Clannad is a romance at its core, but is peppered with weird psychological plots and character backgrounds that are enough to make you cry. It’s based on a visual novel series and what could have been a cash in to the apparently popular Japanese V.N series turns out to be a heart felt romance/comedy/drama that starts slow but introduces us to some amazingly likeable characters. This is where the show wins many brownie points.
The story of Clannad is not what I thought it would be. What I thought would be a Toradora like romance/comedy turned out to be a very heartfelt and character driven series. It starts with Tomoya, a delinquent, meeting a nice, quiet girl, Nagisa. Tomoya has daddy issues and these get in the way of his basketball skills. This is what constitutes the first few episodes. So I figured that this would be the basis of the romance, lots of background issues needing to be resolved. The main issue is reestablishing the theater club because Nagisa has always wanted to be an actor.
Okay, I thought. Decent plot for romance. But then the series takes LSD and decides to add in a girl in a coma who is somehow appearing to people at the school to invite them to her sisters wedding. Later on we meet a shy, nerdy girl whose parents died in a plane crash and used to know Tomoya because he saved her from a fire.
Then the romance kicks back in as we see a kind of three way romance. Tomoyo, Nagisa, and the class president all like Tomoya, but he of course chooses Nagisa over everyone. And I declined to add spoiler to that because it’s obvious from the first five minutes who the romance will be between. Seriously.
So the story is weird and has some Elfen Lied like turns that are truly heart wrenching.
The animation for the show is good, but not great. At some points it has great colors but I noticed a dull pallor to the whole show that never really went away. The bright colors were even kind of dull. This may be a result of the older animation, but it isn’t totally bad. The characters, though, have strange eyes. I mean, I’ve seen crazy anime eyes but these people have bigger eyes than I am used to and they just don’t look right. They looked downright horrifying at first and took some getting used to. Otherwise, the animation looks good. Nothing revolutionary though.
The Japanese version contains some great voice actors. Emotion is displayed well through voice work and adds to the mood. The opening song is good, and the closing song is cute. Dango, dango, dango, dango, dango.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite game: Who is Ratchet’s favorite character? I’ve inadvertently been talking about my favorite characters in seemingly every anime I’ve watched so I’ve decided I may as well just blatantly point out my favorite in every review. In Clannad I found myself being drawn to Tomoyo.
Tomoyo is awesome. She’s cute as hell, she’s smart as hell, and she’s a badass. She takes out two guys on motorcycles, scares criminals in town and beats them down if they make a move on her. She’s the character that I enjoyed seeing and looked forward to seeing again.
Not that any of the other characters made me want to look away. Tomoya is an asshole delinquent who likes to speak his mind and has not-so-great social skills in that regard. Which I can relate with. His love interest, Nagisa, is a kind hearted girl who just wants to reestablish the theater club. She is not a particularly annoying character, which is strange because girls like her I tend to hate. But she’s genuinely likeable, as are her parents. Her father is probably my second favorite character in the show, a guy who is funny as hell, and serious as well.
Fuko is my third favorite character, a girl in a coma who somehow shows herself to the people of the school to invite them to her sister’s wedding. She is funny, cute, and a character with a sad background but a genuinely likeable disposition.
Other characters include Tomoya’s best friend, an unlikeable asshole who tries to get girls but ultimately fails. A nerdy, antisocial girl with a terrible past. And quite a few more people who are all likeable in some respect or other. It is rare for me to tell you there are no bad characters in a show, but in the case of Clannad, none of the characters are bad. They all play roles, and they are all good company for twenty-two (twenty-four if you count the OVA’s) episodes.
I hate it when I have nothing to really complain about in my reviews. It makes me feel unprofessional when I just tell you something’s good and I don’t nitpick it to death. But in the case of Clannad, it is good. It’s great as a matter of fact. I do prefer Toradora, but Clannad was a very good anime. As I stated at the beginning of this week when I justified why a seventeen year old boy is watching romance anime, character makes a romance what it is. And this series does a hell of a job with the characters. The dialogue is both funny and dramatic, the mood is great. It’s just a fun series to watch.
If I had to complain about one thing, it’s the final OVA, an alternate timeline where Tomoya and Tomoyo are dating. I liked this so much more than the ending where he tells Nagisa he loves her. I felt that the twenty-three minutes we get of Tomoyo and Tomoya’s relationship are much better fleshed out then the whole series of Nagisa and Tomoya. I know I may get flack for this, but I feel that Nagisa and Tomoya did have a great relationship brewing, but there was very little hardship in the way and whatever hardship did come were outside influences that didn’t affect the relationship. The way Nagisa acts during the first OVA, I have no idea if she is just completely oblivious to how relationships and dating works, or she just is not that tight with Tomoya. The final OVA with Tomoyo is so cute beyond belief that I nearly cried at the end. Tomoyo comes across as even more likeable and Tomoya comes across as a really caring guy.
So as far as I’m concerned, I prefer TomoyaxTomoyo over TomoyaxNagisa. Sorry Nagisa fans.
Anyway, the series is good. Romance fans should watch it, as well as those up for a good drama.
A rare score of 9/10.
Next review: Clannad After Story. Coming in a week or week and a half.