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Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 11, 2012 by  



Incredibly emotional, hilarious and entertaining. “Clannad ~After Story~” is a perfect example of anime series that is an emotional rollercoaster that will definitely make you laugh but undoubtedly make you cry.  Tragic and uplifting, the best dramatic anime television series that I have ever seen in a very, very long time!  “Clannad: After Story Complete Collection” is a must-own anime series on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Sentai Filmworks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE:  Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection

SERIES AIR DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episodes 1-25 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV PG

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2012

Original Character Designs by Itaru Hinoue

Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara

Series Composition/Screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo

Music by Jun Maeda, Magome Togoshi, Shinji Orito

Character Design by Kazum Ikeda

Art Director: Mutsuo Shinohara

Chief Animation Director: Kazumi Ikeda

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Direction of Photography: Ryuuta Nakagami

Anime Production by Kyoto Animation

Featuring the voices of:

Mai Nakahara/David Matranga as Nagisa Furukawa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Luci Christian as Tomoya Okazaki

Ai Nonaka/Hilary Haag as Fuuko Ibuki

Akemi Kanda/Brittney Karbowski as Ryou Fujibayashi

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Greg Ayres as Youhei Sunohara

Houko Kuwashima/Kaytha Coker as Tomoyo Sakagami

Kikuko Inoue/Kara Greenberg as Sanae Furukawa

Mamiko Noto/Emily Neves as Kotomi Ichinose

Ryotaro Okiayu/Andrew Love as Akio Furukawa

Ryou Hirohashi/Shelley Calene-Black as Kyou Fujibayashi

Ai Bandou as Sugisaka

A few months have passed since Tomoya declared his love to Nagisa. Now their relationship is entering a new phase, and neither is quite sure where it will take them. As their friends move on to lives of their own, Tomoya and Nagisa get ready to start a family of their own. But Nagisa’s health has always been precarious, and an event that should bring nothing but joy delivers tragedy instead.

Now Tomoya must learn to accept the bitter with the sweet and to understand that the most important thing is to hold onto love, no matter what.

When it comes to the Japanese software company Key, many fans appreciate their work as the video games tend to be dating simulators for the PC and many other video game consoles.  Known for two visual novels “Kanon” and “Air” (both were adapted to anime series), the objects of the video games tend to be the gamer controlling the main male protagonist and with a lot of female friends, answering questions correctly in order to score.  The first two video games were adult-based but in 2004, the company released “Clannad”, a series that would not show nudity or fan service and a game for all ages.

“Clannad” received an anime adaptation in 2007 with a total of 23-episodes  and was released on DVD earlier this year in the US from Sentai Filmworks.  The second season known “Clannad ~After Story~” (which takes place after the first season of Clannad and then ten years later) is now being released in the US.   The anime series is directed by Tatsuya Ishihara (“Air”, “Kanon”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”) and a screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo (“Full Metal Panic!”, “Air”, “Burst Angel”, “Gravion”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”).  The character design for the anime series is by Kazumi Ikeda (“Kanon”) and is faithful to the original designs by Itaru Hinoue (“Air”, “Kanon”).

The series was released on DVD back in 2009 by Sentai Filmworks and in July 2012, the complete series will be released on Blu-ray featuring both the Japanese and English lossless soundtracks.

A summary of “Clannad” revolves around the character of Tomoya Okazaki, a high school student who tends to be late for class and has his share of personal problems at home (he and his father have not had a good relationship since his mother’s death) and pretty much spends most of his time with his troublemaking friend Youhei Sunohara.  Tomoya was once a promising basketball player in school until he was in a fight with his father which led to his arm being injured to the point where he can’t lift his arm up past his shoulder.

But life changes for Tomoya for the positive when he meets new high school student Nagisa Furukawa who he quickly becomes good friends with and helps her out.  Throughout the school year, he meets other female students that he tries to help out and becomes their friend.  And in the process, his friendships with these people help other people who are in need of friends.

