The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Category Archives: CLANNAD

A Theory of Everything: Revisiting Kotomi’s Arc in CLANNAD At The Ten Year Anniversary

“The world is beautiful, even when it’s filled with sadness and tears.” –Kotomi Ichinose

With the drama club still lacking the requisite members to be formally reinstated, Tomoya speaks with Kotomi in the hopes of recruiting her to help out. In the process, he helps her become more sociable, and with Ryou, Kotomi decides to join the drama club. During one meeting, Kotomi becomes drawn to the music club’s violin performance, and when she tries to play for herself, she ends up causing those around her great distress. Hoping to help her improve, Kyou suggests that Kotomi give a live performance. While her performance is abysmal, her friends nonetheless encourage her, although Kotomi grows frightened when a mysterious man appears. Kotomi begins spending more time with her newfound friends and in classes, but one day, she witnesses an accident and becomes withdrawn. Tomoya visits her home and, finding her in a room filled with newspaper clippings, recalls his past with Kotomi: the two had met as children and spent a considerable amount of time together, but when her parents’ university research conflicted with her birthday, Kotomi resented them for not being with her. They later perished in a plane crash, and remorseful at her final words to them, Kotomi had since decided to take up her parents’ work. Tomoya decides to restore the garden in Kotomi’s backyard in the meantime. Nagisa and the others begin helping, as well; moved by this gesture, Kotomi opens up once again. During a small birthday party they host for her, the gentleman reappears and introduces himself to Tomoya and his friends. He reveals that Kotomi’s parents had been thinking about her right up until the end, and their final gift to her had travelled a considerable distance to reach her. The strength of her parents’ love allows Kotomi to reconcile with her past and embrace the future with Tomoya and the others.

After the basics were established, CLANNAD became free to explore different thematic elements related to Tomoya’s story. Kotomi’s arc is the first of the stories explored, and while perhaps better known for Kotomi’s infamous and lethal performances on the violin, the arc itself provides two main contributions into CLANNAD. The first of these is illustrating the extent that Tomoya will put forth his best effort for the people close to him, and while Tomoya did contribute to helping Fuuko make Kyouko’s wedding a special one, it is not until his time with Kotomi where the depths of his concern and caring for his friends become presented. An old childhood friend, Kotomi was born to two well-known researchers on cosmology, and in his youth, Tomoya had visited the Ichinose home frequently, stopping for a spot of tea in the garden with Kotomi. In the years since, the garden has grown decrepit and overgrown with weeds. Wanting to make amends for having halted their friendship, Tomoya feels that it is his responsibility to restore the garden, symbolically restoring his friendship with Kotomi. The other element in Kotomi’s arc sets the standard for what CLANNAD defines to be what constitutes as respectable parents. Long having felt guilty for destroying her parents’ work, Kotomi had zealously pursued her studies with the aim of continuing where they left off, and while it’s revealed that Kotomi had done no such thing, the story that her guardian presents to Tomoya and the others illustrates the love that Kotomi’s parents had for her. In their final moments, they sacrificed their research in favour of their daughter’s happiness – by making the choice to put family above even society, her parents’ decision show that a true parent is someone who is always willing to put their children first. With Tomoya’s help, Kotomi comes to understand and deeply appreciate this message, while Tomoya himself also gains a better insight as to what he himself would want in a parent.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because this is the Kotomi arc, this screenshot of the thirty will feature Nagisa and Tomoya alone: Tomoya’s found himself in the path of Kyou’s scooter yet again and is knocked down, but fortunately, no major damage has occurred. CLANNAD is a universe where injuries and harm are dependent on the plot: characters can survive ludicrous amounts of damage without ill-lasting effects during moments of comedy, but when the mood turns serious, they will sustain injuries normally.

  • While Tomoya’s encounter of Kotomi in the library initially seems random, the first indicator that there’s a bit more history comes from the fact that of everyone, Kotomi is able to interact with Tomoya where she is much more bashful and quiet around other characters.

  • When meeting the boisterious and straight-shooting Kyou, Kotomi immediately hides behind Tomoya. Kotomi’s initial limitations in communication lead to some misunderstandings, and of everyone, Kyou takes the most initiative to try and bring Kotomi up to speed with everyone; although the two are off to a comically rough start, Kyou and Kotomi do get along with one another over the course of time. Their dynamics are quite fun to watch, and other folks count it as amongst the more endearing moments in CLANNAD when Kyou initially tries to hold a conversation with Kotomi.

  • I’ve always held a fondness for locations with plenty of books; during my time in middle and secondary school, I spent a considerable amount of time in the library, as my preferred place to hang out and work on various assignments. I continued to make use of library facilities during my early undergraduate career – in the quiet, sun-filled workrooms of an early morning, I reviewed for my MCAT and prepared for many a exam here. It was not until I began my undergraduate thesis that I was granted my own office space. During this time, a new library had opened on campus, and I shunned the location.

  • Initially, it was because the location was very busy and crowded, making it difficult to find space to work in; by comparison, my old office space was quiet, well-maintained and the perfect place to write software. After a botched kokuhaku during the Summer of the Flood and the revelation that she was seeing someone else a half-year later, I became adverse to seeing young couples in general. The new library was the premiere place where couples on campus went to “study”, so I pointedly avoided the library unless I was there to help give presentations on my lab’s research. Back in CLANNAD, Kyou messes with Kotomi, who is unaccustomed to Kyou’s approach in dealing with people.

  • It is really Kyou who drives the drama club forward, and her decision to join, along with Ryou, brings the total member count up to five. Despite playing an ancillary role in the drama club, her strong personality means that the other members initially have little choice but to follow in her wake: Kyou is frequently seen lecturing Nagisa, Kotomi and Ryou whenever she’s displeased with their bashfulness.

  • Besides Kotomi herself, off-hand references to the works of Steven Hawking, Brian Greene and other great physicists are what I most strongly remember in her arc. However, for most audiences, Kotomi’s abysmal violin playing is probably the most memorable element; Kotomi is blissfully unaware of her poor skills even as those in her vicinity writhe in agony, as though they were subject to the Cruciatus curse. There’s no indicator that Kotomi is deliberately playing poorly, but the Dunning–Kruger Effect could be in play here: Kotomi’s played the violin previously and is a brilliant student by all counts, but years of being out of practise means that her perception of her ability is inconsistent with her actual ability.

  • While dissimilar in appearance, Kotomi’s voice and personality does remind me somewhat of a friend who had been adrift with respect to their direction at the time, and I spent many an hour chatting with them about research, graduate studies and other related materials. Since then, they’ve managed to engage in research and was accepted into graduate school. Outside of those conversations, we talked about things in all manners, and as the flood waters receded towards days dominated by brilliant blue skies, I wondered if I was developing a bit of a nascent crush on them.

  • Under the warm light of a summer evening, Kotomi and Tomoya begin spending more time with one another as Tomoya tries to help her be more sociable. CLANNAD‘s lighting is generally used in a mundane fashion until the defecation hits the oscillation: when things get serious, lighting and colours are used to great effect in conveying what the characters feel to audiences. The universality of colours is such that I prefer using them to define the emotional tenour of a moment, as opposed to symbols – obscure symbols may have different meanings, and some anime analysis erroneously try to fit the symbol with their conclusions.

  • While Kotomi has ostensibly practised in preparation for her recital, her performance on the day of the recital proves to be abysmal, incapacitating the entire audience. Indeed, Kotomi’s violin skills would find application as acoustic weapons, which are being considered as non-lethal area-denial weapons. Such weapons are largely experimental and have also made the news of late: staff working at an American Embassy in Cuba have been reporting unusual symptoms including hearing loss and irregularities in mental ability. While investigators initially suspected acoustic weapons, they’ve since been ruled out.

