This alternate universe episode of Clannad  takes starts off on the day of the student council election with Tomoyo waking up her boyfriend Tomoya, Tomoya is nervous about today’s election but they decide to head to school with a smile. At school, Tomoya and Tomoyo await the election results in a empty classroom where Tomoya reflects about how he and Tomoyo became lovers.

         Soon, the results are in and Tomoya has won, and now they vow to preserve the Sakura trees outside the school. Later, Youhei makes the comment about how the good for nothing has hooked up with the school President. Whispers and rumors circulate around the school about how Tomoyo is dating a trouble maker/ loser, while Tomoya shows no reaction to this it clearly bothers him. Later that day, one of their teachers calls the couple in for a little talk, and he tells them since so many rumors abound that they have to be careful now that Tomoyo is the school’s president.

      As the days pass, Tomoyo becomes very busy getting the school ready for the festival, and she seems to spend less time with Tomoya. Youhei notices that Tomoya seems down and tries to cheer him up, on the day of the festival Tomoyo is so busy that she has to use a costume to sneak some alone time with Tomoya, and when they try to sneak in a kiss, even that gets interrupted.

      Tomoya is told that she has to meet with former school council members in order to get their support for saving the Sakura trees. As soon as she leaves, the guy who interrupted them tells Tomoya to quit wasting Tomoyo’s time, she’s raising herself up and all your doing is dragging her down and that’s what everyone thinks. Tomoya is about to fight the guy but his words seem to have hurt him greatly.

      As time passes, Tomoya comes under intense pressure from students and teachers to basically breakup with Tomoyo. After school, Tomoya tells Tomoyo that it would be better for the both of them if they broke up, Tomoyo tells him to quit joking around, but he tells her he serious, and that her being with him might keep her from her goals. She says “no”, and goes into many reasons why they shouldn’t breakup, she even tells him that she loves him, but he says that he doesn’t feel love for her. He tells her to fulfill her goals so that some day he can say that he dated a wonderful girl like her, she says OK and thanks him for dating her.

      Later at Youhei’s place, he tells Tomoya that he thought they got along well and that if he asked her to choose between him or the student counsel she would choose him, Tomoya tells him that it’s not that simple. Tomoya tries his best at school to do things right because he told Tomoyo that he didn’t need to rely on her. As time passes, Tomoya becomes a OK student and Tomoyo raises herself up to be one of the best students in Japan. More time passes and school graduation comes and Youhei and Tomoya prepare to look for jobs and begin life after school. After the graduation ceremony Tomoya heads home where he runs into Tomoyo on the snow covered path.

      When they meet, Tomoya asks her if she achieved her dream, and she says yes but she also lost something, eight months worth of time with the person she loves. She says she loves him even more than ever, and that she was always watching him. Tomoya tells her that he knows that, but she has much higher places to go than to be with him, but she says that she wants to be with him and it’s more important than schools or what teachers decided because it’s her choice. So, he finally agrees to be with her and she breaks down in tears and they embrace. At the end of the episode, Tomoya is shown heading to work with Tomoyo waiting for him with a smile and a bento for him on her way to school. That’s all of this episode.

A walk down the road not traveled.

      At many points in my life I’ve often thought about the roads not traveled, I can look back and wonder about how a different choice might have lead me down this path or that path. Normally us anime fans are left with reading or writing fan-fictions to travels certain alternate paths, so I would like to thank Key  and Kyoto Animation  for giving us fans this ultimate fan-service, a whole thirty minutes of an alternate reality. 

     Slipping into this alternative Clannad  universe of where Tomoya and Tomoyo are boyfriend and girlfriend was as easy as slipping into my favorite pair of slippers, soft, comfortable, and gentle. The storytelling in this episode was fully fleshed out and felt fulfilling due to the story being uncluttered by extra characters and distractions, the story pretty much only really included Tomoya and Tomoyo with a small dose of Youhei. I feel that limiting the story to a small cast gave the writers more freedom to really do their relationship justice.

        It was really sweet to see Tomoyo be able to achieve her dream of saving the Sakura trees, but as she said it came a great cost to her, as always to achieve great things great sacrifices must be made. I could really see how much Tomoya loved Tomoyo by his dedication to becoming a good student and doing what was necessary, he knew that Tomoyo would be worried about him so he had to do whatever he could to ease her burden.

      Many fans might argue that Tomoya was weak for caving into the pressure and breaking up with Tomoyo when he knew that she really loved him, and he really loved her. But, what he did was the ultimate show of the strength of his love for her, as you know in Japan they have a saying that goes something like “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down“, so rather than him having to watch Tomoyo get hammered down for her love of him he did the honorable and brave thing by sacrificing his love for her.

      Many Western fans might have preferred a “Graduate” moment with Tomoya storming into the council room and running off with Tomoyo, or a “Officer and a Gentleman”  moment with Tomoya carrying off Tomoyo in his arms, but that’s not reality and it’s certainly not possible in Japanese culture. But in the end Tomoya and Tomoyo’s conclusion was even better, after all their tears and all their suffering how sweet must the taste of their love must be? Bravo, great episode.