This episode begins with Tomoya telling his daughter Ushio a story from before she was born. After a question from his daughter, Tomoya rephrases it to say that he’s telling her the story of how he and Nagisa first met and how this lead up to her birth. Tomoya starts off by telling Ushio how he met Nagisa on the first day of their senior year of high school, he tells her that her mother was lonely because she got held back a year and all her friends have graduated, leaving her alone.
He tells his daughter that he also felt out of place but everything began to change the day he met her mother, how her mother wanted to do drama, and how Nagisa loved the big dango family. He tells Ushio that he knew that he couldn’t leave her mother all alone, and how they met and made many wonderful friends such as Kyou, Ryou, Kotomi, Tomoya, Misae, and Yukine. Tomoya also tells Ushio that he learned the legend of the city and the balls of light from Yukine.
Ushio asks Tomoya about grandpa Youhei, and then Tomoya tells Ushio about his friendship with Youhei. He tells Ushio that if it wasn’t for Youhei he might have quite school and never had met her mother. Tomoya tells Ushio that even though peoples’ paths may be scattered sometimes they come together like how everyone came together to help mommy with the drama club. He also tells Ushioabout the problems he was having with his father (her grandfather) at the time, and how he left home and began to live with her mother’s side of the family.
He explains to Ushio that when he started living with Sanae and Akio he was confused because he didn’t know what it was like to have a family, and he tells her how they watched over and supported daddy and mommy, how they took care of mommy when she became sick. He also tells Ushio about Nagisa’s moment of doubt during the play when her sadness and guilt almost overwhelmed and how Akio made it clear to mommy that their child’s dream is also the parents’ dream. Ushio asks daddy about the play’s story, and he tells her it’s about a girl living in a world that had ended, they never knew it’s conclusion, but mommy remembers being told the story when she was young, and daddy says that he felt that somehow he remembers the story. Tomoya then tells Ushio that after that point daddy and mommy promised to be always be together.
Then Tomoya tells Ushio about how mommy’s illness kept her from graduating school again and about how bad daddy felt about it, but how mommy urged him to move forward if he can. Then he tells Ushio about how he worked for Akio and Sanae for a while but he knew he needed to do something else, so he got a job working with Yoshino, and he got his own place. He tells Ushio about how tough it was, but thanks to mommy’s encouragement and his fellow workers’ help he managed to learn his job. He tells Ushio about how hard mommy worked at graduating high school, and about his father’s legal problems.
Then Tomoya tells his daughter that when things were the toughest, it was mommy that supported him the most, and that’s when he proposed to mommy. He tells Ushiothat mommy’s illness forced her to miss her graduation ceremony, but all their friends came together to give her a special graduation ceremony, and how after that mommy and daddy got married. He tells her how they became a married couple and had a baby named Ushio, but he tells her how tough mommy’s pregnancy was, how worried everyone was for mommy. He tells Ushio about the story of how the town saved mommy when she was very young.
Then Tomoya notices that Ushio has drifted off to sleep, and he tells the story he hasn’t told Ushio yet, the story of how she was born once before, the story where mommy died, how he lived alone, how he left Ushio with Sanae and Akio, how five years later they took a trip together leading to their reconciliation, how he learned from his grandmother his parents’ story from before he was born, how this lead to him and Ushio living together, how everything was going well until Ushio became sick like mommy, how that Ushio unlike this Ushio started to fail and wither.
Then Tomoya tells how at the moment of the other Ushio’sdeath, something mysterious happened, he was taken back to the place five years earlier when mommy died, but this time Nagisawas right there, right in front of him, alive. How everything was right back to where it was five years earlier, it’s a strange, mysterious story, but he believes it’s true. He then says how he believes that the city where mommy and daddy met, where Ushio was born, where they met so many people, where they made so many memories, is where they’ll be living supported by so many people. Then we see Tomoya sitting under a shade tree with Ushio and Fuku gently sleeping, as he wakes Ushio, we hear Nagisa calling out to Ushio, Fuko, and Tomoya that it’s time to head home. Well, that’s all for the episode and the series. Bravo, storytelling at it’s finest.
