CLANNAD: the best of KEY and Kyoto Animation

Ai Yori Aoshi. Da Capo. Kanon. Air. Onegai Teacher. Heck, even Ranma 1/2 probably qualifies, in a way. That is, they’re all what I’d call ‘harem anime’, stuff made primarily for the consumption of male otaku. Boy meets girl, boy helps girl, repeat both several times, chaos ensues. Something that I learnt early on that I really didn’t like much.

But even amongst such series, whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to call them diamonds, there are a few gems that are well worth watching. And CLANNAD, particularly the CLANNAD After Story part, I have to admit, is one of them.

A fateful encounter…

Boy meets girl, helps girl, and in the process grows up. That’s basically what the story of CLANNAD is, albeit with a supernatural element thrown in, one that apparently confused many people who had not played the visual novel (I spoiled myself long before I even started the series, so it did not have any negative effects on me…). The theme of growing up features in numerous stories of this vein, whether in anime, film, literature, comics etc etc. But at the very least, few anime series have accomplished it as well as CLANNAD does. The decisions that Okazaki Tomoya makes, the relationships that he forms, the understanding that he develops…all of this results in large part because of his interaction with Furukawa Nagisa. Some of it breaks him…but it also makes him stronger, and most importantly, teaches him the value of family, of the sacrifices that parents make for their children, that his own father made for him.

Lessons to be learnt and challenges to be overcome…

It is that message, of understanding what sacrifices people often make for their families, and most importantly, the great joy in their children’s success that they take as their reward, that resonated most in me. I can’t speak for Akio, Sanae, or for Tomoya’s father, but CLANNAD‘s message for the younger generation is, I would argue, a challenge for us to strive understand how our parents care for us, and thus, how we should answer their concern. Different individuals will probably have to address it in different ways – some people may feel uncomfortable with paying their parents back with large monetary presents, others may protest their parents’ preoccupation with steady, professional jobs, yet others will be unable to live in the same house as their parents, preferring their own privacy and freedom. But if our parents have been involved in our lives, even if it is something so arguably controversial as paying for our school fees without being asked, then there are always thanks to be given, no matter what form that takes.

And what waits on the other side is…

I feel like this comment has gotten away from me somewhat – it was difficult writing this after I’d already spammed about what I appreciated most with regards to the technicalities of this series. Another of those technical aspects is obvious: this is quite possibly the best role that I’ve heard Nakamura Yuuichi in – although it’s not my favourite. I won’t say I look forward to more from Kyoto Animation, since I generally have a hit-and-miss record with them. But I’ll always remember CLANNAD and its After Story for the two points it has driven home to me – an appreciation for excellent character animation, and the importance of family.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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