This episode begins in the dream world where the junk doll is thinking about the source of the mysterious lights that float in his world, he wonders if there is another world that is connected this one, and he speculates if he was a part of that world before. Also, the girl he keeps company constructs a seesaw so they can play together, she also tells the doll that it would be nice if he could shed tears, and winter is coming to the dream world.

        In our world, Tomoya and Nagisa are going to visit Youhei, and they show up just in time to see him getting his ass kicked by the dorm mother (Misae) for trying to sell a stray cat she is taking care of. Once they are inside Youhei’s room Misae makes the comment that the cat has taken quite a liking to Tomoya, and a few minutes later Tomoyo shows up seeking advice from Misae about trying to get all the students to have perfect attendance with no lates for a whole week.

        Later, another student comes looking for advice from Misae, and while she’s outside talking with him Youhei is listening through the door. Once she return to the room she gives more punishment to Youhei for listening. Tomoya tells Misae that she is very popular in the school, but she says what’s so poplar about a woman who only scolds people, but Nagisa tells her that’s because she cares about other people.

       Later Misae tells Youhei to hit the road because she wants to talk to Tomoya and Nagisa, she tells them that she wants them to go to the local festival on a date, she tells Tomoya to take Nagisa on a date or lose her to another guy, of course Nagisa says that will never happen. Misae tells them that looking at them reminds her of her youth, but they tell her that she is still young, she thanks them and tells them it’s now her job to look after young people. After the serious talk, Nagisa and Misae chit chat about the old days at the school while Tomoya gives serious thought to Misae’s current attitude, like why does she act old even though she’s still very young.

         As Nagisa and Misae are talking Tomoya falls into a wakeful dreaming state and the cat tells him to listen very carefully he has a very important task for him. He tells Tomoya about a charm, and that charm contains light that can grant one wish to a girl who is alone.

        Then we get to see a flashback to Misae’s days as a high school student where a young boy named Shima Katsuki interrupts her when she is trying to talk to Igaarashi (the boy she likes). Shima tries to follow her and he tells her that he owes her something, she get upset at him and tells him that he owes her nothing. He tells her that he is here to grant one wish, but she tells him to disappear and he says if that’s what she wants he’ll do it, but he owes her so much.

       Then they sit and Shima tells Misae about how he knows her, and why he feels that he owes her. He tells her that when he was young and very ill, she spoke to him in the hospital’s courtyard and her talk gave him the strength to hold on, and he reiterates that he’ll grant any wish she desires. He tells her that he has the power to do this and that she should think about, and day after day he keeps showing up at her school. He asks her if it’s her wish to marry Igaarashi because he can do that, but she tells him “no” he shouldn’t play with peoples’ hearts. As he keeps showing up at Misae’s school some people start to think that he’s her boyfriend but they begins to talk openly and honestly and become sort of friends.

        After class Shima is waiting for Misae as usual when he runs into Igaarashi who asks Shima for a favor, he tells Shima that he knows how Misae feels but he already has a girlfriend and he doesn’t want to hurt her so he asks is Shima could do it. When Shima sees Misae he is very sad, and they go off to talk where Misae tries to get it out of him. He tries to tell  her about Igaarashi in a round about way but she thinks that he’s talking about another girl until she sees Igaarashi with the other girl, and then Misae turns and runs off. Well, that’s all of this episode.

 

         To me the first four episodes of ~After Story~, while very enjoyable to watch almost had the feelings of being filler episodes. What I mean by this is that watching the Youhei arc was very entertaining and enjoyable but it offered no progression to the overall path to the ending of the series. While it was nice seeing a lot of face time given to Youhei and Mei-chan but their arc did nothing to change their status, Youhei is still getting in trouble for doing stupid things and Mei left without seeing her wish of her brother becoming more responsible and getting a direction in life coming true.

        But with this episode Clannad, the series returned to the themes that made me such a big fan of the first season. All of the previous Key projects deal with stories where a great sadness surrounds a group of characters then a sort great balancing force of human magic comes into play to solve the problem or at least make it better.

       In this episode we see the linking of the dream world with the normal world, Tomoya gets a vision from Misae’s cat that speaks of a dream world, a magical light, and the granting of a wish. In the opening scenes where the dream world is portrayed, we get the junk dolls perspective on the girl in the dream world. While she might seem lonely, she is innocence embodied, she doesn’t know the full wrongness of the place she inhabits, she just wants to play and make friends. The junk doll suspects that he was from the other world at one time, he feels the wrongness of her situation and he wants to do something to change her situation, the junk doll embodies experience. The truly innocent can not know their innocence until they have gained experience then they can see, appreciate, cherish, and try to protect innocence when they see it, even though they can no longer be truly innocent themselves.

        While the junk doll searches and wonders about the situation he and the girl are in, great powers are starting to stir between the two different worlds. The power I’m referring to is what I’ll call “Key magic” and what follows is an chunk of my write ups from Clannad episodes 1 & 14 explaining what Key magic is.

From Clannad 14 review.

        “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 Clannad 1 review.

      “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. Well I really liked the first episode of Clannad  and will keep watching (maybe I’ve just turned into a softie as I’ve grown older).”

Link to the above post Clannad 14

Link to the above post Clannad 1

       With the reincorporation of Clannad’s strong points back into the story this series has finnaly got it’s mojo back.