Clannad ~After Story~


For my 12th and final post in my “12 moments in anime 2009” series I’m choosing Clannad’s (both seasons) triumph of storytelling. Much of the following text has been excerpted from my loved filled reviews of both series, so I you like what I have to say go back and read my old reviews.

“Tell Them Stories”

      I have chosen to title this article/post “Tell Them Stories“, using a quote from Philip Pullman’s book The Amber Spyglass, the third book from the His Dark Materials book series. It comes at a point in the book where Mary Malone (one of the main characters) needs to impart important knowledge on to the adolescents, Will and Lyra. Mary needs to impart this knowledge upon Will and Lyra to facilitate an important awakening within them. Mary struggles with how to do this, does she preach to them like a Sunday school teacher, or does try to teach them like a public school teacher? No, while walking around, Mary sees uncountable ghosts exiting the land of the dead and they implore her to “Tell Them Stories, Tell Them True Stories“. Upon hearing this, her course of action is set, she’ll use what humankind has used for most of it’s short history to impart shared cultural values, “Storytelling”.

      Since the beginning of human history, from our earliest days when we were gathered around a fire inside a cave, we told stories, and the record of those stories were recorded for future generations on the charcoal drawings still found on the walls of those caves. The tradition of storytelling has always been used throughout human history to pass down shared cultural values, ask us important moral questions, teach and enlighten us, make us laugh or make us cry, strengthen us or occasionally frighten us, entertain us or sometimes bore us, but most importantly, storytelling bonds us together in shared emotions and experiences.

I think that the 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.”

       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 paths, 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”.

 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 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.

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 episode 21 (A child’s understanding and adult decisions)

      Nagisa is a pure girl, trusting, caring, and loving, she has shown many times in the series that she places more value in the happiness of others than in herself, but Nagisa has also shown that in some respects that she can be a little slow in some aspects, so when she read her parents’ diaries she only really picked up on the parts that confirmed her darkest fears, that her parents had to give up their dreams because of her, she chose to ignore parts where her mother wrote that she would have never traded these times with her child for anything. In this respect Nagisa shows that she still has a child’s understanding of the situation, and this is made worse by her parents evasiveness.

      In a great deal of anime one of the most popular reoccurring themes in their plots are the famous “go for your dreams or bust plot line”, I find a lot of these stories to be very exciting and uplifting because it brings back memories of youth, when all things were possible, I could be President, a rock star, a billionaire, the sky was the limit, but there comes a point where a child’s dreams and a child’s understanding of life collides with adult decisions. Nagisa’s parents made an adult decision after they nearly lost their daughter over a lapse in judgement brought on by a selfish moment, after the near loss of their daughter they decided to place her care above their personal wishes and goals, they reached a point in their lives when they realized where their greater responsibility lay, their daughter.

     Nagisa still being a child thinks that it was a either or choice, her parents dreams or caring for her, she feels that they chose her over their personal happiness and that they might/probably are unhappy now. What Nagisa doesn’t realize, and it was her parents responsibility to teach her, is that a decision like this is a false choice it’s not a zero sum game. They made an adult choice and failed to properly communicate their feelings about this to their daughter, her father could have told her something like, I love you more than anything in this world and I wouldn’t trade this life I have now for all the money or fame in the world. They should have/could have told her that as adults we have sometimes acquire greater responsibilities than following a dream, and one of those responsibilities is caring for the most important thing in our lives, our children. And as Nagisa’s father has probably realized, and the Rolling Stones put voice to in their song “You Can’t always Get What You Want

You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime, yeah,
You just might find you get what you need

     Neither Nagisa’s father or mother seems to be unhappy with their current lives, while she might not be a teacher, and he might no longer be an actor, they both have a loving spouse and a loving daughter, after all sometimes the dreams of youth give way to the satisfaction of a fulfilled adult life.

From my review of Clannad ~After Story~ episode 21 (the helplessness of a mortal man and tomoya’s moment of magical thinking)

       For me what really stood out about this episode was Tomoya’s strength of character. After receiving the “fatal” news about Ushio’s illness Tomoya showed only one moment of weakness, and Akio quickly set him straight. A man has to be strong until the very end for the ones they love, and a man has to protect the ones they love to the best of their abilities.

      Any father would give anything, even their own life to protect their loved ones, but Tomoya faced the worse possible situation. Tomoya faced a enemy he had no chance of defeating, if you saw a car getting ready to run over your child you could push her put of the way sacrificing yourself, or you can step in front of a bullet for your child, but Tomoya’s enemy was far worse. Call it a curse, call it fate, or call it destiny, but in the end, it was a no win situation.

       I feel that Tomoya quickly realized that Ushio was going to die, and if he tried to fight, it would be like he was battling God. So, Tomoya decided to submit to fate and wrap Ushio in the a protective layer of love and kindness. While Tomoya’s heart was being ripped out his chest he only showed Ushio a gentle smile and a calming voice. In the end, Tomoya was able to grant one of Ushio’s wishes, he gave her the trip with daddy that she wanted, and he did the best that a mortal man could do. Well done Tomoya, I’m sure Nagisa and Akio would be proud.

