I have, with quite good reason, always been skeptical of anime sequels. Too often I find myself watching and enjoying a series, only to be disappointed by a sequel whose only redeeming quality lies in its use of the franchise name. This most certainly was the case with Clannad, as the series ended both poignantly and with a certain level of closure. Try as I might, I could not envision a follow-up being anything more than filler-driven fluff, especially at a twenty-four episode length, and thus stalled it for as long as I could.
But then I actually sat down and watched After Story, and you can only imagine my surprise when it turned out to be not only on par with its predecessor, but better. Though still maintaining its triplex of comedy, drama, and romance, After Story places substantially more emphasis on the latter two categories, allowing for an emotional journey through the characters' ever-changing lives. As can be expected, it picks up where the first left off, and wastes no time in reacquainting the viewer with the original cast. Many of the classic antics resurface - such as those between Akio and Sanae - to usher in a fair bit of nostalgia, but are handled in such a way that feel different from their original context.
Indeed, they end up carrying an almost bittersweet sensation, as the events which they parallel possess a more solemn tone than before. As the nature of their problems change, Tomoya and Nagisa's romance begins to evolve in a more realistic fashion, and paves the way for a beautiful story between the two. Despite maintaining a large cast of side characters, their importance is minimized or discarded whenever needed, and not once do they intrude on the series' elegant pacing. In many ways the number of relevant characters shrinks so substantially that the harem tag could be lost altogether, and from the get-go it becomes quite apparent that After Story's sole focus is to tell their heartwarming tale. There exists no extraneous fluff, and the end result is an anime whose many charms are all handled with equal mastery.
Again, as I mentioned in my Clannad review, the quality of Kyoto Animation's work is simply stunning. The detail simply blew me away, as After Story captures all the necessary visual subtleties to convey a strong emotional impact. From gorgeous midnight snows to soft, melancholy smiles, I can't really think of one place where it goes astray. Lavish color palettes and vivid contrast round out the score, highlighting an absolutely superb level of direction. I am left near speechless; Kyoto Animation continues to impress by not only maintaining a high level of quality, but by building upon their previous works to make each better than the last.
Though After Story only flaunts a few new insert songs of its own, the size of the original soundtrack makes this an almost trivial point. Utilizing some sixty tracks along with a handful from a remix album, the choice of music never feels overused or stagnant. All its uses sound perfectly appropriate and match their scenes with as much finesse as the visuals, leaving me with little argument against the reuse as a negative. Combined with absolutely stellar voice acting, the audible score breathes emotion from every angle, and is nothing short of wonderful.
In terms of the individual characters, it's hard to spell out much without leading too much into the details of the story; simply put, the main focus is on Tomoya and Nagisa. As for the rest, all the designs from Clannad are kept true, allowing After Story to play on their already-developed personalities without the need for further background. Perhaps my only complaint lies in the small tinge of lip-service paid to some of the side characters at the very beginning, but in retrospect I think their inclusion made perfect sense. While After Story certainly is not flawless, it hits all the important nails squarely on the head, and segues into a very satisfying character sequence for which I have only praise.
What else can I say? Of all the romance anime I've crossed throughout the years, Clannad After Story easily ranks among the best. It manages to convey touching drama, beautiful romance, and hilarious-yet-fitting comedy all in one measure, building magnificently on its predecessor to end with a wonderful overture.
This is a cruel, cruel anime. It will toy with you, systematically building you up then smashing you down with the cleverest story writing I've experienced in a long time. The effect this show has had on me is profound. I had not cried for almost 8 years until I watched the second half of Clannad After Story throughout which the broadest range of emotion is felt. That is the extent to which the show brought emotion out of me; I cried for a solid two hours; it was embarrassing stuff. Even that aside, this will go down in my book as one of, if not THE, most moving visual media experiences, of any kind, I've ever had.
