Welcome to First Time Classics. I am Krakken_Unleashed, resident newbie Otaku, and blog writer. First Time Classics is a (hopefully) recurring series I am starting where I will be finding well respected, liked or important Anime of the past, watching them as a first time viewer, and writing about the experience. This is not a review, but an ongoing impressions piece which I will update periodically throughout my first viewing. My hope is that through this series, you my readers may take a fresh look at shows you first saw ages ago, or find shows you have otherwise missed in your Anime watching careers. Potential future series may include Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Trigun, Kanon '06 etc.
But for my first endeavour, the show in question is, of course, Kyoto Animation's Clannad, and its sequel Clannad After Story. Which in total comes to 49 episodes. I plan to finish the series within the next couple weeks, and shall update this post accordingly.
Note on Comments: With my completion of this session of First Time Classics complete, I am now opening the floodgates on any spoiler talk you wish to comment on. You can now say all the things you may have held back before, so go at it!
So without Further ado: Lets get this show on the road!
What I Know Going In:
- This is a an adaptation of a Key Visual novel done by Kyoto Animation. So lots of cute girls doing cute things, and 1 boy who is dealing with all of them.
- The main character helps out all the girls solve their myriad of problems, also something about a drama club...
- This show makes people cry. Like a lot of people. Specifically After Story supposedly plays with the heartstrings. So I can't wait for that, and I am hoping my foreknowledge does't make me jaded when the time comes.
And that's it really, not a lot of foreknowledge, but that's okay, preferable maybe. So lets watch and see what happens.
Opening Shots - Episodes 1-6
Okay didn't know what to expect going in... but I don't think I was expecting this:
Anyways, so Clannad. Well actually I think I was expecting something, probably knowing it would be a tearjerker later, I thought it might steer more on the romantic/tragic side of the drama. And while there are hints of that even in these early episodes I was surprised at the amount of comedy thrown in. This is possibly due to my lack of experience with the genre. Or maybe I was just sold more on the romantic side then the comedy, but I think the blend works. Equal parts tragedy, comedy, and cute thrown in a blender.
The characters are all very cute and each has their quirks, not a ton of screen-time for most of them yet, but that will come in time. I hope.
Also we have some interesting mysteries and alluded to backstories which I hope get filled in, so I am optimistic for the future of this series. Can't wait to see the rest.
Moving Onward... Ready The Tear Ducts - Episodes 7-12
Alright, I'll admit it I've already shed tears watching this show, the wedding scene was beautiful, and the tears just started flowing. I mean I wasn't bawling my eyes out, but manly tears did fall. And by manly, I mean I'm a man who's a bit of a softy inside for these things.
As for the rest of the show. It's cute. there's really no denying that. It's a very sweet show, in a kind of calming sort of way. It is also very, well... lets say deliberately paced. This show seems to enjoy taking its time. It's smooth, almost placid. Not that its bad, but I find that it's almost shocking how long some of these arcs, and revelations take to resolve. I mean the introduction of Kotomi's "Bad man" takes like 3 episodes to really get anywhere. Not that it's the shows focus, but this show likes playing a longer game on plot than I'm used to from Slice of Life-ish shows.
A couple of other notes: I tried watching this last set of episodes in Japanese after originally trying the English dub. I think I'll stick to the Japanese on this one. The English just is not quite on mark for my taste. Also the cynic part of my brain is complaining that we haven't got a full explanation on Fuko's powers or situation. 'Cause seriously do all coma patients in this world have dream poltergeists? Or what's going on there. I just really want to know how a dreaming person can make real wooden starfish. Though this is just a nitpick, what the show gave us was fine, I just like the Sci-fi style technical explanations too, though I doubt I'll get it on this one. Still enjoying the show though, still as beautiful as ever.
One Down, One to Go - Episodes 13-24
So Clannad season 1 complete. That was an interesting series, no doubt about it. I think my tear counter is at about 3 or 4 now. This series does know how to tug at the heart strings, when it needs to.
I truly did enjoy all the major arcs is this first season, and it turned out a nice relaxing, cute and enjoyable tale. Though if I had one nitpick so far, it's that the series ending... episode 23, I found kind of anticlimactic. Apparently this was an extra episode during the original run, though the DVD set I am watching does not make that clear at all. But yes episode 22 is much better as a finale then the follow up episode. Because since I was marathoning the whole show, I just went straight from episode 22 to 23, which frankly was a surprise, but the last note of episode 23 was not as meaningful or touching as the end of 22. Even the Alternate Reality episode 24 with Tomoya made me cry and felt more complete than episode 23. I think 23 ends up feeling like a lead up for After Story, which thankfully I have ready to start immediately.