The main characters of “Clannad ~After Story~” are:

  • Tomoya Okazaki – The main protagonist.  A delinquent in school who tends to cut class or fall asleep from class, his life is changed for the positive when he meets Nagisa Furukawa.  He hangs out with his good friend Youhei Sunohara.  In “Clannad ~After Story~”, Tomoya continues to live with Nagisa’s family and are now a couple.
  • Nagisa Furukawa – A shy teenager who is passionate towards an old commercial for the Dango Family.  Her parents Akio and Sanae run a pastry shop where Nagisa helps out.  Because of her poor health, she has been forced to repeat her senior year in high school three times but has grown stronger and more appreciative of life after she has met Tomoya.  Now dating Tomoya.
  • Youhei Sunohara – Tomoya’s good friend who always gets in trouble and is often seen getting beat up.  He is known for his blonde hair and has a younger sister named Mei who constantly worries about him.  Has no real aspirations in  life.
  • Kyou Fujibayashi – The twin sister of Ryou Fujibayashi. Very tough girl who gets in Tomoya and Youhei’s face and always thinks he is mistreating her sister or other girls.  Dreams of becoming a teacher.
  • Ryou Fujibayashi – Twin sister of Kyou, she is the most reserved and quite of the two.  She’s always defended by her twin sister Kyou.  Dreams of becoming a nurse.
  • Kotomi Ichinose – The smartest girl in  school.  Plays the violin badly.  Is given the chance to study abroad and is considering it.
  • Tomoyo Sakagami– The transfer student who is rumored to be a violent girl and she demonstrates her fighting skills by taking out two gangsters.  She wants to become a student body president and idolizes Youhei’s landlord Misae (a former student body president who was tough).
  • Fuko Ibuki – A girl that Tomoya meets in school and learns about her obsession with starfish.  It is revealed in the first season that the girl Tomoya met was the spirit of Fuko, as the real person (the younger sister of teacher, Kouko Ibuki) has been unconscious in a hospital for a long period of time.
  • Yukine Miyazawa – A student who works/hangs out at the Library Reference room.  Most people go to her to listen to her problems.  A kind person who tends to help delinquents and gang members.

For the first half of “Clannad ~After Story~”, the series picks up with storylines that feature the supporting characters and also revolves around Tomoya and Nagisa who ended with the first season becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.  Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1 – Furukawa Bakery is challenged in a baseball match and Tomoya and friends team up to take on the opposition.
  • EPISODE 2 – Mei comes to check on her older brother Youhei.  Youhei and Tomoya feel that if he had a girlfriend to watch over him, Mei wouldn’t have to worry.  So, Youhei finds a willing person to pretend to be his girlfriend.
  • EPISODE 3 – Mei and Tomoya are disturbed that Youhei doesn’t seem to care for his younger sister.  So, to test to see how much Youhei cares, Tomoya pretends to be Mei’s boyfriend.
  • EPISODE 4 – Things start to become tends between Tomoya and Ryohei as Tomoya can’t understand why Youhei doesn’t care for his sister.
  • EPISODE 5 – Misae (Youhei’s landlord) tells her story to to Tomoya and Nagisa about a boy she knew when she was younger named Katsuki Shima.
  • EPISODE 6 – Continuing the storyline of Misae and Katsuki Shima and how the story affects Tomoya.
  • EPISODE 7 – Tomoya, Nagisa and Youhei finds out why the gang members tend to flock towards Yukine.  A rival gang mistakes Youhei as
  • EPISODE 8 – With a gang brawl about to happen, Tomoya and Youhei are brought into it and we learn the truth about Yukine’s brother.
  • EPISODE 9 – Tomoya and friends discuss what they want to do when they graduate from high school.  Meanwhile, Nagisa becomes ill again and is bedridden.
  • EPISODE 10 – Tomoya takes a job at Furukawa Bakery while Nagisa repeats her senior year in high school once again.
  • EPISODE 11 – Tomoya gets a new job and moves out of the Furukawa home in order to become independent.
  • EPISODE 12 – Yusuke tells Tomoya his story and how he went from a popular musician to working at the same electric job as him.  Also, something happens to Tomoya’s father and Tomoya and Nagisa take the next step up in their relationship.
  • EPISODE 13 – Tomoya and Nagisa plan to get married but Tomoya must win her father’s approval.
  • EPISODE 14 – Nagisa and Tomoya are now married and take another step forward into their relationship with even more happy news.
  • EPISODE 15 – Nagisa is pregnant but her illness has come back.  Tomoya is told the risks of Nagisa’s pregnancy.
  • EPISODE 16 – Nagisa is about to give birth but with her ill and the snow so heavy in their hometown, what will happen after she gives birth?
  • EPISODE 17 – Five years later, Nagisa’s parents find a way to bring Tomoya and his daughter Ushio together.
  • EPISODE 18 – While Tomoya and his daughter are on their first trip together, Tomoya learns from his grandmother of how his life is similar to how his father was when his mother died.
  • EPISODE 19 – After hearing the story of his father, Tomoya decides that he must take the important steps in making things right with his father.
  • EPISODE 20 – Tomoya now does his best in trying to raise his young daughter Ushio, meanwhile Fuko and Ushio become friends.
  • EPISODE 21 – Ushio suffers from the same illness as her mother and now Tomoya makes sure that he is there for his daughter.
  • EPISODE 22 – Final episode: We then learn the purpose of the opening sequences of each episode of “Clannad” of who is the girl and the robot and an alternate universe.
  • EPISODE 23 – EXTRA – We learn how life was for Nagisa a year before she and Tomoya met.
  • EPISODE 24 – OVA: Another World: Kyou Chapter – Similar to the Tomoyo chapter OVA, this alternate universe is about what if Tomoya and Kyou were a couple.
  • EPISODE 25 – SUMMARY – A summary of events of how Tomoy and Nagisa met, to the day they got married, when she became pregnant and gave birth and Tomoya entering into a new world with a different outcome than what he had experienced before.