The writers and directors of Clannad After Story have created an emotional masterpiece with perfect pacing and a tight plot. It starts slow as the mood is calm and pressure is low, but as the story continues and the emotional pressure is built and released, the pace increases and decreases in correspondence. This culminates in two large time-skips at the points of greatest emotional stress. Often a time-skip of this nature can feel forced; a cheap plot device to allow the writer to move on with the story when they don’t know how to naturally continue; but in Clannad After Story, it feels natural and are in fact pivotal to the plot. This playful manipulation of time serves as a motif in After Story as the writers subtly explore the nature of the supernatural within the Clannad world. The illusionary world and the true world, fundamentally connected but both outside of time in reference to each other, demonstrate this desire to use time manipulation and the supernatural to create not only an intricate and passionate story line but absolute closure in resolution.
For many, the ending will be hard to comprehend and fully understand. It took me a couple of hours of deep thought and hindsight to really work it all out. That being said though, I believe a second viewing in a year or so will reveal many things that I'd missed or hadn't thought about; of course with the benefit of foreknowledge of the story to my advantage. I later read this explanation which is the soundest I have read and pretty much agreed with everything I'd thought about. This in mind, I won't bother writing an explanation up myself but I recommend giving that link a read once you've finished the series.
This particular character design is not really my thing; I mean you expect big eyes and strange head shapes (where the nose extends down to become the upper lip in side profile shots and pointy chins) in anime but the artists took it to the extreme here and made some pretty un-human looking figures in certain shots. However I understand that while this might not be my preferred taste, many people love this art style. Every other aspect of the art in this anime is breathtakingly beautiful. I found myself, at times, just pausing to admire the scene. The depiction of the illusionary world is one of the most striking I’ve seen in an anime.
The departure from the dreadful opening title song of Clannad, is very welcome, yet the departure from the “The Big Dango Family” closing titles is sad. Both changes are expected however as this is a new season of the anime. The soundtrack of this anime is constructed with enough variety and musicianship to be interesting on its own, yet with enough repetition of themes to seamlessly aid in story progression and emotional response. The story uses musical motifs to direct the viewer’s feelings at the necessary times. The most important example of this is “The Big Dango Family” song. Usually a musical motif will be a song or musical theme that is linked to a certain event, character or feeling. Uniquely, in this case, “The Big Dango Family” song serves many purposes. It is fundamentally linked to Nagisa and later Ushio and is used in conjunction with other techniques to convey any emotion that is appropriate for the time. It is used at times of the greatest joy and times of the greatest devastation. It is used to show hope and yet also to show hopelessness. Its success in this endeavour can be contributed to the many forms of delivery of the song, from the characters own singing to the use of the song in its full form (as heard in the first season closing titles).
Clannad After Story naturally picks up the characters where Clannad left off as Tomoya and Nagisa begin to build their initially tentative relationship into an intimate marriage and close and loving family. This development happens slowly at first being realistic and natural as possible but as the pace of the story picks up, so does the character and relationship development. We see a departure from the meaning of the title* in Clannad to a new interpretation; from the “family” that friends provides to the “family” or a husband, wife and a child. The story changes its focus from the group at the school to focus exclusively on Tomoya and Nagisa and their trials. This begins a masterful expression of innocent love and true human emotion and culminates in Ushio, a brilliantly written character in her own right.
In Clannad After Story we do not merely watch, but we experience the characters’ lives in the most important transitional seasons. We see and feel their schooling and the joys and trouble associated. We experience the stress and freedom of leaving that relatively worry free live to become a true part of society. We experience the joys and anxieties of love in all its forms. However, throughout all of the elation and despair, the titular theme* and indeed the overarching goal of this anime is finally and triumphantly achieved as we come to realise what it is that is of ultimate importance: family. To Tomoya and Nagisa, it does not matter the magnitude of what they have to face, they can and will face it together or alone for the sake of the other and Ushio, their daughter; even if it takes time for Tomoya to realise this in his depression. This is a wildly ambitious story, executed with near perfection, regardless of how it affects you emotionally, this is, to me, one of the most beautiful stories ever written.
* “Clannad” literally means “family” in Irish Gaelic.
