series a 9/10 rating because it was new to me, made me feel things I didn't expect, and was overall great. The reason for not gaining the extra marks to reach 10/10 was I feel they slightly overdid certain parts and paced some scenes poorly. It was like they milked certain situations too much, and that kind of ruined some moments for me.
But if you enjoy slice of life, romance, tear jerkers, and/or just an overall wonderful anime, I'd recommend this series 100% of the time.
P.S- This is my first time writing a review and I am not too confident in it. Most of it is based off my own experience and views, so it may not be the most helpful one, but I hope I helped in any sort of way. Thank you!read more
~After Story~ is an anime that touches people's souls. I watched it, and was blown away. This was just less than a year ago.
I just spent the last 4 days re-watching Clannad and Clannad ~After Story~.
It made me recall that the first season was actually good. The first time I saw it, it just paled in comparison to the ending of After Story, giving me false memories of it being bad when I thought back to it.
After Story was still even better. The second time through made me admire the pacing the script writers had to go through to achieve this amount of emotional connection that other movies and shows can only dream of achieving.
It took multiple revisions of the same plot until they achieved this precipice. It went through a visual story video game, a manga, and a movie, which I'm sure all went through many revisions of the plot themselves, until they carefully produced this gem of a masterpiece. That's the only thing I can call it. I can't say it's any lower than that. All the extra episodes that aren't necessarily vital to the plot are all needed. It's pacing. You can't attach to characters at such an emotional level in a short amount of time.
I loved After Story. Even though re-watching something will never give me the same experience as the original time, it still was great. I look forward to 30 years in the future, when I probably have all forgotten part of the plot (though, no amount of time will ever make me forget the possibly life changing experience) that I re-watch it again.
I've never experienced anything that touched me like this anime has. People have told me of all kinds of animes that were sad, like Grave of the Fireflies, and such. None of them affected me. I just laughed, and assumed maybe I didn't have a heart since I didn't find anything sad. I mean everything too. Never a movie, book, nor show ever make me feel pity for their real or fictional characters. Everything until Clannad ~After Story~. To be able to create something that can do this deserves a Masterpiece title, because nothing I have encountered has ever done it before.
I also seriously doubt there will anything in a long time that will top After Story's presence. In fact, I doubt that it can ever even be rivaled as an equal in terms of character development.
The art is simply amazing. If you actually pay attention to some scenes, you'll notice the very high quality background scenery, along with very fluid character animations with great shadow detail.
The sound is also one of the strongest points of the anime. The music is amazing and creates the atmosphere in numerous scenes. The ONLY thing I don't like is the happy, cheerful ending song. It only fits a handful of episodes, and completely destroys all mood created in the other episodes. If anything, they should have brought back the Ending of the 1st season for certain episodes. They have songs for everything, for all occasions.
To say this anime isn't a 10 makes me question someone's soul. Though, I can possibly understand why they might give it a 8 or 9, since everyone is different. Though to give it anything less is probably a troll attempt, or they just didn't finish the series.
The story is fantastic. It's not a brain twisting mystery, nor a plot twist filled thrill ride. It instead shows the roots of human mentality. It shows how a person develops.
Clannad ~After Story~ is not an anime you should skip on. I watched the anime through a 2nd time with a friend, since he had not seen it before. Mistake. This is best viewed by yourself, or possibly a loved one. Not a buddy.read more
*This contains at least one major spoiler because it's something I feel the need to state, so be wary. Some very minor spoilers might be unavoidable too.
- - -
The mighty Clannad After Story. One of the most highly praised anime in existence. Is it worth the praise? Is it really that good? No.
I've heard that this anime is of the highest quality with one of the most heartbreaking stories ever written. Hahaha, no. There are so many problems with this anime that the bad overshines the few goods.
