Clannad


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.

       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.

 the-baking-crew.jpg

     This episode picks up a few weeks after episode 22, Tomoya and Nagisa have been dating for a while, and they really haven’t gotten past or even to the “holding hands” phase. It’s summer break and Tomoya and Nagisa are attending additional classes which Tomoya thinks are a waste since he won’t be attending college, but Nagisa won’t let him skip class. The girls pester Nagisa about how far her and Tomoya have gone, and even Youhei gives Tomoya grief about it. Later that day Youhei’s sister Mei shows up and Tomoya takes her to Nagisa’s house for dinner. The next morning Tomoya finds out that Mei and Nagisa spent most of the night talking about him.

lets-hold-hands.jpgmei-chans-back.jpgmeis-dinner-at-nagisas.jpg

a-sleeply-morning.jpg

     Also, that morning Nagisa, Tomoya, and Mei run the bakery so Nagisa’s parents can have some time off. It’s not very busy at the store so Mei goes outside to call customers in and pretty soon the store is full of guys checking out Nagisa, and when Tomoya runs out to see Mei he finds out that she is advertising cute girls in the store.

nagisa-looking-like-her-mother.jpgmei-adversiting.jpgi-can-pull-them-in.jpg

the-crowded-store.jpg

     When Nagisa’s parents return they are surprised at how much business the store did, and Mei tries to get Nagisa and Tomoya to tell each other that they love each other just like her parents do, this draws an embarrassed reaction from them. Later on when Tomoya is at Youhei’s place Mei shows up and tells him that she’s going to play cupid for Nagisa and him.

ill-be-a-cupid.jpgmei-and-youhei-koi-kaze.jpgyouhei-and-tomoya-yuri.jpg

please-buy-this-bread.jpg

     After Mei’s conversation with Tomoya Nagisa asks Tomoya to go for a walk and Nagisa tries to be more assertive and self-confidant but it only leads to funny situations. In the end Tomoya and Nagisa end up holding hands and Nagisa telling him I’ll always be with you. Well, that’s all for this episode below are some screen shots.

a-blushing-nagisa.jpgnagisa-11.jpga-blushing-nagisa-2.jpg

tomoya-taking-her-hand.jpglooking-to-the-sunset.jpg

     Well episode 23 was a nice way to wrap up the first season of Clannad, this Nagisa and Tomoya centered episode had a nice warm and cozy feeling to it with just enough humor it in to not make it too serious. For the most part Clannad was centered on Tomoya’s and Nagisa’s growing relationship with a few detours thrown in, so it was fitting to finish up on that note. 

     All of their friends are more worried about how far they’ve gone then Nagisa and Tomoya are, so this leads to the humor that followed. When Nagisa tries to change her nature at Mei’s prodding it causes many humorous situation but mainly it feels unnatural, and Tomoya figures it out pretty quickly. Tomoya main problem with Nagisa is her lack of self-confidence and with her trying to be more aggressive without the self-confidence is just wrong. But, by the end of the episode their relationship is on solid ground, not that it was ever on shaky ground to begin with.

     The only down note was the foreshadowing at the end of the episode, after the shot of Nagisa and Tomoya holding hands at sunset and her telling him that she’ll always be by this side, the camera pulls back to show clouds forming above them, but that will be left for the second season, Clannad the After Story

nagisas-breakdown-3.jpg

     This episode picks up the next morning, and Nagisa is looking very depressed and sad after last nights discovery, Tomoya tells her that they don’t need to tell her family that their leaving for school this morning. On the way to school Nagisa lets it all out to Tomoya, all her sadness about learning how her father gave up acting and her mother gave up teaching because of her, she feels that she’s having her dreams at the expense of her parents, and she says she’s a terrible child, if only she wasn’t here, nothing Tomoya tells her can cheer her up. Tomoya tells her that they are doing it because they want to and that giving up now would be throwing every-one’s hard work away for nothing, so we’ve got to finish strong.