>>This review is written as an evaluation of the show as a piece of art and does not necessarily reflect my beliefs in regard to real life. I believe that a relationship with my God and saviour Jesus Christ is of ultimate importance and that family is one of his most precious gift to us. It is Christ who is my hope throughout trial, when my world comes crashing down around me, there is peace in Christ. This anime made me hyper aware of this fact as I wished with all my heart that Tomoya had this hope as I do.<<
Clannad & Clannad after story review
Storyline: 10. Tomoya Okazaki is a senior highschool delinquent who doesn’t care about his future. After losing his mother and getting permanently injured in a fight with his drunken father, therefore being unable to play his favorite sports basketball anymore, he’s lost all motivation to give meaning to his life. But that all changes when he meets Nagisa Furukawa on the way to school: a sickly, shy and uncertain girl who has no friends because she had to repeat her year after a serious illness struck her. She wishes to open the school’s theater club again, which got closed after all its members graduated. As Tomoya decides to help her out, he starts showing a gentler side of himself and meets new people, all the while trying to face his own problems at home and his doubts about what the future will bring . Season one (Clannad) starts at the first semester and ends at summer break. Season two (Clannad After story) starts at the second semester after summer break and ends many years after Tomoya finishes high school, where he starts to find his own way in life by getting a job, renting a house, and more things that I wouldn’t want to spoil for you guys. Rather than trying to explain the brilliance of this story, you should start watching it already after you finished reading my discourse. For as long as I’ve been checking out Anime, this one certainly stands out. Heck, it even made me shed a tear at a certain part in After Story (just once, honestly!).
Plot and pace: 9. While the first season contains 24 episodes and 2 OVA’s that you can watch to see an alternate ending, the second season has about the same amount of episodes, but stretches over a lot more time than the first one. The series never gets tedious to watch, as each episode has added value. It’s also a good thing that the chapters follow up and always get better. You actually feel they’re getting somewhere.
Cliffhangers: 8. The series is a nice mixture of romance, comedy, drama and – for the first season - harem, and it’s the drama that usually makes for some great cliffhangers. Clannad will certainly play with your emotions, both happy and sad, which makes for a great watch.
Satisfying ending: 9. I’m pretty sure you won’t be unhappy with the way Clannad ends, especially after some sad events that’ll take place throughout the series. During the show, you’ll see a lot of scenes with a girl and an animated doll made of junk. It’s not until the final episodes that you get to understand the symbolic meaning behind them. The reason I didn’t give the show a 10 for this part, is because the ending was somewhat rushed and they could’ve been a bit more elaborate with what happened afterwards (or could’ve happened, i.e. what they did after season 1 with the OVA’s).
Characters: 10. Clannad offers so many wonderful characters. I can’t say I hated any of them, even though some of them were less interesting to me than others. The main characters like Tomoya and Nagisa both have a great background story with which the viewer can sympathize, but also the other characters all have their own unique background, personality, goals and dreams in life, … and even though many of these characters are stereotypical for a romantic anime, you get to sympathize with them because of the way this show develops. In the end, you will start to notice that you were actually cheering for one of the girls to hook up with Tomoya, and after some site-browsing I noticed a lot of different opinions from fellow watchers who were rooting for another girl. While the first season might contain too much harem – it seems every girl is interested in the male protagonist – the second season isn’t like that anymore since Tomoya has made his choice clear. In After Story you see the characters take their own path in life after school, which makes for some great cameo’s and makes you feel that this series takes time to create an appropriate ending for every character you started to sympathize with. The shock of some dramatic events throughout the series even changes one of the main characters’ personality, like it would in real life, and you’ll notice the dark irony when this happens.
Rewatchability: 8. Clannad deserves a re-watch for all the bad things it did with my feelings. I’m sure I’ll watch it again someday, or at least finish the visual novel which practically follows the same storyline and even has the same jokes, except that you can choose which girl you want Tomoya to hook up with (so if you’re disappointed with the outcome it might be a good idea to try out the visual novel before re-watching it, just a tip).
