In an alternate universe to the original Clannad anime, Okazaki Tomoya is dating Sakagami Tomoyo in the 24th and final episode of Clannad.
When Tomoyo is elected Student Council President, her dream to save the school's cherry blossom trees from being cut down begins to come to fruition. However, her never-ending duties and bad rumors about their relationship spread by fellow students due to Tomoya's reputation as a delinquent create a rift between the two. As Tomoya watches Tomoyo rise higher and higher into the distance, their relationship is stretched to the limit by a society that threatens to break them apart.
This one episode Clannad OVA is to me one that is filled with emotions. Aside from that, it manages to do three things to the Clannad series: One, it provides the romance that was mostly minimal in Clannad. Two, it provides the drama that gradually fell from the plot after Fuko and and Kotomi's arc. And three, it allows satisfaction to Tomoyo supporters, since not everyone was a Nagisa fan. Many people expected Clannad to be a series with significant romantic struggles and a high level of drama, but it instead turned into a slice-of-life comedy after the first one or two arcs. But with
this OVA, many will finally find what they have been searching for.*
It should be first clarified that this is an alternative world to the Clannad series; it's not a continuation of Clannad. Although it is only one episode, it manages to drive the plot very well without pacing issues. Except for the first few minutes where I needed to "adjust" to the situation, I was never lost or confused. Some wanted this to be two or three episodes, but I must admit that I rather like the one episode presentation, mostly because I cannot see how this OVA could improve. The suspense was always there, just right, and dragging out the story might lessen the impact that the OVA had on me, and possibly for many others as well.
Story-wise, it was excellent, and I repeat: I am not a Tomoyo fanboy. The mood in the beginning was awkward at first because I just simply didn't expect what was happening, but the relationship that Tomoyo and Tomoya have until she was made president is very romantic without ever going over the top. The story then progresses to an internal struggle in both Tomoyo and Tomoya - the struggle betwen affection and ambition. As both strive for their similar goals, they realize how much of an influence they have on each other, even after they both said their good-byes. For some reason, I was very touched by this, and every scene portraying their internal struggle and external façade was completely believable. I felt as if I was one of the two, facing the exact same pain. This is to me a sign of excellent scripting and directing, and for that, the adaptation and story gets a ten from me. The episode succeeded brilliantly at conveying the message of how love cannot be simply replaced by something else because love cannot be easily sacrificed and forgotten.
I must admit that there were several noticeable inconsistencies about animation, which makes me think that Kyoto Animation did not try very hard animating this OVA. However, that's comparing the OVA to Kyoto Animation standards. To the casual viewer, this episode would be beautiful from Tomoyo's expressions, which is very unlike her usual "tough" expressions, to the scenery of the snow falling in the background. I don't want to over-criticize an episode served mostly as a promotion to remind us of Clannad for After Story, so I will give this category a solid nine.
Well I wasn't really impressed by the score of this episode, but then again, I'm never really satisfied. An eight means that I most did not notice the background music due to it being not exceptionally engaging but also not bad enough to be annoying. But then, there's "Ana," the Engrish song at the end of the series which was very hard to listen to. To be honest, the melody of the song was perfect for the scene, but since English is my main language, I tried to comprehend the words of the song, which did not work very well. However, I will still give this category an eight because I will give this OVA the benefit of the doubt that a Japanese viewer would not be distracted by this song. It was really hard watching a serious scene while trying not to laugh at how bad the lyrics are.
As I mentioned before, not only was I absorbed into the episode, I felt the emotions of the characters. Tomoya and Tomoyo seemed to real, and everything was clicking into place - the background, the scenes, the dialogs. What I love best was how Youhei was handled. Even in such a serious episode as this, he still gave the viewers a few laughs like he did in the Clannad series, but not enough to distract from the mood. I think that the strongest aspect of the series is how the characters were portrayed.
