Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $69.98 US
Running Time: 625 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Once again, it’s all about taking the bitter with the sweet.
The first part of Clannad is the kind of series that you experience rather than just watch as you are drawn into the lives of a young delinquent and a sickly girl. Through their eyes, we witness their times of happiness and sadness as well as the unusual yet magical moments that occur in their lives. In the Complete Collection of Clannad: After Story, the story continues and comes to an emotional finale in true Clannad fashion.
In the first part of the series, a young high school student named Tomoya meets and falls in love with the shy Nagisa Furukawa as he helped her get the Drama Club up and running. Together they encounter a few hardships and met a few interesting people they help out such as Mei, Yusuke and a girl named Fuko who wasn’t exactly “there”. After Story finds Tomoya and Nagisa in their senior year at the school and, yes, they’re still dating and very much in love.
The story starts off much like the first part as they find themselves doing things together with their friends such as joining Nagisa’s baker dad in forming a baseball team. Since this is their last year in high school, though, the pressure is on for Tomoya and his buddy Youhei to plan for their future. Youhei’s sister, Mei, is worried about his brother to the point that she begs the creeps at the soccer club to forgive Youhei and let him rejoin the team again.
Speaking of Youhei, in order to fool Mei into thinking her brother is doing Ok, Nagisa’s young mother – Sanae – disguises herself as a High school girl going out with him. In one of the funniest moments, Youhei (who thinks Sanae is actually Nagisa’s older sister) asks Nagisa’s father for her permission to date Sanae only to have the Nagisa’s dad to chase the poor kid around the block.
There are more fun moments like this as we look into Misae the landlady’s High school days when she met a strange younger boy who has come to grant her a wish only to end up falling in love with the girl. In true Clannad-style, the boy turns out to be something else. Then there’s Yukine, the girl who spends her day in the reference room in school who turns out to be the girl two rival gangs turn to for healing and her delicious cooking. When things between the gang get out of hand, it is Tomoya who steps in to help Yukine by getting into a fight that will keep the gangs from spilling blood on the streets.
Back to Tomoya and Nagisa, once again Nagisa’s health takes a turn for the worst and she misses graduation. While Nagisa is recuperating, Tomoya gets a job working with ex-rock star Yusuke and he even gets his own apartment. He gets a better offer but Tomoya doesn’t get the job thanks to his father’s recent arrest. All of this wears the young man down as he realizes the one good thing he has in his life is Nagisa so he proposes to her and the two get married.
On top of that, Nagisa finds out that she’s expecting a baby but what should be a very happy occasion turns into a tragedy that makes an impact in the episodes that follow so believe me when I say that you should have a box of Kleenex on hand. If you cried in anime like Kanon or Air, you will definitely cry in the later half of After Story. Personally speaking, it almost becomes unbearable even after Tomoya – who takes the tragedy badly to the point that he lets Nagisa’s parents raise the baby.
However, it is Sanae who gets Tomoya to spend some time with his daughter and it is finally being a part of his child’s life that he comes to accept the good with the bad. He matures during this time as he reconciles with his father after learning the truth about him and he even takes an active role in becoming a better father but nothing good lasts in the later half of the series.
In fact, the second tragedy just becomes too much and the ending suffers greatly because of it or, I should say, by how it is handled. I’ll even go as far as saying I hate the ending for not making up its mind of ending things on a dark note or exploring the alternate reality it hints at when a returning character runs into the familiar girl and her robot we see at the beginning of most episodes. It does bring up an interesting question for Tomoya. If he was given a chance to restart from the beginning would he walk past Nagisa that day he met her to avoid the tragic events that would eventually occur as a result or would he relive it all again?
Like the first part of the series that gave us an alternate romantic take where Tomoya and Tomoyo are dating, we get an episode where Tomoya finds himself dating Ryo only to find out that her twin sister Kyou is the one he really loves. Meanwhile, Nagisa – having never met or fallen in love with Tomoya – gets over her shyness and finally makes good friends.
Clannad: After Story is an emotional rollercoaster that is touching and beautiful to the point that you won’t help but fall in love with the series all over again so this Complete Collection set is definitely a Must Have. Of course, the series is far from perfect thanks to an ending that feels like it was quickly swept under a rug but what we have here is a romance/drama worth watching again and again. Just like the part of the series, I cannot recommend this one enough.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Tomoya and Nagisa’s last year in High school finds the couple happily enjoying their days with their friends but when illness takes Nagisa out of school again, Tomoya stands by her side and even proposes to her. Unfortunately, not all days are happy as Nagisa’s health during her pregnancy takes a turn for the worst and suddenly Tomoya finds himself facing a cold reality.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The series looks amazing on DVD with a sharp and crisp picture and that’s a good thing since the animation in the series is beautiful and colorful. Even the visual effects in the series work and, yes, the girls in the series look really cute.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice cast is back and they do a marvelous job once again but if you prefer the English dub cast then you’re in luck because this set brings back Luci Christian, David Matrana, Greg Ayres and Brittney Karbowski just to name a few. The score is also beautiful and the opening them song is great but you will fall in love with the closing theme song, “Torch.”
The Complete Collection sets brings us the original English dub cast that was missing in earlier releases of After Story and we even get an audio commentary track with Luci Christian (the voice of Nagisa) and David Matrana (the voice of Tomoya) that reveals how glad they are to voice these characters again. There’s also the clean opening and closing theme songs as well.
A beautiful, sometimes comical and emotional story that will quickly sweep you away, the Complete Collection of Clannad: After Story will have you completely enthralled. Sure, the ending won’t be a fan favorite but what we have here is a timeless anime classic worth owning and more so if you were a fan of the first part of the series.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks