The presence of this summary despite the fact that i've only written about Episode 1 may confuse you, but there is a reason behind it! If you're curious as to why, read on. Otherwise, feel free to skip ahead to hear my thoughts on the series.
I originally picked up Clannad a short while after finishing Angel Beats!, another story by Key - it was a fantastic story and I felt quite deeply moved by it. Therefore, picking up what is commonly acclaimed to be Key's greatest creatation seemed like a good idea. However, I soon came across the problem of an oversupply of content - so much was packed in to each episode of Clannad at first that my posts where huge - the episode 1 post was over 1000 words and took a long time to write. Consequently, I lost the motivation to write at what was quite a busy time for me and stalled Clannad, not wanting to get too far ahead before writing about it. It was only when my university's anime society announced that they would be screening it that I picked it up again. However, writing about 8 episodes at a time (as this is how many where watched at each session) was a bit much and I resigned myself to writing a summary only, and here we are.
Overall, i'm pretty impressed with Clannad. It had a solid plot, plenty of humour and very high production values. However, it does have a few shortcomings. Quite often, the plot was somewhat predictable. For example, it was obvious from the start that Tomoya would [spoiler]end up entering into a relationship with Nagisa[/spoiler]. Despite this, there where many things I could not have possibly predicted at the start or during the show itself.
From reading around, I had got the impression that Clannad was quite a sad show, in the typical style of Key stories. However, I did not find it nearly as sad as I was expecting. Certain scenes did make me feel sad, such as the end of [spoiler]Fuko's arc[/spoiler], although I was happy to see that [spoiler]she reappeared in certain later scenes - complete with intro sequence[/spoiler]! I was also expecting some more supernatural elements, such as explanation as to why Tomoyo and others where so strong.
The quality of the drawing and animation was pretty high. Backgrounds where detailed and often enhanced how a scene felt (for example, the lighting during the final scene of Episode 22, see the insert image). However, some background scenes could have benefited from additional animation rather than just being static. This is a common flaw with many anime series though.
I was somewhat disappointed that over it's entire length, Clannad did not change it's opening or ending music. I am glad however that they chose two fantastic pieces of music for the opening and ending. The opening, メグメル ～cuckool mix 2007～ (megumeru ～cuckool mix 2007～), was slow at first but became upbeat pretty quickly and the ending, だんご大家族 (dango daikazoku, Big Dumpling Family), was happy and a nice contrast after a sad episode ending. Background music was used well, however certain pieces felt overused - more variation in the background music would have been a good idea.
There was a nice range of characters within the series, they all had different backgrounds and pasts as well as different personalities. However, it did seem that females where overrepresented. This is probably due to the fact that the original game is somewhat of a dating sim aimed at males, therefore male representation is bound to be low! While they could have added additional male cast members, i'm glad didn't and remaind true to the story. So my complaint about a lack of males is more of a complaint about the original game rather than the anime.
Overall, i've really enjoyed Clannad. While it has a few flaws and isn't exactly what I was expecting, it has been a fantastic series to watch and I can understand why it is ranked as high as it is on various anime websites. I am looking forward to watching the sequel to Clannad, Clannad After Story, which as it's name implies continues the story onwards from the end of Clannad. After Story is rated even higher than the original Clannad and is apparently sadder so it should be another good watch for me. Due to the fact that Clannad isn't absolutely perfect, i've given it a rating of 4.5/5 but would highly recommend it to anyone.
For the society's screening, the US Region 1 DVDs by Sentai Filmworks where used. The translation quality was pretty good, but definitely localised rather than a raw translation. I was pleased to see that certain things had on-screen translation notes, but they often didn't appear long enough to fully read them. English-subtitled blu-rays exist, but are extremely expensive - approximately £450 compared to £35 for the US DVDs. While I own the DVDs, I will most likely watch blu-ray rips when I come around to re-watching it. Should I win the lottery though, i'll buy the blu-rays too!
Clannad's ending is quite different to the opening. While the opening starts off slowly and quickly picks up speed, the ending's pace stays mostly the same thought. Having said that however, the ending is an absolutely beautiful song, both in terms of vocals and music. The song's lyrics are quite unusual, describing a family of dango (jam dumplings). I'm not quite sure what relation has to the main series, although i've heard that it somehow ties in with the main series - something to look out for.
Clannad starts with an internal monologue from Tomoya about how he hates his boring repetitive life. However, on his way to school he encounters a girl, talking to herself, asking questions. Tomoya replies to one of her questions and begins a conversation. They continue their journey onwards to school.
After school, Tomoya visits his friend, Sunohora, who lives in the school's dormitories. However, he's fallen prey to the rugby team who are using him for scrum practice. Being the good friend he is, Tomoya stands back and watches. The rugby team don't disperse until dorm mother Misae chases them out with her mop.
After seeing Tomoya's normal daily life, we switch to a scene of a girl in another world (who looks suspiciously similar to the girl Tomoya met earlier) talk about her life - "A girl living alone in a world that has ended". I'm curious how this relates to the main series, is there more to Clannad than meets the eye?
Next time Tomoya arrives in class in the morning, he is approached by the class representative - Fujibayashi. She attempts to convince Tomoya to arrive on time every day, but doesn't get very far. She offers to read his fortune, the result being that he'll be late tomorrow due to having a romantic meeting with a sweet girl. Suddenly, Tomoya has to dodge a flying book - thrown by Kyou, Fujibayashi's sister. Kyou is very defensive of Fujibayashi and Tomoya has to explain that he's not picking on Fujibayashi before she lets him go.
During lunch, Tomoya is trying to find somewhere to eat his own lunch when he comes across the girl again. She refuses to talk until she's finished her lunch so Tomoya decides sit and eat his with her. Once she's finished she reveals why she's always alone - the previous year she was out of school for quite a while and consequently has had to repeat. Sadly, this means that all of her friends have graduated and moved on and she's having problems making new friends. Tomoya offers some advice, but unfortunately it doesn't work. Suddenly, a commotion is heard from another part of the school, so they go to see what's going on.
Delinquent kids on bikes from another school are performing a 'raid' on Tomoya's school. Another girl confronts the bikers, Tomoya gets ready to assist her when another student says not to worry. Confusingly, the girl is also called Tomoya. It's going to be fun differentiating between the two, so I'll be calling female-Tomoya by her other name - Sakagami. Sakagami is apparently a really strong transfer student, she issues an ultimatum to the bikers asking them to leave, however they instead decide to charge her on their bikes. Suddenly, she leaps into the air and kicks all of them very fast. We then switch to a "spectator's view" where she kicks them extremely fast. One moment they're on the bikes, the next they're all over the place! I found this really amusing and hope we get to see similar fights involving Sakagami. Lunch ends and the repeater girl finally introduces herself to Tomoya, her name is Nagisa Furukawa.
Later on, Sunohora confronts Sakagami and claims that she faked the fight with the bikers. She offers to fight him to prove it. Realising what a stupid idea this is, Tomoya backs away. Sakagami insists that the fight is seen as self defence and so Sunohora must come at her. As he does, Tomoya suddenly remembers a tale of a girl in the town who went around beating up tough guys. Unfortunately, it's too late for Sunohora who is utterly defeated.
Earlier on, Nagisa expressed a desire to join the drama club and Tomoya convinced her to get over her fears and just go along. Later on, he follows up and arrives just as Nagisa is about to enter. Unfortunately, no one is there - the club was disbanded due to a lack of members. Tomoya offers to help her get it going again. He walks back home with her and she asks him to come and visit her some time time. After hanging around town for a while Tomoya decides to drop by the Furukawa bakery, where Nagisa lives. Upon entry, he is offered a bun by the server (Nagisa's mother). Unfortunately it's not very good and Tomoya doesn't hesitate to make his feelings clear which sends Nagisa's mother into a state of shock, running off in tears. Nagisa's father follows up with a threat against Tomoya, until he realises that he's Nagisa's friend.
Tomoa is invited to dinner with Nagisa's family, who turn out to be quite strange. They instantly jump to conclusions about a relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa and start thinking up crazy names for poor Tomoya (personally, I think Okazaki Tomoya Eternal is an awesome name). After eating, Tomoya returns home to find his father asleep in front of the TV. He apologises for causing trouble for Tomoya which causes Tomoya to run from the house. He eventually ends up back at the bakery. Nagisa is in the park opposite and offers to take him "to the place in town where wishes come true". Tomoya agrees and the ending plays. It's perhaps not the biggest cliffhanger i've seen, but it certainly raises questions - it seems Clannad could be much more than just a standard school anime.
And now for a small off-topic rant: my posts about episodes appears to be getting longer and longer. Either i'm watching shows with much more content or i'm getting more and more verbose. I'd rather not write long posts as it takes a long time and also it spoils most of the story for that episode. I want to write about my thoughts on the episode and to post amusing screencaps, not narrate the plot line! I'll have to see what I can do...
Clannad (クラナド) is the anime adaptation of a visual novel of the same name. The story follows Tomoya, a 3rd year high school student who is bored with life. One day, he meets a girl called Nagisa during lunch and starts to get to know her. Tomoya agrees to help Nagisa restart the Drama Club and also starts interacting more with the general student population.
The storyline was written by Key (who have written many other visual novel titles and most recently wrote the storyline for Angel Beats!). Therefore, we can expect to have an outstanding storyline which will bounce us between happy and sad moments. Based on the initial storyline i'm not expecting much action, so this should be a nice relaxing series to watch.
The song used in the opening is メグメル ～cuckool mix 2007～ (megumeru ～cuckool mix 2007～) by eufonius. It starts off slowly, but soon builds up a nice speed and overall, is quite a nice song. The opening itself starts by showing a snowy scene, followed by a quick preview of each of the main characters (with the exception of Tomoya). The animation is both detailed and fluid, I hope this quality of animation continues through into the series itself.