If enjoyment means sitting through the episode feeling as if you have never even taken one breath, then yes, it was very enjoyable. Analysis aside, this is one of the few series that gave me a "wow" feeling after watching it without doing any extra thinking. In short, it was just a good experience sitting through the episode, and at the end, I started thinking that I was definitely glad to be able to see this OVA.
Because this is still a typical romance/drama, a nine is the highest I can give it. However, I will say that it did impact me quite a lot. I see Tomoya and Tomoyo as two people I should look up to, two people I should strive to be. They have their ambitions, and even though their obstacles were each other, they managed to overcome that obstacle to achieve their goal. What I learned from this series is that I have to also strive for what I believe in, because who knows? Maybe what I left behind will return to me later on.
*Just for clarification, I do not dislike the Clannad series.
Magic, pure magic. Everything that is wrong with Nagisa is right with Tomoyo.
Filial piety is restored, and the father receives his child back into his arms by Tomoyo's grace. All mighty, all holy, all loving Tomoyo. None shall come before the father except by her.
Basically, its the Tomoyo/Canon ending for Clannad
IN one stroke, we fix everything that was wrong with Clannad's ending and avoid the unmitigated catastrophe that was Clannad Afterstory. If that's not worth a ten, I don't know what is. If you're already watching Clannad, watch this, be momentarily happy, and then take the dive and watch Afterstory.
Set in an alternate Clannad universe, Another World presents viewers with a love story between Okazaki Tomoya and Sakagami Tomoyo. Though it suffers from a number of problems, Another World nevertheless still achieves the emotional drama viewers would expect from an extension of the Clannad series.
With the run time of an ordinary episode, Another World inevitably suffers from a shortage of story development. The usual buffer time for viewers to get attached to the characters is heavily truncated -- the process of Tomoyo and Tomoya falling in love is not included in the episode, for obvious reasons concerning time. However, the fact that it detracts
from the potential emotional impact from the climax of the story cannot be ignored.
That aside, the story that is present in the OVA is solid. Unlike other Key stories, Another World is low on moe fetishism and comedy, but rather it offers a more feasible romance story without over-the-top characters (though Sunohara's antics are still present, which is a good thing). The challenge faced by the lovers in the story strongly highlights Okazaki's strength of character, making him very admirable in the viewer's eyes. The increased focus on Tomoyo in the OVA also makes her charm all the more pronounced. The dramatic moments also bring out fragments of Tomoyo's personality that were not revealed in the TV series.
The story itself is laced with thick but effective melodrama, as expected from Key's works. The ending will not surprise anyone, as it is quite cliche. However, despite the lack of creativity, Another World continues to do what the TV story does best: tug at your heartstrings. Even though the background story is not present, the climax of Another Story should at least give viewers a lump in the throat, while some may get watery-eyed and perhaps even cry. It begs the question of how much more potent the impact might have been if extra episodes were allocated to narrate the entire story -- it's almost a scary thought.
The presentation value remains mostly consistent with the TV series -- the colors are vibrant, the character designs are clean, the background art is above average, the animation is good, the voice acting is superb, and the soundtrack continues to add to the mood and drama, etc, etc. However, there are two notable faults in the sound department, the first being an absolutely HORRID segment of engrish. Not only is the accent thick enough to deflect cannonballs, the actual content is so laughably ridiculous that one cannot help be to be distracted by it, which completely derails the mood of the scene. You'd think Kyoto Animation would have the funds to pay a starving exchange student somewhere for a few lines of coherent English script, jeez. The second fault also pertains to the problem of bad English, this time in the song played during the climax of the OVA. While the tune is good and the pronunciation is somewhat passable, the lyrics are only a little better than an attempt at throwing absolutely arbitrary phrases in a blender, which once again results in distracting noise. Therefore, unfortunately for English-speaking viewers, they'll have to make an effort to drown it out. However, don't be discouraged from the criticisms in the sound department, as the overall quality of Another World's presentation is still very commendable.
