Journey of Favorites: Clannad After Story
April 17, 2012 5 Comments
I made a post earlier this year stating that I would be rewatching a good number of anime in order to create my list of favorite anime of all time. And for each anime I finish rewatching I will make a post on here detailing aspects I liked, things I forgot about, things I remembered, and things I may not have seen my first time through. Fair warning, these posts will contain spoilers. So my first stop in what will be titled my “Journey of Favorites” is:
Where do I even begin? Well, I first watched Clannad back in 2010 after our friend Jose told me to watch it when I spouted how much I liked Strawberry Panic as a romance. So I went with his recommendation and picked it up. And it was probably one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I have never experienced anything like Clannad After Story in my entire life. I have watched countless movies, TV series, anime and read numerous books. But nothing has touched me in ways Clannad After Story has. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It hit me with more emotion than any other form of entertainment ever could.
Before I get into what makes Clannad After Story what it is, I want to take a look at the three beginning arcs. A good number of people out there believe that you can just skip over the first 8 episodes of Clannad After Story and start straight at episode 9 and you wouldn’t miss a thing. I think those people stupid. There is some quality to the first three arcs of After Story, even from what I believe to be the weakest section of After Story, the Sunohara arc. You get to see Youhei in a more serious fashion rather than being the class clown from the first season and stepping into the role as big brother for Mei. Not only that, but you find out just how Youhei and Tomoya came to know each other, become friends, and see that even in times where they despise each other the most, they still are the best of friends. Even though this was the weakest point of the series, I still liked it. Also seeing Sanae in a school girl outfit is always a good thing.
Following up the Sunohara arc is the Misae Sagara arc, or as everyone knows her as the Dorm Mother. This is my favorite of the three beginning arcs. This is for the fact that it has the most romance of the three arcs. That, and I did cry at the end. As ridiculous as it was for Katsuki Shima to end up being her cat the entire time just so he could spend time with her, and that he told Tomoya his story in his dreams, it still hit me on an emotional level. Probably due to the fact that Misae was so accepting of that fact and was happy to know that the one person she loved most was with her all this time. The outcome may have been a bit odd, but the presentation was well done. Or maybe it’s because I’m a cat person. Who knows.
To wrap things up, we end with the Yukine Miyazawa arc, or the girl who sits in the old book room making food and being incredibly nice to everyone. I don’t actually have much to say about this arc. I did find it sad that her brother was dead the whole time and that she had to live with that while everyone thought he was still alive. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to know that someone is dead, let alone your own sibling, when everyone is relying on that person to be there for them. And yet she still had the strength to put a smile on in front of everyone. This arc, along with the Sunohara arc, shows that Tomoya can take a beating. And that Yukine can take a punch to the face. There’s no real importance to the story knowing this, but it adds to the argument that Tomoya will stand up for pretty much anyone. And that Yukine doesn’t like seeing people fight with each other and just wants everyone to get along.
Now it’s time to get into what makes After Story so wonderful: the story of Tomoya, Nagisa, and Ushio. The journey Tomoya and Nagisa go through may start with Tomoya graduating high school, confronting his father in jail not once but twice, Akio accepting Nagisa and Tomoya to be wed, and Nagisa graduating high school, but the real heart and soul of After Story starts when Tomoya and Nagisa begin to create their lives together. I love the build up this show creates with their relationship. Their love for each other really does grow tremendously. But with all the happy times this show has, it has sad times. And many sad times indeed.
Every. Time. Without fail, I cry during this scene. I can’t avoid it. I grow such an attachment to Nagisa and then they take her away from us and it’s as if someone of my own family died and I just break down inside. When this scene arrived it was as if everything around me stopped and nothing was more important than what was happening in front of me. The entire world could have ended and I wouldn’t have noticed because my full attention was pulled into Nagisa passing away and Tomoya holding Ushio as he tried to reach out to Nagisa with all his might. But it doesn’t end there.
Not two episodes later am I reacquainted with the sunflower field episode. This is one of the most pivotal moments in all of After Story. Not only does this episode bring Tomoya and Ushio back together since her birth, but it also reveals the troubling past of Tomoya’s father, Naoyuki Okazaki. When Tomoya is reminded of just how much his own father sacrificed for him, he comes to realize how terrible of a father he has been to Ushio. And thus brings more tears, Tomoya finally telling Ushio about Nagisa, and happy times to follow. But with this series, the happy times do not last long. The story continues on with Ushio becoming sick, just like Nagisa had throughout the story of Clannad. Her last wish was to go on another trip with Tomoya. But that wish is never granted because she ends up passing away as they walk out of their house in the middle of winter. And this is where I bring in the Illusionary World.
I really didn’t know what the hell the Illusionary World was at first. And to be honest I really didn’t care for it. But when After Story rolled around it actually connected more with the story rather than being some side reel with a small explanation as to what it really is like in the first season. The use of the balls of light from the Illusionary World to the real world, the connection with the two characters in the Illusionary World to Tomoya and Ushio, and the break down of that world to bring everything back full circle to the real world all just clicked for me. It just worked. Everything with After Story just clicked with me.
Words cannot describe how much I truly do love this anime. It made me laugh and it made me cry. Even rewatching After Story made me cry. That’s the most remarkable part of all of this. I cried during my rewatch of After Story. I knew the entire outcome of this show, yet every part that broke me down the first time around got to me the second time as well. And I think it comes from the connection I created with the characters of Clannad. I cared so much for them and they get taken away from me. I really can’t express it much more than that. It’s an anime that I will never forget and will always cherish.
So there you have it folks. My thoughts on Clannad After Story. In the time it has taken me to write this whole post up I started rewatching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The reason I picked Brotherhood next on my list of shows to rewatch is that I wanted to see how my two favorite anime of all time compared with each other now that I have Clannad After Story fresh in my mind. Could Clannad After Story overtake FMA: Brotherhood as my favorite anime of all time? We will just have to see. I’m also rewatching Cowboy Bebop because I haven’t watched that show in at least 4 years. But I wanted to get you the readers to vote on what anime I should rewatch next. The shows on the list are:
Arakawa Under the Bridge
Kimi ni Todoke
Neon Genesis Evangelion
The Tatami Galaxy
I’m leaning towards Evangelion as my next show to rewatch after Brotherhood and Cowboy Bebop, but I will leave the decision up to you guys. Make it good. Well, how could you not? These are all great shows.