Ahh, finally … Clannad, one of the most popular anime in Western anime communitiy, was created by Kyoto Animation in 07-08. It is an anime directly adapted from Key, a prominent visual novel production company. Clannad tells a heart-warming story that centers on the theme of family, and would forever remain as one of my favorite anime. This review will only talk about the first season of Clannad.
Okazaki Tomoya is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he’ll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away.
One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims “Anpan!” (a popular Japanese food), which catches Tomoya’s attention. He soon discovers the girl’s name is Furukawa Nagisa and that she exclaims things she likes in order to motivate herself. Nagisa claims they are now friends, but Tomoya walks away passing the encounter off as nothing.
However, Tomoya notices Nagisa more and more around school. Eventually he befriends her. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and her dream is to revive the school’s drama club. He decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls. As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realize life isn’t as dull as he once thought. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
The story of Clannad can be best categorized as omnibus arc-styled anime in which each main female character has her own arc in which she is the lead, with some characters more focused on than others. Normally, this kind of plot structure is met with negative responses because it is unlikely to construct a good continuous story with it. Nevertheless, Clannad has done a phenomenal job on its story, even with deep roots in its adapted visual novel. This is mainly because Clannad accentuates on friendship and family much more so than the romance aspect, so it allows Tomoya to help all of the heroines with their tragic pasts without condemning the anime to being a harem.
Clannad is an anime that has done an amazing job in the drama department. In each arc, the emotions gradually build up, and never quite let go, entrancing the viewers even after the dramatic catharsis. This is thanks to some well-constructed back stories of our main characters, as well as the genuine relationships that are established during the story. These stories and dramatic moments are easy to relate to, since everyone experienced some difficulties with some kind of human relationship problem at some points of their lives. However, the first season ultimately suffers from its arc-styled constructions. No matter how good the relationship buildup is, it can’t escape the fact that all other characters are relegated as side characters during a particular heroine’s arc. Furthermore, the last episode (23) is almost unnecessary in my opinion, as episode 22 already serves as a perfect closure point for season 1, and episode 23 adds nothing new to the table. Still, despite some of its flaws, Clannad remains one of the only anime in which I cried without any regards of my own masculinity.
As far as delinquents go, Tomoya has got to be the most gentle, kind, warm-hearted, passionate, and determined person, in a realistic way. While Tomoya is well-established, the other main characters are not as well fleshed out, obviously because not all of them are on the screen the whole time like Tomoya is. For this reason, it is a good thing that our main heroine who stays by Tomoya’s side during most of the story, Nagisa, is well-portrayed and experience tremendous character growth, with help of Tomoya. She grows from a shy girl to a determined, strong, and more out-going person. Anyways, the strong development of these two characters are especially important to the second season of Clannad, in Clannad: After Story.
Animation-wise, Kyoto Animation does not fail to impress. The backgrounds are beautiful, and for the most parts characters’ motions are smooth and natural. The character designs may not be the best thing ever, but at least viewers can immediately distinguish the characters from each other, which is sufficient in my opinion. Besides, even though the characters are done in a moe fashion, the characters don’t behave typical of moe. Indeed, the characters act and talk like real people.
Clannad is as close to perfection in the sound department as you can get for slice of life anime. Indeed, it not only has a amazing opening and ending, but also has incredible soundtracks that can move you on an emotional level. Check out the OP here https://bunny1ov3r.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/top-anime-op-ed-countdown-3/.
Overall, Clannad is a must-see for all anime fan, regardless of whether you like it or not. It is a slice of life show that inspires the audience to look at the positive things in life. It does not fail to deliver a powerful dramatic story, rich of emotions, that reach out to its audience, changing us for the better. I award this anime a rating of 9.1/10.
Recommended to all drama, romance, slice of life anime fans, or just people looking for a very emotional story.
Not recommended to people who can’t survive a show without fan-service and action.
For ultimate recommendation, watch Kanon(2006), an arc-styled romance drama anime also done by Kyoto Animation.