Clannad: Complete first season
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Tortured by his past and pained by an uncertain future, Tomoya drifts through life with an almost overwhelming anger and emptiness. But when he meets the mysterious, charming and shy Nagisa, his world seems to change. Drawn in by her gentle but lonely spirit, he begins to experience the joy life can bring. But as he discovers the reason for his newfound friend's loneliness, Tomoya also finds that life can be frighteningly fragile. Poignant. Compelling. Heartbreaking. Clannad is one of the most cherished anime of all time. And now it's available for the first time in beautiful, high-definition clarity.
The romantic comedy Clannad began as an online visual novel developed by Key in 2004 that was adapted to manga, CDs, a feature film, and this 2007 television series. Bitterly disillusioned high school senior Tomoya Okazaki was recruited by Hikarisaka High as a potential basketball star, but he injured his shoulder in a fight with his alcoholic father and can no longer play. As a self-described delinquent and slacker, he shows up late, plays hooky with his friend Sunohara, and sleeps in class--unthinkable misconduct in the formal Japanese school system. But he's really a very nice guy, as he reveals when he strikes up a conversation with Nagisa Furukawa, a diffident girl who's repeating her senior year after a serious illness. As Okazaki helps Nagisa realize her dream of reviving the school drama club, he gets involved with an assortment of odd characters: reclusive, brilliant Kotome turns out to be a friend from when he was a little boy; athletic Tomoyo is trying to live down her reputation as a brawler who beat up bullies at her old school; Fuko may be the spirit of a comatose girl who was injured in a traffic accident. The tone of Clannad shifts unexpectedly from shojo romance to harem comedy to magical girl adventure as the filmmakers throw in offbeat elements that move the story in unexpected directions. Fuko seems to fade out of the main characters' lives in a bittersweet farewell, only to recur as an enthusiastic, if ineffectual, magical heroine. Okazaki gets serious indigestion when Nagisa, Kotome, and several other girls make him bento boxes, but the other girls quietly give up when they realize Nagisa is the right girl for him. Clannad may be a difficult series to characterize, but it's easy to enjoy and will appeal to fans of Azumanga Daioh. It spawned a sequel, Clannad: After Story, and an odd, brief OVA in which Okazaki and Tomoyo end up together. (Rated TV PG: cartoon violence, minor risqué humor, tobacco and alcohol use) --Charles Solomon
(1. On the Hillside Path Where the Cherry Blossoms Flutter, 2. The First Step, 3. Once Again After Crying, 4. Let's Find Friends, 5. The Scenery with a Carving, 6. The Older and Younger Sister's Founder's Festival, 7. Star-Shaped Feelings, 8. The Wind That Vanishes into the Twilight, 9. Until the End of the Dream, 10. The Girl Genius' Challenge, 11. The After School Rhapsody, 12. Hidden World, 13. Garden of Memories, 14. Theory of Everything, 15. Stuck Problem, 16. 3 on 3, 17. A Room Without Anyone, 18. Counter Measures, 19. A New Life, 20. A Hidden Past, 21. Face Toward the School Festival, 22. Two Shadows, 23. The Events of Summer Holidays, 24. (OVA) Another World: Tomoyo Chapter)
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In short, get this Anime. You may enjoy the story as much as I do!
As the show progressed I realized that it wasn't simply a teenage drama, it delved into some really emotional themes, especially in the second season (After Story). Clannad pulls at your heart at every chance it gets and when you're down and you think you can't take any more it kicks you again.
The animation style was beautiful as well, it gave a euphoric feel to the entire show. The character design was rather bland but being based off a graphic novel the character design was spot on. The thing that annoyed me most was that there were three characters all with purple hair and it took a while to learn who was who.
Clannad has had a weird emotional impact, one that I can't really explain. All that I can say is that it was beautiful, emotional experience. It was poetry. It wasn't simply another good anime, it was in a league of its own.
I highly recommend that you watch Clannad and Clannd After Story but be prepared to feel emotions you have never felt with any other anime or TV series before.
Story wise it comes across as a simple High School story, with comedic and dramatic elements interwoven in a very skilled fashion.
The series roots as a Visual Novel are apparent through the 24 episode runtime, which is presented as a straight run for 23 of the episodes, and an alternate ending in the last, but is also clearly divided into 3 major arcs: The Fuuko arc, the Katomi Arc, and the Drama Club (or the Nagisa arc).
The story flows at a smooth pace, introducing most, if not all the relevant characters, while still leaving bits to be revealed in later episodes. While segments can get a bit fanciful at times, at no point does it venture into territory that feels unreal, and the characters are all charming and interesting enough that they all earn a place in your heart by the final episode.
The emotional connection to the characters is one of the strongest selling points of the series. As noted in other review, be prepared to cry, a lot. In no other series have I found myself laughing until I cried in one episode, and crying in the next because the material is so devastatingly sad, but relatable. But while the tear spawning content is never in short supply, the comedy and heartwarming parts shine even brighter. Characters form the overblown and insane antics of Sunohara, to the seemingly overly dramatic Yuuske, pepper the supporting cast and make them easy to love, and do not at all detract from the central relation between Okizaki and Nagisa. One of the highlights is the fact that almost every time Nagisa's mother and father appear on screen, you are almost guaranteed to laugh or cry.
Another highlight is the soundtrack. Again harkening back to it's roots, the soundtrack, from the background in scenes, to each characters unique theme, is lifted almost exactly from the original work. I had not realized that I had picked up the background music from the series until I read through the VN, and hearing the music brought back memories and in some instances (Nagisa's Big Dango Family, for one,) brought me back to tears. Touching, uplifting, and haunting in all the right places, the score is top notch.
Overall, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. The themes inside, of friendship, teenage anxiety, family, the desire to be loved, and more make this a series that I feel can be enjoyed by all age groups.
In short, if you are a fan of not raunchy high school comedies, cute romance tales, entertaining yarns, or just stories that leave a lasting impact long after they are over, Clannad is a necessary watch.
On the topic of Voice Over, while I have not viewed it in Japanese, I can say that the English Dub is superb, the voices feel right in each character, from the airy shyness in Nagisa, to the barely contained anger of Kyou, to the pure over the top energy of Sunohara.