Tomoya Okazaki is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he'll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Youhei Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away.
One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims "Anpan!" (a popular Japanese food) which catches Tomoya's attention. He soon discovers the girl's name is Nagisa Furukawa and that she exclaims things she likes in order to motivate herself. Nagisa claims they are now friends, but Tomoya walks away passing the encounter off as nothing.
However, Tomoya finds he is noticing Nagisa more and more around school. Eventually he concedes and befriends her. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and that her dream is to revive the school's drama club. Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls.
As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realize life isn't as dull as he once thought.
Clannad is the anime adaptation of the visual novel developed by KEY for Windows PCs in 2004, which was later ported to PlayStation consoles and the Xbox 360. The game was the best-selling PC game in 2004 and charted in national top 50 rankings several more times afterwards. Clannad has been adapted into four manga adaptations, an animated film, two anime series, two OVAs, comic anthologies, light novels and art books. The anime series and OVAs were licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks in 2009. The first season of the animated series received positive to mixed reviews, while the second season Clannad After Story received wide critical acclaim.
Here's the central problem with Clannad: it wants to tug your heartstrings, so it doesn't think about anything else. Unfortunately for this show, this means that it ends up being utterly contrived, unrealistic, and outright stupid.
This show expects us to believe that teenage girls act like five-year-olds. It expects us to care about these infantile, one-dimensional characters. It expects us to have genuine emotional reactions to the 'blossoming relationships' between our bland protagonist and these excuses for characters.
Is this too harsh? Let's look at the individual components that MAL expects us to rate anime by.
STORY: To be fair, the anime didn't have much to work
with, given that it was based on the original VN plot. Still, the outlandish (one word: Fuuko) and emotionally manipulative plot elements (most of the backstories that were explored) weakened what might otherwise have been a sweet, unpretentious slice-of-life drama/romance.
I mean: a story about a girl who is shy and has trouble making friends? Yeah, cool, you can watch Kimi no Todoke or something. A story about a girl with Mysterious Anime Disease who has the intellectual capacity of a child? Sorry, it's not working for me. [4/10]
ART: High budget, great production values and art direction. Squishy moe character designs may not be everyone's cup of tea (Sanae looks barely older than Nagisa), but again, that comes with the territory. If anything, this aspect of Clannad makes me despair, because I can think of a lot of better anime series that deserve to have this sort of budget. [8/10]
SOUND: Evocative without being overdramatic, for the most part. Unfortunately, all the female characters sound like babies. [6/10]
CHARACTER: This is probably the greatest problem I have with Clannad, and again, it's thanks to the source material. Few of the characters get much development. All of them (the female ones, anyway) exhibit some degree of fanboy-pandering. Kyou's tsundere-ness, Fuuko's quirkiness, Nagisa's unending sweetness, etc. - not to mention the fact that Fuuko, Kotomi and Nagisa, at least, sound at least half their age. Their childish and insecure natures (especially early in the series) make for unrealistic characters - and therefore compromise this show's unrelenting attempts at making us care about them.
It's also hard to understand Tomoya's motivations at the start of the series, i.e. why he even bothered with/cared about Nagisa et al. We get no insight into his motivations at all. Why would a so-called delinquent suddenly take up this project of helping a random girl he's never met before? Why does he find her interesting? What is the point? [3/10]
ENJOYMENT: Obviously higher if you're a moe fan, but those who derive little enjoyment from watching cute girls doing cute things might find this series rather trying.
Those who watch anime with their brain switched on will find this series trying.
Those who think that female characters should actually resemble, you know, real people... yeah, don't watch this show, it'll make you rage. [5/10]
If Clannad weren't so obviously manipulative, it might be a better series. Which is not to say that the series is obviously cynical - on the contrary, I think it exhibits a genuine warmth that lesser harem-type series lack. Yet the series ultimately feels contrived and heavy-handed, and its unrealistic characters undermine its would-be heart-warming nature.
"Poignant. Compelling. Heartbreaking. Clannad is one of the most cherished anime of all times."
The first time I watched Clannad was back in 2008, and I just finished re-watching it for the 3rd time this past few days. Now I realize that will take years before I watch something that does the same impact on me like this anime did. I was moved by it the first time I watched, and the third as well, but surprisingly in a different way. Throughout all anime history this is one of the most notorious series in the romance/drama genre, not only for the emotional load it carries but
also for the effects and different reactions it causes on the people who watched it.