Conversations: 9. It’s hard to describe how Clannad manages to play with your emotions. One moment you’re laughing because of the great humor this show contains, the other moment you’re feeling awful for one of your favorite characters. The strong conversations play an important part in all this. Some of the one-liners in this series are ridiculously funny, but also the bad moments get expressed well.
Art Style: 9. Clannad is eye-candy. It’s a modern Anime in a simplistic setting, with amazing looking characters. Everything looks attractive, from the backgrounds to the visual expressions of the individuals.
Music and sounds: 8. The voice acting was spot-on with none being bad or annoying to listen to. The opening themes were both appealing to the ear. The show has some background tracks that can become a bit repetitive, but it never really irritated me.
Personal Enjoyment: 10. This Anime is the best I’ve seen so far this year, and I don’t expect any series to beat it until the end of 2014. This show has everything: an enjoyable blending of drama, comedy and romance, loveable characters, an appealing and progressing storyline, a decent ending, and so much more. At first I was critical about this series, but Clannad has proven to be worth every minute of my time. It is a recommendation to everyone who wants to join the emotional rollercoaster, but don’t make it scare you off if you don’t like drama. You might miss out on one of the best anime series if you do.
Clannad After Story is the 24 episode sequel to the much loved serious drama serious, featuring quite a bit of comedy and ‘actual’ romance. I personally loved the original, I took my time to watch it, but I also know that some folks didn’t like how slice-of-life it was. I will say, this sequel has significantly more plot progression in an episodic format and even passage of time, something underused in anime IMO. Thus, due to my enjoyment of the original I may be biased and the fact that I must give an overall score won’t help. So take my words and scores with consideration. Even though nothing much happened in the original series, it was still able to invoke emotion and thought in me, the viewer. I love it when an anime can do that in addition to simply entertaining.
This anime is animated by Kyoto animation and the quality for a 2008 anime is marvellous. I watched it 1080p here, the visuals make good use of all of those extra pixels. Boy it looks so good, heck even at a distance, the visuals aren’t downgraded as bad as other anime do at distance. The backgrounds are very detailed too. Lovely stuff. The animation and movement is very fluid, one can tell that this anime has very high production values. I didn’t review the original season of Clannad since I watched it so long ago, but the animation there was just as good.
Of course, it sticks with the tried and true Key animation style, much like it’s predecessor’s Air and Kanon. Some people may not like the designs of some of the characters eyes, they might be too big, but I was okay with it. Being such a prudent anime, weirdness is generally out of the question here, especially in terms of visuals. No pervy stuff to be found here, as is usual for a Key anime. Thank goodness, since it would ruin the pleasantry here.
I will mention one small (and I do mean small, this anime is still getting a max score for animation) annoyance I have here, which is also depicted in other anime. A very annoying drinking scene. In other words, someone has a single drink and gets drunk from it and starts to act completely out of it. Actually, times that by 2, since there’s another character who does it. Nobody gets drunk from a single drink (heck, it’s just a single shot of Sake), no matter how lightweight they are and I hate how anime tries to mess with this.
The sound is as delicious as I remember from the original season of Clannad. The intro alone makes me feel like it could bring tears. The outro has been downgraded a bit, no more Dango song. I miss the big Dango family song :( But it’s still good. (except the non-vocal version of the song is still present in the actual background soundtrack) The music in the anime itself remains very similar, gentle and serious music for the most part, but also some more light hearted tunes to suit the comedy scenes. Just good sound design overall. No rock and roll or anything of the sort, but that’s a good thing since it wouldn’t fit in here.
This anime is available in both English and Japanese audio, I watched the English version which was fine. Especially since I recognised the voices and got a bit nostalgic about the original series and the voice actors roles in various anime. I’ve gotten attached to some of these voices, especially as they feature quite a lot in anime that I’ve enjoyed.
