Tag Archives: Clannad

Clannad: After Story – Anime Review



Related: Clannad (prequel)

Similar: AnoHana

Rumbling Hearts

Angel Beats!


Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Romance Supernatural Drama

Length: 24 episodes & 3 OVA



  • Grounding to the protagonist’s drama.
  • Improved over the prequel.


  • Emotionally manipulative.
  • Tonal incoherence.
  • Deus ex machina ending.
  • Irrelevant side stories.
  • Wish fulfilment treats adults like infants.

It’s amazing how easily the death of a character can manipulate an audience into thinking they have just witnessed greatness. Death is tragic, therefore, this story must be deep; a shallow story cannot possibly have death, can it? Steven Segal films must be emotional overdose to Clannad fans.

After Clannad’s immature take on life, I had hoped for something better in the sequel, but Clannad: After Story barely shifted the needle of quality. At first, After Story seems to cover the same ground, still following Tomoya’s penchant for helping every girl in town. The characters demand drama, yet no one acts as though they are idiots for manufacturing drama – all taken seriously, again. Moral lessons, while nowhere near as idiotic as before, are still immature. Really? Talking about the power of friendship will resolve an eternal hatred between two gangs? All I can say is good luck to Clannad’s writers when they encounter a real gang and try that solution.

However, ten episodes in, the story finally decides to get off its arse, drops the unrelated side characters (which highlights the uselessness of season one), and progress forward, graduating the main couple into adult life. Even then, it takes another third of the series for the first good piece of writing to enter Clannad’s folio, after the turning point. Tomoya has new responsibilities thrust upon him after graduation, and here, at last, we have a reality to the characters. Suddenly, the writers don’t need to force the characters to fit the drama and narrative (still not great, by any stretch, but better); the characters feel real. Shame the ending arrives a few episodes later to defecate rainbows all over the drama built up previously, all for the sake of wish fulfilment.

Experiencing tragedy in real life doesn’t grant you magical wishes unexpectedly. Or is that how Clannad’s writers think life works for those who have had it tough? If Clannad’s writers were in charge of competitions, they would stop the game in the final seconds and give the win to the ‘good guys’ because it feels good for the ‘good guys’ to win, it feels good to have everything go easy in the end. Doesn’t it feel just great when you can write away all worries?

They try to foreshadow the end, as though it covers their ineptitude, but all it does is cement how bad the writing is. Cutting to man dressed in red and blue every twenty minutes throughout The Lord of the Rings would not make Superman showing up to laser the ring at the last second a good ending. A foreshadowed deus ex machina is still a deus ex machina. The foreshadowing makes it worse because now you know the explanation is terrible; without the foreshadowing, you could have at least said “some unknown magic mumbo jumbo caused it.”

Suffice it to say, After Story does an atrocious job merging its “realism” and magical elements. The two are kept apart for the entire story, only for the magic to resolve the end. I get the feeling the writers only included the ‘magical’ part of the ‘magical realism’ genre to execute their wish fulfilment.

Clannad: After Story should have started after the turning point, two-thirds of the way through the series, and done a How I Met Your Mother style story. Tomoya, a grown up, would tell his story to someone younger, interspersing present tragedy with past humour. Drop the rubbish drama from season one, axe the majority of the side characters, dunk the harem into a wood chipper, and focus on the progression, on Tomoya and Nagisa’s story – while at it, give her a personality and dimension. She’s still as bland as water crackers. And for the love of fiction, get rid of the ending; in fact, this studio should stay away from magical elements – third story from them that has failed in this regard.

In the end, we have a series with ten largely irrelevant episodes, then some relevance, followed by a jarring tonal shift, which should have been the start, a wish fulfilment ending, and emotional manipulation throughout. I worry for those who say After Story was life changing – kill a character, and seemingly all anime fans label it a masterpiece. Any who take life lessons from Clannad are in for a rude awakening once reality punches them in the face – reality won’t grant you a wish afterwards either.

Art – Low

Slightly less Space for Rent. I almost gave Art a medium, as the quality has improved, (eyes aren’t so lifeless and less drugged girls), but when the characters look like high school juniors (in the same awful character design) despite years of growth, I find little to praise. Backgrounds are nice.

Sound – Medium

For the one-third of grounded drama, the script is of a better quality (not great), but the rest of the series drags it back down. Music overpowers the actors at times (reminds of Mrs Weasley and Celestina Warbeck versus Fleur Delacour).

