For some time now, I’ve heard loads about the series Clannad, and how it was a very beautiful and moving Anime. After watching it, it affected me in such a way that no other Anime I have watched up to this point has before. I thought I had found the most beautiful Anime in existence. However, there was another Anime that recieved near-universal acclaim, the Anime’s sequel: Clannad: ~After Story~. Being a new convert, I had to watch it.
What I experienced was incomparable.
This review will assume that you have already watched Clannad, and there will be spoilers from it. However, ~After Story~ spoilers will be kept to a minimum. Read at your own risk.
Note: This is all my opinion. If you disagree with things I have said, by all means do, but please respect my opinion and I will do the same. Photos are NOT mine.
As the name suggests, ~After Story~ takes place right after the events of Clannad. Tomoya and Nagisa are now a couple and this series depicts their growing relationship and their coming-of-age, as they begin to face the hardships and trials of the adult world.
I won’t be explaining the characters in-depth as they have already been introduced in Clannad.
The characters are all pretty much the same from Clannad, albeit a few differences. We see the changes in Tomoya as he makes the transition from child to adult, and how much he has progressed as an individual. The other characters return, albeit at more of a supporting role in comparison to Clannad. However, some characters that were previously background characters emerge to have a primary role in Tomoya’s story. The characters have an innate believability t them, mostly in their expression of emotion. They act and react to situations like a living person would, and viewers are able to find connections with the characters, giving them a sense of attachment to the story as whole.
But it becomes evident that the driving force behind the ~After Story~ is Nagisa. Her growth in maturity is clearly displayed, as we see our main heroine show her characteristic quiet strength and determination, which is Tomoya’s main source of inspiration and will to keep moving forward. It’s beautiful in that Tomoya was the reason for Nagisa gaining that strength in the first place, and we really see how much these two mean to each other, and through the most minimal of actions. You can see and feel the amount of love and devotion they have for one another, even when they just hold hands.
Once again, this is where the heart and soul of ~After Story~ is. The first part of the series deals with the more minor characters and develops their stories a bit further. While entertaining (and at times very emotional), I feel that it doesn’t give enough time for some true development. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the episodes, I just wish more episodes were allowed in order to really flesh-out the stories, as well as give time for some attachment to take place.
The arcs in question were around 2 episodes each, when they could have easily been at least one or two more episodes. Take for example Clannad with Fuko or Kotomi’s respective arcs. They were given enough time where the stories were given enough breathing room to grow both story-wise and emotional appeal, which is why I reacted the way I did with both arcs: A bucket of tears. To summarize: More time would have been nice, but still great overall.
However, the importance is really on that of who is immediate to Tomoya. And that’s where the series becomes remarkable.
The story shifts to Tomoya and Nagisa, and really that of the Furukawa family. To reiterate, we see Tomoya’s transformation from the delinquent we first meet, to an adult, and how far he really has come. And as the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa develops, we see just how much Nagisa and her family have affected Tomoya, and how even though his upbringing was full of turmoil and his family life nonexistent, he has finally found something he wants to do with his life and found someone to protect.
Rare is an Anime that depicts life after the main couple has formed, and rarer still is it that their transition from high school to their adult life shown to this level of realism, and ~After Story~ has done this masterfully.
But trials await our couple.
The second half of ~After Story~ is easily the best of the two seasons. This half was incredible. I honestly think that anything I say about it won’t do it justice. It would just be understatements. And understate it I shall. It was heartwarming, happy, and dripping with raw emotion. It’s absolutely overwhelming at times and powerfully affecting. I will admit it, there are some parts I was sobbing, even bawling.
But don’t think you will get away with just one good cry. No. Oh no. There are a handful. I won’t say anything other than this: I believe it is IMPOSSIBLE to get through this half dry-eyed if you are a fan or Romance, Drama, or even have a soul. This half is often the cited reason ~After Story~ is considered one of the best written Anime created thus far, if not THE best Romance/Drama.
In addition, a question that many of you have been asking yourself is answered. I cannot say what that is, however, so you will have to watch and find out. I will say this though: I personally was satisfied with the ending. I felt it was a good way to stay true to the universe it created and it didn’t bend the rules to meets ends. It could have gone many, many different ways, but in the end, the ending pleased me and stayed true to the visual novel. Storytelling at it’s finest.
The art has improved from the previous season. Sure, it is expected that the art will improve over the course of an Anime, but Kyoto Animation had really outdone themselves. The colors are vivid and gives life and dimension to shapes and the scenery is still top notch. Also, you do notice the difference in the characters as the series goes by and how they age. It’s not big, but watch the first series and I think you’ll agree. The animation, especially key scenes, are beautifully animated. From facial expressions to hand movements, the emotion that is trying to get across hits home, and you really feel what you see on screen. Lighting and effects are also expertly used, really making the world pop out and seem real.
Once again, the sound and music are superb. The music used in the first series is also used here, and there a few new additions as well. One that has stuck with me is Nagisa’s theme: “Farewell at the Bottom of the Hill”. It’s played quite often in both series, but it’s use in ~After Story~ amplifies the emotion hundreds of times over. Just hearing the song causes me to relive the experience all over again. In my humble opinion, it is by far the most beautiful piece in the series.
The opening theme, “Toki wo Kizamu Uta” is excellent. It fits the series well, so well that I am tempted to call it the best opener I have ever seen. The imagery displayed is impeccably well used, and the lyrics of the song go perfect with the series’ emotion and story.
However, on the other side of the spectrum, “TORCH”, while a very nice and upbeat song, tends to ruin scenes that came before it, particularly some extremely powerful scenes. It’s awkward to go from a sad scene to that upbeat closer. My advice is to stop before the closer, as it doesn’t fit in the slightest, and preserve the emotion you have. I wish that Kyoto Animation would have gone with a different direction with that. It not a deal-breaker, but it is quite an annoyance, though it has nothing to do with the show itself so it does not affect my thoughts on it in the slightest.
Clannad: ~After Story~ has done something I thought would never happen: It has knocked off Ah! My Goddess! as my favorite Anime of all time. Never, ever, have I been so emotionally moved (and cried so much) as I have watching this Anime, or any other piece of media. It was full of wonderful, warm feelings; Intense, powerfully sad and happy scenes, learning to pick yourself up, the harshness of becoming an adult, a simple message of the importance of friends, family, and those you care about, the list goes on.
It also shares a message that there is always something after the rain, after all the hardships of life have pushed you to the point of where it feels like your whole world has fallen apart, you can learn to stand on your own two feet again, and that you are never alone in your journey. The light is there, you just have to find it.
” Life does not end even when we think it does. There is always a story that takes place afterwards.”