Romance, one of my favorite genre in Anime. I’ve watched many of them, but there was one I had neglected to watch for a very long time, despite hearing nothing but good things about it. I finally decided to sit down and watch it.
I can’t believe I waited this long. This is my review of Clannad.
Note: This is all my opinion. If you disagree, by all means do. This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
Clannad is an Anime that aired from October 2007 to March 2008. It is based on the extremely popular Visual Novel of the same name by the legendary company, Key, whom you may know as the masterminds behind the recent Anime Angel Beats!
The story is about Okazaki Tomoyo, a senior at the Hikarizaka Private High School. He is labeled as a delinquent due to his habits of showing up late, skipping school and staying out all night. However, by chance, he meets a strange girl on his way to school muttering names of food to herself, named Furukawa Nagisa. He finds out that her goal is re-establish the school’s Theater Club, and agrees to aid her in her goal. The Anime depicts their friendship and relationship as they meet more friends along the way.
My summary may make it sound a little cliché and routine, but I assure you that is not the case, as I will explain later. But first, let’s start with the characters.
I’ll just come out and say it: I loved all of the characters in Clannad. They were all very appealing, both aesthetically and personality-wise. Sure, some of them may not break the mold in terms of their personality, but that’s not the point. They were all pleasing in their own rights (more on that later). Though I will not be going into great detail in order to keep this spoiler-free, each character had their own unique charms, be it cute, funny, sad, or beautiful. Here’s a little bit on the main characters:
Okazaki Tomoyo: Our main hero. A senior labeled as a delinquent at Hikarizaka. He has a tormented past and very distant relationship with his father. While appearing to be very distant on the outside, he is actually a very kind person. One day, on his way to school, he meet a girl who is saying names of food to herself, and eventually befriends her.
Furkawa Nagisa: Our main heroine. A senior at Hikarizaka who befriends Tomoyo after meeting him on her way to school. She has a dream of reestablishing the school’s Theater Club. Extremely caring and kind to others, especially her friends.
Fujibashi Kyou : A senior at Hikarizaka who has been friends with Tomoyo since his second year. Very straightforward and loud, and is unusually adept at throwing books at people. However, she is an excellent cook. Her younger sister, Ryou, is quite the opposite.
Ichinose Kotomi: An extremely intelligent senior who is among the top students in the country. She does not have good people skills and often spends most of her time in the library reading difficult books.
Ibuki Fuko: A first year at the Hikarizaka. Always alone and staying in empty classrooms carving things out of blocks of wood. Very child-like in personality.
Sakagami Tomoyo : A second year transfer student. She is very strong and said to be violent. However, her attitude is nothing of the sort.
Sunohara Youhei (The guy in the air): A senior and Tomoyo’s closest friend. Most of the comic relief comes from him. Also a delinquent.
Something outstanding about these characters is that there more to them than what the surface may yield. Each of them has something they are hiding from the world, and it these problems are what the main focus of the Anime is about. Most importantly, the characters in Clannad did not feel two-dimensional to me, they had great depth in their emotions, personalities, and how they handled various situations. If you can make a connection to the viewers with the characters you present, it’s a great accomplishment.
And here is where it all lies: The Story. Throughout the course of the Anime, you learn of many of the secrets that the girls (and Tomoyo) are hiding. Many of the pivotal moments happen around these secrets, and at times it can be absolutely heart wrenching or heat warming. The emotion conveyed is so well done that you actually feel for the characters, something that is difficult to do. When tears fall, you may shed some as well. When there are cries of pain and anguish, it can shake you to your core. And it all leads up to a climax that is almost guaranteed to make you shed a tear.
But it’s not all sad. There are tons of funny moments in this Anime that I laughed out loud at, particularly ones involving Fuko. The range of emotions is very wide, and that to me makes a great Anime. One moment it could be sad, and the next it could be laugh out loud funny. In short, it is faithful to the source material, which is a very good thing.
Key’s original character designs are wonderfully preserved and animated by the famous Kyoto Animation. The colors are vibrant and the scenery is beautiful and a wonder to take in and the characters are pleasing to look at. The fluidity of the characters are noteworthy as well. Emotion is show effectively through the characters expressions and it’s easy to tell what needs to be conveyed. On a side note, the scene transitions make the Anime have a distinct Visual Novel feel. Not much to say other than it looks great.
If you have played the Visual Novel, you will no doubt find some of the tracks a bit familiar sounding. That’s because some of the tracks have been either reused in the Anime or have been redone. The insert songs are used perfectly and accentuate each scene nicely, especially the more emotional scenes. It really says something about a song if it can have an effect on a particular scene, in my opinion. The opening song, “”Megumeru ~cuckool mix 2007~” starts off very somber and sad, but quickly becomes an upbeat song, and is pretty fitting, considering the emotions that go on throughout the series. The ending song, which is a song that Nagisa sings often, “Dango Daikazoku” is both happy and sad at the same time. I know it may sound strange, but if you listen, there is a hidden meaning in the song, and it becomes very evident as the series goes on.
In addition, the voice acting is very well done. The seiyuu chosen fit the characters well, and are excellent in portraying the necessary emotions in powerful scenes.
Not since Ah! My Goddess! have I been so engrossed in an Anime. I literally watched this and Clannad: After Story (Review coming later) in the span of 4 days, with After Story taking me about a day to finish. In short, it was a masterpiece, at least in my eyes. My tear-filled, red eyes. With a beautiful, moving story, lovable characters, great art and wonderful music, this one is easy to recommend to people who love Romance and Drama. If I had one complaint about it, it would be that there are a few things left unsaid and unsettled, but it the strengths of the Anime far outweigh anything that may be considered a fault.
So, four stars, 5/5, A+; go watch this Anime.