M vs Clannad: Round Two! (After Story Review)

Topic started by Elfenlied1012 on Aug. 28, 2012. Last post by yardley08 1 year, 11 months ago.
Post by Elfenlied1012 (557 posts) See mini bio Level 15

Hey Vice, it’s me again, M and it appears this review acts as the second round against the famous king of tears, Clannad. This time it’s the much more critically loved and successful sequel, Clannad: After Story. After my somewhat negative experience with Clannad which you can read about HERE, I did mention the one thing Clannad pulled off for sure is attaching me to it and its characters despite its constant flaws. This being true I went into Clannad: after story optimistic, looking forward to a meaningful experience, so did it keep up?

Nice little group meeting
Nice little group meeting

After story starts off with the first about nine episodes being just giving a few side characters from Clannad original (who were about as relevant to the plot as a dead sparrow to a church) the Clannad treatment; the Clannad treatment being giving them a sad back-story and a strange mini adventure to solve it. These are identical to the first series, but now without the whole Theater club tying it together and dealing with characters we don’t care about, After Story’s first episodes make even less sense and work even less than in Clannad.

CAS-Episode 10
CAS-Episode 10

After episode about ten or so the actual story starts to pick up. Following the continuing life of Tomoya and Nagisa as they begin their relationship and as it grows with time. Primarily follows Tomoyas life from post high school into adult hood dealing with the nature of family, marriage, children, and the pain of losing everything. This all sets the stage for a much more focused tighter cast story that deals with a lot more mature and adult elements then most anime have ever really dealt with, probably being the source of Clannads fame.

Despite the first series of episodes being nothing but mediocre once the story settles on its presentation I really began to love it. After Story had everything Clannad didn’t, a tight narrative, a sense of subtlety, and true sense of real and relatable hardship. The simple willingness to touch of bigger subjects such as being a parent and hitting every man in their weakest spot, their daddy issues, impressed me and gave me the emotional experience completely absent to me in the original Clannad. This plus the actually funny sense of humor that Clannad season one had is a nice addition.

How does one not love Ushio?
How does one not love Ushio?

I feel the need to touch on the Cast this time around, being much tighter around this time. This was something Clannad had issues with, because even though every character was good, the sheer volume of them made it a bit obnoxious. I adore the Cast of After story, Tomoya is the best he has ever been in Clannad and gives an astounding performance. Nagisa’s parents remain the best pair that even in their age some of the strongest sense of romantic and loving chemistry I have ever seen in anime. Nagisa this time around varies from excellent to aggravating, but I feel that’s made better by the introduction of a new character by the name of Ushio. Ushio ends up being one of the most beloved characters I’ve ever seen. Without many lines or real opportunities to do much she performs her role better than anyone could have hoped. She is such a special little girl and to prove that so quickly and so subtly it was worth noteing.

My occasional feelings on Clannad
My occasional feelings on Clannad

Despite my praise for after story, it has four massive truck sized holes in it. Flaws so heavy each on its own would be enough to meaningfully diminish the quality of the series. First off was simply the first nine episodes are nothing, but shameless filler and have no distinct reason to be there as I previously mentioned. Second, and most noticeable off the bat, is that once Tomoya and Nagisa start dating they seem even more distant, due to having near no romantic chemistry together when they finally get together. Partially this is the fault of poor writing, the fact that the entire series goes by and they never kiss on screen even when married is piss poor. What makes this far more noticeable is the fact that the last two episodes of both series are “what if” episodes featuring Tomoya (different character by the same name) and Kyou, both who have such better chemistry with Tomoya that in one episode they manage to pull off a better pure “love” story then the fifty some odd episodes of Clannad could.

Third off is that while After Story is sad it gets predictably so, while I did cry a bit in After Story it was at the subtle constant feelings of grief and lose, the two “heavy moments” while they were sad I went through them cold and dried eyed due to me having seen it a mile away. Plus with the fact that all of it probably could have been avoided with prudent planning makes the bad notes more aggravating then depressing. After Story is emotional, but when it just tries so hard to make me cry it just gets stone faced again.