       But there’s a limit to how much suffering and pain any one person can take before it overwhelms them, and with Ushio’s death I think Tomoya’s reached his limit. At the end of the episode Tomoya again asks himself if it would have been better if he and Nagisa had never met? Tomoya slipped into what I call “magical thinking”, this best described in Joan Didion’s book “The Year of Magical Thinking” (great book, if your haven’t read it, do so). In the book, the author experiences such overwhelming grief and loss over the death of her husband that she begins to obsess about if I did this, or if I did that, could I have changed to outcome? The question that Tomoya has answer for himself  is did his love for Nagisa and Ushio mean more to him than their loss? If he’s chooses the path of stagnation will that bring him anymore joy in the long run? If Tomoya chooses the path of love and loss will there any salvation or mercy for him and his family? I don’t know, but I feel that the old saying  ”it’s better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all” will hold true, or I pray it will.

From my review of Clannad ~After Story~ episode 22 (the place where wishes come true)

The moment of possibilities, and the place where dreams come true.

       It seems that after Ushio’s death, the world held it’s breath, and Tomoya temporarily existed in both the real and the dream world, he had sort of reached his Omega point. We discover that the girl from the dream world is his daughter Ushio, and she probably came into existence the moment Tomoya and Nagisa first spoke. When Ushio admits that she’s also a orb of light (an expression of happiness) it all fell into place for me, Ushio was Nagisa’s orb of light, her happiness, her expression of life, and her fondest desire.

     When Tomoya first met Nagisa she stood rooted at the bottom of the school hill, she loved the town and school but she wished for change, she wanted to move forward, make friends, progress, but she was filled with the fear that nothing would change. So, when Tomoya spoke to her it was her fondest desire, time began to flow, nothing can stay the same forever, Nagisa began her path to happiness creating the dream of Ushio in the process.

       I feel that Nagisa’s and Ushio’s relationship with the city was very different from Tomoya’s and the other city dwellers, when Akio begged for Nagisa’s salvation the land and the city granted his wish, but at a great price. Nagisa, and her daughter were linked to the rhythms and emotions of the city, while this might not seem like a big deal, it was, Nagisa and Ushio are after all only made of mortal flesh. Everything requires balance, when Nagisa was saved without Akio using a orb of light, something had to be payed back in order to balance the equation, did Nagisa and Tomoya create enough happiness (orbs of lights) to pay the city back, or as the Beatles put it,  “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make” 

     When Tomoya shouted that he didn’t want this to happened, and for Nagisa to save Ushio, he actually held an orb of light in his arms (a dying orb) and Ushio reacted to Tomoya’s cry. When Tomoya fully enters the dream world he reached the point where all things are possible (the Omega Point) with the right choices. Because Ushio died in the real world and Tomoya is thinking about not speaking to Nagisa at the bottom of the hill Ushio’s ability to maintain her existence and the existence of the dream world was fading, and the only thing she could do to help Tomoya was to confirm that his and Nagisa’s love did mean something and was worth cherishing.

      So, if Tomoya chooses to let Nagisa walk back home alone there would have been no Ushio, no dream world, no multiple orbs of light, Nagisa would have still died in the future, and Tomoya would have continued to live in his mono-colored world of misery. But, because Tomoya confirms his unconditional for Nagisa and finally throws away his doubts, the world let out it’s breath. In Omega Point theory the universe is considered to be a computer and all it’s living creatures are information inside the system, and when you reach the maximum informational and computational  capacity, all things are possible, life and death, reality and fantasy become meaningless. So, once Tomoya reaffirmed his love for Nagisa he ensured the creation of Nagisa’s orb (Ushio) and all the other orbs and he was able to hit the cosmic reset button, Nagisa lives and she and Ushio’s illness are wiped out.

       If you think that this is too far fetched, just consider the possibility that all of Tomoya’s pain and suffering from the moment of Nagisa’s death only occurred in his mind, in a dream, he just lived through all that possible pain in an instant. His wish might have been granted the very instant when he held Nagisa hand and thought she was dead, Nagisa lives and Tomoya’s vision of a horrible future fades like when you awaken from a terrible nightmare to find yourself safe under your covers.

       In the end, I feel those who judge Clannad harshly because of its ending are looking at the series with the wrong set of eyes. We have two ways at looking at things, the first way to view something is through the eyes of logic and science, and the second way of looking at something is to look at it through the eyes of our hearts. Clannad is a show that must be viewed through the lens of our hearts, after all, is it anymore illogical to have Clannad end the way it did than it is to accept that you can find a giant robot buried in the ground, or that people can possess other strange powers?

       For my third post in the “12 moments in anime 2009” I’m choosing the Clannad After Story “Happy Ending” moment, and  for the purposes of this post runs from the Usagi & Tomoya singing the Dango song to the newly born Ushio until the end of the Chiisana Tenohira (Small Palms) song/visual montage.

For your enjoyment, below is a YouTube clip of the segment which runs for 4:46. Please note that there is approx 4 seconds of dead space in the middle.

        I felt that the segment and the songs that accompanied it perfectly embodied the themes and motifs that Clannad & Clannad After Story tried impart to us, the viewers. Clannad was a story of great cycles; the cycle of maturation, the cycle of life, and the cycle of responsibility. One of the many themes I loved about Clannad was the theme that there’s life after high school, too many anime end with the confession, or end at high school graduation, it’s like game over. But, Clannad showed the struggles and joys that accompany a adult life, and the final montage showed us “the kids are alright”.

      For those of you who haven’t followed my reviews of Clannad & Clannad After Story please click here, and read my thought on the series at the bottom of my review of episode 24.

Before I get started I would like to say that this is my 500th blog post and  I would like to thank everyone who’s been reading this blog over the past two years. So, I’ve thought that there would be no better episode to cover for my 500th post than the last episode “I think” of the Clannad ~After Story~ series.

Kyou watching her sister confess

         This episode begins on a rainy day with Ryou telling Tomoya that she’s loves him, and wants him to go out with her. After a short pause, Tomoya tells Ryou that he never considered her someone he’d fall in love with, but he tells her that maybe they should try dating as boyfriend and girlfriend, and if she wouldn’t mind, becoming his girlfriend. Kyou listens, and looks on at the scene as Ryou breaks down in tears of joy.

I love you Tomoyaplease go out with me TomoyaTomoya is a little taken aback

Ryou shedding tears of joy

     As time passes, Tomoya and Ryou spend alot of time together where they spend time discussing their futures and other things. Ryou expresses to Tomoya that she’ll never fall out of love with him, and Tomoya tells her he’s touched because he’s never been told something like that. But, we can see that Tomoya glances towards the missing space where Kyou used to sit when all three of them shared lunch together.

I'll never fall out of love with you

      One Sunday morning, Tomoya spots Kyou walking down the street so he calls out to her and runs over to her side. They have a seat on a park bench where Kyou kind of quizzes Tomoya about his relationship with her sister. Well, the subject of whether he’s kissed Ryou already comes up, and Tomoya tells her “no”. Kyou chides Tomoya about taking more initiative in the relationship; Tomoya says to give him a break this is the first time he’s ever had a girlfriend. Well, Kyou asks Tomoya if he’d like to practice kissing with her, she and Ryou are twins so its almost the same? Tomoya and Kyou both lean toward each other and just as Tomoya’s about to kiss her lips Kyou pushes him away saying that she wasn’t really serious.

 Kyou and Tomoya at the park bench

she's loved you since second yearpractice kissing me Tomoyathe long stare at Kyou

Tomoya and Kyou lips almost touch

thats far enough Tomoya

      The next day, at school, it’s obvious that someone has seen Tomoya and Kyou’s little drama in the park, and now the rumors are flying around the school. During lunch break Youhei asks Tomoya about the whole situation; he denies it and tells Youhei that he’s dating Ryou. Well, Youhei is quite surprised saying that he could understand Kyou, but Ryou doesn’t match him. Before Tomoya can respond Kyou snatches Youhei away for a talk, and as Tomoya walks around the school he wanders upon them. He see Kyou attempt to kiss Youhei, Youhei stops her and says that he thought she liked Tomoya not him, but if he’s got it wrong, he’ll apologise.

the rumor is through the whole school001-I could understand Kyouwait a minute Kyou

you like Tomoya don't you

     Later, Youhei tells Tomoya that he thinks that Kyou was just trying to kill any talk about her and Tomoya. Tomoya tells Youhei that it’s just talk, but Youhei says that if it was just talk she wouldn’t have gone this far. Later, Tomoya and Kyou chat and she tells Tomoyathat she just decided that she wanted to try having a boyfriend so she thought that she could have Youhei;  Tomoya asks her if making up feelings for a guy is so easy? She tells Tomoya to just worry about Ryou and not her. While Tomoya and Ryou are having their next date we can see that things are strained between them even though Ryou tries to get closer to him by using his first name and asking him to use her first name.

are feelings for a man so easy

the uncomfortable date

      The next Sunday, as Tomoya is walking down the street he sees Botan and follows him. Tomoya comes upon Kyou who’s just standing in the pouring rain, as Tomoya walks toward her she tells him not come any closer, and Tomoya can see that she’s soaking wet and goes towards her anyways. Kyou screams to him to stay away; he’s Ryou’s boyfriend.  Tomoya grabs Kyou and hugs her and she begs him not to show her any affection because she’s an idiot and might get the wrong idea. She tells him that she was scared that if she had confessed to him he might have rejected her or if they dated Ryou might have suffered instead. Kyou says she thought that it would be better this way even though she’s doubting her decision. Tomoya is about to tell Kyou something when she tells him its too late, he’s Ryou’s boyfriend, its already decided, so goodbye.

please leave me alonedon't show me any affectiongoodbye Tomoya

     The next day Tomoya goes to Youhei for advice and after a little joking he gets serious with him, Youhei tells him that the longer he takes to decide the greater the suffering will be, not only for the other sister but for all three of them, but in the end one of the girls will be hurt.

one will suffer in the end

      Later, Tomoya catches Ryou alone in a classroom, and Ryou lets it all spill out, she knew that her sister liked him and despite knowing that fact she went to her for advice, and she also knew that Tomoya kind of liked Kyou. But, she thought that she could change and become her sister and she tells Tomoya that she can become the girl that he desires. Tomoya tells her to stop, he doesn’t want something like this, but Ryou runs up and kisses him before running off.

couldn't I take my sisters place

I'll become what you desire

      After class, when Tomoya is alone with Ryou he tells her that he’s sorry because he did the worse thing possible, while he was with her he had his mind on another girl and played with her emotions and indulged himself in her affections. Tomoya tells her he’s so sorry but the one I like is your older sister, Kyou. When Ryou rushes into his arms he sees that it’s really Kyou, she’d cut her hair to look like her sister, and she tells him that her sister told her what happened. Ryou got angry and told her to to run anymore, and that one of us will be hurt because we both fell in love with the same person, Ryou probably crying right now.

