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Clannad started as a video game and branched out into two seasons and a movie. Each season aired at different times, the first episode of the first season was aired on 2007. The first season is Clannad, the second season is Clannad: After Story and the movie is simply titled Clannad: The Movie. To specify, most people who have seen Clannad are of the eighteen to twenty-five age range as the series was aired in 2007 and the intended audience was teens at the time of its release. Although anime is becoming more and more popular in America, Clannad isn't considered a popular anime because it finished airing around the beginning of the anime boom. I plan to review the anime series as a whole and to answer basic questions that all anime lovers are forced to ask, here is what I know: the animated series comes in both English subtitles and in English dub as well as Japanese. Many fanbases do convert the series over into their own language. It's easy to find on YouTube or many fan-based websites for free. If you'd rather own the series it wouldn't break your bank, a normal DVD set costs around twenty to thirty dollars and is purchasable online or in specific stores. I personally would recommend purchasing the series and watching it at your own pace. Now that that’s out of the way, Clannad left me breathless; I do suggest it go on your list of must-sees. The genre is geared towards the female audience yet is set in the point of view of the male protagonist which is rather effective in its goal to attract the female audience throughout the plot.
Clannad is a tragic romantic comedy overall but holds a very important supernatural presence. On the surface, the description you'll find on most sites is very dull, missing a lot of detail saying things like: Clannad is an anime about Tomoya Okazaki promising to help Nagisa Furukawa restart the drama club. I look for a few essentials when searching for animes to watch: plot, character development, overall completeness, and cultural understanding. Clannad expresses all four points exceptionally well.
Clannad’s plot and character development go hand in hand in the first and second season. Essentially the two seasons are about Tomoya Okazaki, a third year in highschool who’s seen as a lazy, uncaring delinquent. At the beginning of the anime I personally saw how that was a feasible assumption, however, once he meets a scared girl repeating her last year, his world starts to change for the better. Tomoya has a lot of family problems and finds himself hating his town, hating how time never seems to pass. Nagisa Furukawa takes up more and more of his time when he promises to help her restart the drama club and find members; throughout the process they make numerous friends. Tomoya happens to find himself helping them achieve happiness through any complex struggles they may have and maybe even for himself.
As individual seasons, they have ups and downs. The first season seems slow but is more and more heart-wrenching as it progresses into the following season. The first season is slow in an effective effort of character development but the slowness may drive newcomers away from anime altogether—it's slow-paced but is very humorous. The humor adds a compelling element to it and can sustain the audience. I acknowledge that the development of characters causes a lacking of plot twists and could seem very boring until the last stretch of the first season. However, once the plot does show itself at the end of the first season, it doesn't stop twisting and shocking the viewer. The first season is absolutely crucial for the full effect of the anime's end in the second season.
The second season follows the characters after high school. This is a rarity in anime, most animes that take place during highschool never surpass high school life. It’s obviously created for a young adult viewing because the plot deals a lot with things that young adults might have to face. The change is one I really enjoy; the shift from high school to adult life. It expresses the struggles of losing your friends and facing adulthood. The first and second season as a whole take a lot of time in developing individual personalities, which I find to be one of the best things about this anime. The second season is my personal favorite because it brings all the unanswered questions to a close and shows their deeper meaning. This season goes much faster and relies on the character development in the first season to make the viewer feel as the characters feel. The thing that drove me to love this anime above all others is its multiple meanings to the individual viewer. It goes over some of the most common misfortunes in daily life while also expressing the deeper meanings through an eerie fantasy.
The series is complete; the series, in terms of information, makes me feel like I wasn’t left out of anything crucial. The movie recognizes Clannad more realistically and stops short of the full story. Which can be a pro and a con, but regardless the importance of seeing the movie is clear to me. It stops short but is not a cliffhanger as it does have a deciding end. Those who watched the seasons first tend to get a lot more out of it, even when cut short. It goes much farther in depth in important areas and makes you connect the original series to what you learn in this movie.
Clannad: The Movie is a summary of the most important parts of the first and second seasons but I wouldn’t recommend letting that steer you clear of what you may already know. However, in my personal opinion, the movie does leave out many important parts. It follows the more realistic ending and, although it's touching, is missing a lot of the original series. Some of the characters are exaggerated or completely taken out of the movie. This is due to lack of time to express all the characters diverse personalities. That is the main downfall of the movie version; however, I still find the pieces the movie does express to be important to your overall experience.
Those new in the anime community tend to wait and watch Clannad when they have a greater understanding of anime in general and all the trends odd to an American viewer. Without a basic knowledge of Japanese culture, a viewer may struggle since not all anime is as slow or as dramatic. Other animes often introduce the quirks in anime more gradually. An example from Clannad is the odd shyness of being in a relationship. Though not perfectly in correspondence to real life in Japan, many romantic animes express simple things like holding hands or calling their partner by their first name as extremely intimate, unlike in the United States. Some, more extreme, differences in culture can often confuse or even disgust the viewer.
Those who watch anime consistently would understand the cultural references, I recommend watching it before all the others on your list. Over all, the Clannad series has my highest recommendations! I recommend it to anyone looking for a anime that will make them laugh, cry, and fall in love with the story you behold. Though it may be difficult for first time viewers in the anime community, I still suggest you keep it in mind. There are a sea of hidden messages and morals that peek through too viewers. I believe the individual can take a lot out of Clannad and apply it to their own personal struggles. It's enjoyable and thought provoking. I can't recommend it enough.