The movie’s story is literally both the Clannad and Clannad: After Story series smushed into a single 90-minute feature. I don’t wish to spoil any more than I am already about to do, but it’s clear that Toei’s writers had issues compacting a story that makes up a 47-episode series into one-and-a-half hours, as many important scenes are either given too little screen time or emphasised far too much than they need to be(e.g. we see far too much of Nagisa’s play, even though its only shown for about 2 minutes in the series).
It is still the great Clannad story, but it predictably feels rushed with certain chunks missing. Hell, it’s no better than the recollection episode from After Story, and that summed up the story in about 20 minutes (and gave some characters the same amount of airtime)
Hoohh boy… Where to begin…
I will start off by saying that while I have a soft-spot for Toei Animation due to their work on Dragon Ball in the past, this isn’t the best example of their work. I realise that this movie was released before the Kyoto series, but it is instantly obvious to those like me who watched that first, that it is a very different style from the original visual novel (which Kyoto Animation followed much closer). The style that Toei decided to use is very much reminiscent of nineties anime like Sailor Moon, and while I understand that there are many people who are fans of this, it is slightly off-putting for those who are used to Kyoto’s more contemporary take on Clannad.
Another niggle I have with the animation is Toei’s need to use strange effects every few minutes. While some of them are nice and fit well with whatever scene they are featured in, many seem out of place and some are just plain strange (I thought that my player was having issues at one point, only to realise it was an effect in the film).
All in all, anime movies are usually expected to have top-quality animation thanks to larger budgets. However Toei has sadly managed to make this film appear cheap in places and its supposedly “edgy” video effects are just off-putting for the most part.
While nearly all of the main characters and supporting cast are sporting the same seiyus as the original visual novel, the main character’s is quite different from the Kyoto seiyu (I know that Tomoya did not have a voice in the visual novel, but it is off-putting to those who have approached this film off the back of the Kyoto series)
The soundtrack is mostly adequate and does its job… apart from the fact that The Big Dango Family song is different and that may upset those who love it (I know it’s a fan favourite).
Many of the characters remain the same (although Tomoya appears to me more of a dick at the beginning), while some receive very different treatment. Ibuki-sensei has a much larger role, while characters like Kotomi, Kyou and Tomoyo barely even appear (I believe Ryou and Yukine never show up). This saddened me as I really liked Kotomi in particular.
You have to understand I have reviewed this from the perspective of those like myself who have watched Clannad: The Motion Picture fresh from watching the Kyoto series. I highly recommend watching Kyoto Animation’s Clannad and Clannad: After Story instead of this – those are made with so much more love and attention to the subject matter than this film. I recommend it only for the hard-core Clannad fans. It really is the Clannad “black sheep”.