VIDEO:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” is definitely an improvement over the 2009 DVD release, and that is pretty good considering the original DVD was vibrant and beautiful to begin with.

So far, each anime series that were based off a Key video game such as “Kanon” and “Air” have both been fantastic anime series featuring vibrant animation, colorful backgrounds and just many settings that really make the series stand out.

The same can be said about “Clannad ~After Story~”, the animation and production is absolutely fantastic.  Kyoto Animation has done a wonderful job with the artistic backgrounds.  Also, the animation is solid and character designs are also done very well.

During my viewing, I did not see any banding or artifacting issues, black levels were deep and as mentioned, the series is absolutely vibrant and colorful.

AUDIO:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Back in 2009, the DVD featured only the Japanese audio soundtrack in stereo but now on Blu-ray, both English and Japanese lossless soundtracks are presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music coming from the front and center channels.  Surround channels are utilized for musical instruments and ambiance.

Japanese voice acting is solid and a lot of well-known Seiyuu are involved in the series.  Both Mai Nakahara and Yuuichi Nakamura were fantastic in the series and I wasn’t sure how the English dialogue would be, but sure enough, Sentai Filmworks did a fantastic job in the casting as David Matranga and Luci Christian were absolute marvelous in the English dub.  So, anime fans should feel comfort in knowing that both lossless soundtrack and the voice acting are well-done.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Ending Animation
  • Episode 16 Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary by English voice talents David Matranga (voice of Tomoya Okazaki) and Luci Christian (voice of Nagisa Furukawa).  Both voice talent discuss the anime series and their thoughts on their characters and the series as a whole.
  • Trailers – Sentai Filmwork trailers.

After gushing about how much I enjoyed the first season of “Clannad”, I was definitely looking forward to “Clannad ~After Story~”.

I’ve heard many times from fans of the series that “Clannad ~After Story~” is an absolutely wonderful conclusion of the series, so I definitely was looking forward to it.

For the most part, the first half of the series is similar to the first season of the series in that it focuses on storylines of several key characters.  In this case, a mix of the main characters but also supporting cast with a story focusing on Youhei and his sister Mei, Youhei’s landlord Misae, the library worker Yukine, the musician turned electrician Yusuke and then back to the primary characters Tomoya and Nagisa.