  • Kotomi endures a lecture from Kyou on the basics of the Japanese manzai routine. Ryou and Nagisa’s looks of horror are priceless, as is Kotomi’s vacant stare. It would appear that Kotomi’s attempted to ask Kyou to teach her how comedy works, and here, Kyou shows that she’s quite spirited, possessing the makings of an actress. Like Zoidberg of Futurama, Kyou feels that Kotomi isn’t cut out for the part.

  • The drama club’s members, certainly en route to counting one another as friends, spend a weekend together. There’s a voice-over during this scene, so I’m not too sure what the context of Ryou and Nagisa’s embarassment are, but the voice-over itself provides a bit of foreshadowing as to what’s happening next; Kyou learns that Kotomi’s birthday is upcoming, and so, plans to give Kotomi a birthday bash worthy of remembrance.

  • After a days’ worth of searching around for a suitable birthday gift, Tomoya and the girls are unsuccessful. Tomoya reassures the others that there’s time yet to find a good gift, but notices that she’s spaced out. CLANNAD excels at making use of foreshadowing that astute viewers will catch onto, especially if they’ve played through the visual novel, and for anime-only folks such as myself, it will take a second watch-through in order to catch these minor but relevant details that contribute to the depth of each story in CLANNAD.

  • At Kyou’s insistence, Kotomi decides to prank Tomoya, whose reaction is immediately of embarrassment. According to the supplementary documentation, Kotomi’s assets are larger than anyone else in CLANNAD, and Kyou is fond of messing with her for this reason. Played purely for the audience’s amusement, it also serves as a dramatic setup for the next scene, when Nagisa learns of a vehicle accident, leading to a bit of a panic as Tomoya wonders if anyone was injured.

  • When Kotomi witnesses a vehicle accident, it induces great panic in her; up until now, Kotomi had been making great strides in interacting with those around her, so to see this happen was quite unsettling. It speaks to Mamiko Noto’s capabilities as a voice actor in being able to convey the sense of pure terror at the scene unfolding before Kotomi, adding yet another piece of the puzzle to Kotomi’s past. Besides Kotomi, Noto has also provided the voice for Sakura Quest‘s Sayuri Shinomiya (Saori’s older sister), as well as Taihō of Kantai Collection. Overwhelmed, Kotomi takes her leave, with the others left to wonder what went down.

  • The man that Kotomi had been frightened of earlier turns out to be her legal guardian, and while Tomoya is initially hostile towards him, he consents to listen to the gentleman’s story after he reveals that he is a longtime acquaintance of the Ichinoses. This fellow somewhat resembles Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy, and Kotomi’s fear of him is not because of any misdeeds he was responsible for, but rather, because she fears the possibility of bearing direct responsibility for what’s happened in the past.

  • While perhaps not quite as powerful as in Fuuko’s arc, lighting is utilised to great effect in the Kotomi arc to convey a very specific sense during a scene. The dying light of a setting sun emphasises the browns and yellows of the decaying yard surrounding the Ichinose residence, reinforcing the notion that this place has long been neglected. That Tomoya visits by sunset shows that the day is ending; given the situation, there is little he can do now but wait for another day to begin so he can properly begin working on a solution.

  • The strong crimson hues inside Kotomi’s room, filled with newspaper clippings concerning her parents, create a highly unsettling sight that conveys to viewers the emotional intensity that Kotomi feels. Here, in a room illuminated in a surreal manner, Tomoya finally recalls the nature of his relationship with Kotomi – they’d been friends in their childhood. CLANNAD transitions into a flashback to fill audiences in on what’s happened previously, and provides a vivid picture of what’s happened.

  • In 2003, Brian Greene’s 1999 book, The Elegant Universe, was adapted into a three-part documentary for NOVA that outlines his research on string theory and how it could be the solution towards reconciling Newtonian physics at the macro-scale and quantum theory underlying interactions at incredibly minute scales. I found the three-part series to be incredibly enjoyable and wondered just how close we were at the time to a theory of everything. It’s been fifteen years since I first watched The Elegant Universe, and the complexity of these systems means that there’s no satisfactory theory that can really account for everything yet.

  • Greene’s research has continued into the idea that the universe is multi-dimensional, with extra dimensions wrapped up into small structures similar to how a strand of hair might be seen as being one-dimensional from a distance. The theory of everything might not be something we can readily demonstrate to hold true at present, but with continued research into properties of the universe, it is expected that our knowledge in this area of physics will only improve. It is this that forms the name for the final episode of Kotomi’s arc in CLANNAD and by extension, this post. Back in CLANNAD, Tomoya recalls how he first met Kotomi and the time they subsequently spent in her family’s garden.

  • Kotomi became frustrated on the eve of her birthday when a conference came up for her parents; such a reaction is not unexpected of someone of her age, and when they failed to return on account of a plane crash, Kotomi felt responsible for the actions. On the assumption that the gentleman was here to take her parents’ research papers, Kotomi tried to torch them with the hope of preserving it, but has since regretted her decision. This is the reason why Kotomi is studious: she aims to atone for her actions by recovering and rediscovering the knowledge that was presumably destroyed with her parents’ deaths.

  • After appraising Ryou, Nagisa and Kyou of the situation, Tomoya decides to restore Kotomi’s garden to its original state, and the group also takes Kotomi’s violin to a repair shop. Owing to the fact that ten years have elapsed since the original airing of Kotomi’s arc, curiosity led me to take a look and see what discussions were like back when internet speeds averaged 3 Mbps (375 kb/s) and the Kentsfield Core 2 Quad Q6600, one of the earliest affordable quad-core CPUs, had only been on the market for a year. To put things in perspective, my MacBook Pro, an early 2015 model, is armed with the i5-5257U, which is around 73 percent faster than the Q6600, and my current internet connection is twenty times faster.

  • Through his efforts, weeds are removed from the garden, and life begins to fill it once more with colour. Looking back at discussions of a decade past, folks largely agree that the Kotomi arc is quite moving and well-written. Appropriately, period discussions were focused on the emotional impact of the story, and even now, CLANNAD discussions tend to not mention any technical elements of multi-verses because, while they facilitate the story in both CLANNAD and CLANNAD ~After Story~, how they precisely work isn’t important for us viewers.

  • The reason why I’ve made no mention of Kotomi’s quote from Robert F. Young’s The Dandelion Girl is that I’ve done a separate post on the topic already, which dealt with the original short story rather than CLANNAD. In the case of CLANNAD, one can reasonably infer that Kotomi sees Tomoya as a great friend, someone who continues improving with the passage of time. She references this line because the two had read The Dandelion Girl as children and wishes for him to remember the past friendship that they once shared.

  • Some sources of documentation state that Kotomi’s only seen Tomoya as a friend in the anime, and her response when Tomoya’s feelings for Nagisa come out into the open seem to suggest that this is the case, but her choice of words and steadfast hope of meeting him blur the boundaries. When Tomoya fully recalls the full story, Kotomi is finally ready to face the her friends once again, feeling that she’s in the company of individuals who have accepted her.

  • The evening sky is presented again in great prominence, although now, reds are replaced with a gentler carnation pink to illustrate that the mood has softened. To the audience, this is meant to convey the idea that through Tomoya’s efforts, Kotomi has moved past her own inner dæmons. The next day, Kotomi returns to classes; she’s immediately greeted by her friends, who hand her a receipt for violin repairs.

  • The one remaining unresolved element in Kotomi’s arc at this point is the story dealing with her guardian. Having confirmed him to be a friend, Tomoya and the others feel that it’s time for Kotomi to learn of the whole truth about her parents. As the gentleman explains what really happened in her parents’ final moments, when they chose to save Kotomi’s gift over their paper, a warm golden light fills the room. The dominance of gold and yellow denotes that things have finally reached a resolution, and Kotomi makes peace with her past here.

  • The scene dealing with the suitcase that the Ichinoses left behind and its journey to reach Kotomi has long been subject to analysis for whether or not it added any value to CLANNAD and saw attempts by folks to decipher the different languages being used. Neither are particularly meaningful uses of time: as noted earlier, the whole point of Kotomi’s arc is to illustrate the extent to which Tomoya is willing to go for his friends, as well as a more dramatic example of the extent that good parents are willing to look after their children.

  • In short, the Kotomi arc is where precedent is set for Tomoya’s actions upcoming in CLANNAD. This brings my revisitation of the Kotomi arc to an end, and I found that, compared to the Fuuko arc, I’ve deviated a bit more from the Kotomi arc in my figure captions. Here, Kyou and the others bring Kotomi her newly-refurbished violin, and thanks to her involvement, Kotomi is able to celebrate the birthday party that her parents had once planned for her. In their stead, Tomoya and the others have planned a similarly enjoyable day for Kotomi.

  • Concerned with numbers, Tomoya asks if Kyou’s idea is a good one, and Kotomi remarks that she’s got a big garden…for you. This brings my Kotomi talk to an end, and the next CLANNAD revisitation post will cover Tomoya’s journey to help Nagisa rebuild the drama club. To do so, he hopes to help Tomoyo become student council president, feeling that it could help with the process, and invariably draws both Tomoyo’s and Kyou’s eye, leading to an interesting conflict. The gap between this post and the next will not be quite as long: the arc ended on Valentines’ Day, so this is when I will next write about CLANNAD.

Besides a powerful pair of messages with what family is and the sort of person Tomoya is, Kotomi’s arc also introduces the notion of multi-verses. One of the strengths in CLANNAD is that its portrayal of these multi-verses and the Ichinose’s research in such is given the perfect amount of detail to motivate the story, but no further. One of the issues in anime is whenever authors attempt to fit in immensely technical concepts without an inkling of the laws that govern such systems and the constraints within them. Some anime have taken to mentioning technical jargon with the aim of elevating the gravity in a scene, but in CLANNAD, details about M-theory, branes and interactions between dimensions are noticeably absent. Instead, concepts relevant to the story are presented in approachable terms: it is in one such multi-verse that the mysterious robot and girl’s story is set in. Initially, this world is of little more than a curiosity for the audiences, but as CLANNAD progressed, this alternate reality becomes much more significant towards the narrative overall. The inclusion of this element and sufficiently frequent mention of the possibility thus drive the story forwards, and opens up audiences to the idea that miracles are possible within CLANNAD: all of this is accomplished, permitting viewers to enjoy Kotomi’s story without requiring that audiences pick up Brian Greene and Steven Hawking’s publications as background material.

The Child of the Wind: Revisiting Fuko’s Arc in CLANNAD At The Ten Year Anniversary

“Right now, Fuuko likes you more than a sea slug” —Fuuko Ibuki

When Fuuko tries to invite Tomoya to her sister’s wedding, Tomoya is initially dismissive and declines. However, as his efforts to help Nagisa gather the requisite number of drama club members falls short, he seeks out Fuuko and learns from Nagisa that Fuuko is the younger sister of Kouko Ibuki, who is Nagisa’s art instructor and moreover, Fuuko is supposedly bed-ridden from a car accident. The two decide to assist Fuuko by carving wooden starfish and passing them around as invitations to Kouko’s wedding, then recreating a high school experience for Fuuko with help from Sanae and some classmates. During the school festival, Kouko attends the school’s Founder’s Festival at Nagisa and Tomoya’s invitation, but cannot see or hear Fuuko. In spite of this, Tomoya and Nagisa convince Kouko to carry on with their wedding, feeling that Fuuko would have the same wish for her. As Fuuko’s condition deteriorates, her memories begin fading. Feeling their time is short, Tomoya and Nagisa prepare a birthday party for Fuuko, celebrating at the school during the night, and while they appear to have forgotten Fuuko by the next morning, they manage to recall Kouko’s wedding. On the day of the wedding, only Tomoya, Nagisa and Fuuko appear, although by means of a miracle, the entire student population attends to wish Kouko and her husband, Yuusuke, happiness. Fuuko disappears after thanking Tomoya and congratulating Kouko, while Tomoya feels that it is possible that Fuuko will recover. In CLANNAD‘s visual novel, Fuuko’s route is the first arc that players must complete: it sets in motion the remainder of the game, and also trigger the events of CLANNAD After Story, so players looking to get the full experience must sit through this section of the game.

Kyoto Animation’s adaptation of CLANNAD faithfully reproduces the events of Fuuko’s arc, which initially begins in a gentle, comedic manner. However, as Tomoya and Nagisa discover more irregularities in their experiences with Fuuko against what others are saying, it becomes clear that CLANNAD is involving supernatural elements into its story. This is most evident in Fuuko being able to freely interact with select individuals, as well as the environment; by the time this revelation is made, it spurs Nagisa and Tomoya to work towards fulfilling Fuuko’s wishes despite Tomoya’s general irritation at Fuuko’s antics. In doing so, the Fuuko arc begins to illustrate that underneath Tomoya’s cynical exterior is the heart of someone who genuinely wishes to help out. In asking Tomoya and Nagisa to attend her sister’s wedding, as well as prompting the two to begin addressing one another by their given names, Fuuko hints that of the possible pairings for Tomoya in CLANNAD, Nagisa is the best fit for him; even though the two are not a couple at this point in the story, they spend a considerable amount of time together as friends, getting to know one another better as he helps her resurrect the drama club. While discussions are numerous on whether or not Nagisa really is the best person for Tomoya, I personally found this to be true; Nagisa is able to bring out the best in him and find things to look forward to, and Tomoya’s encouragement is what gives her the confidence to accomplish her dreams.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While my earlier CLANNAD discussions had twenty screenshots apiece, the talks for each of the arcs will be a bit larger, with thirty screenshots each. This will give me more time to explore some of the elements that I find to be worth commenting on, or else insert a few remarks about what I thought of a particular scene. Five years after watching CLANNAD, my own experiences in the journey of life has advanced in some areas, but in others, remain woefully unchanged.

  • In the early stages of the Drama Club’s revival, the club room remains quite empty aside from some boxes in the back. The members-to-be sit in a desk centred in the room, and the spaces arising from this arrangement give the sense that this is a fresh canvas for Nagisa to create from as she wishes. The cooler lighting suggests a sense of distance that is introduced when Tomoya recruits Youhei to help out, and their conversation here is to first find enough members such that the Drama Club can be brought back.

  • Tomoya never passes up an opportunity to prank Youhei, which is partially why he’s never on the receiving end of any beatdowns that Tomoyo or Kyou are likely to administer. Here, at Tomoya’s suggestion, Nagisa asks Ryou to join the Drama Club, but Nagisa’s hesitancy and the setup that Tomoya proposes leads both Kyou and Youhei to get the wrong idea. The misunderstanding is cleared up, and when Kyou asks her to toss Youhei and Tomoya in favour of her and Ryou’s help, Nagisa feels that for having started the journey with her, she can count them as friends.

