There is a moment that comes with any medium; you finish a movie, television show, video game or anime feeling like you’ve been on an amazing journey. It doesn’t matter what the story in that medium was, it has emotionally affected you so much and Clannad is capable of doing just that.
The story of Clannad sounds like a typical visual novel at first. Our main male protagonist, Tomoya, befriends a group of female characters with different traits and problems. Tomoya has to help each of them overcome their problems over the course of the series. With many character arcs in Clannad, each is as interesting as the last.
If you’re unfamiliar with Key’s work then you should know that it isn’t always entirely realistic and at times, Clannad isn’t. An example of this would be The Girl in the Illusionary World side story that viewers are exposed to quite frequently.
Another common trait in Key’s work is that his stories are very emotional and tearjerking. Clannad is no exception as some of the character backgrounds, or the things that these characters go through, can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the emotional moments aren’t as strong as they are in follow up After Story, but they are still effective. While Clannad does have a lot of comedic moments, it becomes less about making people laugh and serves as a cushion for when the show hits an emotional stride of episodes and moments.
Male protagonist Tomoya is a sarcastic delinquent who spends a lot of time cutting class and staying out late because of a very troubled home life. He’s incredibly cynical about life because of his experiences and he hasn’t got a promising future ahead of him. This starts to change as he meets these girls and becomes close to Nagisa. He starts off as a diamond in the rough and while he never becomes perfect, he definitely becomes a better person through the course of the series.
Nagisa is our main female protagonist and gets the most screen time, even if she isn’t always the one in the spotlight. She’s usually helping these troubled female characters out with Tomoya so her character is developed the most subtly as a result. Nagisa suffers from an illness but she doesn’t let that hold her back, but when it strikes, as it does often, it hurts you as much as it hurts Tomoya. She doesn’t get much attention until the first season of Clannad ends, in spite of her being the main female lead, but viewers will become very attached to her and her relationship with Tomoya.
Character design in Clannad isn’t always the best. Three of the characters have slightly different tints of purple hair and the main characters spend a lot of time in the same uniform. In terms of animation, Kyoto Animations has made some of their best ever with The Girl in the Illusionary World as those parts are so beautifully animated, they could give you goosebumps. Whilst the main story isn’t animated as greatly, Kyoto Animations is known for high quality production so viewers will still have a great animation throughout.
The soundtrack in Clannad doesn’t have many standout tracks but the best thing about some of these tracks is how they change in terms of emotion and meaning. One example of this is the Dango Family song which is incredibly innocent and cute at first, but it soon becomes associated with Nagisa and who she is as a character. Another standout is Ana by Lia for two reasons, as while it is emotional when used in the anime, it is also a case of very poor translation so some might lose the meaning when it comes to how hilarious the lyrics are.
Regarding the dubbing, Clannad does have its problems, depending on if you have watched the Japanese version. The actors don’t pronounce the character names correctly, paying particular attention to Nagisa. It can frustratingly annoying if you have watched the Japanese version first but if you haven’t, it won’t bother you. The English dub is great outside of that one problem; all of the characters are done justice.
If Clannad ended where it did, I would have thought of it as a typical romantic anime. However, Clannad has After Story and as I’ll talk about next time, this is where Clannad becomes one of the best romantic animes ever made.
Are you a fan of Clannad?
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