10 September 2014 | mikeyk255
I've honestly never been able to say any film or television series has changed me as a person until now
Introduction; I've honestly never been able to say any film or television series has changed me as a person until now. I'm not going to write any specific detail about the series (no spoilers here!) Be careful with reviews and especially comment areas about 'after story' unless you want the plot to be ruined, 2 words seen accidentally did this for me! The definition of good artwork in my opinion is any media that provokes an emotional reaction and this is how I've reviewed the series and why it gets 10/10. Clannad and Clannad After Story will leave you reaching for tissues and possibly even questioning the way you look at life. Being new to the anime genre, I started watching this with a fair amount of skepticism. After all, how grown up or engaging could a 'cartoon' about the lives of some high school children possibly be? The first few episodes left me feeling a little embarrassed for watching them to be honest (its been 12 years since I was in school) but I told myself I was going to give it a proper try and am glad I did.
Structure review; The detail put into character development is second to none, half way through the first series I was highly engaged with the main characters going about their mostly? normal lives, in fact most of the first series seems to be primarily character development with some supernatural elements and a large portion of school / slice of life thrown in. At the core of the story, Its the usual rebel boy meets goody girl cliché, fortunately there's enough detail put into making this believable as well as character role reversal that it doesn't get dull, added to that the main story is interwoven with some wacky sidekicks having stories and oddities of their own and also dropping hints towards the greater picture. There's also a great deal to be learned about typical Japanese culture and the rich nature of their imaginations when telling a story. Animation and sound.. i cant really comment, it was my first anime so i had no comparison at the time, however some scenes particularly from the side story were very imaginative. The dubbed version I watched was well done and some of the sound, IE a certain song (u'll see) added while very simple was cleverly effective at expressing character emotion.
The second series 'After Story' holds most of the actual content as it follows the lives of the main characters after they leave school and over the next 7 years. I've never seen this done before and it was nice to see how the characters grew and progressed. This is where the story really begins and will hit you with spectacular ups and downs as well as rounding off stories for some of the lesser character arcs. While some may be tempted to skip straight to series 2 I would consider this a huge mistake as your connection to characters will be largely meaningless. Try to pay particular attention to any strange myths/legends that are mentioned as many of them form the more advanced version of the ending!
Getting to the sub-story set in an alternate reality... separate from time yet running in parallel with both series and key to the ending or at least if you want to come away from it without questions. This is my only criticism of the entire series, while I had no problem coming to a semi accurate conclusion, I know a lot of people did have lingering questions. This isn't to say the series isn't concluded, but rather there's a much more complex explanation of exactly what happens available in the visual novel which is rather hard to get to from the series alone, which only offers u tiny pieces of the whole picture and generally tries to hide those in the middle of some obscure dialog or graphically semi hidden at the edge of the scene or behind characters we're focused on. In fact I would have liked to have seen a third series detailing the events that happen off screen and in repeated time lines that you're left to piece together for yourself. I even go so far as to suggest they might have intended this originally as so much content was omitted or crammed into the final episode, either that or they just wanted a simpler version. Some will say it was presented this way purposely for effect though causing (almost all) explanations regarding the end you can find to be wrong or missing large parts of information.
Taste + genre; I think people of any tastes will enjoy watching these series given a serious attempt, Its obviously aimed at the young adult demographic. An interest in anime, romance, supernatural or science fiction genres will help things a long. Die hard action fans may want something else however i challenge even the manliest to watch both series and then say they felt nothing.
Recommendations to watch after this (Similar); Clannad (After Story) Obviously! Anything else by Kyoto Animation, in particular; The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006 - 2009) 2 series anime, similar school setting but the focus is more on Sci-Fi and comedy, IE more content, less tissues! The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010) Film set after the series above, watch the series first or it wont make any sense! Air (2005), Kanon (2006) both single series anime; These are both very similar to Clannad and feature the same highly emotional plot lines.
Other recommendation (Something different); Kara No Kyoukai (a set of 8 films, adult only content!) probably the best newer anime films available. The stories are complex and told out of chronological order so requires a lot of thought at the start but the animation and sound are simply beautiful, especially during the action scenes.
All in all.. 10/10!