Type: TV (26 episodes)
» slice of life
Reviews @ Archen's Anime Page
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Clannad After Story
Tomoya and Nagisa progress through their final days in high school. Unfortunately Nagisa falls ill again and will have to repeat her final year. Tomoya feels he's been a burden to her family long enough and begins the task of finally getting out on his own. As they begin to build a life together they'll be faced with many struggles and hardships, both together and apart. The fabric of their family will often stretch, but never break.
The first Clannad made a few attempts at tugging at heart strings with varying levels of success. After Story starts similar to the first series, but then moves into territory hardly explored in anime: a family oriented drama. If you're not the sort to get into touching dramatic stories, you'll want to skip this one (oddly enough that may include fans of the first series). Likewise if you're the kind who can get really wrapped up in how heavy a story becomes, this might be a tough watch because this is a title that can feel like being run over by an emotional freight train if you invest emotionally in it. But that's also what makes this such a good story to watch if you want something with feeling.
After Story can be divided into two parts: the first half picks up where Clannad left off, and the second goes into the story of Nagisa and Tomoya. While the first stories seem similar to the approach of Clannad, the silliness and jokes are toned down. Instead it concentrates more on appealing to emotions, but this time feels much more sincere. Some people criticize these episodes, but they're at least as good as the first series, just overshadowed by the story that follows.
Nagisa and Tomoya have a very human story. While it's a good one, I think how much you get out of it also can vary with age, and the older you are, the more you'll be able to relate to their situation. There's the uncertainty with getting out of school, the struggles of a young couple trying to get by. Not having their schedules line up but making time for each other. Working up to marriage, then being married, pregnancy, child birth, parenting: these are all things which a younger crowd can relate to, but it tends to hit home if you've lived through a few similar experiences. I was especially sympathetic to Tomoya hating how the town was changing and how he could hardly recognize it anymore. That's not the sort of thing you think about much in high school.
The story with Nagisa and Tomoya gets... really heavy to say the least. I won't go into details, but the developments are absolutely heartbreaking to watch, and also uncommonly touching (particularly between Tomoya and his daughter in ep 18). Where some people feel After Story went astray is with its ending. I'll warn you that I don't believe this is spoiler content, but you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph. Towards the end, the story progresses to such a sad point, that "tragic" only starts to tell how unfortunate things get for Tomoya. Then there are the orbs. In the visual novel there are many scenarios to go through and as each is completed, a light orb is collected which embodies the hope of someone. If all the orbs are collected, a miracle will occur and one story changes (to the true end). Clannad has always involved a bit of magic, but the way it is integrated into the story this time results in viewer disorientation. I'm fine with this because the only way this anime could go as far as it did, was with a way out. If the ending could not rectify how heart wrenching Tomoya's situation had become, it wouldn't even approach the level of drama it did. It's just unfortunate that the way the visual novel works out and how it had to be done in the anime ended up so convoluted. After Story did however botch the last episode which could have clarified things, but instead was a recap of everything that happened.
Like the first series, I was taken with the vibrant colors and impressive backgrounds. The animation is standard fair with the exception of the girl in the dream world. Nearly every animation title you see these days is a compromise of how many animation cells are shown per second to give life to animation, but the girl in these sequences is animated at the maximum frame rate (rarely done these days). This gives her an exotic and surreal look. The dream world sequences do start to draw parallels to the story and finally integrate with it, instead of being mysterious inserts that appear to have no purpose.
While After Story moves into entirely different territory compared to the rest of the series, it's still Clannad. That includes some rather clunky parts too, so I think someone who doesn't like Clannad will probably not be won over by After Story either. The first series is ok for a high school anime, but when taken in context of After Story, character development becomes something unusual. Most stories start with a few happy episodes and then move into drama, but the entire first season of Clannad is dedicated to this. All of the past references to the cast having happy times together, becoming friends, and the nostalgia for the high school days with all the joys and hardships - these aren't things simply eluded to, but are something thoroughly explored in the first season. That's a level of character development rarely given to an audience.
After Story mainly re-uses the same music from Clannad, but I hadn't realized how good it was until it was applied to After Story. The opening is a majestic piece that feels like the perfect intro. It's a bit odd that it features primary characters like Clannad but only Nagisa is a main character. Heck, Katomi says maybe 3 lines total in the entire show. The ending song is vibrant, happy... and totally INAPPROPRIATE following some of the most crushing drama in anime. When you see "(to be continued)" at the bottom right corner of an episode (especially after drama), hit the stop, pause, next chapter, pull the plug or throw your cat at the TV - whatever it takes not to get hit with that jarring contrast. The other song of interest is the Dango theme which was merely cute in the first season, it transforms into an endearing lullaby in After Story.
What makes this title exceptional? After Story is unfortunately clumsy in places just as Clannad was, but I think the touching drama about progressing through life with family eclipses these problems. Even the ungraceful ending. If you're into anime for the comedy, or the action or whatever else is commonly a theme in anime, After Story doesn't delve into that stuff much. If you're looking for a touching piece with considerable drama, and are ok with an ending that is a bit out of place in order to give it a happier spin then this is one you won't want to miss.
Fuko: Rest assured, as an earthling my mind is full of earthling like thoughts. People around the neighborhood are often remarking about how I'm a perfectly average earthling.
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