Just like the first season, the first half of the second season tried too hard to force emotions with pointless arcs that served no use for the second half, where the main part of the story was. It was still a bad mash up of romance, drama, slice-of-life, and comedy. It still didn't know what it was trying to be until the second half where the story finally started going in a clear direction. But a lot of problems came out of this too. Mainly Nagisa (more detail in the character section). After it started going in this direction, it was just boring until the final arc. The last arc is by far the best part of the show. But then they pulled the worst bullshit with the last episode. I know it was kind of built up throughout the show with those balls of light, but it literally rendered the entire season pointless. The final episode was something they cranked out of their asshole at the last second in an attempt to make everything good and dandy. A good last arc ruined.
It was definitely an improvement from the first season, but I still couldn't take any of the girl characters seriously with the stupid fucking bug eyes.
It was okay.
In the first season, over half of the cast was filled with useless one dimensional characters. But there were some good ones. Half way through season two, all of the likeable side characters were gone. The only characters left were Nagisa and Okazaki. I hate Nagisa with a passion. She's a terrible, one-dimensional, annoying character that completely detached me emotionally from the story. I literally stopped thinking of her as a person as some point. Okazaki, however, had pretty good character development and I actually had some emotional connection to his problems. But, I felt whatever potential the show had as a drama was completely ruined by Nagisa. She literally made me not care. Nagisa's parents were the only other relevant characters (until the last arc) and are pretty good characters but they were there more to progress/extend the plot than anything to actually be characters.
Enjoyment (Huge Spoiler here): 4/10
I enjoyed the first half as much as the first season of Clannad, so not that much. I was bored until the last arc. There was one part where I was seriously sad in the story: I noticed that the art was better so I googled "Nagisa's eyes" to compare the horrendous eyes of the first season to the second to see if they were any better (I didn't know whether they were or whether I was just getting used to them) and the search came up with a youtube video titled "Nagisa Died." I was mad and upset because now I wouldn't be as happy when I saw Nagisa in the anime. Oh, I stilled cheered when the moment came, but not as much as I would've liked to. But let me tell you, I'm very glad she died.
-Pointless first half, same problems as first season
-Boring until last arc
-God awful final episode
-Most likeable characters were gone
+Good last arc
+Okazaki's character development read more
Clannad caught me off guard last year being incredibly different from its predecessors, Air and Kanon 2006. There wasn't so much focus on a story as there was just following the school life of main characters Nagisa and Tomoya, as well as all their friends. When Clannad ended, Clannad After Story was announced. After Story not only guarantees its like its predecessors, but does so in a way that almost makes it excessive and, in the end, shameful. Though this may be the case, After Story is still a superior follow-up to the first season, following a more structured storyline, deepening characters, and still portraying that fabulous art and music Key adaptations by KyoAni have become renowned for.
Like the first season, Clannad After Story still showcases the same brilliant art and music. Here we can see KyoAni has realy grasped a hold of their Key-style character designs, having come a long way from when they did Air back in 2005. The designs are aesthetically pleasing while still being a very enhanced degree of cute. The backgrounds, likewise, are very detailed though not meticulously enough that it would come off as gaudy. The town looks like an actual town, with construction sites and familiar pathways, which is excellent as the town itself is a key theme to the story.
Music provided from the game's original score continues to fit every scene perfectly, and vocal performance quality has skyrocketed with the growing characterization of Nagisa and Tomoya. Akio and Sanae are also well-cast and add to a good lot of scenes and episodes. Unfortunately, this second season has a penchant for insert songs, especially when they're not really called for. In addition, the ending theme "Torch" is wholly inappropriate for the gross amount of the episodes. Clannad After Story does top the previous season in making the opening theme even better, a very moving piece, "Toki wo Kizamu Uta" sung by Lia, who also sang the OP for Air TV. The accompanying graphics to the opening sequence only heighten the emotional value of the lyrics and the melody. It's easily one of After Story's more notable features.
With a more emotional opening though, comes a more emotional story. After Story begins by moving beyond the main characters to focus on arcs for smaller roles. These short arcs are actually just as moving as the longer arcs of the first season, providing a surprisingly hefty amount of character development from what were previously background characters and actually invoking a connection to them, which I really have to applaud this series for. Plus, these mini-arcs buffer well into the main part of the series.
