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Clannad – The Motion Picture – (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 3, 2011 by  



If you are an anime fan craving for a deep romantic comedy anime film that will definitely make you laugh and cry, look no further, “Clannad – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © VisualArt’s /Key/Toei Animation/Frontier Works. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Clannad – The Motion Picture

DURATION: 95 Minutes

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

COMPANY: TOEI Animation/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: March 15, 2011

Original Character Designs by Itaru Hinoue

Directed by Osamu Dezaki

Series Composition/Screenplay by Makoto Nakamura

Music by Yoshichika Inomata

Character Design by Megumi Kadonosono

Animation Director: Youichi Ohnishi

Art Design: Jirou Kouno

Sound Director: Tomoaki Yamada

Music Director: Seiji Suzuki

Animation Production by TOEI Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mai Nakahara/Luci Christian as Nagisa Furukawa

Kenji Nojima/David Matranga  as Tomoya Okazaki

Ryou Hirohashi/Shelley Calene-Black as Kyou Fujibayashi

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Greg Ayres as Youhei Sunohara

Houko Kuwashima/Kaytha Coker as Tomoyo Sakagami

Kikuko Inoue/Kara Greenberg as Sanae Furukawa

Ryotaro Okiayu/Andrew Love as Akio Furukawa

Plagued by a seemingly endless stream of haunting dreams, Tomoya drifts through life with an almost overwhelming sense of anger and emptiness. Then, one fateful day, he meets the mysterious and beautiful Nagisa and his world begins to change. While helping Nagisa revive the defunct Drama Club at their high school, Tomoya discovers that she has the same dreams. Their story starts beneath the cherry blossoms, but where will fate lead them?

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 which was followed by “Clannad: After Story” (which takes place ten years later), OVA’s, an animated film and a manga. As for the anime series, the 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”). All episodes for “Clannad” and “Clannad: After Story” are now currently available from Sentai Filmworks, released in Japanese and now available with English subtitles.

And now, “Clannad – The Motion Picture” makes its way to America but unlike animated films that takes a long running series and tries to whittle it down to 60-90 minutes, “Clannad – The Motion Picture”, like it’s Key counterpart “Air”, is re-imagined in a 95-minute film.

While the storyline has elements from the original TV series, the circumstances of how the protagonists meet and eventually bond is focused on and less storyline involving the other female characters that were featured in the TV series.

The anime series focuses on the character Tomoya Okazaki. A high school student who tends is not very sociable 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.

Part of the reason how Tomoya became more detached is his re-occuring nightmares in which he sees himself in a desolate area and is like a puppet.  He doesn’t know why he has these bad dreams but it starts to affect his life with his relationship with his father, detached from his part-time job and from everything else except hanging out at Youhei’s place.

But life changes for Tomoya for the positive when he meets a happy high school student named Nagisa Furukawa.

Nagisa has been sick for over a year and now is ready to go back to high school.  But she’s scared of new things and that means having to go up the steps to go to school.  Her legs are weak but when she meets Tomoya, she asks if she can walk with him.  He really doesn’t respond but she follows him up anyway and thanks him for being there.  Of course, Tomoya passes her off like it’s no big deal.

During lunch, when he goes up the roof of the school, he sees Nagisa there.  Nagisa doesn’t know what to do for lunch and he explains to her that most students eat lunch during that time and she tells him how she wants to eat an-pan.  Fortunately, Tomoya’s friend bought some and Tomoya doesn’t like to eat it, so he gives the an-pan to Nagisa.

Immediately, Youhei is surprised that he’s talking to her and starts to tease him.  He does his research and finds out that Nagisa is older than them but because she was sick, she had been unable to go to school.

While the two hang out at the school roof the following day, she tells them how she wants to restart the drama club and shows posters that she has created with dango characters (based on an old animation that she once loved) and starts singing the theme song to the show so happily.  For Tomoya, he has never met anyone so happy in his life and eventually, both he and Youhei support her choice to start a club.

Unfortunately due to school rules, because the club doesn’t have enough members, the executive committee at school posts red marks on her poster all over school which anger both Tomoya and Youhei.  Both guys try to prevent the committee from shutting down the drama club but to no avail.

The club still needs a total of three members and so Nagisa recruits both Tomoya and Youhei to join the club.  But both guys are not interested but she tells them that her goal is to do a one-person play and they don’t have to worry about a thing.  As Nagisa gets the support from her adviser to go forth with her plan, Youhei is busy with a part time job and so, Tomoya is left to hang out with Nagisa for the club.

Nagisa brings Tomoya home and for the first time, Tomoya gets to see how a loving family truly is and how comforting it is for him to be around her.

Will Nagisa be able to complete her one-person play?  And how will things develop between Tomoya and Nagisa as they grow closer to each other?

The main characters of “Clannad – The Motion Picture” 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.  His reoccurring nightmares have prevented him from functioning in life, from his relationship with his estranged father to his part-time job.
  • Nagisa Furukawa – A shy teenager who is passionate towards creating a drama club and also passionate about having an old anime series for the Dango Family. Her parents Akio and Sanae run a pastry shop where Nagisa helps out.  Her parents were former thespians who quit their passion to take care of Nagisa, who has had health problems since she was a young girl.  So, now she wants to do a play in honor of them for their sacrifice.
  • Youhei Sunohara – Tomoya’s good friend who always gets in trouble and is often seen getting beat up. He was once a star soccer player but when the other team started cheating and hurting him, he lost his temper and started beating on them and accidentally hurting his coach.  So, now he is off the team and is often thought of as a loose cannon at school.  His family is not doing well financially, so he must work a part-time job.