  • After classes, Tomoya and Nagisa run into Kouko, who asks if the two are dating. Nagisa’s response is immediate and says that there are others worthier. As Tomoya’s single, Kouko feels that Nagisa’s odds with him are good, and subsequently asks if Tomoya finds Nagisa agreeable, putting both on the spot. Sharp thinking from Nagisa steers the conversation away from these waters. It’s a conversation that I’m somewhat familiar with, and in the aftermath of my MCAT, entering my fourth year, some folks wondered what my sitrep was. The story itself has been recounted countless times by now, and while I note that CLANNAD indirectly precipitated what would happen, it’s not too relevant towards talk of the Fuuko arc.

  • It is in conversation with Kouko that hints of the supernatural in CLANNAD begin materialising, when she reveals that Fuuko is hospitalised in a coma following a vehicle accident. Pieces in CLANNAD do not initially add up from a logical sense, leaving audiences wondering what’s going on. Nagisa becomes quite fond of hugging Fuuko when the opportunity presents itself, and with the impression that Fuuko chikd-like in nature, it foreshadows Nagisa’s maternal sense. Here, Tomoya and Nagisa diffuse a situation where Fuuko nonchalantly swipes the Furukawa’s neighbours’ surnames, leading Tomoya to swat her.

  • The race to carve starfish-shaped invitations for Kouko’s wedding with Yuusuke is on, and here, large wooden blocks await turning into invitations. The process of creating the shape with a small carving knife is arduous, although the hand-made quality reinforces the notion that Fuuko, and those helping her, are putting their genuine feelings into making the invitations – using a jigsaw would allow for a much larger number to be produced in a shorter time, but at the expense of the message that can be conveyed with hand-made carvings.

  • Whenever Fuuko begins thinking about starfish, her concentration is diverted from reality and can be subject to various pranks without being fully aware of them. Tomoya usually is responsible for said pranks, and while Fuuko resents their happening, she’s unable to prevent it. Fuuko is shut down in a similar manner when Nagisa hugs her, bringing to mind how cats grow limp when held by the scruff. Mother cats will do so to kittens to quickly move them safely and never do so as a disciplinary measure.

  • When Fuuko wishes to attend high school normally, she foreshadows her own supernatural presence. Not knowing the full story but sympathising with her, Nagisa asks her mother to help set up a mock class to give Fuuko the experience. Voiced by Kikou Inoue, whom I best know as Ah! My Goddess‘s Belldandy, Sanae is surprisingly adaptive and can convincingly take in the air of almost any profession or role asked of her. She plays a school teacher surprisingly well, and while it’s not immediately apparent, this also foreshadows at Sanae’s past interests.

  • A conversation between Nagisa and Tomoya leaves Nagisa embarrassed when she likens them to being Fuuko’s mother and father. It’s another hint of what’s upcoming; Nagisa is slowly growing more accustomed to Tomoya’s presence and is the first person to begin unearthing a side of him that folks previously did not see. A loud silence lingers between the two until they encounter Yuusuke, and it is here that both learn that Kouko is marrying Yuusuke’s. At their suggestion, Yuusuke agrees to try and convince Kouko to check out the Founder’s Festival.

  • The operation to invite as many people as possible to Kouko and Yuusuke’s wedding means going into overdrive and creating as many wooden stars as possible. The effort exhausts Fuuko, and she falls asleep while making one. Tomoya feels that it is imperative to bring Fuuko and Kouko together to work out what the mystery surrounding them entails.

  • To make sure Fuuko isn’t late for school, Tomoya carries her on his back, while Nagisa hauls the stars they’d made the previous evening for distribution at the school festival. Fuuko herself is hauled into one of the activities, giving the sense that she’s an ordinary student, and Nagisa helps her class as a waitress. The combined efforts of everyone mean that excitement for Kouko and Yuusuke’s wedding is tangible amongst the school’s student population: some folks have even started a Fuuko fan club and will go to the end of the earth to keep her from harm.

  • When Kouko arrives at the Founder’s Festival, she enjoys herself but is unable to see Fuuko. The mystery deepens here, as Kouko clarifies that Fuuko’s been in a coma for quite some time, leading to inconsistencies with what audiences share with Tomoya and Nagisa. The revelation changes Tomoya’s perspective of Fuuko, and while he’s still willing to play the occasional prank on her, he begins to view Fuuko as someone who’s quite precious.

  • This change in perspective is not unlike that of Makoto’s arc in Kanon, where Yuuichi kicks Makoto’s ass in all things related to pranks and finds himself growing irritated with her, but when he learns that Makoto is really a fox spirit taking human form and is rapidly losing her memories, he spends more time with her even as her cognitive capacities fail. In both Kanon and CLANNAD, supernatural elements contribute to both extraordinary challenges and their attendant miracles. We return to CLANNAD, where the quest to distribute the wooden stars as wedding invitations continue even in light of the unusual information that Kouko’s brought to the table, and here, Fuuko gives one to Kotomi.

  • Kouko expresses a desire to have a wedding at the high school with her fellow instructors and students. Tomoya asks about the kind of person Fuuko was, and learns that Fuuko’s never really been good around people. During the whole of the conversation, Nagisa is fighting back the tears, but the next day, Nagisa gets into a bit of a dispute with Fuuko about what is more adorable. In the eternal war between starfish and dango, I’d have to say that dango win: Nagisa can be a bit immature at times, and this early in the game, Tomoya lacks the familiarity with Nagisa to put her back on track.

  • As preparations for the wedding plough forward, Kouko informs Nagisa and Tomoya that Fuuko’s condition has worsened, reducing her odds of waking up from her coma. Presumably from overexerting herself trying to project a Force Ghost, Fuuko’s placed a great strain on her body. The pattern of setting up a fall right as things are proceeding smoothly is not unique to CLANNAD, although CLANNAD certainly has a way of evoking a powerful response from audiences. Quick to tears, Nagisa takes the news quite hard, and even the normally-stoic Tomoya begins tearing up.

  • Tomoya comes to the realisation that Fuuko’s efforts might have resulted as a desire to see her older sister happy, and so, while she’s not physically present, the strength of her feelings allows her to manifest as a physical presence. While hanging out with Youhei later, Youhei remarks that he cannot help but feel as though he’s forgetting something. Fuuko’s ability to maintain her presence seems tied with her health, and corresponding with abrupt decline, people begin losing their memories of her.

  • It would appear that the strength of Fuuko’s memories is directly tied to how close people were to her, and while the remainder of the student population is beginning to forget, the Furukawas, Tomoya and Youhei manage to retain their memories longer than most. Nagisa fears losing her memories of Fuuko, treasuring their time together, and Tomoya reassures that Nagisa that they won’t forget, encouraging her with optimism that they’ll be able to see things through because Kouko’s wedding is close. Relative to his interactions with the other female characters, Tomoya’s unconscious decisions to look after Nagisa suggests that he is drawn to looking after and supporting her, even though the two aren’t really close yet. Similarly, while Nagisa isn’t terribly fond of Tomoya’s way with words, she likes the fact that his actions are always considerate and his intents are kind.

  • Fading memories and the attendant increasing sense of loss are mirrored in darkening lighting conditions and pronounced shadows inside the school, but when Fuuko, Nagisa and Tomoya leave classes, they set off under a warm evening’s light. Oranges and yellows give the sense of a quiet end to a day where the three can share yet another memory together; the mood lightens when they decide to go buy something for Fuuko. They settle on a small birthday party kit, which Fuuko finds agreeable.

