So here it is, the review of my all-time favorite anime. This review is a remake of my previous one, which didn´t explain anything about the show, and I felt like it lacked an objective view on the series, which is why I decided to write this one.
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Slice-of-Life, Supernatural;
Episodes: 23 + 24, split into two seasons, plus two OVAs and one movie;
Studio: Kyoto Animation;
Airing date (Clannad): October 5th, 2007 – March 28th, 2008;
Airing date (Afterstory): October 3rd 2008 – March 27th, 2009;
Personal Rating: 10/10;
Clannad has always been a difficult anime to review, because it´s hard to convey the emotions you had whilst watching this anime into a review, especially if the reader hasn´t seen the anime by him/herself. Clannad´s story was split into two different seasons: Clannad and Clannad Afterstory. It started as a VN, released first in April 28th, 2004, as an all-age game, and then had a sequel game, called “Tomoyo After – It´s a Wonderful Life”, released one year later, which expands on Tomoyo´s scenario from the original game. The anime also has an alternative setting, called Clannad, the movie, which is basically a summary of the original story, but made by a different studio (Toei Animation), and it´s often considered to be the black sheep of the Clannad franchise. Two different OVAs were also released, one for Tomoyo´s arc and another one for Kyou´s. Clannad is the third of the original Key Trilogy, which consists of Air, Kanon and Clannad, and it was the last of them to be adapted into an anime by Kyoto Animation.
Clannad isn´t different from most other VN adaptations at first: it consists of a guy and a given number of heroines in a school setting, and the guy usually falls for one of the girls, while the other ones are also in-love with him. As the anime goes, the guy helps each and every heroine to solve their personal issues, which can result in them starting dating OR in their friendship becoming stronger. Just from reading the plot, it´s exactly like any other School Drama that you might have seen in the past. However, what makes Clannad so different and so much more enjoyable than the rest? The characters? The way the story develops?
The story (9/10):
Clannad starts as Okazaki Tomoya, our main male lead, walks towards his school. On his way, he thinks about how much he hates the town he lives in, because it´s full of memories he´d rather forget, and wonders if anything will ever change. Just as the initial monologue ends, Tomoya meets a weird girl (Nagisa) in the road, and she suddenly shouts: “Anpan” or “Sweet-bean bread”. She then starts her own monologue about how she loves her school and the life she has, but that everything keeps changing, and someday things might not be the same anymore, and wonders what she´d do if things ever change, to which Tomoya finally replies: “Just find new and fun things”. After their first interaction, they start climbing the uphill road, surrounded by cherry blossom trees. Now, AFTER you watch the whole anime, you´ll probably realize how beautifully this first scene was written. From here on, Tomoya´s relationship with Nagisa will start developing into a love one. However, Nagisas and Tomoya´s relationship is secondary in the first season; This season serves the purpose of them getting to know each other, and slowly beginning to feel love.
Now, this season is all about Tomoya spending his school days befriending different characters (mostly girls), and getting to know them better, as he then helps them with their personal issues to a certain degree. During this time, Tomoya is helping Nagisa to restore the school´s drama club, as her dream is to perform a certain play. The first season presents three main arcs, and tries to develop a good portion of the cast, which is sometimes successful at, and other times not so much. Though Clannad´s setting is very usual in this genre, the way it develops is completely unique, and it doesn´t end with a “Harem ending” or an ending where Tomoya doesn´t end up with any girl, not at all. The main reason this anime is so acclaimed has to do with the fact that it goes BEYOND the school setting in the second season, which is something very rare nowadays. The problem is that the transition might be a little weird, as you´re used to see Tomoya interact with everyone in the school, but later that won´t be the case anymore. This awkwardness you might feel IS intentional and it serves a purpose: to show that things eventually change, and you can´t do anything about it. You can´t stay a kid forever, there´s a time in your life when you´ll have to grow up.
Clannad has two main themes: Family and Change. Every heroine arc has to do with family to some degree, and in both seasons (especially in the second), you´ll start realizing how things are quickly changing. It´s also very interesting that Tomoya was able to change Nagisa into a mroe social person, and Nagisa was able to change Tomoya into a person who cares for others and helps them. This is why they make a good couple, even though they have completely different personalities, and the story does a great job expanding their relationship. However, the first season could´ve been better in this regard, as Nagisa was pretty much shoved into a supporting role, and less of a main heroine one, until her arc comes around at least, and many people were kinda bothered by that, but as I see it, just the fact that he was helping Nagisa to revive the Drama club was enough development for their relationship before her arc, as the other heroines also needed a spotlight, however, I can understand why it bothered so many people that the obvious main heroine wasn´t as present as she could´ve been.