The actual After Story itself, when it's finally reached, is quite possibly one of the most well-written and developed arcs of any anime I have ever seen. The story moves to a more linear format, focusing on Nagisa and Tomoya. For two characters who got the shaft for development in the first season, they get their development here and in spades. I dare say Tomoya may be the most multi-faceted harem male to ever grace anime.
Every episode flows smoothly into the next in a very consistent format, and every episode brings a new turn or twist, sad or happy, but always dramatic and leaving you wanting more... that is until the last two episodes of the storyline.
In this final stretch, After Story hits the wall. Following several episodes of dramatic, moving, top-tier material, the storyline, dialogue and characterization all take a major downturn in the form of an unresolved loose end that has followed the series from the start. It feels so incredibly forced when its resolved, and takes away everything gained from the previous episodes, that it feels like a sucker punch both when they tie it up and in how they do it. This is only emphasized by the fact that they had two whole episode spaces to explain the story, but instead decided to end it with a non-consequential side story and a recap.
As the old saying goes, its not about the destination but the journey. The destination has left a very sour taste in my mouth, leaving me to reflect on how some of Key/Visual Art's more signature elements have only hindered this otherwise phenomenal slice-of-life romance, but it should not discredit from the phenomenal work that the rest of this series was. Trust me, it's worth the ride to swallow the end.
Overall, Clannad After Story gets a 9 out of 10. read more
Many moons ago, I loved After Story. In my eyes, It stood as the pinnacle of emotional story-telling and a true triumph of an anime. I perhaps acknowledged the few flaws I thought were there, but I still claimed that the overall experience washed out these wrongs like a baptismal fount.
Those days are no more.
Now that isn't to say that AS is a complete pile of garbage, no no no. It's certainly good, and worth your time if you're one of the two people left in the anime community that hasn't seen it yet (that begs the question why I bother even writing a critical review, but regardless), but it isn't perfect, as a large bulk of the reviews above me will claim.
AS starts off with a wimper, and it's first half is predominately the reason why it is most certainly not perfect. Following the cut and paste VN formula, our intrepid protagonist(s) go around fixing peoples problems and subsequently cut them from the story after their problems are dealt with. This goes on for around 8 episodes. Now it wouldn't quite be so bad if said sections were good, but they're not. Forced drama is abound in these story arcs, with a crying scene in the rain to boot. Add in some bad pacing and you got some grade-a garbage right there. Now episodes 9-16 are cut from a higher cloth, but are still plagued by similar issues. The highlight of this section for me is a certain character punching a wall repeatedly, all the while another character cries begging the wall puncher to stop punching that god damn wall. It's honestly groan inducing to me. Now before you all just write me off, let me share my thoughts on the last section of the show, episodes 17-end. Though the last episode is something of a let-down, the home stretch of After Story is very well done. Actual character development permeates the story for literally the first time in the show, which accompanies masterfully directed emotional scenes that are truly sad and beautiful. My theory is that everyone gives After Story a 10 because the last section is so well done. But, just because the last third of the show is amazing doesn't excuse the rest of it to be mediocre to just plain bad.
Though the story tends to be weak, After Story is most pitiful when it comes to it's characters. Literally ONE character in the entire show exhibits development, our main protagonist, Tomoya. Nagisa, the essential deuro-tagonist, is actually one of the weakest female leads I've ever seen. I don't mean that in the "girl-power" kind of way, it's just that she never changes across the entire show (this includes the first season). Ever a saint, she puts up with Tomoya's constant emo antics with a smile and a cutesy voice. Other than that she has no real merits as a character. One dimensional and cardboard, pretty much on point for a Key heroine or just any VN heroine in general. The rest of the cast, except for one more NEW important character *cough* spoilers *cough*, are literally useless, don't develop, and only pop up when it suits the plot. And I hope you didn't like Tomoyo or Kotomi, because they're almost non-existent in the first half and don't even show up for the second half. No like seriously, just step back and tell me if, objectively, the characters develop at all past their Clannad personas, because like it or not, the story isn't done. You have to develop your characters more, especially your leads.
