Clannad After Story: After Story #1

“‘Life,’ wrote a friend of mine, ‘is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.'” – E. M. Forster.

Life moves on but the love between school-friends continues to blossom in this second series of the anime Clannad (which has nothing to do with Irish folk rock band of the same name.)

The second series begins near the end of the school year, with delinquent Tomoya Okazaki continuing his relationship with Nagisa Furukawa, head of the school’s drama club. Tomoya is still surrounded by his close friend and Clannad‘s comic foil Youhei Sunohara, as well as aggressive Kyou and her sister Ryou, quiet genius (and terrible violin player) Kotomi, and student council president Tomoyo.

In these opening twelve episodes, there are some stand-alone plots, but mostly there are continuing storylines spread over several editions, much like in the first series. The plots include: Sunohara trying to impress his younger sister by pretending to date Nagisa’s mother; a flashback series focusing on the love-life of landlady Misae; a gang battle involving library reference girl Yukine; and Tomoya finally graduating from school and trying to get a job.

Some people have been critical of this series and in some ways it is easy to see why, especially concerning the quality of the DVD. There are no extras other than the subtitles, the end credits are played twice (once in Japanese, then again in English), and there is not even a “Play all” function on the DVD, meaning you have to play each episode individually.

However, if you gloss over these technical problems, then I think that Clannad is a wonderfully created series. For starters, it is not considered a comedy, but Sunohara is probably one of the funniest anime characters around. Any episode in which he features is sure to get at least one laugh, either from his strange behaviour or the slapstick violence he suffers, usually at the hands of Tomoyo.

Not only that however, but some of the drama in it is just wonderful. It was good in the first series but in the second there have already been some scenes which I found very moving indeed. The best point so far has been the ninth episode of this series. In it Nagisa develops a fever which results in her being absent for several months from school, thus meaning she will have to repeat another school year. As a result Tomoya realises that he won’t graduate at the same time as her. At first he wants to repeat a year himself but is told not to by those around him. This leads to a rather tearful scene when the sick Nagisa leaves her bed to see Tomoya in his school uniform for one last time.

Clannad is very good series, and while I’ll give it nine out of ten for now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the final part pushed it to a ten.

9 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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