001-I indulged in your affectionyou can't run anymore Kyouboth of us will get hurt anyway

its Kyou looking like Ryou

      Kyou tells Tomoya that we’re late getting to the truth and we have to stop lying to each other, and the hurting others and ourselves. She tells him that whether it’s her or Ryou it doesn’t matter because she loves him and she’s loved him for a while. Later, we hear Tomoya talking to Ryou and she tells him that he’s doesn’t have to apologise to her because she’s already forgiven him, and she wants to cherish all their happy and sad memories. Later we see that Tomoya and Kyou seem to be getting along pretty well and she asks him if he happy with her or would he rather have Ryou, and Tomoya says that now your making me angry. Kyou says good, she’s wants him angry because she loves him, and then she kisses him, and then they start walking with Kyou wrapped around his arm.

I love you Tomoya 0001

Tomoya and Kyou getting along well

A love letter to the fans.

Before I get to my review of this episode I’ll steal some words from my review of Clannad 24; a walk down a road not traveled, about what this type of episode means to me.

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 animefans are left with reading or writing fan-fictions to travel 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 …………. 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 Tomoyaand ……… and ……… 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

        Throughout our lives we meet people and develop relationships with them, souls collide with other souls, and both are changed in the process, this is a subconscious process, impossible to stop, and impossible to predict the final outcomes. In the “real” Clannad universe Nagisa’s gentle soul collided with Tomoya and set off a chain of events that made the events of this episode impossible, but here the writers have subtracted Nagisa from the equation and we get to reverse the arrow of time and take a look back at what might have been.

        At the beginning of the original series we know that Ryou really likes Tomoya, and while Ryou was a quiet and gentle girl she really never sparked anything other than friendship in Tomoya, but we also know that Kyou and Tomoya shared some sort of attraction that might have developed into something more.

The power love holds over us, and the price of lies.

     Love, the power of love, the idea of being loved, longing, and desire, these ideas and emotions have been the engine that’s driven the creation of some of the greatest novels, music, and art the world’s ever seen; Hell, wars have in been started over love and desire. Who know why a person falls in love? The sound of a voice, the way light shines off the hair, the smell of the skin, the shape of the lips, the way the smile warms your heart? If we knew the answer to this question this would be a much better and happier would. But, all I know is that falling in love and being in love is an emotional act that many times drives us to do illogical things that causes us and others to suffer.

      In Ryou’s case we get to see how far someone is willing to go in an attempt win over their love, Ryou was willing completely destroy the idea of  her “self” and become her sister in order to gain Tomoya’s love. Thank God, Tomoya had the courage to tell Ryou that he didn’t want that, if this would have went on both Tomoya and Ryou would have known that if they were ever making love, he’d be making love to Kyou even if it was Ryou’s body he was making love too.  In Kyou’s case, we see that her denial of her love for Tomoya causes her to hate and despise her “self”, because she can’t logically control an uncontrollable emotional attraction, she tells herself that she doesn’t deserve to be loved. In Tomoya’s case, we can see the result of someone who becomes attracted to the idea of being loved without loving that person, while he basked in the attention it was a false warmth that he became ever more uncomfortable with. I do agree with Youhei when he told Tomoya that until he really decides he’ll only cause greater suffering for all three of them, and whichever one he chooses the other will be hurt. Yes, Tomoya was right when he confessed that he was the worse when he indulged in Ryou affection while his mind and eyes went wandering towards Kyou.

      So, what’s the final lesson of this episode? Be truthful to yourself and others, be kind, be understanding, and if its impossible to avoid hurting someone, do it as honesty and as gently as possible. Kyou comes to the truth of the matter first when she tells Tomoya that it doesn’t matter if he picks her or Ryou, all she knows is that she loves him, and someone will he hurt by his choice.

storytelling-under-the-shadetree 

        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.

tomoyas-plain-worldtomoya-looking-at-nagisanagisa-in-full-color

 tomoya-first-seeing-nagisa

a-world-of-color-opens-to-tomoya

        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.

tomoya-and-nagisa-talkingtomoya-alonetomoya-and-nagisa-0002i-love-the-big-dango-family

tomoya-and-nagisa-0001

our-friend-kyouour-friend-ryouour-friend-kotomiour-friend-tomoyo

our-friend-misaeour-friend-yukine

the-legend-of-the-lights

     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.

our-friend-youheiour-friends-kouko-and-yoshioour-friend-fukome-and-my-father 

        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.

me-and-nagisas-familythe-dark-secretits-too-sad-to-bearyour-dream-is-our-dream

the-familar-dream-world 

      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.

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      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.

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     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.

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        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.

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        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.

        Well, since the true end of the series has come and gone these last two “extra” episodes have afforded me the time to begin the process of re-watching the entire series. I feel that the ending of Clannad has taken too much heat in the blog0-sphere, so I’m re-watching the whole thing in order to do a meta post that will attempt to defend the series and it’s ending. I personally feel that Clannad has been one of the best examples of a anime of it’s genre I’ve seen in years. Hopefully the review will be ready in about two weeks. 

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        This episode begins one year before the start of the Clannad series, Nagisa is looking up at the class assignment board to find out that none of her friends from her junior year is in her new class. Kimura walks up and tells Nagisa not to worry because she’s a nice girl and will make friends in her new class. After Kimura heads off to her class, Tomoya bumps into Nagisa as he’s walking past her and Nagisa apologizes to him, and he tells her no big deal.

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       Then we see Youhei and Tomoya having to do outdoor punishment work, they got caught trying to sneak out of class. Kyou walks up and starts chewing ass, she complains that she’s tired of having to keep a eye on them, she really didn’t want to be class rep because of guys like them. As Youhei is trying to sneak away he knocks over some wood, and Tomoya saves Kyou from the falling wood pile. As they’re walking home together, Kyou introduces herself to Tomoya, but she doesn’t really acknowledge Youhei, she tells them to make this year as smooth as possible.