If you're a Clannad fan, then you shouldn't need my persuasion to watch Another World -- it's good, VERY good, especially considering its limited length. It may not have the same amount of emotional buildup as the other stories in the TV series, but the delicious melodrama will still hit you like a brick in the end. If you haven't watched Clannad, know that Another Story is yet one more reason to check out the great series, since it relies on some background information provided in the original.
Despite being a just a short, half 25 minute OVA, "Clannad: Another World, Tomoyo Chapter" managed to capture most of the essence of the original series - just like the original series, it's guilty of being over manipulative, of having contrived scenarios that strives to squeeze a tear or two out of the audience by whatever means necessary. In other words, it's guilty of being complete bullsh*t... just like the original series.
In this alternative playthrough... er, I mean, alternative universe, Tomoya is dating Grey Haired Girl instead of Brown Haired Girl, and Grey Haired Girl gets elected as the Student Council President. The gist of
the episode is that her role as President does not mix well with her role as Tomoya's girlfriend, as
a) she is has so many duties to perform as President that she can't find enough time to be with Tomoya;
b) Tomoya has a bad reputation as a good-for-nothing-deliquent, so people disapprove of the match up, and
c) there's also the sense that Tomoya, being a good-for-nothing-non-delinquent, is holding Grey Haired girl back from Greater Things.
So far so good - this isn't actually a bad set up at all... except "Clannad", being "Clannad", has to go and over do it by laboriously shoving the point down the viewer's throat. Take for example, one of the mini stories in the episode, where Tomoya is waiting for Grey Haired Girl after school so they can go home together. Grey Haired Girl is busy with student council stuff, so she proceeds to use the PA system to announce to Tomoya - and the rest of the school - that she's too busy to walk home with him that day. My eyes boggled in disbelief as the proceeding blame for this fell almost entirely on Tomoya, who is guilty of... what? Waiting?? Now, I don't know about you, but if the Student Council President uses the school's PA system for her personal matters, it would probably occur to me that she's irresponsible and is prone to abuse her powers; it might occur to me that she's probably unsuited to being president... but "ZOMG IT MUST BE HER BOYFRIEND'S FAULT!!" isn't likely to be the conclusion that jumps out at me. And this pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the show. Doesn't matter what happens, everything always gets blamed on Tomoya, even when it made absolutely no sense to do so. Meanwhile, Grey Haired Girl is treated like some potential future president of the country with everyone droning on about how she's being held back by Tomoya from doing Greater Things, and no one pauses to consider that, even if assuming everything is Tomoya's fault (which it isn't), the very fact that Grey Haired Girl is so easily led astray should speak volumes about her suitability for the Student Council President role. But no, none of these sensibilites appear to cross anyone's mind, and I ended up feeling as though I was watching a comedy show called "Tomoya the Scapegoat".
The anime is quite neatly summed up by a song which is played at the emotional apex of the show at the end. It's a really nice sounding song which at first seems to be trying to communicate across some extremely emotional message. It's a song that seemed suitable to be played at the most emotional part of the show... until you read the English lyrics... or to be more accurate the Engrish lyrics. It's clear that the lyricist had very little understanding of the English language, and just threw together a bunch of words that seemed nice. The result is something that so laughably bad that it dispelled most of the atmosphere the anime is trying to create at that point. Here are some of the choicest lines from the song for your enjoyment(and no, there's no translational issues here - these are the actual lyrics of the song, since it's sung in English, or rather some twisted form of the language):
"People's hand does not reach, so merely has the worship."
"The place is a lofty lord, can't meet nobody put on."
"Like the head of the shade, figure will be thrown away."
And why do I say this sums up the anime quite neatly? Because just like this song, the anime might give the impression of being an emotional one, only to collapse completely under the lightest scrutiny because it's not backed up by solid substance.
Do I have anything good to say about this OVA? Well, I guess it's not filled with sickening amounts of moe like the original series is at least, since Grey Haired Girl is one of the less moe characters in the dating si- err... I mean the anime's cast. Ehhh... that's about it.