  • Watching CLANNAD again frame-by-frame reveals some minor inconsistencies in the animation, although on the whole, the animation quality in CLANNAD is of an incredibly high standard. Known for their top-tier animation, Kyoto Animation’s quality and consistency were among the strongest in the animation industry a decade ago, featuring detailed backgrounds and making use of animation that only became more commonplace recently. Some of Kyoto Animation’s recent titles, including Hibike! Euphonium and Koe no Katachi are so detailed that they rival Studio Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai’s films in terms of detail.

  • While the memory loss has been a nagging feeling for audiences since Youhei mentions it, the enormity of its impact is not really felt until Sanae collapses in tears and says that, try as she might, she can no longer remember Fuuko. Her anime incarnation greatly resembles Belldandy, and the melancholy here is compounded with the use of colours: red tinges appearing in the evening light indicate that the sun’s very nearly set, and is a fantastic visual metaphor for how Fuuko’s presence is disappearing.

  • Thus, after the sun sets, Nagisa and Tomoya are left wondering what options they have available to them; after deciding where the best place to go is, they settle on returning to school. The moment admittedly brings to mind Poe Dameron’s quote from The Force Awakens, where, during the assault on Starkiller Base’s Thermal Oscillator, he rallies his fellow pilots after they learn their attack run has no effect on the target:

“Remember, when the sun is gone that weapon will be ready to fire. But as long as there’s light, we got a chance.”

  • Star Wars isn’t known for having the best dialogue in the world, and I remember it best for things like The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise, that spinning is a good trick and the importance of having the high ground, but The Force Awakens and Rogue One have acceptable dialogue now, so I’m hoping that The Last Jedi will follow in this pattern. Back in CLANNAD, Fuuko wastes Tomoya after Tomoya’s prank on her backfires.

  • For me, this was the magic moment in CLANNAD, nine episodes in. There was something indescribable about the light cast by the candles that Tomoya and Nagisa light. They decide to have celebration commemorating Kouko and Yuusuke’s wedding, and here, Fuuko sees something that Kouko spotted: the distance between Nagisa and Tomoya has lessened somewhat, leading her to wonder why the two aren’t calling one another by their given names yet.

  • Five years after watching the scene where Nagisa, Fuuko and Tomoya spend time together in the drama room, I think that the magic comes from the symbolism that is present in this moment: if the light is representing the strength of everyone’s memories of Fuuko, then darkening skies visually indicate that people are beginning to forget. Against this, the act of lighting candles is then important for the fact that Tomoya and Nagisa are willfully trying their best to remember, even as the candles deplete; they spend Fuuko’s last moments close together.

  • The next morning, Nagisa and Tomoya have forgotten the events of the previous evening. The cold, grey ambiance in the classroom is a far cry from the inviting warmth candlelight cast in the room: the closing distance between Tomoya and Nagisa seems undone somewhat, as seen when the two address one another as they did prior to Fuuko’s suggestion.

  • When they recall Kouko’s wedding, Fuuko reappears before Nagisa and Tomoya’s very eyes. The cool morning skies give way to warmer hues that signify the return of something important, and encouraged by her return, Nagisa warmly hugs Fuuko.

  • On wedding day, only Tomoya and Nagisa show up for the proceedings, with the rest of the world seemingly having forgotten about the wedding. However, when the ceremony is over, and Yuusuke and Kouko are wedding as husband and wife, Kouko, Yuusuke, Nagisa and Tomoya are treated to a sight that can only be described as a miracle. The first sign that things have turned around is the arrival of Botan, who is accompanied by Kyou and Ryou.

  • Here’s a bit of random trivia about my blog and the way I romanise things: while I usually roll with macrons for long vowels in Japanese on my blog, such as “ō” in place of “ou” (おう) and “ū” for “uu” (うう) CLANNAD remains one of the exceptions owing to the way that it’s romanised. Quite simply, I’m used to spelling out things the long way: Kyō and Ryō look a little different than what I’m accustomed to, so in CLANNAD, I’ve chosen to pick one style and be consistent with it. Another bit of trivia is that I learned Japanese during my undergrad formally and so, have a bit more of a consistent approach in romanisations, whereas with Cantonese Chinese, I grew up with it, and so, struggle to convey things: I’ll likely stick with the jyutping system.

  • I’m thankful that I do not review Cantonese movies, otherwise, I’d get my ass kicked. For now, we return to CLANNAD, where an entire group of students have arrived to watch Kouko and Yuusuke get married. Sharing her sister’s happiness with the world has succeeded by dint of Fuuko’s determination and substantial assistance from both Tomoya and Nagisa: in CLANNAD‘s visual novel, this is supposed to unlock the globes of light that players can collect as karma points, as well as allowing Fuuko to randomly appear at inopportune moments to lighten the mood up.

  • In a fitting close to CLANNAD‘s first true arc, both sisters are able to see one another; Fuuko congratulates Kouko and disappears, but not before thanking Tomoya and Nagisa one final time. With her life force no longer spent on projecting a Force Ghost, Fuuko is able to focus on recovery, and Tomoya feels that she will reawaken later. I realise the rest of the world counts Fuuko an ikiryō (literally, a living ghost), but as I am not versed in Japanese lore or anything occult, I’ve chosen to fall back on what I do know. With this being said, Fuuko is not a true Force Ghost, being neither deceased or Force sensitive. With this CLANNAD post in the books, I will be returning in mid-January to write about Kotomi’s arc, and in December, my focus will continue to be directed towards Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter, my journey continuing journey through Tom Clancy’s The Division and my experiences with Battlefield 1‘s “Turning Tides” DLC.

With its combination of humour and poignancy, the introduction of the supernatural as being a very real part of their universe and a remarkably enjoyable soundtrack, CLANNAD‘s first arc draws to a close. While it might only be the first act, CLANNAD wastes no time in delivering a highly poignant narrative whose resolution comes about not because of deus ex machina, but because of Tomoya and Nagisa’s joint efforts in seeing Fuuko’s wishes through to the end. As much as Tomoya would rather not deal with Fuuko, Nagisa’s gentle insistence and his own desire to help overcome his general annoyance with Fuuko: the arc shows the true nature of Tomoya’s character and consequently, will continue to reinforce the notion that while there are miracles within CLANNAD, these miracles only occur because Tomoya takes the initiative to make things better and finish what he’s committed to. This aspect of his character is intended to bode well for Nagisa and her wishes to restart the drama club: Tomoya isn’t the sort of individual to give up, and is very resilient, making him the perfect partner in helping the gentler but also more hesitant Nagisa reach her dreams.

The First Steps: Revisiting CLANNAD After Three At The Ten Year Anniversary

“Everyday people keep hurting each other, it’s no wonder why you doubt what other people in the world tell you.” —Yuusuke Yoshino

After hearing about Nagisa’s dream of resurrecting the Drama Club, Tomoya helps her create and place posters promoting the club around campus. He later encounters the enigmatic Kotomi Ichinose in the library and confiscates a knife from Fuuko Ibuki upon seeing her with an injury. When Nagisa learns that Tomoya was once a basketball player, she invites him to a game, but Tomoya skips on account of the rain. Feeling that Nagisa might’ve shown up anyways, he finds her alone at the court and reveals to her that he injured his shoulder long ago in a fight with his father. She subsequently faints, and Tomoya visits her the next day, learning that Nagisa had always been frail, falling in and missing a year of high school as a result. On the way back home, he helps defuse a situation between Yuusuke Yoshino, an electrician, and another fellow accusing Yuusuke of damaging his car. Back at school, Tomoya and Nagisa meet Yukine Miyazawa in the reference room, and when classes end for the day, Tomoya helps Nagisa practise answering questions to prepare her for becoming the Drama Club’s new president. CLANNAD appears quite ordinary after three episodes, although underlying the sense of normalcy are the hints that Tomoya’s world is a lot more challenging than what audiences initially see. Even after a mere three episodes, Tomomya’s troubled relationship with his father are presented, and similarly, the goal of reviving the Drama Club is not as straightforwards as acquiring new members. CLANNAD thus sets the stage for what Tomoya must overcome, and by contrasting this with gentler, light-hearted moments, audiences empathise with Tomoya; as his interactions with the other characters continue, we begin rooting for him more strongly.