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       Once Nagisa gets home, Akio asks about her day? Nagisa tells him that she didn’t talk to a single person and felt lonely, dad tells her that she should just jump right in, but Nagisa says that it doesn’t feel right. Nagisa tells her dad that she wants to change but it might take a while. Akio gives Nagisa some pretty wild examples of how to break the ice with people so they’ll want to get to know her. The next day, as Nagisa is sitting in class, she daydreams about using one of dad’s suggestions to break the ice, but she can’t bring herself to try it. Another girl is watching Nagisa closely and she seems interested in Nagisa.

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        Then we see Kyo walking up to a sleeping Tomoya, and as she’s about to wake him she thinks to herself that he looks cool and wonders if he has a girlfriend? Youhei sees Kyou looking over the sleeping Tomoya and rushes over to them and gets her pissed off. Then Youhei begins his long tradition of getting his ass kicked by girls. After school, Kimura drags Nagisa with her and another girl to do some window shopping. They have a good time, and Kimura even pulls a joke on Nagisa. She tells Nagisa that it’s too bad that she can’t be this loose in class because it would help her make friends.

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         Back at home, Nagisa tells her dad that she was lonely again, he tells her that out of thirty kids she should find at least one kid that she clicks with. You just might meet a new best friend or someone you’ll come to cherish, but if you do nothing you’ll remain a stranger to everyone forever. He suggests that Nagisa take a load of Sanae’s bread to class as a “prank” or a “surprise” then everyone will find her interesting. Later, we see Ryou reading Kyou’s fortune, she tells her sister that a guy will confess to her tomorrow. Then we see that Youhei is planning a prank on Kyou, and it involves a confession letter.

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        The next day we see that Youhei’s plan seems to be having the desired affect on Kyou, and we see Nagisa walking into her classroom, she sees the other girls talking casually but is unable to join them. When Nagisa finally tries to join the banter, she’s too late, and the girl from the other day seems to be watching Nagisa. After the school’s welcoming ceremony is over Kyou makes her way to the place where she’s supposed to meet her “guy”, she wonders to herself what she’s expecting from this meeting. When she gets to the library she sees a message sending her somewhere else, it seems that Youhei is sending her on a wild goose chase, and Kyou is falling for it. Youhei is leaving written messages to Kyou that just send her from one place to another. Tomoya tells Youhei that he should stop this, but he’s says that this is too much fun, as Youhei finally agrees that he’ll do this one last message Kyou catches them in the act and she lays a ass whooping on them.

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        Then we see that Youhei is planning another prank and he wants Tomoya to go along with it, Tomoya half heartily agrees to the prank. We see that they have suspended a large paper ball above the school’s walkway with a string and note attached to it (the note says pull this and something wonderful will happen). Most students seem too suspicious of the object to mess with it until Nagisa stops and pulls on the string. The ball opens up, confetti and a banner drops from the ball and a large pot falls on top of Nagisa’s head knocking her out, Youhei seems happy but Tomoya seems horrified by the results. When Nagisa wakes up inside the nurse’s office she sees a girl from her class sitting by her side. They start talking and the girls asks Nagisa if they can be friends, Kimura told her that Nagisa was a wonderful person. Nagisa and the girl get a good laugh out of the whole situation, and they start to hit it off.

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         Back at Kyou’s house, Kyou asks her sister if kindergarten teachers feel this tired? Then we see that Youhei is planning another love letter prank, Tomoya seems quite bored by this and we see Misae’s cat Shima sitting next to Tomoya. When Nagisa gets home she tells her parents that she meet a new friend at school today, and she decided to keep the banner from the  prank because something nice happened to her because of it. Well, that’s all for this episode.

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        Watching this episode was kind of like sitting back and wondering to one’s self “how did I ever get this collection of friends”?A lot of anime series starts with the main characters already having a circle of friends and those series usually never cover the subject of how those characters met in the first place; we just ride along with the action and wonder if the main characters will hook up with their love interests or achieve their goals, so it was pretty nice seeing how Tomoya first met Kyou and how the strings of fate started tugging on everyone involved.

        Many schools of thought make the assumption that there are webs of fate or “webs of connections” that link groups of people and we are just not attuned to seeing those connections. So, in this episode we begin to see how all the main characters are being slowly drawn together by unseen forces. Call it fate, or call it destiny, but all the main character are slowly being pulled together. A perfect example of this is how Youhei’s and Tomoya’s nasty prank actually ended up helping Nagisa. Akio urged his daughter to do something, anything, to try and break the ice with her classmates, but she remained frozen/afraid to standout. So, when Nagisa pulled the string and triggered the prank it actually helped her make her first new friend. Hell, after all her classmates find out what she did and she’ll probably be the talk of the class for weeks.

        In this episode, I really wanted to kick Youhei’s ass, he really was a unthinking jerk, causing pain to cute girls for his own amusement is a high crime. Also, I laughed my ass off when Akio’s hair strung twin ahoge just like his daughter when he was showing her how she should act to get more attention from her classmates, classic. Overall, I really enjoyed this trip down Clannad’s memory lane.

       In this post I’ll just be reviewing episode 22 and it’s content, but I’ve got a very large meta review of Clannad/Clannad ~After Story~ in my drafts bin. So, in one to three weeks (hopefully), I’ll be posting the meta review and it will cover Clannad, magic, and the art of storytelling.