RUSHED ART AND SOUND SECTION!
So the art and sound direction is all superb, considering it's coming from one of the titans of high-production values and all things moe, Kyoto Animation. The animation still maintains that quality KyoAni feel, and the backgrounds are beautifully drawn. The show utilizes pretty much the same soundtrack as it did in the first season, so if you like hearing "Nagisa" during emotional scenes, you're in serious luck, because they overuse it again (just kidding). The OP changes, thank god, from the awful Mag Mell to an awesome adaptation of "To the Same Heights". The ED is good, but, in the later episodes when the drama picks up to a fever pitch, it's TERRIBLY out of place. Now I watched both the dub and sub, and honestly the sub is 10x better. I love Luci Christian as Nagisa, but she's the only strong performance in the cast. I blame Sentai's bad voice direction, they fuck everything up. They don't even pronounce the names right, and that's annoying if you get used to the sub version. So just go sub on this one.
Believe it or not, it pains me to write this review. I know i'm only giving it a 6, but it feels like i'm giving it a 3. I still love After Story, but it cannot be called perfect. It's marred by numerous flaws, and only saved by a very strong last third. But even still, the characters do not show any remarkable signs of change or real development, excepting Tomoya. Clannad After Story isn't bad, but it certainly isn't perfect either. It's just simply-
So this is going to be my first review on this site, and it won't be one that'll get me started on a popular note since it involves bashing a pretty beloved anime by many, the reason for which that is the case is still a mystery to me. Is there not surely a better anime to choose from to start your first review if this is the case? Unless you're trying to give off the initial impression of being a complete edge-lord then surely you could build on a more popular opinion, or at least start with something positive? Sorry, I've kept my feelings of this show bottled up for a while now and I want to get it off my chest.
This review will contain heavy spoilers below, so for anyone who wants to see this show, should you? Yes, yes you should. Popularity alone should pretty much speak for itself and while I was massively let down to say the least, you can't much argue with popularity so clearly for some reason I'm a rare exception.
As for what this story's about, it's pretty much a simple continuation of the original Clannad, if you have not seen that then I'd advise you to watch it first, it's not called 'After Story' because it should be the first of the two to be watched. If you want to know what Clannad is about, just check the tags, that pretty much says whether it'll be for you or not, or just check the summary, that's what it's there for. You'll either be bored out of your mind or, more likely, taken on an emotional journey which you'll never forget. Either way, it's one of those shows that, whatever the outcome, you need to see it in your lifetime at least once.
Full review ahead. Be mindful of spoilers!
Art and Sound:
Let's start with the good. Art and sound, particularly the art in this show (bar character design) is good, not quite to the standard of Da Vinci painting with angel tears but certainly makes for a pleasant viewing, the scenery just jumps out at you and they went to fucking town with the sakuras; if it weren't a disturbing world where every character was the same micro-mouthed, enormous eyed mannequin distinguished only by hairstyle and eye-colour, you'd almost want to jump into your computer screen and visit. Most of the soundtracks are unmemorable bar one which I cannot ever forget, and that is the track for the illusionary world. This track plays in some other scenes outside of that, but as far as I'm concerned that track is synonymous with that world, it fits it so well and it's so serene. The illusionary world in itself is just fantastic, not just in audio and visual elements but in concept. Yes, I'm very VERY pissed off with what it all turned out to be, but I'll get to that later, but the general idea of that world where only one person exists building friends from scraps, I'd honestly have had a better time watching a full series based solely around this world, it would be the perfect thing to unwind to after a long day, just watch a show focused on gorgeous visuals, stunning audio with a simple here-and-now story that relaxes you and makes you almost feel like you're actually in that world. Hell, if the art in Kara no Kyoukai could do it, so could this. Allas, this is where my positive must end because everything else after looking past the art and sound is just downhill from here.
