Ξ July 2nd, 2012 | → 0 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
I was going to just edit the previous post to add this favorite classic clip of Nagisa’s first drink, and then figured it would make for a nice little entry of its own that would serve as another example of what I find so appealing about anime in general, continuing the theme and character from the Post below. As always, your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. (I think I’m going to embed that sentence into the top of every post LOL!)
The following article is brought to you courtesy of Nagisa Furukawa, who would very much like you to see her series, Clannad. As a teaser for its sequel, After Story, here’s the official trailer with subtitles to whet your appetite, or if already acquainted, give you warm fuzzies in seeing our old friends again. This is what the “It” in anime’s about, both in what you can and cannot see in the layers peeling back…
(Note: the “Spoiler Warning” in the beginning just refers to Nagisa and Tomoya being a couple in the sequel, the developing of which the first season centered on ; no other spoilers are shown!)
One of the biggest draws for me is the way the characters invite you into their heads, making you think about and connect deeper with them. So many are sufficiently complex personalities (with attendant baggage ranging from Louis Vuitton to brown paper to cupped and bleeding hands) that it’s very rewarding when you do connect. It’s not an easy effect to seamlessly create. When we care about the characters, chances are that their story will prove interesting enough to check out just to see where it goes.
AIR-TV is a good example; at first glance the character designs didn’t seem that “refined”, but from that first few minutes of getting to know Misuzu, I was hooked. Quirky, clumsy and secretive; sweet, childish, and very brave, a beautifully balanced character unafraid to go over the top or use silence as an answer. You can see the love for the characters by their creators in how they are animated, and their careful facial expressions that reveal sub-surface emotions and furtive thoughts. Kyoto Animation obviously loves its stars very much; it shows in their work
While very brief, many fleeting facial expressions tip the Viewer off to a character’s innermost feelings and allow a glimpse of their genuine concerns and intentions that might be otherwise missed if the Viewer isn’t paying attention. These characters are pretty damn good about hiding secrets! It’s advisable to pay close attention to any story/character-based anime because tiny details and foreshadowing are everywhere, and the characters largely unpredictable. Misuzu simply wears her heart on her sleeve; she was very expressive, and witnessing her struggles genuinely heartbreaking going through her trials. The camera loves her though, as evidenced by the tons of AIR-TV clips used for AMVs I’ve scattered here and there at Alastor’s. Even sitting still, she’s a magnet for the eyes
This is just a theory of mine, but when the writers often leave sentences in dialogues trailing off unfinished (“…”), they’re actually leading or goading the Viewer to finish what the speaker’s point is, expecting (or inviting) you to know them well enough to guess. Or, just trick you LOL Sometimes you’re left to wonder about it, a good thing because it draws the Viewer out of themselves and into the shoes of another to further understand the character and story. It’s as if the players are more-than 2D; they don’t resemble “3D people” so much in appearance as they do in heart, where these shared emotions resonate deeply with the Viewer, conscious or not. And in this the characters are familiar, realistic, and even cherished by thousands of fans; they are thus more than mere cartoon figures. I believe that this is a subtle key to the singularity of anime, and why so many anime fans have “harems” of beloved characters, and are so enamored of the medium.
(Hm… *strokes chin thoughtfully* I’ve never made a harem up… it
might will be fun! Who will join Misuzu, Ayu, Yuuko Amamiya and about a dozen others who are above any ranking (if I’m able to even limit the shortlist to that number)? This one for sure:
Nagisa Furukawa is probably the closest to my heart (ugh @ ranking loves), but it’s hard to tell what with Misuzu and Ayu very much close by, and both very much cherished. Nagisa has a rather “plain” exterior, but the virtues that shine from within her makes her so beautiful by the latter end of After Story. Words cannot express; they’re too heavy.
