Clannad Review

Clannad is a critically acclaimed comedy/drama series about the life of Tomoya Okazaki and how his actions affect the ones around him. Clannad is a series that several of my favorite critics, as well as a strong fanbase, highly recommended as one of the best series to date, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. 
For the most part, Clannad is a comedy, and an often hilarious one at that. Obviously humor is subject, but most viewers are sure to find at least something to enjoy in terms of the comedy. However, Clannad’s other side is a surprisingly effective drama with some undertones of well executed romance. 
Clannad's premise is rather simple; Tomoya Okazaki meets this shy fellow classmate named Nagisa Furukawa. Due to medical problems, she was held back a year in school, so she is retaking her senior semester. Nagisa wants to bring back the drama club and being the nice, but being the brutally honest, guy that Tomoya is, he helps her in doing so, which results in a series of great comedic and dramatic moments. 

To fully understand the series, allow me to provide the non-Otaku audience a crash-course in anime lingo. Clannad is contains heavy elements "moe." Moe, pronounced "mo-A," does not have a concrete definition. The word is generally associated with big eyes and generally cute character designs, as well as the often high pitch and cutesy sounding voices of a character. To some, the moe design can be off putting due to the unnatural nature of the eyes and other features. Clannad was my first fully moe series with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya being the only other one with moe elements before hand, and while it was somewhat odd at first, I become rather fond of the style in Clannad. Clannad is the first true slice-of-life anime that I had watched, although I have seen many since, and Clannad essentially perfected the genre. Also, the high school settings for any kind of fiction is not my preferred setting since I usually cannot relate, in anime however; I actually enjoy it quite a bit if executed well.

The Good: Perfect balance of comedy and drama, Positive message, Mostly perfect use of humor, Incredibly lovable characters, Emotional roller coaster, Often hilarious, Effective soundtrack, Overall strong animation, Each character is provide ample development, Relatable characters, Perfect use of romantic undertones, Strong English dub, Certain parts have positively brilliant animation, Great OVAs,

The Bad:
Plot: 9.1/10- Clannad's plot is effective at delivering situations that produce both humor and emotion. Each of the main characters is given an arch to fully develop said character. Some parts of the story and backstories of the character can be a little on the overly dramatic side for some, but considering that at those points I was so absurdly invested in the characters, it did not bother me. Whether it be the characters or the situation that they are in, Clannad is the type of story that will likely, in at least one aspect, relate to you and your life. While my life is vastly different than any of the characters in the story, especially since I never went a public high school, some of the aspects like family and friends are surprisingly relatable and it will make you think of your life, which is odd since that has never happened to me with any other work of fiction.
Anime, in general, is able to make romance much more entertaining than any other medium and Clannad is a shining example of it. Clannad's romance is used effectively in the story and is never a hindrance to the story in the slightest. When combined with After Story, Clannad has, quite possibly, the greatest romantic storyline of all-time. Also, know that while Clannad is usually grounded in reality, there are fantastical elements in the story.

Characterization: 10/10- Clannad's cast of characters is incredibly lovable! Sure, a few of the characters follow anime archetypes, but the story uses those archetypes to its advantage to progress each character's story. Each character has his or her own problem that he or she must overcome. While there are ecchi undertones, with most of the female cast has a crush on Tomoya, it is far from the ecchi genre in terms of execution. One important thing to know in advance is that in Japan, unless you are family or very close friends, you typically do not refer to someone by their first name, which is an important point in the story. Now for an in-depth look into each of the main characters.
Tomoya Okazaki: Tomoya is the main character of Clannad. He is a slacker in school, and ever since the death of his mother when he was a child, he has had a troubled relationship with his father. He is also brutally honest with his opinion and never sugar coats anything or flatters people. Despite his character flaws, Tomoya is a very nice and kind person that is willing to help people when they are in need, which makes him a very likable character and a surprising relatable one. While the fact almost everyone girl likes him and many of his other traits are not directly relatable to me, two things stand out; his self doubt and that he does not flatter people. He never seems to think of himself as good enough for anyone and he has to try and overcome this, which is what made him an enduring character to me. Also, he does not flatter people with empty compliments and he is often very honest with his opinion, even if it is not what people want to hear, which is surprisingly a lot like myself.
Nagisa Furukawa: Due to medical problems, Nagisa is a weak and frail girl that is retaking her senior year of high school. Despite being physically weak, she is strong in heart and her character is pretty much impossible to dislike. The only problem with her character is that she is somewhat sidelined in the middle portion of the story being relegated to a side character, but in the end, she is given the most development of the female cast. *Possible Spoiler* If it was not obvious enough from the poster and how the series sets it up Nagisa is the girl that will obviously end up with Tomoya in the end, which probably a good thing to prevent the dreaded "love triangle." *End Spoiler*
Youhei Sunohara: Sunohara is Tomoya's weird and wacky best friend. He provides most of the comedic relief in the series and almost all of it hits its mark with his scenes being positively hilarious.
Shino and Akio Furukawa: While not necessarily main characters, Nagisa's parents, Shino and Akio, also provide a lot of great humor. Despite being comic relief characters for a lot of the series, they are surprisingly well fleshed out and developed. They are a great example of a married couple, and a family done right in fiction, even if they are a little cartoony and over-the-top sometimes.