Luci Christian voices Nagisa, she’s also voiced Haruko Kamio in Air, Yui Kounagi in Yumekui (Dream Eater) Merry, Miyako in Ef - a Tale of…, Wrath in FMA, Mishiho Maeno in Mnemosyne, Medusa in Soul Eater, Elucia in The World God only Knows, Hikaru/Haiji in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase and Nakiami in Xam’d: Lost Memories (pretty much the last anime I watched). David Matranga voices Tomoya Okazaki, also the voice of Takaki Tohno in 5 Centimetres per Second, Hideki Hinata in Angel Beats, Yu Himura in Ef - a Tale of…and Furuichi Teraoka in Xam’d: Lost Memories. Akio is voiced by Andrew Love, who has voiced Fujimaki in Angel Beats, Tadashi Karino in Special A, Yuuya Daigo in Tokyo Majin and Raigyo Tsunomata in Xam’d: Lost Memories. Greg Ayres voices Youhei Sunohara, the voice of Ayato Naoi in Angel Beats, Koichi Sakakibara in Another, Kouta Tsuchiya in Baka to Test, Hiro Hirono in Ef - a Tale of…, Kensuke Aida in Evangelion, Keisaku Sato in Shakugan no Shana, Masayoshi in Tsubasa Chronicle and Kaoru Yamazaki in Welcome to the NHK. Illich Guardiola voices Yusuke Yoshino, who has voiced Matsunaga in Angel Beats, Shuichi Kuze in Ef - a Tale of… and Masato Kaibara in Ghost Hound. Emily Neves voices Kotomi, she was the voice of both Hitomi and Angel in Angel Beats, Takako Sugira in Another, Nazuna in Xam’d: Lost Memories and other characters in anime I’ve yet to watch. Shelley Calene-Black voices Kyou Fujibayashi, who is the voice of Shirakawa in Elfen Lied, Kei Yakushi in Ghost Hound, Mari Katsuragi in The World God Only Knows, Isshu Benikawa in Xam’d: Lost Memories and Saki Kirishima in Yumekui Merry. Brittney Karbowski voices Ryou Fujibayashi, also the voice of Yuri in Angel Beats, Riful in Claymore, Kiki Kayanuma in Darker than Black, Kei Shindo in Ef - a Tale of…, Ayu Tsukimiya in Kanon (2006), Black Star in Soul Eater, Megumi Yamamoto in Special A, Kanon Nakagawa in The World God Only Knows and Isana Tachibana in Yumekui Merry. Hilary Haag is the voice of Fuuko Ibuki, her other roles include Akari Shinohara in 5 Centimetres per Second, Yui in Angel Beats, Mizuki Hayama in Ef - a Tale of…, Sakura Ushikubo in Special A, Mio Aoyama/Shiori Shiomiya in The World God Only Knows, Midori Nishimura in Xam’d: Lost Memories and Merry Nightmare in Yumekui Merry. Stephanie Wittels voices Kouko Ibuki, Kara Greenberg voices Sanae, Tomoyo is voiced by Kaytha Coker.
Of the main characters here the guy at the centre of it all is Tomoya Okazaki, a high-school boy (in his last year) who is currently living with the Furukawas after the events of season 1. His mother died when he was young and he seemed to be neglected by his father who fell into depression and drank a lot. He never forgot this and he remained bitter towards him. This hate towards his only surviving family is what drove him away from home and he moved in with the Furukawa’s before his relationship with Nagisa matured. A once delinquent who often skipped class and started fights, he met Youhei Sunohara and became good friends with him. Tomoya once had something going for him as he played in the basketball team, which is why he even got into this particular highschool. He injured his right arm permanently and hasn’t been able to play since, which added to his depression back in season 1. Since meeting Nagisa, he’s made many new friends and has become just a bit more positive about life. He’s still a realist at heart and a kind thoughtful person, even if he does sometimes let his emotions drive him, what with being mentally fragile. And it seems at the core of his happiness is Nagisa, he worries about her and about upsetting her a lot.