At the moment Clannad is a touching show, lovely and entertaining. I'm happy that they seemed to diversify the comedy latter in the show, especially when it came to the slapstick. And the touching moments were all handled well. Its a good show, though at the moment its not a must own series for me... yet. We will have to see if After Story changes that.
Also as a side note, I don't think that marathoning this show would be my preferred method of watching this show. Right now I am forced to do so due to time restrictions, but if I was going to watch it again I'd probably watch in shorter chunks, probably 3-4 episodes at a time tops, as compared to my current 6 episode sessions now.
Anyways onward to the Sequel..
Almost There... - Episodes 25-36
Stupid Westerner mistake #1... the school year in Japan does in fact not end before summer break. Silly fact to forget i know, but it was one I forgot going into After Story, so you can guess at my surprise when everyone ends up going back to school. Oh well, I guess they can finish school or whatever. Now on to the actual show...
After Story's first Half seems to be Side-Character Clannad the Animation. Which is great, though not what I was expecting going in. However the stories being told are great overall. I particularly enjoyed Misae's arc. I mean it got me to cry over the fate of a cat, and I'm not even an animal person to begin with, so well done there. Yusuke's backstory was also lovely in a heart-breaking way. His fall from grace was definitely moving. The other arcs- the Sunohara's fake girlfriend arc and the Gang war arc were also both good. However my enjoyment of both of those arcs was hampered slightly due to a personal quirk, which is I get really uncomfortable around story points about keeping up facades, and the eventual revelation of the lie. I don't know why it happens, but it is rare that a story with that plot trope doesn't set me on edge, at least a little bit. So yeah...
But in other news, we finally got the proposal scene! Yes!!! Well, I assume it's the proposal scene (see this update's pic). I guess there could be a more formal one later, though I doubt it. But yes, I have been waiting to see Tomoya and Nagisa move forward with their relationship, and it seems to finally be happening, so I'm quite excited to see what's next...
Picking Up the Pieces of my Broken Heart - Episodes 37-49 (Completed)
First off, yes Ushio's face in this update's picture perfectly encapsulates the state of my soul late last night when I finished Clannad After Story. The emotional roller-coaster that happened from episode 16 (40) onward was particularly engaging and heartbreaking. Im pretty sure I had tears for 5 episodes straight. and yes if there is any part of the series worth marathoning it is this last half of After Story. Everything from Nagisa's death, to Tomoya's and Ushio's reconciliation and up to Ushio's death was pitched perfectly, and hit every emotional mark to its fullest. Even the happy ending was just a cherry on top by that point. Seriously, this last section of episodes had been exactly what I had been hoping for, and got exactly the reaction I wanted to have. This ending arc has now catapulted what was before a great and touching show, into an amazing romantic drama that tears hearts asunder. Before I wasn't sure if I'd ever own this show, but now it is firmly on my list to eventually own, just so I can revisit this ending someday.
Some other notes: I did manage to catch the "Final Episode" marker on the title card for episode 22 of AS (46 in my count). Signifying that the last three episodes were extra material. So no confusion like I had at the end of Clannad season 1. (maybe I just missed the moniker before). Anyways the extra episode was definitely nice, as well as the Kyou chapter, both were nice beautiful pieces, and a nice little breather after all the drama that precedes them. If there's one thing I'm unsure of it's the inclusion of the summary episode, It was nice and all, but I don't know if it really did much. I would probably suggest not watching it right after finishing the series, as it's just a recap.
So Final Thoughts: This show was an amazing experience. my impression at the beginning about it being equal parts comedy, tragedy and cute I think held up pretty well for most of the series, until the end when they rocket the romance and tragedy up to 11, for one of the best endings I have seen in any medium. It was a pleasure to have, and one I would recommend to almost anyone. Now maybe I'll just listen to "The Big Dango Family" until my heart heals...
"Dango dango dango dango dango daikazoku..."
If you were looking for a review of Clannad, then I suggest going over to Rockmandash12's review which you can find here.
Please No Spoilers Spoil Away: With this session now complete you are free to spoil whatever you like in the comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Also my apologies. I accidentally deleted this post and had to re-upload it so previous comments were lost. I apologise, will try not to do so in the future.