Dude...I don't know
Dude...I don't know

The Last and most damning thing about After Story is its ending. I understood why they would and somewhere in my heart even I prayed for a happy ending in spite of myself. However, how they pull it off is such jarring, befuddling, nonsense that comes out of nowhere during the series darkest point is so distinctly out of place I felt like I was in a car that flipped. It’s an unapologetic ass pull, but worse of it’s an unapologetic ass pull that doesn’t even make sense. To make it worse it wasn’t a time constraint because the next three episodes are all filler that has nothing to do with the story of After Story. I’ve re-watched the “Final episode” to try to understand what the hell happened to make that ending possible and I still had no idea what was going on. Even in the later episode where they recap the entire series they make it clear that the characters have no idea what happened. In the end of it, Clannad is still weird, and still doesn’t make any sense if you think about it.

All in all I feel about Clannad: After Story the same way as, if a bit more positively, as I do for Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s important that it exists, it allowed anime to push the envelope and make a lot more important stuff and it did prove the format as something other than senseless action and bad comedy, but it’s not every good on its own. I have a strong attachment to Clannad: After Story, but I mark it as one of my biggest disappointments. Clannad gets 3.5 glowing balls of McGuffen out of 5. Well that’s all Vice, I think I’m going to go play some mind rotting video games before I break into Clannad the movie, as well as actually edit the podcast so I can finally post episode 3. Later Vice.

M here and oh yeah...shes back! and before you say it, if its in the OP it's not a spoiler.
M here and oh yeah...shes back! and before you say it, if its in the OP it's not a spoiler.
Post by PyroBlue (9 posts) See mini bio Level 6

Good show old chap, glad that you overall enjoyed it. And everyone keep an eye out for an upcoming podcast, perhaps even TWO!?!?!

Post by Elfenlied1012 (557 posts) See mini bio Level 15

@PyroBlue:

Thanks Pyro

Also to everyone that cares I am working on the podcast right now.

Post by yardley08 (2 posts) See mini bio Level 3

I hate to say this but Clannad/After Story is the weakest Key has done. Which is a real shame because I love the characters, the animation is gorgeous and the soundtrack is beautiful. I especially loved Tomoya Akio and Ushio - these characters are possibly few of the greatest characters ever, let alone anime. If not for these characters, I wouldn't have ever praised Clannad like this. And Yoshino. A very underrated character. You just learn so much from him.

I would have said Air is the weakest but Clannad AS had a very cheap end attempt so that changed my mind. The other flaws don't tend to bug me as much. Whilst I agree that the first 8 episodes could have had characters we actually cared about, I actually did like those episodes because of the supernatural aspects. Though the first 4 episodes were about Sunohara, he was a main character so I don't see how that was pointless. He deserved his own arc, so I'm scratching that. Misae's arc was good but she was a minor character, just like Yukine. It would have been better with Tomoyo or Kyou.

Next thing about the kiss. Yes that really bugged me to no end. They got married and they never kissed! They did in the Visual Novel why not the anime?? Doesn't make sense at all. That was one of the biggest flaws ever.

Thirdly about the predictable deaths, I can see where you're coming from but most animes are pretty predictable so I think that is a teeny bit harsh to put on your flaws list but I agree, it would have been better if they came out of nowhere.

Lastly, the biggest and most awful flaw ever - the ending. I 100% agree with this. Clannad could have been an epic, sad anime and instead we have a horrible cop-out. Why did they have to change the events round when there was really no point?? What the hell was Key thinking?? So that also knocked a point off for me. Clannad After Story was miles better than the first season as the characters had major development but I can't forgive the writers for putting on a forced deux ex machina. I'm sorry to say that I'm in the minority for prefferring the Clannad movie over the series. Fans love the series just because of how it ended and I have no idea why. I know Clannad is a fantasy/slice of life anime which I loved but sometimes it becomes too unreal and I would have never wanted Clannad to end up like a silly Disney fairytale because it's much more than that. What I say about Clannad/After Story - A great potential gone to waste. It would have been a stronger anime and maybe surpassed Air and possibly Angel Beats if not for the ending.

Don't get me wrong, this show IS very good and definetely does deserve some love, but I think Kanon 2006 is the only anime where Key didn't seem to go wrong. It did have flaws, just like Clannad and Air but they weren't as noticeable. Angel Beats was enjoyable too but lacked too much dpth to be a masterpiece.

I loved your review and I'm glad you had hawk eyes to notice these things. It makes the writers improve on what they could do to overwrite the story.

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