nagisa-very-depressed-in-the-morning.jpgthe-long-walk-to-school.jpgthey-gave-up-their-dreams-for-me.jpg

im-living-at-the-expense-of-others.jpgim-a-terrible-child.jpg

     Everyone notices somethings wrong with Nagisa but Tomoya tries to cover for her. Later they spent some time wandering around the festival and get separated, Tomoya runs into Nagisa’s mother in the hallway, and she tells Tomoya to take care of her daughter. A while later Nagisa wanders into the reference library and Yukine directs her to the section that contains recordings of old school plays, then Tomoya sees Yukine and she tells him that Nagisa is looking at old school recordings. He rushes to the library where he sees Nagisa watching her father acting, he’s very good, and at the end of the tape he receives an award and declares his love of the stage, and his wish to become a professional actor.

the-crowded-school.jpgsome-stuff-happened-to-nagisa.jpgi-cant-help-thinking-about-it.jpg

nagisa-walking-alone.jpg

     As the play is about to begin everyone wishes Nagisa good luck, but as the curtain is raised all Nagisa’s feelings and emotions rush through her mind and she begins to cry on stage, Tomoya is in as much pain as Nagisa is in he struggles with whether to drop the curtain and rush to her or let the show go on, just as he’s about to drop the curtain Nagisa’s father rushes in and shouts to her to make her dream come true, and don’t be an idiot, a parents’ dream is to see their child’s dreams come true. He tells her that they changed their dreams to her dreams, and Tomoya tells her that she also carries Youhei and his dreams too.

nagisa-watching-her-father-perform.jpgeveryone-wishing-nagisa-luck.jpgnagisa-walking-to-the-stage.jpg

nagisas-breakdown-1.jpgnagisas-breakdown-2.jpgmake-our-dreams-come-true.jpg

     After a minute she composes herself and begins the play, Nagisa basically does a one person play that is the shared dream she and Tomoya been having, this time we see the dream world  in a more complete/complete form. After the plays finishes Nagisa and the crew receive a standing ovation, later Nagisa tells Tomoya that she remembers the rest of the dream, the dream girl and the junk doll decide to leave that world together, because the junk doll knows that there is a better and warmer place far away. Tomoya tells Nagisa that the play was wonderful, she asks him if that’s true, and he tells her that you know I never flatter. A while later Tomoya’s father shows up saying he watched the play and it was good, Nagisa admits that she sent the invitation to him, as he excuses himself Tomoya tells him to not to drink too much and he says OK.

nagisa-acting-1.jpgnagisa-father-watching-her-act.jpgdream-world-_1.jpg

dream-world-_2.jpgdream-world-_3.jpgdream-world-_4.jpg

dream-world-_5.jpgnagisa-and-tomoya-talking-about-the-dream.jpgthe-play-was-wonderful.jpg

     Then they both go back to the theater clubroom where a big after party is taking place. The next day Tomoya and Nagisa go on a date and have a great time together, at the end of the date they end up in the theater clubroom where Nagisa draws her and Tomoya’s name together on the blackboard, and finally Tomoya tells Nagisa that he loves her, and all Nagisa can do after hearing Tomoya’s confession is cry tears of joy. Well, that’s all for this episode, below are some screen shots.

the-after-party.jpgnagisas-happy-family.jpgnagisa-and-tomoya-on-a-date.jpg

nagisas-tears-of-joy.jpgnagisa-and-tomoyas-names-together.jpg

     Well as we come to the end of this incarnation of Clannad I’ll state right now that as far as I’m concerned this was the best adaptation of a Key Visual project so far. So tonight I’ll just review episode 22, and in the next day or so I’ll do a full review of the series. This episode concludes the Nagisa arc in classic Key style, plenty of tears of sadness and guilt leading to tears of joy. Nagisa’s problems were mainly caused by her parents underestimating Nagisa’s growth in emotional strength, her growth in emotional strength was brought about by her relationship with Tomoya, their relationship gave her self-confidence and the ability to express her feelings more fully than ever.