The quote at the beginning of the review is from the description of the blu-ray edition. Of course they wouldn't bad-mouth their own release on the disc cover, but it's so honest and true that I couldn’t find a better way to introduce this review (I just removed the "and now it's available in HD!" part, obviously.)
I'd like to start this review, if I may, going straight to the point; the main reason why some people avoid Clannad.
"It's too cute."
Yes man, it is. I agree with you. There were times I thought to myself "this would never happen in the real world" but what is the problem? Appreciating these beautiful moments won't bruise you. "You'll cry" is also a sentence often read in reviews. I admit, I wrote it on my After Story review, but it's not mandatory! Nobody is obligated to cry or feel sad, it's just that the anime is so strong that it makes a lot of people cry. Even if you're not really into drama or romances, give it a try. If you dislike then drop the 2nd season, but complete this one! It's one in a lifetime experience, I dare to say you'll enjoy at least half of the show.
The Clannad collection is undoubtedly a well known anime. Even though, the After Story receive much more attention than the first season. Mostly because it's more "touching" than its predecessor, but it wouldn't be the same and wouldn't even exist without this prequel. It's the entire set that makes Clannad the masterpiece it is.
Some people end up watching After Story before the first series. The storyline is set in a way it's not necessary watch the first season to understand what is going on, the characters are introduced again and it's a different theme. However, I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy the show as much as someone who watched the 1st season before.
Clannad is something I would recommend even to a friend who have never watched any kind of anime. There is no need to have a "anime background" in order to enjoy it, it's something everyone, without exceptions, can watch. Despite the genre, age, tastes... There is no gore, violence, profanity, battles... it's just the classical slice-of-life humor mixed with a lovely romance, that proves how strong some stories can be by themselves without any kind of "attractive" or fan-service.
Do you know anyone who's a little depressed and is now reading some kind of self-help book trying to see the "beauty of life"? Recommend to him/her this anime.
If I were to define this series with one word, I'd say it's "charming". It's an anime to be enjoyed, appreciated. All the aspects of it, including art, soundtrack, characters but specially story.
When we were little, we used to find everything amazing, even the most stupid and simple thing was something amusing. We had a hell of a time with friends, laughing for no reason... But, suddenly it's all gone.
All those great mementos are now just vague memories and you're stuck in a boring and endless routine. This are the thoughts of our male protagonist, Tomoya Okazaki. And this little fragment from the first scene gives you already an idea of how the story will progress. However these are also thoughts we all have inside of us, and that's why Clannad's story becomes so realistic at some point, because it's close to reality, a reality some people have experienced themselves.
Don't worry, this sadness isn't the main focus of the story. Clannad is a heartwarming tale. Our protagonist will make many friends along the way, and with them new situations will appear, turning his lonely days into something much more enjoyable, happy, and also mysterious.
Jun Maeda and the screenwriters from Key did a marvelous job with the development of some points from the story, keeping some surprises hidden until the very end.
Clannad is a character-driven anime. Since it's based in a Visual Novel by Key, KyoAni decided to maintain the same setting, that's why it is divided into "arcs", each one focusing in a specific character.
When you say on a review that one series has these arcs, a lot of people usually interprets it with a prejudgment that it's bad because they think it will completely focus in one character during some episodes and leave the rest like if they were in "standby". This is not how it works with this series. Clannad was divided into arcs because that's how the Visual Novel was done, it was already like this, KyoAni just decided to follow the order. Even though, these arcs are all tight together and some 'themes' are continuously being developed, sometimes on the background but also taking the main stage at some episodes.
While talking about characters, I must praise those who imagined and designed them. From my standpoint, they're original, unique.
Nagisa, for example, has a strong personality but is easily turned down, she's caring but also very naive. It must seems incoherent but this is where things gets interesting. These characters' personalities aren't "fixed", and just like us, they change as the time passes by. Watching a character that's plain and you can predict its next action is boring. Stereotypes like the "tsundere friend" will always be present because in a way or another they're trademarks of slice-of-life. Even though, the way they're interpreted and the actions these characters take is what makes the difference between the average and the outstanding.
Kyoto Animation has always impressed me with the visuals and the details you can get from their animes. As expected from a high budget company they have in their hands the most recent software. That said, the artwork was also a joy. It's common to see wallpapers of Clannad around the internet, just another proof of it.