Many of the greatest tales or stories begin with “once upon a time”, or ”a long ago”, or “once there was”, or “mukashi mukashi”, but no matter how they begin they take us on a journey to another place and time where we can lose ourselves, if only for a moment, in the trials and tribulations of the characters. We laugh, we cry, we feel exaltation as we follow the characters down their long path, and in the end, maybe we learn something about ourselves along the way.
To me Clannd’s story began with the simple question of ”do you like this school?” and we follow Nagisa’s and Tomoya’s journey as they begin their long climb up the hill to school and to an adult life until they reach “the place where wishes come true”. Since I’ve always considered Clannad a fairytale it’s fitting the the story wraps up with Tomoya telling his daughter a story under a shade tree, once upon a time. The tale of Clannad is a tale of human magic where acts of kindness, mercy, and love have redemptive and transformative powers. But, to me, Clannad’s greatest gift has been the emotional escapism almost every episode provided me, I laughed, I cryed, I felt the sadness and pain as Tomoya and Nagisa walked their long hard path to the future, and felt utterly contented when “they lived happily ever after”.
I think that following discussion of storytelling by Philip Pullman has it exactly right, I only wished I was brilliant enough to pen these words.
“The sharing of stories takes time, but it is worth the wait, worth the meandering, worth the stuttering and stumbling and the struggle to find the right words. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but once upon a time lasts forever.”
Below are a few portions of some of my previous reviews written about certain aspects of Clannad such as, storytelling and human magic, the power of love and kindness, and emotional escapism.
From my review of Clannad episode 1 (storytelling and human magic).
Now to the storytelling aspects of Clannad, Key’s greatest asset has always been it’s ability to weave together a great plot that knows how to pull at the viewer’s heartstrings, and I feel that Clannad is going down the right path. Like past Key projects Clannad deals with the impressions of how time should flow, and how it must flow forward. In AIR and Kanon time does not flow properly, the characters are suffocated and stifled by the past, caught and held in a limbo like muted world until they are able to deal with the past and move forward. In the anime Voices of a distant Star, and The Promised Place of our Earlier Days the main characters are haunted by the desire to recapture the feelings and the motivations of youth, reaching back for what is past and can never really be recaptured. The Key stories are about wanting to move forward and living life like it should be lived, we must grow, progress, mature, love, and change (hopefully for the better).
I also like how Key includes elements of dreams and magic in to their stories, most of the time it’s small magic, not magic on the grand scale of shows like Scrapped Princess and so forth. Key’s magic is small scale but powerful, a human magic brought forth by human actions and acts of kindness, compassion, friendship, caring and love.
From my review of Clannad episode 14 (the power of love and friendship).
In the Clannad universe, love, compassion and friendship are the greatest powers in the world, these powers can transcend the boundaries of space, time, and reality to effect all those coming in contact with it. Also in this world the power of love also increases with each person it touches, as it touches one person it gathers strength and intensity before moving on to touch the next person. But one thing I’ve always liked about the other Key titles including this series is that they always stress that’s it’s always better to move on, to move forward, to move towards the future, staying in the past leads to stagnation and nothingness.
From my review of Clannad episode 10 (emotional escapism).
The world of Clannad is the perfect male fantasy world, a world where all the girls are cute with almost all of these girls being kind and gentle, a world where even the most hard edged and gruff girls really harbor a heart of gold. This is a world where all the sweetest and cutest girls don’t have boyfriends and are just waiting for a normal guy to come along and touch their souls, this is emotional escapism at the purest level, a world where gentle and lonely souls flutter around each other like moths around a flame until they finally meet creating the perfect emotional connection. Clannad is also a world where even a girl laying in a coma longings for connection, human contact, and love is so great it can cross the boundaries of human consciousness to touch the lives of others. This is emotional escapism of the highest level, and I’m buying into it.
In about two weeks I’ll have my in-depth review and thoughts on the entire Clannad ready for posting, please read if it your interested.