So the next bite of this chocolate-covered turd. This was apparently the selling point for most people about this show. Why? I do not understand remotely how there was appeal regarding the individuals in this show. They weren't the most down-to-earth bunch, they weren't interesting or unique, Hell, they weren't even that likeable. Our main character is considered the likeable protagonist of this show, well developed and, despite having a cold exterior, he's actually a brooding and misunderstood hero. Bullshit. Load of fucking bullshit. Nothing I found about this guy was likeable, his cold exterior wasn't cool or mysterious, he just came off very often and unnecessarily a complete prick, especially to his 'best friend', Sunohara, who's pretty much the butt-monkey of everything, his purpose is to get beaten up and fail miserably at his endeavours for our amusement; the only time he and Tomoya (our protagonist in question) seem like real friends is ironically when they're having a heart-felt fight and beat the ever-loving shit out of eachother, because that's what friends are for, right? As for everyone else, they just all seem to be tagging along for the ride. This is based off a visual novel where each character has their own romantic path with Tomoya depending on what you choose, so naturally every character has some kind of very minor crush on Tomoya. This is fine, but they don't really seem to be characters by themselves. I'm not explaining this very well, but that's because it's hard to explain, it just felt like the characters' entire reason for existence in this show was to tag along with Tomoya and if Tomoya was never there then these characters wouldn't really exist, they're just an extension of him. A wasted extension at that since none of them prompt any fucking character development from him. Sunohara, back to him, was a mystery too; I wanted to like the guy but they never gave me the opportunity, his only development was that he had beef with the football team and that's pretty much it. His outburst at how he hates people who use their handicaps as excuses was never developed, at least not that I noticed, I was expecting him to have only one leg and the other was prosthetic and because of that they kicked him off the football team despite the fact that he was a great player or something like that, but nope, nothing like that, just a loose end (if it's not, someone please explain this to me or jog my memory). The only semi-redeemable character I felt was Kyou, she seems to be one of the only ones who was strong enough to stand on her own two feet without being a Tomoya add-on, and while her hot-headed book-throwing rages where not necessary could be annoying at times, she's one of the only characters in this show who I could consider an actual character, and not just a lackey of Tomoya's composed of various copied and pasted TV Tropes articles. I didn't give a shit about anyone in this show, they were all as 2D as paper, even Nagisa, the main girl lead, had no purpose other than to be an add-on of Tomoya, not encouraging character growth, not showing signs of worth as an independent character without clinging to him, she's just... there. And then she's not. She dies. And I didn't care. In fact, it was probably the best part of the show. No, not because I'm an edge-lord and I want to seem made of stone and indifferent, but for a very real reason which I will get to a little further down.
It's a mess. It starts off as a disjointed mish-mash of uncovered backstory which pops up then vanishes without any trace or purpose while not really doing much in ways of decent character development, and then... everyone's gone! Can't say I can really think of any way that they could have gone about it to be honest, they all leave highschool and go their separate ways, but it just felt very abrupt to see all these characters who were so relevant just vanish only to have incredibly minute cameos later down the line. They don't stay in contact, not even off screen, just here one episode and gone the next. If I'd have grown to care about them then this would have punched me in the kidneys, but without any attachment it just left me a bit stunned at the whole thing. Credit where credit is due though, it was pretty nostalgic at times. Clannad's story spans over a few years and in that time some things were accomplished, the most memorable of which for me was saving the sakuras from being cut down. Now that time has passed and the old student council pres and the team aren't there to defend them, the trees are cut down and a family restaurant is built in their stead, kind of shows the futility of it all, even when you win a battle, you can't win the war, it's bitter-sweet. So congratulations, based Sakura Tree-kun, you da real MVP! Moving on, Tomoya goes through some turmoil about his dad getting jailed and decides to propose to Nagisa. Again, this didn't feel touching at all because I couldn't care less. All we've seen of his dad is either he's passed out drunk, staring at Tomoya with that fucking mannequin smile on his face like he just took a really good shit, or trying to make small-talk with his son who decides to keep being a stuck-up little shit instead of trying to reconcile