Hiya Vice, M is back with a new title to review after a short break from the site itself. Today I bring myself to finally sit down and take a piece out of one of animes most famed pieces, Clannad. Based on the extremely popular VN by Key of the same name, Clannad was famed for its heavy focus on story and art over the Sexual content that popularized VNs in the first place. Clannad the Anime has earned its own fame; often toted as the “most emotional” anime ever created also for including the “most moe” eyes ever made. Finally after years of pressure I decided to take it on myself and see exactly why Clannad is as beloved by the community as a whole as it seems to be.
Clannad follows the high school life of Okazaki Tomoya, famed delinquent because of his constant tardiness. Walking on another one of his late days he runs into repeat senior due to illness Furukawa Nagisa. Things progress in their new friendship as Okazaki begins a quest to help Nagisa with her dream of re-opening the drama club. They perform this quest the most roundabout way humanly possible, by formulaically meeting and solving each of the 4 or 5 female character’s personal for lack of a better word, arc, and deal with their individual problems in exchange for their help in the club. To put it plainly it works like a visual novel does except playing everyone’s arc at the same time, but only one romantically.
Clannad is weird and I don’t mean that lightly. For the most part Anime is a bit weird. Being animated; it’s part of the charm for most series. Animation allows for strange and other worldly visuals and storytelling for a quarter of the price and often twice the quality of live action. Clannad however is weird in a totally different sense; it’s odd in that “just a little off” way that can’t help, but put you off a bit. From the weird f@3king eyes the characters all have to the fact that almost every kind of slice of life drama is shoved into Clannad. Even some of its musical choices while lovely don’t make sense, such as traditional Celtic music before a theater performance. From the weird deadworld, to ghost girls, gang fights, basketball match to decide the fate of a club, bear costumes, death by incompetence with a violin and starfish.
All these things are strange, but not that odd for anime, however what makes them so odd in Clannad is that each one is treated deadly seriously in terms of story. This I feel may come from the fact that Clannad seems to jam a bunch of totally separate stories each with distinct story motifs and brings them all into one show with a McGuffen of the theater club holding it all together. This creates a bit of a problem. Unfocused and formulaic makes the heavy moments feel, unfounded. It tries so hard to make me tear up and cry that it feels too forced for me to give the reaction that more subtlety and time might actually bring out of me. The other major issue is that jammed story eats away at your suspension of disbelief faster than a shark after a bleeding surfer. The sheer number of people with “dark pasts” is staggering. Everyone and their mother has a huge unrelated plots surrounding how their life was ruined or messed up by something or another at some point. The number of “Accidents” that occurred and ruined lives in Clannad makes me have to use all my willpower not to make an Asian drivers joke.
Clannad isn’t without a pretty good number of positives. The Dialogue while not always sensible is really well written and clever. The Main character especially comes up with the best actual joke jokes and pranks that I have ever seen in anime, (Japanese humor often falling completely flat for me.) As a whole the characters all grow on you and are for the most part fun to watch even if the stories themselves do nothing for you and Nagisa’s parents are the two greatest god damn parents I have ever seen in an anime. The few moments the story allows for subtlety I.E. the Main character relationship with his dad and the growth between Him and Nagisa it’s pulled off very well. Something that leads me to believe that I would have enjoyed the VN more, seeing that more than likely stays focused on the stories individually then hamfistedly making them one
The Main saving grace for Clannad is simply it has the indefinable on its side. Without having done much right Clannad has stuck its self somewhere deep inside me. I don’t know why, but I can’t help, but really like Clannad; a series that frankly I don’t even feel confident in calling good. I’ve grown attached to Clannad, despite my distaste for it. It’ll stay on my mind long after I’m done. This attachment being something that I think will help its successor accomplish in terms of making me emotional that Clannad failed to do.
To tell the Truth I wanted to drop Clannad a few times and in fact just walked away from the show to go play starcraft. Not even the new one the original that old piece of anyways, but in the end I kept coming back and for longer each time. Clannad isn’t empirically good at all, but I care a lot about it despite that. I know it deserves it, but I almost regret giving Clannad 3 dango out of 5. Clannad failed to be good on its own, but managed to make me emotionally invested in Clannad, like a ticking time bomb, which is why I am VERY interested in checking out Clannad: After story, the series that boosts being able to make everyone I personally know who has seen it cry their eyes out.
PS. Vice with college back in session I’ll try to keep up with reviews, but as for the podcast they will be coming in shorter and less often, sorry guys, but remember we do all this for free so yeah.