Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anime Review: Clannad: After Story

CLANNAD: AFTER STORY: One of the legitimate reasons why you should never overlook Slice of Life anime titles

It isn’t very surprising that the most popular anime titles involve fantastic worlds, mystical powers, and supernatural elements. After all, they are the titles that tickle the viewers’ imagination the most. I have no problem with that. The real problem is when these titles gain so much attention that, sometimes, the other titles that don’t utilize such fantastic themes are overlooked.

I must say that those who ignore Slice of Life titles are missing big time, for some of the titles under this genre are really amazing and should not be overlooked just because they lack supernatural concepts. And one of these amazing titles is Clannad: After Story.

Clannad: After Story is the second part of a series called Clannad, a Slice of Life anime. In truth, Clannad, as a franchise, is not in the Slice of Life category, for it has little touches of mystical concepts. But I still consider it as such because it still features the ordinary lives of high school students. It doesn’t introduce the viewers to different worlds with different rules. Also, Romance is just too vague a category for me, so I feel the need to put Clannad to another genre that could describe it better.

A series you shouldn't overlook

The series, in terms of story, continues to portray the lives of Tomoya Okazaki and his friends. The first half of the series focuses still on the characters’ high school life -- much like Clannad. However, what makes it interesting is how the storylines are not pulled out of nowhere. They are well established in the previous series, making them feel very natural as plot points. Aside from that, the character development in this first half is also worth praising; this is the point where the characters begin to mature drastically. This is good preparation for the second chunk of the story.

What really makes Clannad: After Story an amazing series in terms of story is the second half, which portrays the life of Tomoya Okazaki after graduating high school. What makes this claim even more justifiable is the story’s ability to portray mature concepts about life in general and not just about life as high school students -- and this is one of the reasons why I consider this series as a Slice of Life anime, and not just of Romance.

Speaking of romance, the story also develops his relationship with Nagisa Furikawa so tremendously that, I must admit, it has become the first anime romance I’ve seen that has ended in marriage and family life. Some romance titles just end when the characters finally confess their love for each other, or when they finally have their first kiss, or something similar to that effect.

This is what makes Clannad: After Story unique as a romance title -- it actually shows us more than what others offered. And it is fairly obvious that an anime title that talks about both of romantic and familial love is full of heart-wrenching moments -- and those are exactly what this series is offering.

The story is not perfect however. The problem I have with it is the fact that it starts to neglect some characters at a certain point. This is actually understandable, for it is a necessary adjustment to put focus on the main storyline -- the relationship of Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furikawa. It only becomes problematic when these neglected characters, which viewers have already been attached to, have not been given proper closure. The series just ended without the viewers knowing what really happened to them. Sure, the viewers get to see a glimpse of them in the final moments, but these scenes are too abrupt and not established well to be considered a proper closure.

Gone with the wind

However, I consider this flaw to be minimal, and it doesn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the series. I understand that it is an anime title that only has a few episodes in its disposal to tell the story it wants to tell, so some parts tend to be left out just because of the lack of the number of episodes.

Overall, Clannad: After Story is, for me, one of the most heartbreaking anime titles out there. It makes the viewers so attached to the characters that it comes to the point that it becomes depressing when they see them get hurt. This is the real magic behind this series; it offers many subtle emotions, while telling us a wonderful story of a Slice of Life. I just hope that, Clannad: After Story, or, should I say, Slice of Life in general, will get the attention it obviously deserves.

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  1. *Spoilers*
    In general, the realistic drama genre, especially ones that try to induce emotion, almost never work for me, live action or anime, which is what makes After Story truly special since it worked oh so well. Normally, I am a brick when it comes to heartbreaking moments, but man, After Story really hit hard. I just finished the entire series, plus OVAs, earlier today, and it was one of the best anime experiences I have had, although I would not say it is my personal favorite series. Nagisa’s death might be the saddest death in anime, although there are a lot of others that were very well done. The ending was strange at first, but I rather liked it.
    While I have not really seen any romance series, I have to say that Clannad has the best romance I have seen in any anime or almost anything really. It felt as though it was realistic in how the characters interacted. I, too, liked how the romance actually progressed into their marriage; it was rather refreshing and not just for an anime.
    The worst part about the series is that there is a large void left in its place if you know what I mean. I have no idea what to watch next.
    I agree with just about everything in your review, excellent work!


    1. My favorite part is everything about Ushio. Seriously, especially that scene in the sunset, where she cried in Tomoya's arms. That's one of the most memorable moments for me in all of anime. So heartbreaking! I agree with you that it could trigger a really great experience, but Clannad and After Story don't stick to me that much. I don't consider it one of my favorites, but it is worth the watch.

      Other similar titles you can watch are Air and Kanon 2006. I haven't seen Kanon though, and not any time soon haha, because this genre is not really something I get excited about.

    2. I cannot really say what favorite part was, but that with Ushio is certainly among the best of the series. The animation and everything was just beautiful. What I said in the comment made it as though I liked it more than I did. It was a well crafted anime, but it is not up there with Steins Gate or something like that.

      I have heard about Air and Kanon 2006, although I don't want anymore of this type of anime, since it is not the type of genre that I enjoy. I will probably watch those shows at some point. Are there any fun that you that you like? Not necessarily deep and amazing like Madoka, but something that is just fun and short.


    3. I think people just watch it because it has been recommended by a lot of people in the internet. If this title hasn't been recurring in the forums I'm visiting, I wouldn't even give this a try. I'm not saying that it's not good or anything. It is. I'm just saying that it's not my cup of tea. I prefer more of Seinen and Shounen.