Story – Low

After Story starts with the same immaturity as before, but once the characters progress, the story shows glimpses of quality. Shame the ending doesn’t like quality – truly one of fiction’s worst.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Not worth your time unless looking to see whether you are easily manipulated by emotion. Clannad: After Story is a definite improvement over Clannad; however, anime has so many better romantic dramas to get through before you have to scrape this.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None


Deus Ex MachinaInduces Stupidity

Clannad – Anime Review

Japanese Title: CLANNAD


Related: Clannad: After Story (sequel)

Clannad: Another World (alternative endings)

Similar: Kanon




Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Comedy Romance Supernatural Drama

Length: 23 episodes & 2 OVA



  • Consistently good humour.
  • Nowhere near as bad as Air.


  • Childish characters.
  • Immature view on reality.
  • Pretentious attempts at depth.
  • ‘Space for rent’ art.
  • Often awkward dialogue.

Over my years as an anime consumer, a great many people have told me of Clannad, of its emotional depth, of its brilliance as a romantic drama that plucks one’s heartstrings like a sombre harp. “Clannad builds you up with cute characters before it tears your heart down piece by piece,” one recommender said, tears swimming in his eyes. But, alas, my heart remains untouched.

Clannad’s pretentious opening scene should have been indicator enough of things to come. The tale starts with Tomoya on his way to school as he sees the strange girl Nagisa talking to herself, conveniently about what he needs to hear. And when she turns those football-sized eyes, with enough space to park a Hummer between them, they become friends, for some reason.

Despite this setup, romance isn’t Clannad’s focus – the Tomoya-Nagisa plot prevails for but a handful of episodes. No, Clannad’s core is Tomoya and his penchant for helping those in need. The narrative introduces several classmates and town citizens, both groups overwhelmingly female, with life problems for Tomoya to fix, occasionally taking a supernatural slant. Nagisa, for example, seeks to revive the drama club. A woman suffers from the dissolution of her engagement – those sorts of dilemmas. Though half-a-dozen girls surround Tomoya, Clannad isn’t a harem anime, at least. The cast instead gives off a softcore visual novel vibe.

My first issue with Clannad stems from the art, for it leaps off the screen with its hideous nature. I cannot take these girls’ issues seriously when they have doped eyes bigger than Tifa’s bosom with the Pacific Ocean between. All these women look so brainless. I actually enjoyed Clannad more when not watching the screen, merely listening in periphery.

You tell me you can stomach the art? Alright, doing my best to ignore the space so big no billionaire can afford its rent in Tokyo, let’s look at them as characters. Childish, like the art, is how I describe them. Remember, these girls are supposed to be high school seniors, yet they have a mentality I wouldn’t find acceptable in an infant. They flutter their eyelashes, squeak their words like the most sickly of moe characters, giggling throughout, and we are supposed to find these girls intelligent? No, these girls aren’t deep; they are empty characters built with no emotional connections. They are quirky, yes, but not flawed. Not real. And the dialogue is so awkward. When these characters speak in the serious moments, I never hear a person. All I hear is the script recited by actors. I can hear the scriptwriter’s comments on the page noting, ‘This line is emotional,’ ‘This line is to convey depth,’ ‘The audience needs to know Tomoya is insightful from this monologue.’

This immaturity extends beyond the personalities into the logic this anime believes of reality. One kid’s parents are getting a divorce, so the kid jumps off a bridge and this magically fixes the marriage. No, no, this isn’t some fake “let’s pretend to care about each other before she blows her brains out in the girls’ locker room” arrangement; we are genuinely meant to believe all is well. There aren’t enough Picard facepalms on the internet to accommodate such idiocy.

Where Clannad does succeed is in the humour, particularly with Tomoya’s sidekick Youhei involved. His rivalry with the ‘strong girl’ of the group had me every time. After she lays the smackdown on him, he keeps challenging her, unable to let the defeat go. His strategies are most peculiar. “You have to lend me your breasts!” he shouts at her. “Why?” she asks. “Did you see? Did you see that? Her asking ‘why’ means she can lend me her breasts to me, right. Then that means her breasts aren’t real; they’re removable!” What a genius. Clannad is genuinely funny. In fact, it feels as though a different writer handled the comedy.

I don’t regret my time with Clannad. The comedy was enjoyable when not interrupted by the shallow drama and false emotions. I only wish they had a better scriptwriter. Here’s to hoping the sequel hired someone new… At least this doesn’t sink as low as Air.

Art – Low

Hideous character design, especially for females – the adults even look like pre-teen girls. Animation is alright, at least.

Sound – Medium

Acting is fine, in either language – the script brings them down. The music is on the cheerful side – cute ED.

Story – Very Low

A high school guy helps many girls with their problems. Immature in characters, plot, and emotion.

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: Watch the best comedy bits on YouTube. The soulless drama in Clannad isn’t worth your time.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)




Atrocious PlotAwful DialogueInduces StupidityUgly Artistic Design