The placement and setting for the story was really well done, all the buildings and alleys seemed like a small countryside city. Same goes for the characters, they all have a clean and careful outline with that "moe" style KyoAni has. Like said before, KyoAni did an adaptation of the original story, so it means they had almost everything of the storyline done, this way they could focus on improving and include minor "spoilers" and visual jokes from the later chapters into the very first episodes which is great because when you finally get to those episodes, you have that déjà vu kind of feeling and remember they did hint you about that.
The soundtrack chosen and created for this series is something to give praise. I was astonished with the OST. They included some really emotional piano pieces for the strong scenes but also relaxing songs for the happy moments.
Although, they did a huge mistake with the ED. Not that it was the wrong song, Dango Daikazoku is addictive and a cute melody, however, there were lots of emotional endings throughout the anime, but after that heartbreaking scene, they throw the usual ending theme. Ok, Dango is a great melody but it isn't perfect for every moment. You can't have a happy and a sad ending with the same song! In some scenes, it ruined the entire emotional atmosphere that was built up. This would be one of the few reasons for me to remove some points from Clannad score.
I once read this marvelous anonymous quote:
-"Oh, now I understand why there are few doujinshi of this anime"
and a caption followed: "otaku after watching the complete Clannad series."
It's true! The story is perfect the way it is, nobody wants to mess with it.
It's a complicated thing to say "that series is the best anime of all times", this is something too relative. Even rankings like the one here on MAL aren't trustful. I'm not saying that it's wrong! It's just that these things are extremely relative since each website of anime has it own community and, as well, some differences in the rankings. Even though, there's one thing you can take as "absolute". If an anime is acclaimed by the majority of the critic during years it must mean it's good. I hope I was able to make a point, and at least convince some of you to watch it.
[...] adfghkjgfdssSorry, just sweeping my tears of the keyboard.
I have to thank "Clannad", for increasing my Japanese vocabulary and introducing me to a new word. While watching "Clannad" at my local anime society, I could feel a certain *something* radiating from it. I'd encountered similar feelings before in other anime, but never quite so strongly. By the end of the show, I picked up a new word to go with that feeling.
That word is "moe". I'd never come across the word before "Clannad", but I sure as hell knew its meaning afterwards. The word categorises a feeling that originates from the sweetness of the female characters, a sweetness that oozes from their character
designs to their voices to the way they behave. But it's not a charming kind of sweetness that you get from, say, "Aria" or "Usagi Drop". Rather, it's a cloying kind of sweetness, the kind that makes my tooth ache and my stomach churn. I can't stand this kind of sweetness because it feels so artificial, arising from a cynical, carefully engineered attempt to portray the girls as cutely as possible. Taken to this extreme, it's the anime equivalent of junk food - all empty calories and no real substance or nutrition, serving only to obstruct good characterisation.
You can tell pretty quickly that "Clannad" originates from a harem visual novel or a dating sim. The main protagonist doesn't waste much time hooking up with most of the girls within his field of view. What's more, the character designs, with their hair colours extracted from almost all major parts of the visible spectrum, are exactly what you'd expect from that kind of source material. There's the Brown-Haired Girl, the Blue Haired Girl (they don't even need names, and to be honest they don't deserve them), the Grey-Haired Girl, and even a pair of Purple-Haired Twins. In fact I'm surprised to see the roster missing a Pink-Haired Girl.
Predictably a generically distinct personality is assigned to each girl. Now, "generically distinct" may sound like an oxymoron, but let me elaborate. The girls' personalities are all distinct from one another, but they all conform to a generic archetype that can be readily identified within about 20 seconds of their introduction. There's the Moronically-Childish Girl (aka Green-Haired Girl), the Shy Girl (aka one half of the Purple-Haired Twins), the Tsundere Girl (aka the other half of the Purple-Haired Twins) etc etc. Again, I'm surprised to see the roster missing a Ditzy Girl - maybe the writers deliberately missed one out in order to prevent the whole thing from becoming even more painfully transparent. It also soon becomes obvious that, though all the girls show interest in the protagonist, for the purpose of this playthrough-, er, I mean, storyline, the player- I mean, protagonist, has targeted Generically Sweet Girl (aka Brown-Haired Girl) to woo.