So, let’s remember the good times! In the very funny (subtitled) 2-minute excerpt from Clannad After Story‘s episode 13, forever known as the “Drunken Nagisa” clip, we get to share a family moment that quickly becomes a Nagisa moment; she totally steals the show! But first, because I had to put it somewhere, the gorgeous After Story OP, cluttered with credits but the lyrics of this beautiful theme are so important:
Brief setup: Tomoya’s family life has been shattered. He leaves home after getting into a (physical) fight with his alcoholic down-and-out father (whom I’d suspected was a very critical character of this story from the start). Much of Tomoya’s behavior is rooted in that relationship, and perhaps seeing that, and definitely hating it, he runs…
Since he’s been so helpful and attentive towards Nagisa, his schoolmate, her mother and father have invited him to stay with them (apart from Nagisa’s room, of course!). This close and unabashedly loving family’s contrast with Tomoya’s ongoing-but-estranged relationship with his father are integral themes that brokenly reflect one another and serve to frame the stage for their journey up that long, steep hill. The acorn has not fallen from its tree… but still, it must grow or die. His father was lost, his home was lost… what else could he possibly lose? Tomoya will definitely have to deal from what he has in his hands…
But first, a celebration! Nagisa turns 20, and the (very) small family gathers for dinner and a drink of sake; it’s Nagisa’s first time, and the results are downright hilarious! Akiko and Sanae (the parents) are as loving and mischievous a couple as I’ve seen in an anime, and they clearly dote on their daughter, who has had health problems for quite awhile and sort of lived a loner’s life. But she’s in (and with) good spirits tonight
When it came out and was airing, I was reading up on Clannad on several forums and one of the most infuriating things to see was that a lot of fans didn’t care for Nagisa in comparison to the (apparently) more-attractive co-stars she shares the stage with. It’s too subtle a growth, I think, to be obvious, considering her quiet demeanor. Rather than seeing her as bland and plain (as some of the louder ones did), I saw her as a sweet, considerate, affectionate soul, a weak-in-body-but-strong-in-spirit companion who quietly follows the beat of her different drum even while seeking out new friends with Tomoya, even when alone.
Her dedication towards reopening the school’s Theater Club with the help of her friends in Season 1 probably doesn’t sound like much of an interesting story to watch, but there are the other girls’ arcs woven into it of equal quality and probably of more color than Nagisa’s route. Much comedy ensues while we get to know the cast, with several powerful emotional sequences involving Fuuko and Kotomi especially (see the OP for IDs; the girls’ names will ghost over their animation, a nice way for KyoAni to identify all three Key shows’ heroines).
As a vehicle for growth, the impetus of the Theater Club path carries them through school to graduation, and after that is when the jagged fall occurs through the looking glass of adult life Where Everything Changes, in the 180-degree After Story. Amid the lighter early episodes are few hints of the pitched drama to come much later. After Story is relatively realistic yet funny, warmhearted yet gut-wrenching, inscrutable yet wondrous, miraculous and even transcendent story, usually right when you weren’t expecting it. That hook sets deep, and you know what happens with hooks… they are damned painful to remove. Just go along with it; it’ll be okay. It’ll come out in the end
A Word to the Wise (and the Curious): Investigate Clannad on wiki and youtube very cautiously! Spoilers abound, and if interested definitely do check it out before having the story spoiled
And we haven’t even touched on The Girl From the Illusionary World and her Junk-Doll companion, my favorite emblems from the story… and what kept Viewers constantly guessing through both seasons. Here are several of the vignettes stitched together which don’t give anything away; keep in mind these scenes were sometimes episodes apart, and they’re without the context of the “real” story. Here’s the biggest mystery:
“What does it mean?” you ask? EXACTLY. Keep on wondering; it’s good for you. All is revealed
The Girl From the Illusionary World added the last bit of spice to the perfect recipe that is Clannad. I loved it when one of these short scenes would unexpectedly pop up with its expectant music; it was both strange and enchanting. The rare and quiet interplay between the two characters was riveting and magical from beginning to end. At first I didn’t know what to make of these scenes, except that what I was watching must have been an allegorical alternate story that somehow related to Tomoya and Nagisa. In certain parts it reminded me of UNBOUND (my Novel), mainly in structure, duality, and weaving, and is the type of elusive story that I would love to tell.
And maybe I have! Hopefully you’ll be able to judge for yourself if/when UNBOUND sees print. I’ll be working on that
BTW, here’s a tip: If you want to see Clannad and After Story, legit streaming site Crunchyroll offers them both for viewing, but I dunno about membership levels vs episode availability. CR should give you a good taste for free. Personally, I bought the disks so soon after release that they didn’t have the English dubs yet! (I prefer subs anyway, but I’ll be wanting that dub too, since I have them for AIR and Kanon. Pretty annoyed that it didn’t have an artbox like those two sets have though. Ah well LOL
The three titles make a wonderful showcase set for quality anime storytelling, if comedy, drama, psychological, romance and the supernatural are your genres. This series is essential viewing, as are the other two. I do believe Clannad‘s my favorite overall anime story, though it’s silly to rank the unrankable. Once you hit “AWESOME!!!” any anime above that is lost in the collective brilliance of the cream of the anime crop. Really, what more can you need than that?
And so I am thankful for the bounty I’m about to receive and the creators who work quite hard to deliver it. Hopefully this’ll turn some folks on to something they hadn’t seen before; something that is truly wonderful. Thanks for your visit and time, have a pleasant and safe journey, and feel free to leave a comment before you depart