Acting: 9.3/10- Now, the sub and dub presents an interesting dilemma because it is entirely up to how you prefer your moe and drama. In general, the high pitch and cutesy Japanese voices for the female characters is usually my preference in ecchi and non-dramatic series. However, Clannad’s cutesy Japanese moe voice acting often detracts from the seriousness of the drama, especially later in the series. On the other hand, the English cast is able to make the dramatic scenes more believable and realistic. Also, if you dislike Japanese moe voices in general for being unnatural and odd, which is completely understandable, most definitely watch the English dub of Clannad; it will improve the experience.
As for the dub on its own right, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Luci Christian makes Nagisa ridiculously lovable as she captures the perfect amount of "moe-ness" in her performance. David Matranga as Tomoya is nearly flawless. While his best work lies in the second season, After Story, he pulls off the conflicted and troubled nature of the character perfectly. Greg Ayres is absurdly hilarious as Sunohara; no one else could have played the character better. As for the rest of the dub cast, everyone from Hilary Haag to Andrew Love is superb. Aside from my inability to take the Japanese dub as seriously, there is nothing inherently wrong with it if you happen to only watch subs.

Art Style: 9.0/10- Clannad's art style is a unique thing. Being that is done by Kyoto Animation, the studio behind one of personal favorites, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the animation features many unique characteristics. Also, Clannad is Key adaptation, a company that makes the visual novels that the Clannad, Kanon 2006, and Air anime series are based on. As with most Key adaptations, the animation style is heavily moe. As explained in the beginning of the review, moe generally refers to the cute and large eyed models of the characters. Being that Clannad is the first Key adaptation that I have seen, the animations was new to me, and while not the most impressive, I actually liked the "moe-ness" of the animation. Some people do not like it, and while it does look kind of unnatural, it did not detract from the realistic drama (and the unrealistic drama).
For the most part, the characters look very consistent; however, when there are three female character with exactly the same hair color, I admitted got the characters confused on a couple of occasions early on in the series, granted two of them are twin sisters. In terms of fan-service, Clannad has very little to almost none, which is kind of rare for a high-school based comedy. While the animation is mostly the same in terms of quality, there are these scenes that take place about a girl and a robot that are usually at the beginning of some episodes, and while their true nature in the story is not clearly explained, the animation during those scenes is simply beautiful! Also know that, for the most part, the animation is subdued and consistent, however, during scenes of comedy, the animation turns unrealistic for comedic effect, like the above gif.

Soundtrack: 8.8/10- Clannad's is absolutely perfect at setting the tone of each scene. During the comedy scenes, the score is suitably upbeat and happy with some very catchy and fun tunes. On the other hand, when the series hits you with its dramatic scenes, the score is sad and is effective at inducing the correct emotion.

Humor: 9.5/10- Despite having fantastic scenes of drama and character development, Clannad is very much a comedy in many respects. Being that it is a comedy, some viewers might not find the humor effective, but to me, I was laughing throughout most of the comedy scenes, which is due in large to Sunohara's physical comedy as well as, and Shino and Akio's hilarious and wacky antics. Also, Tomoya's witty remarks are often humorous. Some viewers may not find the first half of the series to be as humorous, but I was never bored for a second throughout the entirety of the series. On a side note, while others might disagree, I believe the English dub to significantly increase the comedic effect of the series opposed to the Japanese dub. This is large thanks to Greg Ayres’ absolutely hilarious portrayal of Sunohara.

Opening and Ending: 8.7/10- As with many visual novel adaptations, the opening is well animated and features the names of all of the main female protagonists, which is helpful in remembering all of the characters’ names. The song is perfectly fitting of the series, but not the most memorable. The ending theme however, while not the best to actually listen to, is beyond perfect for the series and it is actually used in the series at important parts in the story for maximum effect. Watch the opening below.
Entertainment Value: 9.6/10- Clannad is the type of series that, largely thanks to the humor and lovable characters, never ceased to entertain me. It was my first true high school comedy/drama, and the genre has since become an almost guilty pleasure of mine, although Clannad is far from a guilty pleasure.

Non-Otaku Appeal: Whether or not a non-Otaku will enjoy Clannad heavily depends on his or her tolerance of the art style. Since even some Otaku dislike the style, many non-Otaku will likely find it far too unnatural for his or her taste. If the viewer can get past that one aspect, they will likely find a lot to enjoy in terms of comedy and drama.

Overall: 9.2/10- Overall, Clannad contains the perfect balance of comedy and drama, which is brilliantly combined with absurdly lovable characters and strong values that might actually make you reflect on your own life.

Closing comments: While Clannad is great, it is only a setup for the true reason Clannad is often hailed as the masterpiece of anime that it is, Clannad: After Story.

Note: Unlike most of the anime that I have reviewed thus far, Clannad does not contain any content that you would not see on network television like occasional mild profanity, which means I can recommend the series to basically anyone in his or her teens or older.

Recommended for: Everyone that does not mind the animation, Anime fans, Animation fans, Drama fans, Comedy fans, Slice-of-life fans, 
To read more of my anime reviews, you can click here.

For another opinion of Clannad, you can read Arvin Saints' review Clannad by clicking here, and you can read another review over on Otaku Style by clicking here. Both blogs are highly recommended to any anime fans. You can also check out a mini-review of Clannad by my friend Shena Tokala by clicking here.

Also, if you have reviewed this anime, leave a comment with a link to your review and I will post it here (providing it does not contain any explicit content).

Clannad: After Story in a Nutshell
If you are still on the fence about watching Clannad, watch a review from the guy that convinced me to watch the series in the first place, GRArkada. To avoid spoilers, stop watching the review around 4:10 in the video and skip to 18:20 to see his final verdict. Also note that his final verdict includes the second season After Story, while my review does not. My full review for After Story will be coming in the future. After watching all of GRArkada’s reviews, this is the highest score that I have seen him give anything, and while Clannad is not my number one favorite, I completely agree with his review. He also gives an excellent synopsis of the series if you want to know more. 

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