Another thing that you might notice throughout the anime is that orbs of light will sometimes appear in the anime. Do note that this light orbs aren´t random or useless, but a subtle plot device that you´ll only understand later in the series. Also, along the anime, you´ll often see, usually at the beginning of some episodes, scenes of a girl and a robot in what seems to be another world. These scenes are crucial to the main plot, and serve as a subtle hint of what´s happening. Being that it is a generic school drama plot that slowly but surely develops into a more serious story, I think a 9/10 is an appropriate rating, as it had several flaws in the first season that made it less enjoyable and more like a cliche anime without a serious plot. They could have done a much better job avoiding this, but I feel like overall, it shoudn´t bother the audience that much.
The Art/Animation (8/10):
Much like in Kanon, the art is very good, but definitely not superb. This is, in fact, the closest artwork to that of Kanon, as both were designed by the same VN studio, and they have alot of similarities alltogether. It´s the typical big eyed-girls with small mouths, but I feel like Clannad is pretty lacking compared to Kanon in terms of artwork. I don´t know, it might be because Kanon´s artwork felt more varied and less Sterotypical, but you can definitely notice the differences if you look closely. The backgrounds, however, are superb and varied, and one thing I love about this anime is the variety of backgrounds we see. This has to do with the story not happening exclusively in the school, but rather in all of the city, and it definitely helps to set the mood and the atmosphere of the anime. Besides this, there isn´t anything to say regarding the general artwork. I do have to mention the fact that the second season manages to improve the quality significantly, so that´s definitely a plus.
As far as animation goes, Clannad manages to surpass Kanon and Air, as it´s much smoother, and overall much more enjoyable to watch. I´ve heard some comments about Clannad´s budget not being equally spread like it should´ve been, and that there were episodes in which the overall quality seemed way worse than in the others. This may be true, but if you think about it, the quality increases usually happen in the climax of each heroine route, which are the main episodes of the series, so obviously they did the right thing when thinking about how to spread the budget, and that´s the main reason as to why the scenes from the other world have completely different animation. However, the fact that those scenes alone have completely different animation has mainly to do with the fact that they wanted the audience to think it was a completely different story from the main one, and I found that to be brilliant, considering the last episodes of the second season, but it certainly felt weird when I first watched it without any knowledge of what was going on, and it´s very confusing to say the least. KyoAni is known for their high-quality adaptations, and Clannad is no exception here, it truly delivers in the animation department, and it definitely manages to overshadow the flaws of the art in general.
However, I have a huge complaint about the character designs: they all look the same (there are exceptions to this). I mean, if you look closely, you´ll see how bad this gets, most of them are just a recolor of another character´s hair, and sometimes they even use the same eye color. Of course, the people to blame aren´t the designers from KyoAni, but rather the original designers of the VN. This doesn´t bother people at first, but after spending about 48 episodes looking at the same characters, it will probably become a hassle. The lack of vartiety when it comes to heroine designs is extremely depressing, but the fact that they made the same mistake with the guy´s designs aswell can be quite annoying. I mean, look at Tomoya and Yoshino. They didn´t even bother to make them different, only the hair style is somewhat different. They didn´t even TRY here. This said, if you don´t take character designs into account, and the fact that there is a lack of variety isn´t an impediment of enjoyment to you, then you should be fine, otherwise, prepare yourself before watching.
All things taken into account, however, Clannad´s art can be beautiful sometimes, there are certain scenes that truly impressed me, and made me open my eyes wide when I first watched them, especially if you watch it in HD. However, the hidrance that the character designs brings HAS to be mentioned, and it can´t be easily overlooked. Also, the artwork and animation of both opening themes are very good. Overall, I feel like Clannad did a very decent job here, but taking into account the variety of Kanon´s designs that doesn´t exist here, plus the fact that the artwork often looked very weird, I don´t think Clannad has what it takes to deserve more than an 8/10 in the artwork section. I feel like the VN designers could have taken alot more time to make the characters, and at least they could have made them differently, to some degree at least. However, it´s good in its own regard, as the characters all look good and are enjoyable to look at.
The Sound (9/10):
The soundtrack department is where shit hits the fan, to put it bluntly. Clannad has my favorite insert song of all time, “Place where wishes come true II”, which has so much nostalgia value that I can´t even begin to express myself about this. The slice-of-life soundtracks are amazing, they are lively, happy and overall very good to listen to, it´s like food to your ears. Then, there´s Nagisa´s theme, which is an instrumental take on Clannad´s main theme, the “Dango theme”. I honestly never though I´d like that music as much as I do now, I guess the emotional value of the anime made it that much better to listen to. Almost every main heroine has her own theme song, which is definitely a plus and an improvement over Kanon´s soundtrack list, and the dramatic songs… don´t even get me started. There are SO many good insert songs in this list that you will definitely find one that you´re sure to love. The thing about Clannad is that, besides the OP and ED themes, and maybe one or two songs, there aren´t really any powerful vocal insert songs, while Air had “Aozora”. This, however, is a minor thing to mention, as vocal songs aren´t necessarily better.