CLANNAD‘s arcs follow a very well-defined pattern; the introduction of a particular story is initially characterised by the liberal application of humour and exposition. As Tomoya learns more about the individual he’s helping, more of their story is exposed, revealing more depth to things. This approach allows for a very natural progression for the narrative; audiences grow accustomed to laughing with the characters and enjoying their experiences. This humanises them and creates a sense of connection to the characters, so when the mood takes a turn for the serious, audiences grow concerned with what awaits the characters, compelling them to continue following the story. It’s surprisingly simple but effective: the first few episodes demonstrate hints of the darker underpinnings in Tomoya’s life, and also begin suggesting that Nagisa faces her own challenges. The masterful use of foreshadowing in CLANNAD means that events that subsequently happen do not come out of left field and surprise audiences, resulting in a sense of closure when all of the pieces come together at a particular section’s end. Already successfully applied in Kanon, CLANNAD continues on with this approach, which is similarly used to great effect in Angel Beats! to create highly moving anime that I greatly enjoyed watching.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • CLANNAD deals with human emotions as acutely as though one were experiencing them, but when the situation calls for comedy, CLANNAD similarly delivers. Here, Tomoya deals with the aftermath of a near-miss where Kyou very nearly earns a roadkill medal on Tomoya with her scooter. Curiosity lead me to wonder what exactly the difference between a scooter and a moped is, and it turns out that scooters have a platform for resting one’s feet on, as well as a slightly more powerful engine.

  • It’s evidently spring when the events of CLANNAD kicks off, as evidenced by the presence of cherry blossoms on the trees in the background. Apparently, Youhei’s hair is bleached blonde rather than naturally being blonde, and while he was admitted to this particular high school to participate in its athletic program, he was kicked off for fighting members who would harass younger athletes.

  • While Youhei always ends up on the receiving end of an ultra-beatdown from Tomoyo, she actually does not wish to do anything to him, and usually expresses disappointment that things come to this stage. CLANNAD is the first anime where I began paying greater attention to the eyebrows of various characters, since it helped me gain a better sense of how a particular character was feeling.

  • Tomoya meets Kotomi in the library and initially does not gain much from their initial conversation. While seemingly trivial, Kotomi will play a much bigger role later in CLANNAD. The library of Tomoya’s high school is uncommonly quiet compared to my recollections of high school; even during classes, there were students with spare periods who would study here. While it is during classes, I imagine that differences in how Japanese classes are structured could account for this difference.

  • When Tomoya shares a conversation with Ryou about how Kyou very nearly splattered him with her scooter earlier that morning, Kyou appears out of nowhere and attempts to shut things down, since biking to their high school is prohibited. Later, Tomoya decides to turn this into a bit of a joke, after being cut off when he mentions the word “bike”. He loudly announces that Kyou is “bi”, much to her consternation.

  • I originally picked up CLANNAD after I had finished Lucky StarK-On!The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi the summer before; the works from Kyoto Animation that’d I’d seen up to that point quite enjoyable and I was wondering what some of their other shows were like. Hence, I decided to give CLANNADKanon and Air a watch. When I started CLANNAD, I was beginning a summer course and MCAT preparation.

  • On clear spring days that gradually gave way to the summer, I studied for the MCAT, and in my down time, I watched CLANNAD, falling in love with the story and its characters. The lengthy story meant that the anime remained with me as I moved through MCAT preparations and began gearing up for the exam itself. Back in CLANNAD, Tomoya’s first act is helping Nagisa come up with ideas for raising awareness for the drama club, and this begins with creating posters under a gentle spring sky.

  • CLANNAD‘s visual novel released in 2004, and the anime came out three years later. During this time frame, dual-core computers and flat screen televisions were becoming more commonplace, but the smartphone was still in its infancy, and tablets were still three years from becoming popular. The lack of consumer electronics in CLANNAD that are ubiquitous in contemporary society gives the visual novel and anime adaptation a timeless sense.

  • Nagisa learns that Tomoya was once a promising basketball player, and hoping to learn a little more about him, invites him to a basketball game. Like Youhei, Tomoya was once an athlete whose struggles led him to leave school teams. The concept of a delinquent student is common in anime, referring to students who tend to come and go as they please and are not beholden to the same rules as other students.

  • While delinquent type characters stand out in anime, they’re much less noticeable in reality. At this point in time, Tomoya does not have a substantial emotional investment towards Nagisa yet, and as such, when the day of the game comes, he skips when seeing the rainy weather, only coming out to check up on Nagisa after recalling their promise. Tomoya reveals a shoulder injury stemming from a fight with his father some time ago, and Nagisa faints in the rain.

  • Nagisa is taken home and will recover after some rest. In the meantime, Akio accidentally insults Sanae’s bread, causing her to run from the shop, forcing Akio to jam a copious quantity of the bread up his mouth, declare it to be delicious and run off after her. This particular act is repeated on several occasions, under different contexts and with different breads, being hilarious in a unique way every time.

  • Tomoya runs into art instructor Kouko Ibuki who once taught Nagisa and is a frequent patron of the Furukawa Bakery. Nagisa greatly admires her, and occasionally acts as a source of guidance for Nagisa and Tomoya.

  • A former musician, Yuusuke Yoshino is an electrician who is fond of dramatic poses and quotes, a callback to his earlier days. He gets into an argument with another fellow who finds a large dent on the hood of his vehicle, and is accused of dropping his equipment on the hood to cause said dent. Tomoya difuses the situation and works out that a cat was responsible. His guess is corroborated by a particularly husky feline who casually saunters by.

  • CLANNAD‘s anime adaptation is able to really bring all of the characters to life, capitalising on the animated medium to portray moments in the visual novel in a fluid manner. However, at the time, technological constraints meant that most audiences likely would not have been able to really appreciate the visual fidelity within the anime.  High definition video was still very much a new technology back in 2007, and the average internet download speed was around 600-800 kb/s. As such, for period reviews of CLANNAD, most screenshots their reviews featured would have been 480p.

  • In 2017, ten years after CLANNAD aired, internet speeds are on average around ten times faster, allowing me to provide 1080p screenshots. When he encounters Fuuko, who is seeking a small carving knife Tomoya took from her earlier to prevent her from continuing to injure herself, he asks her to prove that she’s recovered sufficiently to retrieve the knife. Tomoya treats Fuuko as a small child rather than a fellow high school student; both playful and concerned with her, it shows a side of Tomoya that’s quite unlike his usual quiet demeanour or his more spirited pranks against Youhei.

  • After class one day, Youhei finds a baby boar hanging around campus and proceeds to tease it until his owner appears to defend it. It turns out that Kyou has a baby boar she calls Botan, and she proceeds to kick Youhei’s ass. Botan is not fond of Youhei but takes a liking to Tomoya. Named for the peony flower, Botan has nothing to do with the C++ cryptographic library that is alternatively known as OpenCL.

  • The reference room is a quiet corner of campus that Tomoya and Nagisa frequent, after Tomoya visits to find a resource for helping Nagisa deliver better speeches to motivate the Drama Club’s revival. They run into caretaker Yukine Miyazawa, a friendly second year who is willing to help those she encounters, assisting seekers in finding the information they require. Yukine’s role has long been displaced by powerful search algorithms, and these days, online search engines are capable of giving seekers access to nearly limitless information.