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        This episode opens in the dream world with the junk doll holding the hand of a unconscious girl, and he wonders where he is? The doll soon remembers that he’s always been with this girl, and they’ve always been alone in this sorrow filled world. As the girl is being covered by the blowing and drifting snow, the Doll asks himself  if it would have been better if he had never taken the girl on this journey, if all he’s doing is making her suffer?

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        Then in Tomoya’s mono-colored world he also asks if it would have been better if he never had called out to Nagisa on that fateful day? Tomoya asks himself if Nagisa had never had met him maybe she would have …….(?). Then back in the dream world, as the Doll and the girl are about to be buried in the snow, the doll asks himself if this is the end of the journey? No, he doesn’t want to give up like this, he doesn’t want her to die in such a cold place.

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       Then back in Tomoya’s world Nagisa turns around and walks past Tomoya, while in the dream world the doll begins to drag the girl onward through the snow storm. The girl awakens and comments to the doll that he’s still here, he says he’s always with her, she thanks him, and tells him that now she can finally hear his voice. She tells him that she had a dream and now she understands their relationship, and that soon she won’t exist for much longer. She tells him that they are both from another world, close but maybe far away, he tells her that they should leave together, but she says that she has to remain behind. Why? Because I am this world and if I leave, this world will disappear and the lights will fall into despair.

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        He asks her if she means those lights they saw? She tells him that those lights are the feelings of the people from the other world, and she tells him that even he is one of those lights. She tells him that he exits in both worlds and that he passed through (between) the world so that they could meet. She tells him that he will soon lose fall asleep in this world and will awaken in the other world where he’ll meet lots of  people and that they’ll meet again. She tells him that when she disappears she’ll disolve into bits of lights. Like those lights? Yes, my feelings also show up as those lights, those lights may seem small but if you gather them they’ll create a mysterious power. As the storm starts breaking, the girl begins to hum the dango song. The doll tells the girl that he knows that song. Yes, it’s the one you always sang to me. A great blast of energy strikes the dream world, and as the doll and the dream world are being torn apart, the girl tells him “goodbye papa”, then she disintegrates into balls of light.

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        Tomoya awakens to a color filled world, he turns and screams out Nagisa’s name, and he runs to Nagisa and embraces her. Nagisa tells Tomoya that she’s glad he called out to her, she was afraid that he would have wished that they had never met. Tomoya just embraces Nagisa even tighter as she tells him that she’s glad that they met and that she enjoyed her life. Nagisa tells him no matter what happens please don’t regret that they met, a tearful Tomoya says that she’s right, and he embraces her again.

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       Then the world turns blurry and we travel through the school and other places as Nagisa asks Tomoya if she can take him to the place in the city where wishes come true? Tomoya says yes, this is where the long  journey ends. Tomoya awakens to Ushio’s cries, and he’s holding Nagisa’s hand. Tomoya calls out to a unconscious Nagisa, but this time she awakens after giving birth to Ushio. Tomoya asks her if she’s really with us? Yes, of course, I’m always with you, just like we promised. The midwife tells Tomoya that he no longer has to worry about his wife or child, and Sanae suggests that he give Ushio her first bath. Following the instructions of the midwife, and under Nagisa loving gaze, Tomoya bathes his daughter for the first time.

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a-lovely-scene 

        Afterwards, Nagisa says that she would like Ushio to grow up strong, and Tomoya tells her not to worry, she’ll be strong of mind and body. Nagisa tells Tomoya to look out the window, and as he opens the shades he sees many orbs of lights rising from the city. As Tomoya and Nagisa sing the dango song to Ushio, orbs of light continue to rise from the city, and Nagisa says that perhaps the city has the same will as it’s peoples’ hearts, and if we bring happiness to the people who live here than maybe the town made this miracle? If we love this town, maybe it will love us too. Tomoya makes the observation that maybe the town is like one big family, Nagisa says, yes, like the big dango family.

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        Then we flash through time with Nagisa, Tomoya, and Ushio experiencing the joys of living together as a family in their town. Nagisa, Tomoya, and Ushio take a train trip to the flower covered field, and they take great joy in watching their daughter playing among the flowers. The we see a little bit of what happened to Nagisa’s and Tomoya’s other friends; Kyou is still Ushio’s kindergarten teacher, Ryou has become a nurse, Kotomi is traveling in America, Youhei is learning to drive, Mei has grown up and is hanging out with friends, Tomoyo looks strong but alone, Yoshino is singing again, Sanae and Akio are the same as ever, Yukine is still looking after her gang friends, Misae is still with her cat, and Tomoya’s grandmother seems to be doing fine.

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        Then we see Kouko and Fuko walking down the street, and Fuko is complaining that she’s tired of people treating her like a child, Kouko tells her that she’s small and she’s not as adult as she thinks. Well, Kouko tells Fuko that if she stopped calling  herself Fuko and used “I” instead she might sound more adult, but Fuko having none of this. So, they decide to stop at a restaurant after Fuko has her medical examination, of course Fuko wants to eat instead of having the exam. As they approach the hospital, Fuko stops in her tracks and says she smells something, …..something cute, she smells someone who wants to meet Fuko. She says that there’s someone who’s sleeping out there and waiting for someone to wake them up. Fuko rushes away from Kouko saying that there’s someone sleeping under a tree waiting to meet Fuko. As she moves through the woods we get a vision of the girl from the dream world, and as Fuko gets closer we see that the girl is Ushio, Fuko says that all fun things start now. That’s all for this episode. The next episode preview looks like it’s a episode about Nagisa’s prospective of meeting Tomoya (?).

