Clannad After Story is a direct continuation of the story of it’s predecessor. What could have been a half-assed cash in on the original actually turns out to be one of the best second seasons of an anime I’ve ever seen. While it does have points that it loses momentum and feels kind of like filler, it tells three very distinct, yet connected stories that really seems to work to it’s emotional advantage. It divides itself between high school dating, marriage, and adulthood. It really shows a progression that gives it the emotional charm that truly makes the show so successful.
The following review is rife with spoilers, especially the story section. Anyone planning to watch it, but not wishing to have the whole show ruined by me, please skip the story section. I’ll try to keep any spoilers in the other sections to a bare minimum, but this is a warning from me to you. I don’t need angry people with pitchforks and torches standing outside of my door in the morning. So you have been warned.
The original Clannad focused on not only the romantic plot that seemed to be kind of a side story among many side stories, but also many other characters backgrounds and stories. Clannad After Story does focus on the romance a lot more, and it does come across as well done. The first part of the series focuses on school life as Tomoya finishes high school and Nagisa gets sick and has to go through the grade again. During this time we see a deep emotional connection between the characters, but we also get some baffling seemingly filler episodes concerning the dorm master lady who is not even a character that anyone really cares about at that point. After her side story, we get another half episode of side story about a rocker who I guess is the Kurt Cobain of Japan or something. I really didn’t care, I wanted more of the romantic plot and the characters I cared about.
So the first part of the series is more of what we have come to expect, except Tomoya and Nagisa are dating. The second part is marriage. This comes not as a surprise to anyone of course, but it is a truly heartfelt part where character emotions come into play and we start to get a deep sense of love for these characters, more so than before. As the plot continues, with the birth of Ushio and the death of Nagisa we are plunged into the sudden depths of total despair with Tomoya. This is the part that really made me laugh and cry right along with him. It was heartfelt, it was intense, it was deeply human. Sure it had it’s comedy moments, but it gave you a sense of drama that is unparalleled by most anime.
The end truly baffled me though, and I’m not going to detract any points because of it, but it just seemed kind of nuts. Nagisa lives, Ushio lives, and everyone lives happily ever after in some sort of weird-ass alternate dimension, symbolic thing. Maybe I’m too stupid to understand, which I have said for quite a few anime with truly weird endings. I mean, I see what it was trying to do, but the ending seemed kind of out there. It did give me a good feeling, it made me happy, it ended with everything tied up. But the way it ended well just wasn’t what I was expecting.
The animation is just as good as it was for Clannad. It’s nothing superb or amazing or breathtaking, but it is good. Characters eyes still come across as strange to me. I don’t know why because anime characters have huge eyes most of the time. That’s a given. Yet for some reason, maybe the size of their eyes or something, the girls on this show have eyes that are odd. They don’t detract from anything and actually bring across emotion very well. I digress though.
Part of the drama of the show comes across so well thanks to the amazing voice work. Tomoya’s voice actor in particular plays his role to a T and never fails to impress. Emotions are injected into every scene by the voice work. The music doesn’t fail either. It has some good music, both the opening and ending are good. Music during the show is essentially the same as Clannad so don’t expect much else. There is a strange song sung in English that makes less sense than a drunk Sylvester Stallone’s recital of Hamlet.
I can’t tell you how great the characters of the series are. I just can’t. They are beyond words. The original series I commended for the characters but this second series I commend even further. Character development is so well done in this series and you can see so many changes in every character from beginning to end. This plays into why the emotional scenes work, the characters are so lifelike, so relatable. It makes the show even more fun to watch when you can find characters that you can invest yourself in. Tomoya was especially a great character for me. The tough guy persona but deep inside he’s a friendly, loving, caring person. Nagisa is also a great character. Her development is just as good as Tomoya’s. As Tomoya makes revelations, as the pasts of characters are revealed, it’s amazing how human they seem. I mean, these essentially cartoon characters act even more realistic than the real humans on television. This is the reason the drama works so well and pulls at your heartstrings as much as it does.
To make a long story short, there are no bad characters. There are no unlikeable characters.
Clannad After Story is an excellent addition to the series and actually exceeds the original in many aspects. When you get further through the series, maybe halfway through, you see a completely different Clannad that turns out to be even more deeply moving, charming, and likeable than the original. Ask me what I would give this anime halfway through and I would probably answer a 7. It didn’t add a lot to the overall formula. But it changes. The series taken as a whole is phenomenal as far as romance/drama’s go. This particular season is a huge part of that. It’s a great ending to the series.
It’s the best drama anime I’ve ever seen.
This is a 9.5/10.