  • In the time since I’ve heard it, “Dango Daikazoku” has become one of my favourite ending songs of all time, reflecting on the gentle and innocent personality that defines Nagisa. The lyrics themselves to the song are befitting of an inviting children’s song, but belie the song’s theme of family, painting vivid imagery of the strength of what family is about and acting as a motif for Nagisa, whose optimistic outlook on family drives change in Tomoya.

  • Tomoya gets to work helping Nagisa improve her speeches, the first step towards restoring the Drama Club. This post is similarly named because the first three episodes of CLANNAD are really about first steps, in establishing the CLANNAD world, the characters and the events that unfold as Tomoya’s story progresses.

  • It’s actually a bit of a curiosity that CLANNAD‘s third episode aired on the same date as this blog’s anniversary, and I will be dropping by later to briefly respect on what six years of blogging has been like. I assure readers that this is a mere coincidence, and that when I started this blog six years ago, I had not watched CLANNAD. Once these formalities are completed, I will be taking a look at the film In This Corner of The World, which I’ve been looking forwards to watching since hearing about it last August, as well as doing the after-three posts for both of Girls’ Last Tour and Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter!, anime that I’m actively following for this season.

With the introductory material in the books, we now move on towards the main stories of CLANNAD. During my revisitations for the ten-year anniversary of the anime, I’ve chosen to break down the anime into separate arcs: reviewing each individual episode will be a gargantuan task that simply won’t be practical. Instead, I’ve opted to write about CLANNAD in four different talks. The first of these will be Fuuko’s arc, followed by Kotomi, then Kyou and Ryou, and finally, Nagisa herself. Each arc has a unique contribution to CLANNAD, being a self-contained story whose consequences nonetheless have an impact on future events. Some of these elements return as hilarious bits of comedy that lightens the mood of a serious moment, while others foreshadow critical aspects of the narrative, setting the stage for each of the upcoming arcs.

On The Hillside Path Where The Cherry Blossoms Flutter: Beginning The Journey in CLANNAD at the Ten Year Anniversary

“You think you’re living in color, until completely by chance you meet someone who changes your world, and suddenly everything is so alive, and everything inside you is awakened.” —Ab imo pectore

While CLANNAD officially had its ten year anniversary back in April 2014, a time I better recall for other matters, today marks the ten year milestone to when the anime adaptation of the visual novel began airing. The first episode follows Tomoya Okazaki, a delinquent who whiles away his days, skipping classes with Youhei Sunohara and resenting the relationship he has with his father. While wondering if his life could possibly change on the way to school one day, he runs into a girl speaking with herself. Speaking with her in greater detail during lunch, Tomoya learns that she’s Nagisa Furukawa, and her dream is to resurrect the high school’s drama club. She’s a year older than he is, and that an illness has kept her from attending the previous year. Later, he is invited over to dinner at the Furukawas, meeting Sanae and Akio. CLANNAD‘s ordinary-seeming start belies an anime so moving, the medium has not seen anything quite matching its calibre: the first episode eases viewers into the intricate world that is CLANNAD, introducing some of the major characters and helping audiences connect with them by means of humour. The establishment of characters, presentation of each of their stories and Tomoya’s kindheartedness creates a tangible emotional impact, and the sum of the elements in CLANNAD means that even now, very few anime can come close to moving its viewers quite to the same extent as CLANNAD.

CLANNAD‘s opening moments serve to establish the story’s direction, firmly setting down the foundation for the beginnings of Tomoya’s journey. The use of colour and lighting immediately informs viewers that for the longest time, Tomoya views the world in a dull monochrome; despite slacking off with Kouhei and cutting classes ostensibly for fun, Tomoya is not satisfied with his world, where existence itself is a monotony lacking any value. When ascending a familiar walk to school, he runs into Nagisa. As he talks to her and offers encouragement despite not fully understanding who she is, the world flashes into the warm colours of a spring morning. The vegetation becomes verdant and full of life, while the cherry blossoms lightly flutter about in a gentle shade of pink. This transition can only be described as a fateful meeting, the sort that I’ve longed to experience and have felt precisely once; falling in love is powerful enough to give the world a newfound dimensionality, and while Tomoya here finds Nagisa little more than a curious individual, it marks the beginning of an incredible journey of effort, love, sorrow and togetherness for Tomoya. Quite simply, if there was a way to describe what falling in love might feel like, then through CLANNAD‘s first moments, Kyoto Animation has wholly captured it, and with it, my very own journey in CLANNAD was initiated.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I might be minus one now after the events many years ago, but I’m still here and still doing what I do best. A part of strength is being able to look back on the more painful things and learn from them, rather than being consumed by them: reviewing CLANNAD is going to bring up some old memories for me, speaking to the strength of the narrative in both the visual novel and the game. For this post, I’ll stick to the manageable number of twenty screenshots, which is the norm for single-episode reviews.

  • The page quote comes from a former colleague and friend, describing falling in love as seeing the world properly for the first time. The metaphor certainly applies in CLANNAD; Tomoya’s world is flipped inside out and he begins appreciating it from a new perspective after meeting Nagisa, but unlike most narratives, CLANAND takes the time to develop the relationship between Nagisa and Tomoya. They begin with Tomoya interested in helping her out to stave off boredom, and the two eventually become friends before releasing the extent of their feelings for one another, finally becoming a couple.

  • The opening of CLANNAD is surprisingly similar to the first episode of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I admit that I was not a fan of the series until I heard about The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, and subsequently, I’m glad I took the time to watch it (even Endless Eight). Both Haruhi and CLANNAD open with a monochrome colour scheme that transitions to colour once their series’ respective protagonist meets the girl who changes their lives forever. The signs in Haruhi are rather more subtle, but strictly speaking, Kyon and Haruhi are very well-suited for one another: he’s practical and grounded, while she’s a creative visionary. Together, he is able to reign in her plans and make them a reality, while she forces him out of his comfort zone to experience more. Tomoya and Nagisa have a different, but equally rewarding dynamic.

  • Looking back, my experiences will likely tell me that this is the world’s finest example of confirmation bias: I began watching CLANNAD roughly at the same time my heart was being swayed, and it is more than likely CLANNAD acted as a catalyst of sorts for this. That’s enough reminiscing; it’s time to return to what’s happening in CLANNAD itself, and here is an after school scene as Tomoya makes to hang out with Youhei. The artwork and animation in CLANNAD far surpasses anything of its time, and Kyoto Animation’s craft generally is comparable to Makoto Shinkai, Studio Ghibli and P.A. Works’ best.

  • The comedic aspects of CLANNAD means that the anime is immediately accessible for folks who were unfamiliar with the visual novel, and back in 2007, Steam would not have had it for sale, as it released in 2015. I picked up CLANNAD during a discount a ways back, but I’ve yet to actually open it and play it. I’ve heard it’s got fantastic replay value comparable to Skyrim and GTA V, but with the slew of awesome titles upcoming (Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus comes to mind), I don’t think there’s enough hours in the day to get everything in.

  • Although their interactions might suggest otherwise, Youhei Sunohara and Tomoya are best friends. Tomoya is particularly adept at deceiving Youhei or otherwise landing him in hot water for his own amusement, but when the moment calls for it, both Tomoya and Kouhei genuinely do care for one another. Here, Tomoya trolls members of the rugby team: of all the characters, Youhei defies biological and physical constraints with the greatest frequency. He is tossed around like a ragdoll but can take as much damage as the Doom Slayer.