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         Well, I for sometime I was worried about how Clannad would end, would it be bittersweet like Air, would it be like Kanon with Ayu and Yuichi having a lot of work ahead of them, or would it be sad, leaving us fans in tears? But, Kyoani managed to wrap up Clannad in a very sweet, gentle, and loving way. By the end of the episode, I was giving a silent cheer for Nagisa and Tomoya, justice was delayed but not denied, and I felt that all was right with the world, the only thing missing from the closing screen was the phrase  “and they lived happily ever after”

The moment of possibilities, and the place where dreams come true.

       It seems that after Ushio’s death, the world held it’s breath, and Tomoya temporarily existed in both the real and the dream world, he had sort of reached his Omega point. We discover that the girl from the dream world is his daughter Ushio, and she probably came into existence the moment Tomoya and Nagisa first spoke. When Ushio admits that she’s also a orb of light (an expression of happiness) it all fell into place for me, Ushio was Nagisa’s orb of light, her happiness, her expression of life, and her fondest desire.

     When Tomoya first met Nagisa she stood rooted at the bottom of the school hill, she loved the town and school but she wished of change, she wanted to move forward, make friends, progress, but she was filled with the fear that nothing would change. So, when Tomoya spoke to her it was her fondest desire, time began to flow, nothing can stay the same forever, Nagisa began her path to happiness creating the dream of Ushio in the process.

       I feel that Nagisa’s and Ushio’s relationship with the city was very different from Tomoya’s and the other city dwellers, when Akio begged for Nagisa’s salvation the land and the city granted his wish, but at a great price. Nagisa, and her daughter were linked to the rhythmsand emotions of the city, while this might not seem like a big deal, it was, Nagisa and Ushio are after all only made of mortal flesh. Everything requires balance, when Nagisa was saved without Akio using a orb of light, something had to be payed back in order to balance the equation, did Nagisa and Tomoya create enough happiness (orbs of lights) to pay the city back, or as the Beatles put it,  “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make” 

     When Tomoya shouted that he didn’t want this to happened, and for Nagisa to save Ushio, he actually held an orb of light in his arms (a dying orb) and Ushio reacted to Tomoya’s cry. When Tomoya fully enters the dream world he reached the point where all things are possible (the Omega Point) with the right choices. Because Ushio died in the real world and Tomoya is thinking about not speaking to Nagisa at the bottom of the hill Ushio’s ability to maintain her existence and the existence of the dream world was fading, and the only thing she could do to help Tomoya was to confirm that his and Nagisa’s love did mean something and was worth cherishing.

      So, if Tomoya chose let Nagisa walk back home alone there would have been no Ushio, no dream world, no multiple orbs of light, Nagisa would have still died in the future, and Tomoya would have continued to live in his mono-colored world of misery. But, because Tomoya confirms his unconditional for Nagisa and finally throws away his doubts, the world let out it’s breath. In Omega Point theory the universe is considered to be a computer and all it’s living creatures, information inside the system, and when you reach the maximum informational and computational  capacity, all things are possible, life and death, reality and fantasy become meaningless. So, once Tomoya reaffirmed his love for Nagisa he ensured the creation of Nagisa’s orb (Ushio) and all the other orbs and he was able to hit the cosmic reset button, Nagisa lives and she and Ushio’s illness is wiped out.

      If you think that this is too far fetched, just consider the possibility that all of Tomoya’s pain and suffering from the moment of Nagisa’s death only occurred in his mind, in a dream, he just lived through all that possible pain in an instant. His wish might have been granted the very instant when he held Nagisa hand and thought she was dead, Nagisa lives and Tomoya’s vision of a horrible future fades like when you awaken from a terrible nightmare to find yourself safe under your covers.

       All this is just my speculation, my stab at making sense, either way Clannad was a great series, bravo. Look for my meta review of the entire series in one to three weeks.

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       This episode begins with the doctor giving his prognosis for Ushio, she has the same illness as Nagisa and it will probable progress as it did with Nagisa. Tomoya asks the doctor why this is happening when Ushio was perfectly healthy until now? He has no answer for Tomoya. When Akio senses that Tomoya is about to lose it, he gets Tomoya to pull himself together. Then the scene changes to the dream world where the junk doll and the girl are trying to hurry somewhere, because this world will become pure white.

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       Ushio’s fever continues without respite, one month passes and Ushio still doesn’t get any better. Finally, Tomoya submits his resignation to his boss, his boss wishes that Tomoya didn’t have to quit work. As Tomoya is leaving, Yoshino exchanges screwdrivers with Tomoya telling him that when Ushio gets better come back to work and return it to me. Tomoya continues to care for Ushio, they thought about taking her to the hospital but saw no point to it since they have no idea what her illness is, or how to treat her. Ushio tries her best to be strong but her illness won’t even allow her to change her own clothes.

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       Ushio’s illness has worsened to the point where she can no longer use the bathroom by herself, or even eat solid food. Tomoya asks Ushio if there’s anything she wants? No. But, Ushio soon tells Tomoya that she wants to go on a trip with her daddy, just like before. Tomoya tells her that their last trip couldn’t have been that much fun, with daddy yelling and so on. But, Ushio says it was fun. Tomoya tells Ushio that when she gets better, they’ll go. Ushio says she wants to go now, but Tomoya puts her off. Tomoya begins to think that the city is toying with him and his family, granting happiness, and taking it away on a whim. Can he even grant his daughter just one wish? Tomoya vows to save Ushio somehow.