For the OP theme of the first season, we have “Meg Mell”, a song that I used to overlook, but after listening to all its different versions, I think it´s an amazing song that sets a great mood for this season, but it´s definitely overshadowed by the OP theme of the second season, “Toki wo Kizamu Uta”, sung by the known singer Lia. This season is often considered Clannad´s best, and it´s definitely amazing to listen to, especially if you tie the lyrics with the story, this theme was composed specifically for the Afterstory anime, which means that it isn´t found in the VN. For ED themes, we have “Dango Daikazoku”, or Clannad´s main theme, this is a vocal song of Nagisa´s theme, and it holds powerful emotions after you complete the anime, it´s definitely not as good before watching the whole series though. It´s used only in the first season. As for the second season´s ED theme, we have… “Torch”, the most anti-climatic song I´ve ever heard, seriously, when an episode with a dramatic conclusion or just an emotional moment, hearing this theme is quite annoying if you ask me, and it´s almost as if it were done on purpose. The theme itself is alright, but definitely not fitting for the mood of the second season.
As for the voice actors, I think they did quite an amazing job. In a drama-based anime, the main point of the series is to make the viewers feel for the characters, as if they were real human beings, and not just anime characters, and I think all the Clannad VA´s did that very well. Even though I can say I disliked Sunohara to a certain degree, I must admit his VA did an amazing job in the comedy scenes, and of course, in his route aswell. Nakahara Mai is one of my favorite voice actresses, she did Rena´s voice in Higurashi, and in Clannad she voiced Nagisa, and she was PERFECT, we could real feel what Nagisa was going through thanks to her voice and the writing of the story. Overall, Clannad has one of my favorite soundtrack lists, I wouldn´t change it for anything, there are countless themes that I like to listen to every now and then, and it´s perfect for the kind of story it is, especially taking into account the second season. A fitting 10/10 is the score I gave to Clannad in the soundtrack department, truly remarkable.
The Characters (10/10):
This is, without a doubt Clannad´s main strength. Having an amazing cast of characters is one of the most important things for a series, and Clannad seriously nailed it this time. Starting off with our male main character, Okazaki Tomoya, he´s a highschool boy who basically hates his life, he hates the fact that nothing ever changes for him, as he just goes to school every day, talks with his friends, and goes back to the home he hates. Tomoya seems to have issues with his father, Naoyuki, who has serious problems with alchool. Tomoya is also known to be a delinquent by his fellow students and teachers, as he began skipping classes to hang out with his friends. Of course, this all changes when he meets Furukawa Nagisa, Clannad´s female main character. Nagisa is a shy girl who fears change, and sometimes needs to said the name of a food she likes to eat to strengthen her resolve. Her dream is to revive the school´s drama club, to which Tomoya eventually agrees to help doing. Nagisa is the daugther of Akio and Sanae Furukawa, who run a bakery store, and are the complete opposite of Naoyuki at first, as they seem to care alot for her daugther. Akio has a very childish personality most of the time, and Sanae is known for baking bread that tastes… very bad. Taking into consideration that Tomoya and Nagisa seem to be completely different charcters, one might think that, not having anything in common, their relationship might seem forced and not very good, but thats not the case at all. Nagisa is actually very strong-minded, and she´s actually quite optimistic most of the time, which covers Tomoya´s pessimistic nature. I feel like they really make a great pairing, though some people prefered other heroines for Tomoya´s girlfriend.
Now, as for the main heroines of the anime, we have plenty of them. Ibuki Fuko is a very small girl that seems to love starfish and anything related to them. She makes starfish carvings every day, and likes to give them to the students in her school. She can be seen as the “loli” of the series, and is used mostly for comedy-relief purposes, though she actually has her own route! Next is Ichinose Kotomi, my personal favorite heroine besides Nagisa, she is a kuudere (emotionless girl that will often open up to some people), when she´s reading a book, she only answers people if they call her “Kotomi-chan”, which sometimes pisses Tomoya off. She rarely speaks, and is almost always at the school´s library. She´s also known to be a genius, and doesn´t need to attend classes, and also has a… slight problem with violins… The Fujibayashi sisters Kyou and Ryou are completely different from each other: Kyou is a very outgoing girl that doesn´t mind beating people up to prove her point. She also gets pissed off very easily, most of the time with Sunohara and Tomoya. Though she can be very violent at times, she is actually very caring for her friends, and seems to have somewhat of a crush with Tomoya, but still acts as the cupid for her sister, Ryou. Ryou is the complete opposite of Kyou, as she´s very timid and shy, and obviously loves Tomoya, and asked her sister for help confessing her feelings to him. Ryou is also known for her fortune-telling abilities, which are sometimes correct surprisingly. Another difference between the two is that Kyou has long hair, while Ryou has short hair. Sakagami Tomoyo is a very strong girl, sometimes people think she´s a man because of this, she used to beat gansgters up, and her main goal is to be the student council president, in order to save the cherry blossom trees. She is similar to Kyou, as she´s actually very caring in the inside, but she´s also quick to beat people up if they get in her way. She and Kotomi are the only second-years in the first season, as all the other heroines are third-years. It´s also very interesting that she has the same name as Tomoya, just with a different last letter.