     One might ask what did Tomoya get out of the deal, well despite having a tough guy image he really was a slightly damaged and lonely soul, his relationship with her gave him someone he could talk about things that he would never have told Youhei or Kyou, two lonely and caring soul making a perfect emotional connection. But in the end Nagisa’s problem were caused by her parents being unable to communicate properly with their daughter, their fear of causing her pain ended up causing her more pain later on, not until her father and mother really communicated their true emotions to her in almost a primal way was this issue cleared up. If you want read a more in-depth comment on this issue please read my post covering Clannad episode 21. Finally, Tomoya made clear his feelings towards Nagisa, in a previous episode Nagisa admitted in front of her parents that she loved Tomoya, but all Tomoya did was blush, but at the very end of Clannad he tells her that he loves her.

nagisas-falling-tears.jpg

      This episode begins with the theater club conducting practice for the upcoming play, and with the members dividing up the duties and responsibilities to run the show, Nagisa is continuing to work on the plays script. When Nagisa and Tomoya arrive home her father gives them a video taped stage play for them to watch, while watching the play Nagisa reveals that she’s never seen a play (ugh), and by the end of the performance she’s very touched by the play.

the-vhs-play.jpgthis-is-my-first-play.jpgmoved-to-tears-by-the-play.jpg

      After the play over, her father takes Tomoya outside and they try searching for some reference material from Nagisa’s past to help her with the play, but they end up finding nothing. The next day at school Nagisa and the rest of the clubs members seek advice from the choir club on finding the right type of music to set the play to, after choosing the music Nagisa begins to act out the play with the music, and Tomoya makes the observation that now everyone is working together for a shared goal and enjoying the pleasure of working as a group. As the days go on the theater club is practicing and preparing more and more, Nagisa puts all of her efforts into the rehearsal, and she starts to get more nervous as the festival approaches.

i-found-the-potty-chair.jpgmore-practicing.jpgthe-group-backstage.jpg

     When they get home, her parents dote on her, and her dad says to Tomoya that when you have a daughter you’ll be like this, he says no way, but Nagisa says that she could see it happening because he’s just like her dad, that sort of bothers him. That night, Nagisa goes to Tomoya’s room to talk, and he correctly guesses that she’s too nervous to sleep, he says go ahead and be nervous it’s natural. Nagisa again brings up the subject of her thinking that she did something bad to her parents in the past, he thinks about telling her what her dad said but instead he tells her that she’s being oversensitive and tends to place blame on herself for things, so don’t worry.

youll-dote-on-your-daughter.jpgtomoyas-just-like-dad.jpgcan-i-talk-with-you.jpg

thank-you-for-listening.jpgyou-tend-to-blame-yourself.jpg

     She leaves his room thanking him for listening to her worries, she starts packing her bag for tomorrows performance, she needs a flashlight so she grabs one but the batteries give out, so she goes outside to the shed to look for some spares, and while in the shed she knocks over some boxes, the ones containing the stuff for the past that her father and mother were trying to hide from her. In the middle of the night Tomoya gets up to use the bathroom,  and before heading back to his room he discovers Nagisa in the middle of all the old photo albums and diaries, Nagisa’s father was correct in assuming that she would blame herself for her parents giving up their dreams, Nagisa is in tears after learning that her father was a actor but gave it up in order to care for her, Tomoya tells her not to worry about it and go to bed and he’ll clean up the mess. As Tomoya is cleaning up the stuff her father walks in and sees the situation, and he says what a mess this is, and there couldn’t be a worst time for her to find out. Well, That’s all for this episode, below are some screen shots.

nagisa-in-the-shead.jpgknocking-over-the-boxes.jpgnagisa-looking-over-the-past.jpg

nagisa-as-child-with-mother.jpgwhat-a-mess-this-is.jpg

      Well, now the review, as far as Nagisa’s father is concerned it all goes bad in the worst possible way, for along time Nagisa has been harboring a fear that as a child she did something terrible to her parents and that they were keeping it secret from her. It seem like this fear has been at the back of her mind for a very long time, it’s been building and it’s weight on her has been increasing, every time she has asked her parents about about her past they just avoid the question, this has to be the worst thing they could have done to make their daughter more uncertain than ever.

     Tomoya had a chance to tell Nagisa what she needed to know, he knew Nagisa’s fears and he knew her parents’ fears and he could have explained the truth in a way that was both truthful and caring to all parties involved, but he instead chose to only tell her not to worry and you tend to place blame upon yourself unnecessarily, he chose her father’s path, a half truth instead of the whole truth, as far as Nagisa’s concerned it might has well been a lie.

