“Learning To Like You” – Clannad, Season 1 (anime) – 9/10 Streamers

When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams. ~ Dr. Seuss

Genre: School/Romance/Comedy/Drama/Supernatural/Fatnasy

Review Status: Complete (24 Episodes/24 Episodes) + Another World: Tomoyo Chapter

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: This looks really good. It does have Key’s traditional character designs (unusually big and spaced-apart eyes), each character looks fairly unique, and the colors are nice and bright. The animation is equally nice, with no drops in quality to be seen. The CG is looking a little obvious, but the animation is really smooth for those parts too.

Dub Vs. Sub: I own the sub-only disks. The sub is pretty good, each character’s voice fitting the character quite well. I did have a small problem with the voice of one of the girls when she was a child (could tell that she was an adult trying to sound younger), but really nothing to complain about. There was a misspelling I noticed in one episode, but overall that’s a good number for this amount of episodes.

Summary: In life, the only second chances… are those you make yourself… Sometimes, something as simple as a chance encounter with a strange girl talking to herlsef can change your life forever. Tomoya has been spiraling into delinquency since the death of his mother. Nagisa’s curse is her fragile health, which has forced her to repeat a year of high school. But when Tomoya impulsively agrees to help Nagisa restart the school’s disbanded Drama Club, a new mechanism for change is created, acting like a magnet for other girls with equally tragic stories. Prepare to meet the ambitious Tomoyo, who dreams of becoming class president; Kotomi, a troubled genius with a secret past; and most mysteriously, Fuko, whose disassociation with the world has become so severe that she is literally fading from existence! (Back of dvd cover for S1 Part 1)

Review: Clannad is often seen as the pinacle of romance anime, and for good reason. This is about a guy that many can relate to- someone who’s got a mischevious side, but is genuinely kindhearted and wants to help others. Tomoya might not be perfect but when he sets his mind to something, he’ll give it his all to help. His friends all range in personalities, from the socially inept Kotomi, to the stong and determined Tomoyo, and a range of in-between. Watching him help them with their issues is fascinating, as you can see how his relationship with the quiet and gentle Nagisa slowly deepens and grows over time and through the various issues that they deal with. Since this is a slice of life, it covers their daily lives and how they deal with what life throws at them, and it’s a fascinating thing. Nagisa can come off as a rather weak character- not just physically- but her arc is the best of the three. It’s hard to deal with the legacies that our parents leave us, intended or not, and she must deal with the guilt that comes from that.

The first two arcs- Fuko’s and Kotomi’s- aren’t as strong, but serve as good build-up to that main arc. Fuko’s arc shows how Nagisa and Tomoya can be drawn together, and brings their friends into a very touching scenario. Everyone wants the person they love to be happy when we can’t be there for them, and the well-wishes that are in this one really shine. If only Fuko could stay relegated to that arc! Her little cameos in the other are both cute and frustrating, in one case completely distracting from what was going on. Thankfully, there aren’t many of them. Kotomi’s arc is the weakest one, in many ways. The plot concerning her parents is half-baked at best, attempting to draw in the mystery of the little ‘story’ told at the beginning of the episodes, but ultimately giving no insight into it. The story of the suitcase drops everything in favor of sentimentality. I’m all for messages in a bottle, but some things push logic too far- including something travelling literally around the world with nothing but initials to help it find it’s owner, doubly so when it passes through the hands of normal, non-Japanese speaking people. I’m willing to go with Fuko’s arc because it’s made to be fantastical, not with Kotomi’s because it’s meant to be more realistic (and fails hard at it). What is nice is that through these arcs, Nagisa and Tomoya’s friends are all rounded out. None of them are there simply to be there.

This is definitely not as strong as it could be, and does fall into some of the sentimentality issues that it’s predecessors did (and since I have seen Kanon, couldn’t help comparing. Some things seemed to be better done in Kanon, while others were taken and improved on in Clannad). Even so, this has a very strong showing, and ends up being a lot more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s about friendship, about growing up, about family, and about falling in love. Clannad manages to tell a story about these things that is senseitive and interesting. It will be necessary to watch the second season in order to wrap up plot threads, such as his relationship with his father and how his and Nagisa’s lives will turn out, but I’m not disappointed by that in the least- somehow, I don’t think that it will let me down.

As for the Tomoyo chapter (one episode long), this really works best when you haven’t seen the fist season. It’s an interesting look at what would have happened if Nagisa hadn’t been there. This episode works in a number of ways, showing how determination can win the day, how to not give up, how love isn’t as far away as it can seem… and even showing that when two people love eachother, they’ll make it work- part of a relationship is sacrifice, and acceptance. And it carries that theme across beautifully.

Overall, this is a great beginning to a wonderful show, and really does do some great things with character growth and development- getting the ground laid for a terrific romance.

Recommended: 13+. There’s really not much that’s family-unfriendly in this one, except for one or two jokes about porn magazines, and the girls questioning Nagisa on how far she and Tomoya have gotten. There is also a lot of comedic violence in the form of Sakaki, Tomoya’s best friend, getting beaten up for constantly questioning whether Tomoyo is actually a girl (she is). There is also some actualy fighting- some punches and kicks are thrown, but the injuries are only bruises and scrapes. You could find the same violence on Saturday Morning cartoons.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Clannad ~Afterstory~ (anime)

Clannad (Visual Novel)

Kanon, 2006 version (anime)

Air (anime, not movie)

Ef ~A Tale of Memories~ (anime)

Ef ~A Tale of Melodies~ (anime)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)

NANA (anime and manga)

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TWWK
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 21:08:48

    I’m a little surprised you liked the series – but I’m happy, because I enjoyed it as well. I’m certainly interested in your thoughts on the second season.

    The Kotomi arc, by the way, was my favorite – I really fell for the sentimentality of it all. 🙂

    Reply

    • sweetpea616
      Jan 21, 2012 @ 10:19:56

      I’ve enjoyed most of what Key has put out so far, and have a definite fondness for slice-of-life. This is actually right up my alley. I almost fell for the sentimentality of the Kotomi arc, but unless she’s going to be figuring out what her parents were researching about the town in the second season, this arc actually dropped my rating two stars. The Tomoyo chapter brought it back up. There’s only so far sentimentality can get you! 😛

      Reply

  2. Wallachia
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 15:29:37

    I’m glad to see that you enjoyed Clannad. Do you plan to watch the sequel soon? I’m very eager to read what you’ll have to say about it, since it’s one of my favorites.

    Reply

    • sweetpea616
      Jan 22, 2012 @ 20:50:56

      I’m currently in the middle of watching it, actually! So It should be coming out soon after I post my review for Last Exile. I’m excited about watching it, too, but am definitely not at the best part yet!

      Reply

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