Clannad Review

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After putting quite a library of watched anime under one’s belt, there are a few that really stick with you. Shows that when you’re asked “what’s the best?” it immediately comes to mind. Clannad is one of those shows. A show that when I fire it up, it instantly hooks me, no matter how many times I watch it.

Story:
clannad1Clannad follows the everyday life of a man named Tomoya. Some time before, his mother passed away in a car accident and his father became a gambling drunk. They even had a fight once that left Tomoya with an injured shoulder, shattering his ambitions of being a basketball player that he enjoyed so much. This all left Tomoya with a very saddened life.

One day, while walking to school, he stumbles upon a girl named Nagisa. A girl fighting the fears of returning to a school after being absent due to illness. It so happens, that through helping Nagisa, Tomoya slowly opens up to a more interesting and brighter future.

The story of Clannad comes from a visual novel with multiple branching stories. However unlike most adaptations, it never feels like that. Yes, Tomoya will meet many girls and explore many arking storylines. However they always feel natural and well fleshed out. Key is brilliant at storytelling and it shows here.

The animated adaption of the Clannad story features a TV series, an afterstory, two additional short afterstories, and a movie. For the best experience, watch the Clannad TV series, then the standard Clannad Afterstory series. They are the best telling of the story. Afterwards, the two short Afterstory segments feature alternate realities where Tomoya falls for other girls instead which are still decent. The movie on the otherhand can be skipped and tells the TV series in a terrible way.

Characters:
clannad2The real draw in the Clannad series is definitely the characters. Each with great build, personality, and reasons to love them. They are what make Clannad what it is.

Tomoya: This had to be one of the best main characters in this type of show. Most of the time, drama/slice of life/love/comedy type shows have a very plain, boring main character. The focus is generally on the female characters. Tomoya breaks this pattern. He starts out dull, but over time becomes a hilarious, sarcastic, and very dynamic character.

Nagisa: A weak and shy girl. She’s frequently dits about some things, but this personality brings out a very cute atmosphere. Her story is that of overcoming, beating the odds, finding love, and perhaps tragedy as well. A truly enduring character.

Ryou and Kyou: Two sisters with opposite personalities. Kyou is the loud, violent, tsudere type. While Ryou is the soft-spoken, gentle type. In the story, Ryou has a crush on Tomoya. Her sister Kyou attempts to get them hooked up by getting them to eat together for lunch and nudging him towards Ryou. All the while, Kyou slowly starts to like him, but forces herself to deny it for her sister’s sake.

Kotomi: The book-worm! Kotomi was a slightly odd character. Held up in the school library, this super genius seemed everything but genius as her personality gave off a ‘lost’ nature. I guess it’s more left to a ‘sheltered’ attitude. However she was still cute and enjoyable all with a tragic story to tell.

clannad3Youhei: Tomoya’s best friend. Most the time he’s the comic relief of the show, but never short of a serious mind when he wants to. He’s the partner in arms for Tomoya when he’s in a hard fight. I really enjoyed him as a supporting character complete with redeeming qualities himself.

Fuko: Starfish! This silly girl lead to some laugh out loud moments. Speaking of herself in third person and acting ever so gullible, she left herself wide open for Tomoya’s sarcastic antics. While her story is tragic and sad, it didn’t end up bringing her character down and create some smile filled tears.

Tomoyo: Last but not least, this had to be my favorite female character in the series. She was calm and collective with a side of her led by the urge of justice. If she seen wrongdoings she took action with a skillful kick. Which often led her into trouble with local gangs. Her past becomes revealed in this, and ends up getting help from an unsuspected source.

Others: For sake of keeping this review from going 5 pages long, I got to draw the line there. This show is jam-packed full of characters. All having their own personalities and great moments. Nagisa’s mom is a sweetheart, her dad is a nut. Tomoya’s dad and their tragic past. Yoshino had about the most laugh out loud moments in the series with his cool but cheesy moments. We have to stop somewhere.

Animation:
I loved the animation in this series. While some may be turned off by the over-sized eyes, it doesn’t bother me. The soft tone characters and edges are great. Everything just comes to life with the perfect choice of vibrant colors. The atmospheres are also breath-taking at times with incredible detail and life that can’t be understated. Key does it well, no doubt about it.

clannad4Music:
Loved the scores in this series. Both beautiful and strong. The opening sequence is powerful piece. However what makes the music stand out in this series the most is the perfect timing it has. Some of the most emotional moments in the series is enhanced by beautiful scores that just leap out to grab your tears and yank them out. It’s perfectly done.

Conclusion:
Clannad is just simply put a masterpiece. Every part of it be it characters, story, development, music, visuals, are all perfectly put together. I’ve never had so much fun and laughs combined with so many tear jerking moments than with Clannad. It never fails that every time I turn it on, I can’t turn away. Making it my #1 anime of all time and a must watch.

VERDICT: 5 / 5

Pros:

  • Beautiful art design
  • Amazing story
  • Great cast
  • Emotion plot lines
  • Excellent music and queues

Cons:

  • Sound levels low in English dub
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.