  • After Ryou Fujibayashi attempts to read Tomoya’s fortune and succumbs to nerves, her more assertive twin sister, Kyou, appears. Both have feelings for Tomoya, but in the visual novel, players only have the option of playing Kyou’s route (and Tomoya ends up with Ryou if sub-optimal decisions are made). Some have considered Kyou to be a suitable match for Tomoya – supplementary materials and the progression of her route in the game tend to support this. Here’s a surprise for me: Kyou is voiced by Ryō Hirhashi, of Tamayura‘s Komachi Shinoda and Aria‘s very own Alice Caroll.

  • Voiced by Mai Nakahara of Higurashi: When They Cry‘s Rena Ryugu fame, Nagisa quickly became my favourite character on CLANNAD. Sweet, sensitive and gentle, her disposition happens to be what I would fancy about a person. In conjunction with commitment and trust, these attributes happen to be the very things that I value in a relationship.

  • This screenshot illustrates the transformations that have yet to occur: at this point in CLANNAD, Tomoya and Nagisa are quite unfamiliar with one another and refer to one another by their surnames, considering one another as little more than fellow students. One of my favourite moments in my undergraduate career was working on a project for Japanese class, only for one of my colleagues from health sciences to ask if I were in a relationship, as they’d seen us practising for a skit. At this point, I regarded the comment as little more than a light-hearted joke. Another colleague made a similar remark a year later, and leading me to wonder what would happen if I Reached into Infinity and see where things would take me.

  • Resolute, determined and forward, Tomoyo Sakagami has a well-known streak of violence and is shown to be capable of fighting as effectively as Donnie Yen. Despite this, her main goal is to become the student council president with the goal of saving the sakura trees that she longs to see with her family with the hopes of mending past ills. Early in CLANNAD, she’s present primarily to lay the ultra-beatdowns on Youhei for comedic effect. As impressive as her martial arts are, what is more impressive is Youhei’s resilience.

  • Nagisa’s wish to resurrect the drama club stems from a longstanding desire to act; long denied the opportunity as a result of her illness, Nagisa wishes to do something in her final year as a high school student. I’ve never been a particularly good actor, being very stoic in most situations that may elicit responses from those around me, but on the flipside, I’m okay with presentations and speaking to an extent, lending my unusual sense of humour to draw in audiences before proceeding with my main content.

  • Reaching into Infinity ended up causing a bit of hurt, but also imparted on me life experiences I’ll carry with me and value forever owing to their instructive value. With that being said, I do miss the warmth of a smile and words encouragement prior to undertaking something difficult: throughout CLANNAD, Nagisa and Tomoya constantly support one another even as they find themselves entangled within their own challenges, and for Tomoya, he always manages to make time to help Nagisa out with the drama club even as other characters require his attention.

  • Tomoya is voiced by Yūichi Nakamura (Gundam 00‘s Graham Aker), and the surname Okazaki brings to mind Okazaki fragments, which are formed on the lagging strand of DNA during replication. They were discovered in the 1960s in experiments on E. coli by Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki along with their colleagues: in eukaryotes, the fragments are a few hundred base pairs in length, and later, DNA Ligase seals off the strand. My memories of biochemistry are strong: I finished my introductory biochemistry course shortly before beginning CLANNAD mere months before.

  • After running into Tomoya on the way home, Nagisa asks if he’s interested in having dinner with her family. Within nothing else to do in the evenings besides return home, Tomoya accepts. Shortly after I finished CLANNAD and its sequel, I wrote a combined review for the anime, delving into the thematic elements and covering briefly what aspects of the anime I felt to have made it worthwhile. During this time, I still primarily wrote to my website, with this blog being more of a support resource; it was not until later that I made the transition, accounting for why I have not covered CLANNAD to any extent here until now.

  • A long-running joke in CLANNAD is the fact that any criticisms (real or perceived) of Sanae Furukawa’s bread will immediately lead her to run off in tears, forcing Akio to run off after her and declare that said bread is in fact delicious, even if it is composed of uncommon or unusual ingredients. While done frequently enough to elicit the occasional laugh, this particular action is shown to serve another purpose later on.

  • Akio is very protective of his wife and daughter, to the point of threatening Tomoya physical harm with a baseball bat. However, all of this is done for comedy, and under his hot-blooded exterior, Akio is deeply caring about his family and those around him. During my original run of CLANNAD, I heard assertions that Akio was voiced by the same person who played G Gundam‘s Domon Kash, but that’s not true. One can hardly blame people for this assumption, as their personalities and spirits share commonalities.

  • The lighting inside the Furukawa residence is bright and inviting, standing against the dark, unkempt interior of the Okazaki residence. The contrast and normalcy in the Furukawa compels Tomoya to continue visiting even in light of Akio’s manner later in CLANNAD. Here, notice the Furukawa’s CRT television – such screens were widespread until the early 2000s, when LED screens began displacing them. One of the joys about the bulky CRT computer screens of old is demonstrated in the mockumentary Pure Pwnage.

  • Tonight is the Mid-Autumn Festival; as per Chinese custom, we celebrated with a fantastic dinner of chicken, roasted pork with crispy skin, shrimps and dong gu mushrooms. The weather’s been remarkably pleasant today, a far cry from Monday, when a snowfall and 90km/h winds hammered the area: it’s a full moon, and while it’s the perfect time to have a bit of mooncake, dinner proved to be superb, leaving no room for desert. Mooncake will therefore be partaken in the upcoming days leading up to Thanksgiving. While multi-yolk mooncakes are an indicator of better luck, I prefer my mooncake without the yolk.

  • This post ended up being a lot more introspective and personal than usual, which is saying something. In upcoming CLANNAD posts, I will aim to stay on mission and explore what each arc contributes to the story overall. It is a journey that will lead us into March 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to write about CLANNAD ~After Story~ in this manner, but this is something that will be addressed when the time comes.

  • Tomoya later sees Nagisa performing under a street lamp. In CLANNAD, the Illusionary World is presented with a non-trivial frequency; its significance in CLANNAD is that it forms the basis for Nagisa’s play, and in CLANNAD ~After Story~, it takes on a much greater significance. This brings the opening post of my CLANNAD revisitation to a close, and the fall anime season has finally begun. There are three shows on my radar right now: Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero ChapterWake Up! Girls Shin Shou and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou. I am certain to write about Hero Chapter, and with the breathing room available from the blogging front, I have two special topics posts I will be looking to work on before this month is out.

CLANNAD would go on to impact my world view, particularly in matters of the heart and also led me the furtherest I’d been in a relationship. Of course, the real world is simultaneously more kind and more cruel than CLANNAD – my journey in matters of the heart closed a year later, during the visual novel’s ten year anniversary. However, CLANNAD itself remains perhaps the best anime series I’ve seen, and I’ve long felt that it’s time I went back through CLANNAD to explore what precisely made the anime the emotional powerhouse that it is. To this end, I’m going to be writing about CLANNAD in a retrospective format, similar to what I’ve done for Sora no Woto. However, because CLANNAD is a gargantuan series, spanning forty-nine episodes (forty-four of which constitute the actual story) over two season, I will not be revisiting CLANNAD on an episodic basis. Instead, I will explore each arc of CLANNAD. In this format, CLANNAD will have four posts excluding this one, one each for Fuko, Kotomi, Kyou and Ryou, and finally, Nagisa herself. I’ve not seen CLANNAD since I wrote the MCAT in 2012 – armed with five years more of life experience since then, I admit that I’m curious to see how my thoughts on this excellent anime have endured and shifted with the passage of time.