     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 saw 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 personal happiness and that they might/probably are unhappy now, what she doesn’t realize, and it was her parents responsibility to teach her, is that a decision like that 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.

 yes-i-love-him.jpg

     This episode picks up with Tomoya talking to Nagisa outdoors that night, after a while he asks her if she knows the storyline for the play she wants the theater club to put on, she begins telling him about a story from when she was young, and the beginning of her story is shockingly close in detail to the dreams he’s been having. The next morning we get to see another piece of Tomoya’s ongoing dream, this time we see the lone girl and the junk doll completing the doll they have been working on, when it’s finished the girl and the doll try to wake the new doll up, but it does not awaken, and the dream ends with the girl giving a tearful apology to the doll.

nagisas-story-from-the-past.jpgmaking-the-new-doll.jpgim-so-sorry.jpg

      That morning Tomoya tries to recall the past memory of the dream but it remains just out of reach. Later, Tomoya asks Nagisa’s father about her past memories, he says he has no idea, but he says to ask Nagisa’s mother about it, but if he finds anything out come to him before he tells Nagisa about it, that’s an order. Later at school, Tomoya goes to the library to seek advice about Nagisa’s story, but he has no luck, then Yukine gets Youhei and Tomoya to try a love seeking charm, after completing the charm the first girl that talks to you is the one who’s interested in you, Youhei has no luck, but Tomoya runs into Fuko but he stops her from talking to him than Nagisa speaks to him first.

try-the-charm.jpgfuko-back-again.jpgthe-shed-of-the-past.jpg

     Back at home, Nagisa and Tomoya continue their search for a book about her dream when her father overhears her singing the dango song, and he tells them why don’t they go inside and flirt with each other like normal teenagers, Ugh. Later that night, Nagisa’s father tells Tomoya the story of Nagisa’s past but he doesn’t want him telling Nagisa or his wife that he’s telling him the story. He tells a story from the distant past when he and his wife both had achieved their dream positions when Nagisa fell ill, and not being able to find someone to care for her, they thought that if they just left her alone of a little while it would be alright, but when he returned home he found his daughter collapsed outside in the snow, she almost died from this event, and after this happened they gave up their current jobs in order to properly care for her, so they feel if she learns this information that she’ll feel guilty, thinking that she was the cause of them giving up their dreams. Tomoya tells him that he thinks that Nagisa’s strong enough for the truth, but her father says he’s waiting for the right time to tell her.

ill-tell-you-the-story.jpgdont-tell-nagisa.jpgnagisa-when-she-was-young.jpg

     Later the family is planning a picnic and Tomoya feels that he’ll get in the way, so he heads to Youhei’s place where Youhei tells Tomoya that he shouldn’t have ditched the picnic because it would make Nagisa unsure/uncertain of her position. Youhei convinces him that if he no shows her it will put her in a trap, confusing her about his feelings towards her, so in the end he goes back to her house to join them on the outing. Because of his late arrival they only have time to go to a local park for a game of baseball and a picnic lunch, during the game Nagisa’s dad asks his wife if watching him play makes her fall in love again and she says yes, when Tomoya’s playing, Nagisa’s dad asks her if watching Tomoya’s playing makes her fall in love with him, and without thinking she says YES, shocking her dad and Tomoya. Well, that’s all for this episode, below are some screen shots.

nagisa-was-ill.jpgnagisa-almost-dying.jpgthe-family-outing.jpg

Nagisa’s feelings and her father’s reaction.

try-my-bento.jpgnagisas-love-blush.jpgnagisas-fathers-reaction.jpg

     Well, by the conclusion of episode 20, more of the loose ends of Clannad are being tied up, first we learn from Nagisa’s father about her past, and the reasons behind her parents almost overprotective nature. Then we also see Nagisa express her true feelings about Tomoya, as the storyline wraps tighter and tighter we get closer to the finish line. Nagisa expressed to Tomoya that she felt that she did something bad to her parents in the past, and we learn that these feelings are caused in part by her parents trying to shield her from the truth, as they avoid speaking to her honestly it only causes her to think she did something wrong.

      Next, we also see that Youhei being a observer to the current situation is more in touch with the real situation than Tomoya is, and in this episode he gives Tomoya some pretty sound advice. We also see that Nagisa can express her real feeling towards Tomoya, while he is unable to admit to her or himself how he feels (for Christ sakes just kiss her you fool). And lastly, I found the interplay at the baseball game between Nagisa and Tomoya to be very cute, basically they had a exchange like a old married couple, I’m off sweetheart, I’ll see you later love.

Next Page »