As for the second season heroines, Sagara Misae is the resident manager of the school dorm, she isn´t that important in the first season, but it seems Tomoyo looks up to her for some reason. She also has a cat thats always seen with her. She seems to be very responsible, as she was the student council president when she was in highschool. Next is Miyazawa Yukine, she´s also a second year student and often invites Tomoya and his friends to drink a coffee in the library´s reference room, where is likes to hang out. She´s probably the kindest heroine of Clannad, and is on good terms with several gangsters and delinquents. She also seems to have a brother. The Sunohara simblings are the main comedy-relief characters of the series, especially Youhei. He´s Tomoya´s best friend, and is almost always seen hanging out with him. He thinks he has a rivalry with Tomoyo, though she doesn´t think of them as rivals at all. Sunohara is also a delinquent, much like Tomoya is, and seems to have issues with the soccer club. Though he´s not very smart, and most of the times completely useless as character, there are moments when he shines. Last but not least, his sister Mei: she has a very love-hate relationship with her brother, and doesn´t live near him. She is known to be very smart, and she´s a fan of Yoshino Yusuke, a former singer who actually plays a big role in the series aswell.
There are alot of other secondary characters, but I won´t mention all of them, because of spoilers and other stuff. Overall, I believe Clannad has one of the best (if not the best) cast of characters I have ever seen in an anime. Besides Nagisa, there isn´t really anyone who I really LOVE, but them being together is what makes the anime such a great experience, and even though the main theme of Clannad is “Family”, the characters interactions also develop a superb friendship story, especially between Youhei and Tomoya. All things considered, the character section of Clannad deserves a perfect 10/10, there isn´t any character that I completely hate in the series, which is always a good thing, and many I really liked. This is why you should watch Clannad.
The Enjoyment Of The Series (10/10):
I remember watching Clannad is a matter of three days (both seasons), which is something I rarely accomplish actually. Clannad managed to keep me entretained for 48 episodes, and I was never bored at all. It also did an amazing job delivering the emotions of the characters, and is to this day the only form of media that was able to make me cry a river, especially in AfterStory (episodes 10-22 of the second season). This isn´t the anime I enjoyed watching THE MOST, but definitely deserves a spot in my top 5 of enjoyment. The characters interactions were amazing and extremely well-written, the potrayal of the Family and Friendship themes was also amazingly executed… it may have had several flaws, for example, many people hate the ending, but the good points of the anime overshadow any flaws it might have had, and THATS when I know I love a series. I dont´watch anime to find flaws anyway, but to entretain myself, thus why it´s so difficult to mention the flaws of Clannad, because in my eyes, it didn´t have a whole lot of them actually. Sure, many people might have found the drama bad, which of course hinders their overall enjoyment of the series, but I feel like it did an amazing job regardless, and there are thousands of people who probably agree with this.
Taking into consideration the minimal flaws, the non-existent plotholes and the fact that I never got bored watching Clannad, I think it deserves an amazing 10/10, though “enjoyment” is the most subjective category, as it completely depends on the individual watching the series.
The Final Veredict
Clannad is my favorite anime of all time, and unless something really, really amazing is made, it will probably remain my top 1 forever. I truly enjoyed every second of it, Nagisa is one of my favorite characters ever too. I don´t believe in perfection. In fact, I loathe it. Something being “perfect” means there´s no way that it will be surpassed, which completely destroys the enjoyment and imagination of it. Clannad is no different, it´s not perfect at all, however, I can easily say it´s the closest anime to perfection I have ever seen, and completely deserves a final rating of 10/10, my highest score of any anime. It also has a high rewatch value, as, even though I already knew what was going to happen, I still felt the same emotions I did the first time.
Clannad completely played with my emotions as if they were a toy. From laughter to crying rivers, Clannad manages to mess around with the audience´s emotions very easily. As for recommendations, I recommend this anime to anyone who likes mature stories, as Clannad ISN´T for everyone. The people that are able to feel the most feelings whilst watching this anime are people who are about to graduate from highscool (like I was at the time I watched it the first time), college, etc, and parents. People who dislike harem anime that never seem to end with a true pairing should also give this a try, as it completely blows up the school harem genre, and makes it better in every single regard.
Thanks for reading my Clannad review. I put alot of time and effort to write this one, so I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it!