Finally, the time has come for me to write a review on the one and only Clannad: After Story!
Events in After Story take place immediately after the first season, following Tomoya’s final semester of high school. After declaring his love to Nagisa, they begin to have a close relationship. Their life together will be faced with unexpected challenges, as the truth behind the illusionary world and the city’s legend come to light. (MyAnimeList)
Good anime are remembered for different reasons. Some shows excel in animation and sound; some have memorable characters; still others have well-written and well-executed story that does not leave much inconsistencies; finally, there are some shows of which you get very emotionally attached to.
A question might pop up at this point. Is it possible for one single show to accomplish all of these things? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
The story of Clannad~AS~ is notably different than that of Clannad in that it is no longer restricted to the omnibus format as adapted from the visual novel. The heroine has already been chosen, and the writer does not throw in any break-ups and love triangle routine that is so frequently seen in other romance shows. This is perhaps the truly brilliant aspect of the show. It focuses on what happens after they become a couple, and their life afterward.
It’s hard to comment on the plot of Clannad~AS~, so I will not do so. It is necessary to point out that a side story, of a little girl and a robot in an illusionary world (actually this side story is told in Season 1 as well), is featured along with the main story of Tomoya and Nagisa. The first half of After Story also delves heavily into the pasts of some side characters, nicely adding some touching moments. However, these side stories are not fillers nor distractions from the main stories, they actually exist to build up a major plot device that exist in Clannad, and paramount to constructing the grand conclusion of Clannad. The side story of the mystically illusionary world will come together with the main story and make sense to viewers at the end.
In season two, we see yet more character development in Tomoya and Nagisa, growing stronger together as they support each other … until the story takes a riveting twist that turns Tomoya’s world upside down. Believe it or not. Then, what unfolds is the best, the most emotional, the most touching, and the most inspiring tale of how a person learns to find joy in life despite great misfortunes, in any anime that I have seen. Indeed, the story is emotional and dramatic without ever forcing any drama, and manages to struck us viewers with the metaphorical baseball bat of depression again and again, and again, until we have dried our tears, and finally survived to the ending. (That was more of a subjective description of the emotional impact of this anime, but can you really blame me?)
The technical aspect of Clannad is something that is easier to talk about. The animation is, in one word, superb. I have rewatched this anime to confirm this, and Kyoto Animation has animated this anime almost flawlessly. The movements of characters reflect those of real life, animated at the same tempo. The expressions of characters during dramatic moments were again, nothing short of amazing. The backgrounds used in episodes were gorgeously drawn. Perhaps the best part of animation goes to those moments at the illusionary world, where the quality matches that of a Disney movie watched in theater.
The sound department is also incredible. The sound tracks are packed with emotions, and only serve to inflame the emotions at the most dramatic points. However, a great drawback is the ending of Clannad: AS, having a drastically different atmosphere than the tone of the anime. Fortunately, the ending does not appear in the most emotional episodes.
Ultimately, After Story creates characters that are very close to humans. Although Tomoya is a fictional character, you can not help but relate to his struggles and admire his valiant efforts at living his life to the full extent. The lessons learned from AS should teach us to become a more positive person, to be strong even in front of hardships in life, and change the way we look at things.
I give Clannad: After Story a rating of 9.9/10, if only as a reminder that perfection is something that is never achieved. However, I would argue that Clannad~After Story~ is as close to masterpiece of “slice of life” anime as you can get, and I would honestly be surprised if another “slice of life” show could change me as a person as much as Clannad did.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring a box of tissue when you watch the show, because you are going to need it.
This is a great anime for all anime fans out there, as everyone should be able to related to difficulties faced by main characters in this anime, though not everyone will share the same sentiments as I did. It is something that you can (re)watch anytime, and there are new things to be learnt from this anime each time you rewatch it.
Don’t watch Clannad and Clannad: After Story if you only watch anime to enjoy the fan-service and action, then this review is wasted on you anyways.