Nagisa Furukawa is a high school girl retaking her final year after missing out due to illness the previous year. She lives happily with her parents and now Tomoya. Back in the first season, she started up the drama club to pursue her dream of acting out a play. She loves the big Dango family, though they make less of an appearance here. A cheery and bright girl, she helped raise Tomoya from the pits of his despair and has made many friends along with him. She has a tendency to overwork herself and try a bit too much, which coupled with her fragile health isn’t helpful. She is even more kind and caring the Tomoya and isn’t afraid to allow him to help others, even if it makes her feel uncomfortable slightly. She trusts him fully and knows he would never do anything to hurt her and he feels the same about her. Nagisa is just a very pleasant person, she looks after Tomoya as if she were his wife (!) and in normal instances where a normal girl would be offended or made to be upset, she smiles and says ‘no problem.’ She’s a very understanding person and her relationship with Tomoya is worryingly positive, instances where one would expect one to be upset with the other are just filled with apologetic and pleasant gestures. Thinking about it, I don’t think any woman in the real world is as kind and as understanding as Nagisa is.
Their best friend and joker/dunce of this anime is Youhei Sunohara, Tomoya’s delinquent friend, who has bleached hair. He entered the school on a scholarship for football (soccer), an advantage for his living situation as he got a rent-free place in the student. Doesn’t sound like much of a delinquent? Well he got kicked off of the soccer team, thus dropped the scholarship. His family lives far away and he enjoys being independent. Of course the manager of the dorm, Misae Sagara isn’t taking any of his BS, and while she allows him to stay in the dorm, she’ll be violent if he does anything stupid. While he is more mischievous than Tomoya, he is a fair bit dumber and a whole lot more full of himself, resulting in a lack of popularity and the common occurrence if him getting beaten up by girls. His younger sister Mei worries about him a lot and often visits. While Youhei is a jerk, he’s the lovable type of jerk, behind the tough exterior and the BS, he’s really a nice person and cares about his friends. Even if he doesn’t show it much.
Yusuke Yoshino, is often seen working for the electrical company with his white van and work overalls. In season 1 he got married to Kouko Ibuki, an art teach at Tomoya’s school who is Fuuko’s older sister. He’s strict and firm, but he’s experienced and just wants the best for others. He advises Tomoya, with work and even his life at home. He’s like a brother to Tomoya, looking after him in ways Tomoya doesn’t understand. He’s very helpful and he once followed his dreams of living off his music and getting his feelings out there. He wrote his music according to his own feelings and from the sounds of it, it seems Linkinpark-ey (some people hate that, I don’t since I used to listen to them). But something happened and now he’s working a normal job. He may seem like he knows all, but he has his very human past.
Quick bit on the parents, Tomoya’s father doesn’t feature as much in this season of the anime as Tomoya isn’t living with him. While he was once depressed and neglected his son as a result, he realises his mistakes and tries his best to get along with his son. He doesn’t bother berating him or nagging him about anything, as he feels he owes his son and he thinks he deserves the hate he gets from his son. Nasgisa’s parents on the other hand are very different (they look very young and youthful for a start). They used to be theatrical actors, but when Nagisa was born they made the decision to focus on a family life (particularly because Nagisa has weak health) and gave up their dreams, in order to open up a bakery and live the comfortable family life. Nagisa’s mother, Sanae Furukawa, is absurdly kind and likes to have a bit of fun with her daughter and her friends, even if her husband wouldn’t approve. She is also a deadly chef when it comes to her baking, her bread is terrible but because of her loving husband and the fact that she’ll cry if someone tells her the truth, people lie about it and say it is great. The two get along very well and on occasion the kids are put off by how lovey-dovey they can be. Nagisa’s father, Akio Furukawa is a hilarious character who is overly protective of his family, can be scary but is really a nice guy and rather childish. He smokes and often plays baseball with the local children, he even buys toys and runs around chasing his wife after pranks and such, Tomoya jokingly calls him old man. He can be harsh at times, but he means well. Both the Furukawa’s are very kind and supportive of Tomoya and they are even letting him live with them.
