Well Hello again Anime Vice. It’s M again here to bring you the last in my newest campaign of anime domination. Today’s target is the last Anime related piece of the wildly successful Clannad Franchise. Before the very revered Anime (that I have grown to like very much despite my distaste for much of it) the Series first hit the big screen with Clannad: The motion picture. Feeling like my exposure to the franchise wasn’t truly complete I headed over and took a on the movie that first brought Clannad to the TV screen.
The movie as did the show follows the main route of Clannad the visual novel, dealing with the relationship between Tomoya, a high school delinquent with father issues and Nagisa, a medically ill girl with a loving family to support her. It follows through their Friendship onto eventual love and adult lives and the tragedy that can come from them. Mostly the story is told in flashback by Tomoya and the end is hinted throughout. It is independent from the Anime and while much of the story bits are the same most of them are at fairly different.
As a whole Clannad is another series I’ve grown fond of despite its very serious and crippling flaws. In this way I do care for the franchise in any form it takes itself and was very excited to see. That being said I bluntly don’t like the Clannad movie. More than that I think it is actively bad. Clannad the movie reeks of “the movie” syndrome. Feeling more like a big budget animated movie cash in of the VN without much thought or design then a honest to god attempt to make a earnest movie out of the VN. It lacks the sense of humor and excellent dialogue that for the most part gave the anime the legs to stand up and make you attached enough to really be hit by the themes and subtle undertones that build up throughout the series. Instead we get over the top nonsensical action bits and more cameos then characters. This makes its attempts to be emotional and heavy even more waning then the anime.
Most damning, I think, is that the movie manages to look both incredibly expensive as well as visually shitty. Each scene has more frames per second then what looks natural and is cluttered with so many visual effects it reminds me of the first time a middle schooler learns how to edit a picture in Photoshop. Just as an example, every single shot of the movie in which there is sunlight regardless of intensity there is drawn in lens flare covering almost twenty five percent of the screens. Copious panning shots and busy backgrounds covered with random visual effects all seem to simply be there to show off a big budget that an animated movie can have. This makes the fact that Clannad the movies art looks about as good as cheap early 90s lower tier anime deliciously ironic. This is especially true for the characters that despite not having the weird demon bug eyes from the anime look even more off and dated.
Clannad is however not without some saving graces. Historically my issues with animated movies have always been the inability to provide a standalone cohesive narrative and in this respect Clannad: the motion picture does manage to pull off even if it’s not exactly good. To make a full movie contain and tell the same story as a fifty episode anime is a feet in and of itself (but perhaps that’s just more evidence of my complaint that the Clannad anime was unfocused and slow) That and a bit of a positive change with Tomoya’s best friend being a far better man and Nagisa more realistic and assertive.
However, for every positive there is a negative. Tomoya instead of being a serious, but sweet guy with a funny pranker side to him, he’s just a flat out insensitive jerk to most of the cast killing the chemistry with anyone else. Most of the best characters from the franchise put in ineffectual and often pointless scenes more to acknowledge their existence in the story then to show any relevance to it. Flip the coin on the other side I actually really like how the movie ends and Tomoyas Fathers more preeminent role in exactly how the ending came to be. Even though where it cuts is not as true to the VN as the animes’s ending is it allow for a happy ending without being much of an ass pull at all. This was something that Clannad after story failed miserably to do.
Clannad is a franchise that I love in spite of its flaws, that being said I have no real love for this movie outside of its ending. Shitty art and empty writing eat away at the movie even if it manages to be a fairly complete package. It’s been a while, but I give Clannad 2.5 cluttered video effects out of 5. I don’t like this movie, I don’t like how it looks, how it is and it can take its high energy Dango theme remix and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.
P.S. our podcast is back and you can find it here enjoy