Though I guess "Clannad" is technically not quite a harem since the show contains another guy besides the main character, it may as well be one. The other guy in question qualifies as a guy only on technicalities. In practice, he more closely resembles some sub-human creature roughly on the level of a worm, and is suitably treated like one too. Most of the girls treat him with disdain, and none of them is interested in him in the slightest. To be fair, the main character himself isn't quite your average harem lead, and for this reason, I have decided to give him the courtesy of actually using his name in this review: he's called Okazaki Tomoya. What makes Tomoya different from a typical harem lead is that although he's a bit of a good for nothing, he at least possesses more charisma and confidence than the typical loser-but-nice stereotypical lead that's recycled through most harems, and so you can at least kind of get why he's able to attract a harem, especially when displayed next to the worm-like-lowlife.
Other than the insane amount of moe, "Clannad" distinguishes itself by the insane amount of heavy-handed manipulation of emotions. The show has more of it than "Saikano", and that is saying something. I bristle at the sight of the slice-of-life tag attached to the show because it completely sacrifices any sort of realism associated with that genre in favour of trying to force more emotions out of the viewer with unbelievably melodramatic storylines. The "tragic" stories from the various characters' pasts feel so contrived that at times it seems like a competition to see which one can be more ridiculous. It's a competition won by Blue Haired Girl's backstory involving a teddy bear. The punchline to the story proved so "moving" it had everyone at my anime society showing bursting into tears. Tears of laughter that is.
Moreover, most of the girls - Blue Haired girl being a prime example - disappears into the background as soon as their part of the story is over. The shift in focus from one girl to the next is so swift and ruthless that I found it rather off-putting. What's the point of spending an arc fleshing out these characters if they're shelved as soon as their arc is over? Given the source material, I can guess why: the anime probably pulled together storylines from multiple playthroughs focusing on different characters, but couldn't assemble them into a single, coherent storyline. Brown Haired Girl stands out as the only girl who's a constant presence throughout, and that's only because she's the girl destined to hook up with Tomoya (but don't worry, if you don't like the Tomoyo x Brown Haired Girl pairing, Kyoto Animation has rather helpfully made several special episodes which are in essence alternative playthroughs where Tomoya picks someone else).
Just one of the tragic character situations did not come off as overly melodramatic - the one involving Tomoya's relationship with his dad. However, that one felt like a tacked-on side story that was jarringly integrated into the show. The side story comes into focus randomly with little apparent purpose, and also feels out of place when placed alongside the cheesily cheerful parts. It's almost as though when given a piece of material with genuine potential, the makers of "Clannad" didn't quite know what to do with it.
In the end, I'm grateful I watched "Clannad" with others at my anime society, because watching the whole thing by myself would have been an ordeal more harrowing than any of the forced drama the show could conjure up. During the weeks when I couldn't attend the society showings and had to catch up on the show by myself, it literally took me two or three sittings to grind through each episode because I couldn't stomach more than a few minutes of "Clannad" at a time. And no wonder - with its sickeningly sweet stench of moe, ludicrously contrived stories and array of cardboard template cut-outs masquerading as female characters, just what is there to like for someone who's not into moe or extremely sappy melodrama?
Clannad was an anime that didn't know what it wanted to be. It tried being a drama, romance, slice-of-life, and comedy all at the same time and just ended up becoming dumbed down.
As a romance, it was piss-poor with a mostly one dimensional cast of female characters with the exception of two that actually had personalities. For me, it failed as a drama. The first big arc is focused around a character that was extremely annoying. It made me not care at all about what happened and I had zero emotional connection to anything since that part. Clannad is primarily supposed to be a
romance/drama but it best aspect is its average comedy/slice-of-life aspects. That is not a good thing. It had it's moments, but all those moments were comedic.
The fucking eyes were so bad. Okazaki's eyes looked fine, but why only him?
It was okay.
The main love interest, Nagisa was one of the worst characters I've ever seen in anime. She's more one dimensional that a line. Throughout the whole anime Nagisa acts like a five year old child, never has any character development or changes. She is the biggest cause of Clannad's ruin. The only characters that make this anime watchable are the male characters Okazaki (main character) and Sunohara.The two female characters that have personality end up completely unimportant. Overall, over half the cast is useless.
I had to force myself through this. I'm not sure why Clannad is so praised. Yes, I've watched After Story. However this is isn't a review of After Story, it's a review of the first season (Not that After Story is much better). This season of Clannad fell flat is so many ways.