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        A while later, Akio tries to offer Tomoya some money. But, he refuses saying that he’s still OK, Akio says that if he’s lying, he’ll beat the crap out of him. Tomoya promises him that he’ll come to him if things get really bad. Akio and Tomoya go shopping together, and they stop for a rest near the new hospital. Tomoya asks Akio if the land was sacrificed to build the hospital and what else will sacrificed? Is it possible when he brought the dying Nagisa here, Nagisa got linked to the land? Is it possible that the changing landscape is causing pain to the city? Akio tells him that it might be like “oh, everything is changing”. He says that people built the hospital so unhappy things like death can be avoided, and he says here’s to the happiness of the town and it’s people.

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        More time passes, Christmas approaches, and Ushio’s illness continues to worsen. Tomoya seems to be getting weaker,  is it stress, or exhaustion? He looks out the window and he sees a brief vision similar to the frozen wasteland from the dream world, then he snaps back to reality. When Ushio awakens, she tells Tomoya that she wants to go on a trip, Tomoya tries to put her off, but Ushio says that they have to go now. When Tomoya asks her where she wants to go, Ushio says she wants to go to the field of flowers (that’s where they reconciled a few episodes back). Tomoya finally gives in and tells Ushio, OK. He dresses Ushio, grabs Nagisa’s picture, and they head out into the city.

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       As they head off, Tomoya offers to carry Ushio on his back but she refuses saying that she’ll walk with daddy. Tomoya tells her to let him know if she needs help, and they’ll walk as far as they can (is he submitting to fate, or going to meet it head on?). As Tomoya and Ushio walk through the city Ushio struggles more and more and begins to falter, Tomoya tells her that’s enough. It begins to snow and Ushio gets a faraway look in her eyes. Tomoya tells her it’s snow, and he asks her if she likes snow? Yes. Ushio asks him if he likes snow? Yes. Tomoya tells Ushio that they should call a cab, or he’ll carry her on his back. But, Ushio says no, she wants to walk.

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      Ushio continues to struggle, and she grows weaker as they walk on. Tomoya holds her hand and watches her. Finally, Ushio collapses in Tomoya’s arms, Ushio asks if they’re on the train now? Yes. Is it dark? Yes, it’s the middle of the night. Ushio tells daddy that she loves him. Tomoya tells Ushio that daddy loves her. Ushio seem to breathe a final breath and goes limp in Tomoya’s arms, he calls to Ushio but she doesn’t respond. Tomoya shouts that he doesn’t want this, he calls for Nagisa to save Ushio, he calls for someone to save Ushio, and he collapses in the street with Ushio in his arms.

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      Then we switch to the dream world, the girl has collapsed in the snow and the junk doll gets her up, she thanks him and they continue to walk onwards. Soon the girl weakens and collapses again, and the doll stands over her and looks to the sky (for salvation?).

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       Then we listen in on Tomoya’s deepest thoughts. I hate this city and the memories only brings me pain; a home and a school that I don’t like. Then we see Tomoya walking towards school, and at the bottom of the school hill he meets the girl who says “Anpan”. She asks him “do you like this school, because I do”?, and she says  “nothing can remain the same forever”. Tomoya thinks to himself that if he answers her then they’ll meet, but he also thinks that maybe it’s better that they don’t meet? Well, that’s all for this episode.

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       I’ll be doing a slightly different type of review for this episode, this will be a more emotional instead of logical review. I’m going to forgo any type of why did this happen, or why didn’t they do that.

        For me what really stood out about this episode was Tomoya’s strength of character. After receiving the “fatal” news about Ushio’s illness Tomoya showed only one moment of weakness, and Akio quickly set him straight. A man has to be strong until the very end for the ones they love, and a man has to protect the ones they love to the best of their abilities.

      Any father would give anything, even their own life to protect their loved ones, but Tomoya faced the worse possible situation. Tomoya faced a enemy he had no chance of defeating, if you saw a car getting ready to run over your child you could push her put of the way sacrificing yourself, or you can step in front of a bullet for your child, but Tomoya’s enemy was far worse. Call it a curse, call it fate, or call it destiny, but in the end, it was a no win situation.

       I feel that Tomoya quickly realized that Ushio was going to die, and if he tried to fight, it would be like he was battling God. So, Tomoya decided to submit to fate and wrap Ushioin the a protective layer of love and kindness. While Tomoya’s heart was being ripped out his chest he only showed Ushio a gentle smile and a calming voice. In the end, Tomoya was able to grant one of Ushio’s wishes, he gave her the trip with daddy that she wanted, and he did the best that a mortal man could do. Well done Tomoya, I’m sure Nagisa and Akio would be proud.

       But there’s a limit to how much suffering and pain any one person can take before it overwhelms them, and with Ushio’s death I think Tomoya’s reached his limit. At the end of the episode Tomoya again asks himself if it would have been better if he and Nagisa had never met? Tomoya slipped into what I call “magical thinking”, this best described in Joan Didion’s book “The Year of Magical Thinking” (great book, if your haven’t read it, do so). In the book, the author experiences such overwhelming grief and loss over the death of her husband that she begins to obsess about if I did this, or if I did that, could I have changed to outcome? The question that Tomoya has answer for himself  is did his love for Nagisa and Ushio mean more to him than their loss? If he’s chooses the path of stagnation, will that bring him anymore joy in the long run? If Tomoya chooses the path of love and loss will there any salvation or mercy for him and his family? I don’t know, but I feel that the old saying  “it’s better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all” will hold true, or I pray it will.

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