Kotomi Ichinose is the quiet blue haired girl in Tomoya’s year at school. In the first season it was discovered that Kotomi is living on her own as both her parents died when she was young. As such, she was depressed about it and felt alone, but with the help of Tomoya and friends, they managed to cheer her up and show her that life can still be enjoyable. Kotomi is a gentle girl, much like Nagisa, but she can be a bit of an airhead at times. She loves to play the violin and is a… deadly musician. Much like a deadly chef, her violin playing is so terrible and screechy it can make people temporarily deaf and by comedic coincidence, sometimes she misunderstands her friends into thinking that they like her violin playing. She’s unaware that they really don’t like it, in a funny sort of way. She also likes to read and is fairly smart.
The next friend is Tomoyo Sakagami in the year below Okazaki, this girl with long grey hair is the student council president. But in addition to that, she is scarily good at beating people up, which she only does if heavily provoked. This is due to her past as a street brawler, she used to be a bit of a delinquent and get into fights often. Of course at the receiving ends of her moves are boys, girls don’t like to fight much, nor do they ever annoy her to the point where she would. Despite this violent capability, Tomoyo is actually a very sensible, smart and reserved individual. Her relationship with Youhei is funny, in season 1 he was always trying to pick fights with her and he is often getting wrecked by her. Nowadays he is generally ignored by her, she knows how to handle trouble a bit better. She was one of Tomoya’s potential romance options, as evidenced by the Clannad: Another World Tomoyo Chapter, but in this main series she doesn’t seem to have such feeling and is merely good friends with Tomoya and Nagisa. It’s also kinda annoying how similar her name is that of the male lead.
Wrapping up the group of the most important school friends, we have the Fujibayashi twins Kyou and Ryou. While they both have purple hair, Kyou has kept her hair long while Ryou has it cut short and cute. The biggest difference of all is their personalities. Kyou is kinda cynical and mean, she will use violence on the boys if she feels like they are doing something necessary. She’s the type who playfully insults her (male) friends, while making it seem like she is serious. She is very protective of her sister and can be said to be very tsundere, especially as she had a crush on Tomoya. Ryou is the more sensitive of the two sisters, she can be made to cry very easily, is the shyest one of the group (despite Kotomi apparently being shy too) and seems to be a very emotional individual. She seems to be able to tell fortunes, though of course they are nonsense and appear to just say what people want to hear. Of course, much like her sister she had a crush on Tomoya, but this was noticed by Kyou who tried her best to help Ryou in her pursuit of love in the first season. The affection these two girls have for Tomoya is evident by Clannad: Another World Kyou Chapter. In this season, they have realised that there’s no point getting upset about him being taken so they seem to have moved on. The two twins also have an adorable pet piglet Botan, who is always running around, following them to school and hiding. He likes Kyou more for some reason and seems to be okay around Tomoya. He doesn’t like it when people discuss cooking or eating him and Kyou is also very protective of him in this regard.
One of the less present friends is Yukine Miyazawa. She is always hanging about in the Library, reading books and drinking tea. She is a very hospitable and kind individual, she will make tea and her special dish: Paella for her friends. However it is apparent she is involved with some potentially bad folks, via her older brother who is friends with such folks. She is the type of person loved by all and she desires peace. Her older brother is apparently hospitalised and she is often found giving shelter to shady folks, likely her brother’s friends.
While the sequel to Clannad does retain some slice-of-life aspect from the first Clannad, it also retains the episodic feel the original had. There’s a specific plot that every few episodes deal with, just like the first one and certain arcs take longer than others. The overarching narrative was a bit watered down in the previous season, but here it takes more of a prominent position. We continue to follow Tomoya and Nagisa through their life and see how that all progresses. As I mentioned before, this anime features passage of time, which wasn’t present in the previous season. While the first season only took place during Okazaki’s second year of high school, Clannad After Story goes from the last year of high-school through to Okazaki’s life as a young adult. And with that passage of time, a lot happens of course. It also takes the anime in a new direction, beyond the stale overused high-school setting. Taking an anime out of its comfort zone is a good way to test its foundation and Clannad After Story manages this with flying colours.