things with the man because he's clearly trying! I could not have sympathy for Tomoya because he made it pretty clear he doesn't care about his dad, I don't know what he was expecting; if he did care for his dad then he should have pulled that stick out of his ass long ago and tried working things out like people with common sense do. Again, this didn't develop his character, it just prompted the marriage. And with marriage comes pregnancy! And with pregnancy comes complications and death. And here is why I thought Nagisa's death was a good thing: Tomoya's character grows! The child is born, and Tomoya falls into a deep depression and a state of arrogant self-pity and irresponsibility very becoming of his character though somewhat understandable. He leaves his daughter in the care of Nagisa's parents and takes little to no responsibility for her until the parents decide to up and leave and leave Tomoya inescapably with his daughter. Things start off awkward, but they grow quickly and it becomes clear Ushio, the daughter in question, isn't just another Tomoya tag-along who'll go with his flow, but will be someone of significance, someone to knock him off his cunting high-horse and bring him to the same level, an equal. By the end of their bonding trip, his relationship with Ushio seems leagues stronger than his relationship with any other character, even Nagisa. After all this time and the show finally becomes watchable for five episodes... And then it rips it all the fuck away! This is why people say this show will rip your heart out! If not the emotional turmoil intended by the story, then because the only part of the show that was watchable is the part of the show which is completely obsolete and irrelevant by the end of it! It goes as follows: While After Story's main plot was going, the illusionary world plot was going too, and this plot consisted of the girl and her mechanical friend crossing the land (for what purpose, I forget, but that's not important), the snow becomes thick and the girl in on her last legs and will die soon. As she's dying in the snow, Ushia is also dying of the same condition which killed Nagisa, so what's the resolution for this? Well, much like Nagisa's father, Tomoya prays like no one has prayed before and wishes for Ushio to live. And so Deus Ex Machina said 'K den', and snapped his finger and by the power of anally-pulled plot-convenience, the dying girl from the illusionary world died, and with her death she not only spared Ushio from a completely different universe, but skipped back in fucking time to where Nagisa had just given birth and spares her too! And how were the two worlds related for this to happen? Well, the automaton the girl from the illusionary world built turned out to also be Tomoya of course, and the dying girl is also Ushio! What other fucking reason would there be? Fucking bullshit. Never have I seen an anime ending pull this much utter plot-convenient shit from its ass and smear it all over the storyline, not ever. This is just pissing on the rotting corpse of my expectations for this show, just drenching it. The only enjoyable parts of the show become completely pointless because the ending takes you back to the point before any of that happened and for no particular reason too besides 'hurr durr, happy end!' Fuck that.
This show left the most bitter taste in my mouth and was the first anime to genuinely make me angry. I'll out and say it now, and you can call me an edge-lord or the tin man or whatever the fuck else you want for this, but I have never shed tears for an anime. not for Clannad, not for Angel Beats, not for Your Lie in April, not for Anohana, almost but not quit for Elfen Lied and Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin. Still, I consider most of them fantastic shows, I wonder why that would be? Could I have loved Your Lie in April because of the very real and powerful struggle our protagonist had to deal with and because all the characters were so fleshed out that you could love an route for all of them? Did Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin stir my blackened soul due to the needless suffering these characters endured because they were so well developed and presented, because they weren't TV Tropes articles thrown into a random plot but people you could genuinely sympathise for? I'd say yes to both of those. This is not a case of I'm just not emotionally capable of connecting with emotionally-driven plots, it's just that this one was presented so badly that I could not care about any of what was going on. The characters were flat and the story was so all over the place and patchy that the final outcome was I don't care who's involved and I don't know what's happening. And all of that after sitting down to watch it so eagerly after seeing how great it's reputation was. Disappointment doesn't sink low enough. It's saving graces were the art, the illusionary world (for the most part), and its occasional charm and nostalgia factor. These saved it from being a 1, but I'd die in the snow before I give it any more than a 3.
3/10. The second worst taste in my mouth any anime has left me with. I will never touch this again and its popularity still manages to astound me.read more