Quite possibly the most frustrating episode Kyoto Animation has done yet. I let this one stew in my mind a bit and watched episodes 19 and 20 to see where there going with the show before I posted my thoughts. Read on to see lots of screen shots.
Since I haven’t really talked about Clannad yet, for anyone out there that’s not familiar with the show let me first say it’s based off a visual novel by Key, the people that gave us Air and Kanon. Game play for visual novels normally revolve around trying to get the guy to end up with one of the girls by deciding how he’ll act and behave towards them (I’ve never played them so I can’t really say if they’d be interesting or not). In this case there are five girls with story arcs in the visual novel of Clannad with the main character Tomoya Okazaki.
Since the anime has to be told with all the characters together the animation house has to figure out which story arc will be the final one and how to integrate the other story arcs into the story. It’s quite alot of work to do it well and Kyoto Animation’s past Key adaptations Air and Kanon did this rather well. After Kanon I was expecting Clannad to follow the same flow with each girl getting 4-6 episodes mainly to themselves which we’d get to know the back-story of the girl and the main character helps that girl with whatever her problems are then that girl moves off-stage and the next girl starts her arc of episodes. Sure the storytelling can feel a bit odd but since I’m a back-story-aholic I liked how we got to now each girl well. At the beginning Clannad did seem to follow this pattern with Fuko then Kotomi getting story arcs but then Clannad seemed to change and it stopped focusing on a single girl. Episode 18 finished any lingering hopes of getting Kyou and Tomoyo’s story in depth (Yes Tomoyo’s name is one letter different from Tomoya’s)..
Episode 18 went like this:
“Can you hear me now?”
“The Boredom of Kyou Fujibayashi”
(I love how the sucker is translucent)
No surer way to a man’s heart then by helping your twin sister Ryou with her crush on Tomoya.
With Nagisa sick in bed Tomoya makes her move, using the “since you got suspended in my place, I need to cook breakfast for you move.”
Kyou and Ryou show up with breakfast.
Turns out all five have brought Tomoya breakfast and they want him to pick.
(purple eyes 4TW)
Tomoyo’s plan in helping his not-girlfriend Nagisa reestablish the Drama Club includes helping Tomoya get elected student government president but someone has been spreading rumors about her. The answer – have her show her athletic prowess against all the sport teams with the help of Sunohara and Tomoya. First up baseball:
The only way she was able to find the strike zone was to aim for Sunohara’s head. After defeating the guy’s baseball team she went on to other sports:
On the way home Tomoyo decides to tell Tomoya why she’s running for student government president.
Tomoyo’s parents where heading towards a divorce and the way that she coped was by beating up people to the point that her little brother was scared of her. When the parents began fighting about who would get which child, the younger brother had enough and decided that if they wouldn’t stay together he’d jump into the river. Luckily he didn’t kill himself and as he healed the parents fixed their problems.
The younger brother wanted them to view these cherry trees as a family every year from now on. To which the family agreed to do. Now fast forward a couple of years and there are plans to develop the area and cut down these trees. Tomoyo decides to transfer to the school at the top of the hill and run for student government president to lead the local community against this proposed development.
The next day Nagisa returns to school.
One final match, against the tennis team star. Nagisa is here to cheer with Tomoya and the twins see that these two definitely look like a couple.
Tomoyo asks “Haven’t we met before?” and Nagisa replies “Yes, my name is Nagisa and I’m trying to reestablish the Drama Club.”
Tomoyo realizes that she doesn’t have a chance and gracefully bows out to Nagisa.
The tennis match continues until the other player hits a ball very erratically.
And Nagisa gets hit in the leg by the tennis ball and the first words out of her mouth are “That’s Tomoyo’s point, right.” The other tennis player is concerned and runs over to see if he could help.
Tomoya is shocked when he blocks the tennis player from getting any closer. At this point it’s clear to everyone and their brother that Tomoya will end up with Nagisa (even if Tomoya still doesn’t realize that).
The twins are in shock.
(I love how the sisters are the ones in focus and not Nagisa and Tomoya.)
And with that, we end up with only the smallest amount of Kyou and Tomoyo’s story. Start the dango song (episodes like this, we really need a calming ED song) while the viewers try to staunch any tears.
Episode preview, more top quality animation from Kyoto Animation.
This feels like a more realistic form of story telling, which is a plus; but, I came to like how Kanon unfolded. With Clannad, I don’t feel like I know the girls well enough and this bothers me. At this point I’m willing to give Clannad a pass and not knock them for not following the same pattern as Kanon. I think it helps that I liked Nagisa from the very first moment from Episode 1. A re-watch will definitely be in order as soon as Clannad is finished (with the knowledge of what happens in the end) especially since I don’t think Kyoto Animation is doing a spring season show.