VIDEO:

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”, the animation and production is absolutely fantastic.

Because this is a movie, the production values are much higher than the TV series.  There is more detail and lighting effects and frames for the animation.  The film looks absolutely beautiful and one can only hope that Sentai Filmworks considers “Clannad – The Motion Picture” for a Blu-ray release.

AUDIO:

Audio is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0.  Because I first watched “Clannad” from Sentai Filmworks in Japanese, I just had to watch it in Japanese as I felt Mai Nakahara’s voice for Nagisa Furukawa was spot on.  I was surprised to find out that they used a different Japanese voice actor for Tomoya but Kenji Nojima did a great job for the movie version.  I did watch parts of the film with the English dub and while I felt that David Matranga has a more mature voice for a teenager, it works.  Luci Christian did a great job as Nagisa and Greg Ayres as Youhei.

But overall, the dialogue is front channel driven and dialogue and music is clear.  Seiji Suzuki once again captures the emotion of the film through his beautiful music.  Absolutely wonderful music in this film!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Clannad – The Motion Picture” features the following special features:

  • Production Sketches – Featuring the production sketches for each of the major characters in “Clannad – The Motion Picture”.  Using your remote, you can cycle through the various character designs of the film.
  • Also Available from Sentai Filmworks – Sentai Filmworks trailers
  • DVD Credits

There are not many anime series that I have watched and laughed and cried so much until I watched “Clannad”.

It’s one of those unique anime series that will capture your attention through its characters, storyline and artwork and for me, “Clannad” is one of the my top ten anime series of all time.

When it comes to romantic comedy anime series, from “Kimagure Orange Road” to “Maison Ikkoku”, as much as those are favorites of mine and have entertained me with their wonderful storyline, enjoyable characters and catchy music, “Clannad” while based on a video game and has some harem aspects, also had a very serious tone as the series progressed.

Before I go on with this review, it would be hard for me to review this film without talking about the anime series and spoiling several major details.  So, if you haven’t watched the anime series, please stop reading this review and watch the TV series first.

With that begin said, let me continue the review.

In the TV series, the first arc focuses on Tomoya and his friendship with Nagisa while other female students fall for him, the second half focuses on Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship and the third arc focuses on Tomoya post-Nagisa and now having to be a single parent to his daughter Ushio.

One of the biggest shocks of “Clannad” was the death of Nagisa and then you were literally kicked in the gut when you find out that Ushio has the same health problem but unlike her mother, who was able to become a woman…Ushio’s health deteriorates as a toddler.  This was the hardest thing to swallow for the TV series because the happy and chirpy anime series became serious and depressing.

With “Clannad – The Motion Picture”, there was no way they were going to fit the two anime series into one 95-minute film, so I’m happy to see that the writers did a re-imagining of the series but while still retaining the same, similar theme, the writers avoided any storyline that had to do with the other female characters and focus on Tomoya and Nagisa only.

The whole circumstance of how they met, how they grew to fall for each other has changed but in the way it was done for the movie, I felt it was done tastefully.  Whereas the TV series, it took some time to get there because the series would have a storyline for each female character and like the video game where one can decide which girl to be with, they retained that video game element in the anime series.  The film focuses on Tomoya and Nagisa and while I’m sure some hardcore fans of the series wish Tomoya can be with another character (which was explored in the OVA series), the fact that they came up with a new storyline for the two, really works.  As if the two were destined for each other and loved that touch to the film.

The only confusing part is when the two graduate and we see them with all their friends (including the female characters) and I found that interesting since the female characters were not so close to Tomoya and Nagisa in the movie but somehow they became good friends I suppose during Nagisa’s extra year in school.

How the movie makes up for time is through narration by Tomoya who talks about how they married, moved to a new apartment and then treated with shocking news when his friends visit him and you realized five years have past since the death of Nagisa and he is depressed.

In the TV series, so much emphasis was put on Tomoya’s lack of wanting to see Ushio because he couldn’t get over Nagisa’s death and Nagisa’s parents doing all they can to bring them together.

In the movie, it’s very intriguing because we see Tomoya’s father now putting an effort in becoming a better father and if anything, the way the film is put together, it’s a bit more realistic than the TV series.  No harem, no magical bunnies, no girl in coma and existing in the real world, it’s a straightforward film about living in desolation, finding love and losing love but to be given new hope.

So, if you are a fan of “Clannad” and enjoyed the video game or the OVA’s with the alternate storyline, it’s good to have another alternate storyline but one that strictly focuses on the two protagonists.

I really enjoyed “Clannad – The Motion Picture” and like the TV series, I laughed and cried and cried so more.  And afterward, all that I could think of is wonder if Sentai Filmworks will be releasing this title on Blu-ray as it would be an awesome release.

Overall, I highly recommend people watching the TV Series first before watching the film or at least watching the film and are planning to watch the TV series in the near future.  If you are an anime fan craving for a deep romantic comedy anime film that will definitely make you laugh and cry, look no further, “Clannad – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!






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