The ending for Clannad After Story aired this week, and although there were quite a few dull moments, the series managed to pull off a decent story.
Clannad After Story continues where the first season left off with player Tomoya dumping his harem in order to go out with the dango-obsessed Nagisa. The beginning of After Story has the same feel as the first season of Clannad where everyone is enjoying their high school lives playing baseball and getting into gang wars (yep, a gang war in a romantic comedy). I’m not saying this part was particularly bad, but after an entire season of school life, I was really hoping that the second season wouldn’t be all like this. The fact that this part of After Story only focused on the minor characters also made it less interesting since they have nothing to do with the main plot. The only really memorable parts were when Kotomi calculated (on the spot no less) exactly where the pitcher was going to throw the ball while playing baseball, and when Nagisa combined her mother’s bread with (what we assume to be) Akiko’s jam from Kanon to make a super-deadly rainbow combo that knocked everyone out.
After 9 episodes of insights into all the minor characters, all the 3rd year students finally graduate from high school (except for Nagisa due to her illness). At this point I was relieved that they weren’t going to make the whole season a repeat of the first but with a larger focus on the minor characters, but the series just went downhill even more. I’ve always wondered why anime never continued beyond the end of high school and now I know. People who don’t continue their education after high school usually end up looking for work and a place to stay after they graduate, and that’s exactly what happened in After Story with Tomoya. I’m sure most people out there have experienced what it’s like to look for a job or a cheap place to live, now imagine watching someone do this and adjusting to his new way of life (sounds boring, I know). The only things that made this bearable were Akio’s (Nagisa?s father) crazy antics and those random scenes with a little girl and robot in an empty world. In every episode there’s a 1-2 minute scene where they show a girl in a white dress and a robot with no means of communication except for hand gestures. Over the course of a few episodes, we learn that the world in which they live has no other inhabitants and that the girl will no longer be able to move when winter approaches. I thought having the girl and robot was? a really effective way for the writers to keep viewers watching the series through all the boring parts and minor character fillers, since you’re always wondering what will happen to the girl once winter arrives and what it has to do with the main story.
The story continues on after Tomoya settles in to his new life working as an electrician with him proposing to Nagisa and the two of them eventually getting married and having a baby daughter, Ushio. The part between Tomoya and Nagisa’s marriage and the end of the series was surprisingly much better than the rest of the series, focusing on Tomoya?s relationship with his family and how he copes when tragedy strikes. This part was very emotional and more like what you would expect from the creators of AIR and Kanon (it even has a surprise ending).
Overall, I thought After Story was way too long for the main plot. Instead of having a dozen or so episodes of fillers about all the minor characters, they should have gone straight to graduation and moved on to Tomoya and Nagisa’s marriage and Tomoya’s relationship with Ushio. If you’re looking for an anime to blow you away, Clannad After Story probably won’t do that, but if you’re looking for something slow and serious with superb animation and relaxing music, then Clannad After Story is a perfect fit.