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Clannad ~After Story~ Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 12, 2009 by  



With the popularity of the first season of “Clannad”, the second season “Clannad ~After Story~” is now available and focuses on more characters from the series but also life after high school.  Things start to become more serious and emotional but definitely sets things up quite nicely for the final half of “Clannad ~After Story~”.  Enjoyable, fun and also episodes that will make you cry, “Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 1” is definitely recommended!

 

Image courtesy of © VisualArt’s /Key/Hikarisaka High School Drama Club.  All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: TBS Animation/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 20, 2009

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

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mai Nakahara as Nagisa Furukawa

Yuuichi Nakamura as Tomoya Okazaki

Ai Nonaka as Fuuko Ibuki

Akemi Kanda as Ryou Fujibayashi

Daisuke Sakaguchi as Youhei Sunohara

Houko Kuwashima as Tomoyo Sakagami

Kikuko Inoue as Sanae Furukawa

Mamiko Noto as Kotomi Ichinose

Ryotaro Okiayu as Akio Furukawa

Ryou Hirohashi as Kyou Fujibayashi

Ai Bandou as Sugisaka

At long last the hit series Clannad continues…

Sometimes, a new beginning can start with a “goodbye.” As summer vacation ends, Youhei slowly finds a way towards his future under the concerned and watchful eyes of his little sister Mei, complicated by Tomoya’s “brilliant” plan to find a girl to pose as Youhei’s girlfriend. The relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa develops and blossoms, even as Mei, Misae and Sane all have their own unique revelations concerning love, trust and their place in the world. But not every story ends with a “Happily Ever After,” and unnoticed by all, a dark cloud is building on the horizon; one that will shatter their young lives forever. The greatest tragedies and heartbreak lie ahead in the first collection of the long awaited masterpiece: Clannad ~After Story~.

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”).

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.

“Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 1” features a total of 12 episodes on two DVD’s.  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:

DISC 1:

  • 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.

DISC 2:

  • 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.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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.  “Clannad ~After Story~” is featured in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and picture quality for the anime series on DVD is wonderful!

As for the audio, the audio of the series is in Japanese 2.0.  Japanese voice acting is solid and a lot of well-known Seiyuu are involved in the series.  Dialogue is understandable and clear.  Personally, I chose to have my receiver play the series with “Stereo on All Channels” for a more improve soundscape.  As for English dubs, there are no English dubbed dialogue available for “Clanand” or “Clannad ~After Story~”.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 1” features the clean opening and closing animation and Sentai Filmworks 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, “Collection 1” 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 storylines 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 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?  Needless to say, “Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 1” sets up the emotional storyline which will take place in Collection 2.    So, if you enjoyed the first season, you know what you’re going to expect in “Collection 1” but knowing how enjoyable the first season is, you’ll find this DVD release to be quite enjoyable, emotional and entertaining.

As for the DVD, like the previous releases, there are not a lot of special features included with “Clannad” nor is there an English dub included (which I know is disappointing for those who have been waiting for one).  But you do get 12 episodes and for the most part, a popular series that many people have hoped to come stateside, is now available on DVD.    The voice acting by the seiyuu are well-done and the animation is just vibrant, artistic backgrounds wonderful and more the post part, another solid release from those responsible for “Kanon” and “Air”.

If you enjoyed the first season of “Clannad”, “Clannad ~After Story~” is another wonderful season and I just can’t wait to see what happens in the final half of the season (and I have been warned that the second half is a tearjerker and one heck of an emotional rollercoaster).  Definitely recommended!

 

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