Not to be confused with Clannad: After Story, which I still have to watch through. Soon. I’m not prepared, but I’ll never be prepared, I don’t think it’s something that one can prepare for!
Anyways, this was my second time through Clannad, my first being over 5 years ago. Most of this rewatch felt like fresh content, but I figure I’ll throw that out there.
And so, how was it?
How was Clannad, the story that seems to be often overshadowed by it’s sequel?
For those who haven’t watched Clannad in a while, or have seen After Story and then just sort of forget what happens in the original Clannad (this was me), here’s a brief overview of Clannad:
Okazaki Tomoya is a delinquent high schooler who meets and finds himself helping a girl, Furukawa Nagisa, achieve her dream of re-establishing the school’s theatre club and putting on a specific play from her childhood. Along the way Okazaki makes memories with many other characters, happy and sad. The anime concludes with Nagisa’s theatre dream coming true, Okazaki and Nagisa officially becoming a couple, and the beginning of summer break.
For more specific info, you can check out my individual Clannad episodic posts here:
- Episode 1 – Sweet Bean Bread
- Episode 2 – Basketball
- Episode 3 – Dango Daikazoku
- Episode 4 – Cute Presents
- Episode 5 – Starfish
- Episode 6 – Founder’s Festival
- Episode 7 – Fleeting Memories
- Episode 8 – Forgetting Fuko: The Episode
- Episode 9 – Goodbye, Fuko.
- Episode 10 – Master of Violin
- Episode 11 – A Grand Performance
- Episode 12 – Newspaper Clippings
- Episode 13 – Garden of Memories
- Episode 14 – Welcome Home
- Episode 15 – The Longest Day
- Episode 16 – Basketball Showdown
- Episode 17 – Fight!
- Episode 18 – Suspicions Confirmed, Fears Realized
- Episode 19 – Familial Woes
- Episode 20 – Rainbow Bread
- Episode 21 – Hasty Preparations
- Episode 22 – Dreams
- Episode 23 – Summer Break
Beauty & Clannad
To be honest, I think the words “beauty” and “Clannad” go hand-in-hand. Clannad is perhaps the epitome of beauty in the anime medium. No exaggerations there either. There may be other anime that have reached this level, no doubt, but Clannad is one of the most beautiful anime created. Not just visually, but the entire experience itself is beautiful.
And yes, this review is primarily going to be me showering Clannad with flowery words. I assure you, this is all well-deserved.
With beauty in mind, let’s break up all of the different components of Clannad that make it such a wonderful experience.
Naturally Clannad had better boast some elegant visuals given the praise I’ve already given it! And it really does deliver. As Clannad the anime is based on the visual novel of the same name, you can expect visuals that convey a very “visual novel like” feel. Which is another way of saying that the background art is well above-average.
While I have not played the visual novel, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some of the exact same scenes displayed in the anime from the game, from angles of the characters to the background. Many times while watching through Clannad I took screencaps of moments that felt like this.
Maybe the visuals for the anime are so stunning specifically because they had such robust reference material. Either way, it’s a complete win for us who get to enjoy the anime rendition of the Clannad story.
You can also get a good idea of the colouring based off the above images. Varying levels of saturation and contrast help to draw attention to these almost cinematic moments. Overall even Clannad is a very colourful anime – very vibrant.
Clannad, despite all of the depth it contains, is a slice of life anime. One of the highest quality. And that means it has a very strong cast of characters. Once again, I believe that the visual novel roots of this anime played a key role in this by providing such well-developed characters.
Despite some emotional moments, I’d argue that Clannad isn’t about the story. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. It’s about the characters and their actions, interactions, and reactions to what is happening around them in their daily high school lives. Nagisa wanted to re-establish the theatre club this time around, but a story about some other achievable goal would have been just as compelling with a cast like Clannad’s.
Nagisa and Okazaki take centre stage, but every individual character plays a role in adding comedy, drama, emotion, normalcy… something useful to the story.
One interesting character element that is present in the anime is the way it is segmented into different “routes”. As it’s basis is a visual novel, most of the story is tied to individual characters and their past / current situations. Clannad the anime does a good job of exploring these routes, focusing on the various girls, but keeping the overarching focus on Nagisa. I imagine this is something that is absent in the visual novel, where you can probably ditch Nagisa for someone else..
Another element of Clannad that cannot be forgotten is the soundtrack. It’s stellar. Not only this, but it’s very memorable, as even 5 years after originally watching the anime I found tracks popping back into my head with no problems whatsoever. Music is such a powerful tool that is often tied with nostalgia, and Clannad’s soundtrack is chock full of nostalgia.
Anyone who watches Clannad will likely experience this same nostalgia whenever faced with the soundtrack. Like with the visuals and characters, it has really benefited Clannad to have such a strong base to work off of with the Clannad visual novel. I believe the entire soundtrack was basically just re-used in the anime, although there may be some differences between the two, I wouldn’t know for sure.
I’ll go ahead and share my favourite song from the Clannad soundtrack:
Just a lovely song that sums up Clannad perfectly.
The last aspect of Clannad that I’d like to touch upon as a valuable component of its beauty is the emotion conveyed within the anime. Clannad is a slice of life anime, of the highest caliber, as I’ve mentioned. This means strong characters, and excellent use of comedy, both of which Clannad checks the boxes for.
But its use of emotion is what really sets Clannad apart from so many other slice of life anime, or other anime in general. As I mentioned earlier, Clannad is a bit overshadowed by its sequel, Clannad: After Story, when it comes to emotion, but even then Clannad is still up there as one of the more satisfyingly emotional anime.
I’m not very good at describing how, but let’s just say Clannad does a good job in bringing us right into the character’s lives. And the bond we form with the characters, as a viewer, is strong enough to evoke an emotional response when things take a turn for the worse, or when the emotions run high in the story.
To bring out such emotion from the viewer despite being a fictional story is something that I believe only the highest caliber stories can achieve. It’s a testament to how powerful the story is, and I believe it also adds to the overall beauty of Clannad.
Instead of digging up more elements of Clannad to gush about, let’s just get to that rating. As I’ve mentioned, it’s truly a beautiful anime, one of the best.
I’m giving Clannad a 10 / 10.
It’s one of the best anime I’ve ever watched, no question.
Clannad is an example of what you get when a slice of life anime just does everything right. There isn’t a single aspect of Clannad that falls short. It’s just an amazing ride from start to finish. And the ride really is only half finished…
That’ll do it for this review.
Clannad: After Story is on the books, but I might not jump into it just yet. I’m still reorganizing myself and this blog as I figure out what I want to do going forward. Very likely I’ll cover After Story on an episodic basis though, because it’s such a powerful story that will give me more than enough to write about.
Until next time.
Thanks for reading! 🙂