Like the first season of “Clannad”, the storyline for each of these characters are quite emotional.  From learning more about Youhei and his sister’s relationship and his respect for Tomoya, Misae’s storyline is quite interesting because she’s a character that is rarely featured and if anything, her storyline is tied to the character of Tomoyo.  But for the most part, her storyline is equally emotional and somewhat tragic as it deals with her past and why she has not moved on.  Yukine’s was OK and was more explaining her ties to the gang community and her trying her best to stop the fighting.  Yusuke, a character who really never factored into the first season plays an important part in Tomoya’s storyline, especially post-graduation.  But his story is short and is more to show Tomoya about protecting the person you love and doing what you can for that person.

But the underlying story in each of these episodes is the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa.  How these two are truly in love with each other and no matter how frail or how sick she gets, Tomoya’s love for her is strong and unconditional and it was great to see their relationship blossom even after Tomoya graduates from high school.

As each of the character storylines were enjoyable (and emotional at the same time), what I found interesting are the short opening animation on each episode featuring a robot and a girl which points to dismal storyline which is quite vague at this point but you suspect that something bad may happen in the series.   Is it a dream or is there some underlying meaning for those scenes?

The second half of the series is more realistic and heartbreakin.  as Tomoya and Nagisa now live their adult lives as a married a couple and eventually wanting to start a family.  We have received hints from the opening of the anime series with a girl and a robot but the storylines were vague until you reach this final half of the season.

The final half of “Clannad ~After Story~” is fantastic and emotional.    I don’t think I have cried this hard for an anime series since I have watched “Grave of the Fireflies”, that is how depressing and emotional that “Clannad ~After Story~” has gotten and episode after episode, I couldn’t stop, it was that captivating and suffice to say, you are pulled in as you have watched many episodes of Tomoya and Nagisa grow from their high school years and now to their married years and you have two bombshells dropped on you that is so emotionally hard to take in.

Also, knowing that those emotions and what you see, mirrors reality in knowing that there are fathers who have had to deal with a similar situation that Tomoya had to go through.  The series does have a happy ending and of course, the realism of the storyline can be lost but in the context of what we experienced throughout this series, especially with the Fuko and Yukine storyline, there are magical things that happen in the world of “Clannad”.  The balls of light that we have seen in several episodes and the discussion of alternate universes (especially with the two OVA’s), the screenplay plays off possibly like its video game counterpart that this is not a an anime series based on reality, it’s a series based on possibilities and anything is possible.

For the realists, one can feel that with episode 21, the tragedy that unfolds is their true conclusion.  For those who want that magical, happy ending… episode 22 and the final episode summary gives you that other option.  It’s interesting because typically, you don’t get a choice in the matter at the end of an anime series.  Pretty much at the end of a series, what is done is done (unless there is a movie or OVA version featuring a re-imagining of the series).  Not for “Clannad ~After Story~”, the series has always had its enjoyable happy moments and its emotional moments.  As a viewer, part of me felt that episode 21 is how things should be, to capture that realism of the storyline.  But knowing how things happened during the Fuko, Misae and Yukine storyline in “Clannad” and “Clannad ~After Story~”, magical things happen in the town where Tomoya and Nagisa live which can’t be explained and thus episode 22 and the summary episode is an ending that makes sense.

In the end and now watching this series from beginning to end and almost like a marathon, so captivated that I couldn’t stop, I realize why this acclaimed series is loved by many.  Definitely one of the best dramatic anime series I have seen in a very long time since “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Maison Ikkoku” and the “Video Girl Ai” OVA series.  It’s that magic that I have missed when it comes to romance and realistic drama series and it’s great to finally watch a series that really shows you the value of life and absolutely captivates you from beginning to end.

Overall, “Clannad ~After Story~: Complete Collection” and the whole entire “Clannad” series on Blu-ray receives my highest recommendation!  5 stars!

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