Of course with passage of time, the good romance progressive is ever present in this anime, from the very start of this season the affection that Okazaki and Nagisa have for each other is clear and there’s no harem-like BS as all of the other characters recognise and respect their relationship. It’s a real benefit to the romance, since things can actually happen. The high-school setting is too limiting for a romantic story IMO, the normal adult life is pretty much a characteristic of good romance in stories. I think about the various other anime I’ve watched and the ones that stand out are the ones where the characters were adults (or there was passage of time), it allows more flexibility to the story and it also allows for things to be more relatable. It’s also surprisingly ballsy, I laughed when the anime went on to the subject of ‘where do babies come from?’ It does get a bit mind-fuck towards the very end and the ending in episode 22 made little sense to me. The last 3 episodes seem to just be extra, where the real story ends in episode 22.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this anime is emotion and relationships, besides just the one between Tomoya and Nagisa. It deals with depression, loss and other difficulties of life and through this, it is capable of invoking thought and feeling in the viewer. Besides the small comedic and episodic events, it depicts some serious content. Any anime that manages to do these things is well designed and not many care capable. Clannad is one anime that many folks have claimed to have made them cry. It goes deeper into the tough questions about life, it can even be depressing. It notions at reality, life may be good, but only temporarily. Happiness doesn’t last and unlike fiction, miracles do not occur. I won’t mention much more since I’m running out of words and I don’t want to spoil it, but be this anime really shows what it is to be human, both for the characters and the viewer.
No doubt it’s a wonderful anime and like most good things in life, not everybody will appreciate it. Even with a masterpiece like this, there will still be cynical people who will ignore it. If you like good romance, good story and want something a bit different, if you can tolerate a very human and somewhat realistic story then give this a go, after having watched the first Clannad. Of course it improves in terms of the story and focus over the first season. I took my time here, because I enjoyed it. If you disagree, we just have different taste is all. It cheered me up and it’s also very capable of invoking feelings emotion, I’ve never been so close to crying so much. I may be overzealous with the scores, but this anime absolutely deserves it for how well each facet of it is.
Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 It was a 1, then some serious stuff happens later on, references to drugs, etc (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 10/10 (higher is better)
Clannad After Story... Wow. Where to start. It was a spectacular ride of many different emotions and beautiful from start to finish.
The story obviously continues on after the events of the original Clannad. And it does so seamlessly. However, as is such a rarity in the case of most sequels, this is one I feel far surpasses the original work. It is less cliché, and feels a lot less clunky. It is a lot easier to become immersed in the world. It has retained the comedy of the original, while focuisng a lot more on the romance and drama and that focus really held this anime up strongly.
From start to finish the writing was incredible. Tying up loose ends from Clannad in a way that didn't feel like it was tying up loose ends, but instead integrating facts from the original perfectly. There are some powerful emotional moments in which you can laugh or shed a tear alongside some fantastic characters.
As with Clannad the animation is simply stunning. The artwork on this series has been astounding throughout with beautiful set pieces and well animated characters. Even the sporting scenes which were quite a let down in Clannad look natural and well done here.
Once again, the sound is second to none. The already fantastic OST of the first series has just grown and been improved upon in this.
I bashed Clannad for it's characters. I felt they were all too similar, and underdeveloped. And even those that could be differentiated were generic tropes. That is not the case in Clannad After Story. It took many of the characters we already know, as well as introducing some brilliant new ones, and really fleshed them out. A couple of the characters from the original series were in there for what appeared to be fan-service, but even then they gave them a bit more life, with goals and desires that really shone through. The series follows Tomoya and Nagisa, so of course they were the main focus, and the development there of that relationship was amazing. Of course boy and girl being in love is nothing particularly new, but these characters really seemed like true individuals and this series just gave us an entryway into their lives.
So overall, why have I given an anime that receives 9s across the board a solid 10? Because while it may not have the absolute best of the best of anything I've ever seen in any of these categories, the whole thing comes together to create one of the best anime I have ever watched. The only downside is that I feel now that I don't want to watch the movie after reading spoilers for the main difference between it and the series.