(EDIT: At the time of this review, I watched this one before Air and Kanon.)Well, this is practically my first venture into the Key/Kyoto trilogy of moe anime known as Air, Kanon and Clannad and since they have no connection with each other aside from them animated by the same production company, based by the same visual novel publisher, and have some of the same traits, I can watch each show in whatever format I want, but why would I want to review Clannad first? I don’t know either. I’m just going to review this first.
Tomoya Okazaki is a third year high school student resentful of his life. His mother passed away from a car accident when he was younger, causing his father to resort to alcohol and gambling. This results in fights between the two until Tomoya’s shoulder is injured in a fight. Since then, Tomoya has had distant relationships with his father, causing him to become a delinquent over time. While on a walk to school, he meets a strange girl named Nagisa Furukawa who is a year older, but is repeating due to illness. Due to this, she is often alone as most of her friends have moved on. The two begin hanging out and slowly, as time goes by, Tomoya finds his life shifting in a new direction.
Well, I know the first thing to say about this and it is…..highly emotional and often very cute and adorable (which is what they also trying to achieve, too), but when I watched the anime, I often get confused in which storyline of which character to follow as all of them do have something to contribute, although for me, I have lost track of whose story to follow most of the time. Plus, when I say it’s highly emotional, it can be too forced as in they should expect you to care about them instantly, either by playing sad music to compliment that. Don’t get me wrong, I do care about what happens to some of the characters but whatever situation is easily being overdramatized as it goes and that often make me not give a damn anymore. However, as overly dramatic as it is, the story arcs are fine and while being nothing new about self-confidence, family, abandonment issues (let’s face it, nothing is new nowadays) but the situation is mostly relatable for those (mostly anyone) who have been through those situations like that.
The characters are the basic anime archetypes but they are livelier than they sound. Tomoya Okazaki is the main character with a basic awful past (his mother died, father is a drunk and gambler and they don’t get along, mostly Tomoya) but he is less stiff and can actually be a funny character once you get into the show and his friend Sunohara is more of a comic relief than him, but is actually the punching bag of the show, although he did deserve it many times and what can I say? It’s funny to laugh at his pain. The main female characters are those that either have a crush or want to be in love with Tomoya and unlike any harem anime, it isn’t overly annoying. Nagisa Furukawa is the main heroine of the anime, who’s in her 3rd year of high school because of her illness of the “Um?” disease. (I called it the ‘um?’ disease because I honestly don’t know what she got. That and somebody already used ‘butt cancer’ in their review.) That and her parents are outrageous, especially the father, who looks younger than he is. Kyou and Ryou Fujibayashi are sisters with Kyou being the aggressive one and Ryou being the timid one. Tomoyo Sakagami is the one that gets into a lot of fights in the school, mostly with delinquents and occasionally beats up Sunohara because of his stupidity and for kicks…..and yet I love that about her. Kotomi Ichinose is another schoolmate, who is a very quiet girl but when she plays the violin, get some earplugs or far, far, far away from that and lastly there’s Fuko Ibuki, the first year student who really likes to make starfishes and carves them out of wood and sell them a lot in the school and yes, I know of that twist of hers and no, I’m not going to spoil it.
The animation by Kyoto Animation does deserves some high marks as since their bread and butter are slice of life shows and their budget is high enough to make their animation lively, fluid, and beautiful to look at. Although, their character designs are the basic moe design, even on Sunohara, and I think they made some of the adults too identical to the teenagers as I couldn’t tell who’s older or younger, aside from a few characters. The music also gets a decent mark as I thought the score was remarkably well, even if it gets repetitive. The OP song is okay but nothing to remember unlike the ED song, which every reviewer I know likes this song, and I also do but I felt after most episodes, it felt inappropriate to play, especially if an episode ends on a bad or sour note. I know it’s meant to be uplifting but it doesn’t end you should play it on every single time.
The English dub by Sentai Filmworks has some great performances from Luci Christian (Nagisa), Hilary Haag (Fuko), David Matranga (Tomoya) and Shirley Calene-Black (Kyou) but aside from that, it was either a so-so dub that was rated to OK (The performances I listed above)-to-awkward (the adaptive script to other performances like Greg Ayres)-to-bad (most Japanese mispronunciations).
FINAL VERDICT: Clannad is a very emotional anime series that can tug to your heart but often feels too forced to care about the characters but it doesn’t stop you from watching it. It’s both funny and dramatic and I may not be the biggest fan of this, but you should probably give this show a chance before rejecting it.
Clannad gets the grade of…..
Low SOLID B. – 7.5/10
And until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
CLANNAD – animation by KYOTO ANIMATION / distributed by SENTAI FILMWORKS
THE MIND OF THE HYBRID ONE – my Tumblr Page.