Clannad:”All People With A Starfish Are Welcome To Read.”

I wrap my blog series on Kyoto Animation with the most recent series made my Kyoto, Clannad.  Clannad, like AIR and Kanon, is based of of a visual novel by Key.  It has excellent animation, the colors fit perfectly with the feeling of the show, and I believe it mixes perfectly raw drama, sadness, comedy, and happiness all together into one huge show full of greatness.  It is my favorite out of all of the Key novels animated by Kyoto.  If you liked AIR and Kanon then you will obviously like Clannad, and if you didn’t like AIR or Kanon there is still a slight chance you’ll like Clannad.

Clannad sticks to the basic formula that all Key shows have followed.  The main character, in this case his name is Tomoya Okazaki, a third year high school student, who lives in a broken home.  His mother is dead, and his father who’s in a downward spiral full of depression and alcohol, is unable to acknowledge Tomoya as his son.  They are on very tense terms since in the past they had a fight which caused Tomoya’s father to injure him not allowing him to play basketball anymore.

He meets a girl named Nagisa Furukawa on the way to school, she is Clannad’s sickly girl, who is repeating her third year due to an illness last year.  The story follows Tomoya as he progresses through the school year, meeting new faces, and helping the girls he meets along the way.  The first part is a different story that is not fully explained in the first season.  It follows a girl who is alone in a world where time does not past and she builds a robot to keep her company.  There is implications throughout their screen time that this will play into the story later on in a major way but, has not been revealed yet.

Like Kanon, Clannad runs the series by focusing on one girl’s storyline at a time.  Fortunately, it does not completely leave the other girls out by having all the girls present a good number of times even if they are not in that girls “arc”.  This causes the show to feel much more realistic by not having the girls disappear into the mist for five episodes.  There is also a main storyline interwoven within the girls arcs and it plays throughout the entire series.   The main storyline is Tomoya helping Nagisa reform the drama club.  The other members all graduated so it was abandoned at the beginning of the year.  The story follows them as they work with the other girls to help return the club back to the school.


She invades your dreams with starfish

The first girl’s arc played through with the main story line is Fuuko Ibuki, a younger student at the school, who has an infatuation with starfish.  Her arc is essentially the Makoto arc of Clannad.  However, her arc is not near as depressing as Makoto’s arc, it still has its emotional parts though.  The main differences that her arc although sad does have a happy ending to it.  She is sometimes called the annoying character of Clannad, but I found her to be rather humorous.  You find she is carving starfish as invitations to her sister’s wedding and giving them out to the students at the school.  Tomoyo and everyone else help her distribute the starfish to everyone.  They meet Fuuko’s sister who tells them something shocking. I will not go farther into her arc because I don’t exactly want to tell everyone what happens since I guess this is technically a review, and this show is still rather new.

Kotomi at her violin recital

Kotomi at her violin recital

The second girl’s arc played out is Kotomi Ichinose, a genius girl who is way smarter than her grade so she spends her time in the library reading books.  Tomoya approaches her to see if she would be interesting in joining the drama club.  She accepts in helping them, and her arc progresses as they listen to her play a violin recital even though she can’t play the violin at all she still enjoys trying.  Everything goes well until one day on the way to school it is believed Kyou Fujibayashi’s sister Ryu, two girls in the group helping Nagisa reform the drama club, was in a terrible bus accident however, it turn out she was on the earlier bus.  This leads to the resurfacing of memories of Kitomi’s past as it sends her into a mode of emotional panic and distress.  She locks herself up in her home weeks.

This leads to Tomoya trying to help Kitomi which causes him to remember he had known her when she was younger, and the played together in the garden at her house.  However, he finds out that her parents were killed in an accident when she was little.  In her rage and sadness of trying to burn one of her father’s documents she lights the house on fire almost killing herself and Tomoya who had shown up to visit her because it was her birthday.  Kitomi’s arc is my favorite arc of Clannad because it is pure drama, although it seems a little cliche it fits Kitiomi’s character so well.  Eventually Kitomi is cheered back up by certain events that I will not spoil here.


Nagisa with her best moe impression

The last arc is Nagisa’s arc, who is Clannad’s sickly child therefore you know she’ll go to the hospital or at least get very sick again at least once.  Her arc is pretty predictable, although it does have some surprises along the way.  I won’t really be going into detail here, but it’s the same she became really sick in her past once that she almost died.  This caused her parents to stop their careers they were working on and open a bakery at home where they could watch Nagisa more closely.  Her parents quitting their jobs plays into the arc later on, but I’m not going to spoil it.  This is the final arc, and after this the series come to an end.

Clannad is a spectacular show, it is full of drama and raw emotion, but seems very able to pace itself.  The storytelling in my opinion is some of the best.  While to others it may seem like they left many things out it’s understandable since there is going to be a second season Clannad: After Story.  I enjoyed this show more than Kanon because it seemed like it took the flaws of Kanon out, but kept all the good parts.  In Clannad the focus is still on a certain girl, but there are two other story lines moving, the drama club, and the mysterious world with the lonely girl.  It keeps the story from getting one dimensional.  It still has a magical feel to it, note Fuuko’s arc, but it doesn’t seem so “over the top” as Kanon.

Episode 24 is more like an OAV, a big what if Tomoya and Tomoyo dated.  Tomoyo (easily confused with the main male protagonist) is a part of the group but really not, she has her own objective of getting elected school president, however she makes an appearance in most episodes.  She also plays out much of the comedy with fights between her and Tomoya’s best friend Sunohara.  There are six main girls in Clannad and three of them have their arcs played out, four if you include Tomoyo’s side episode, so I assume that Ryu and Kyou will be a big part of she second season. I also assume they will finish the lonely girl with the robot story and reveal what part she plays in the story.  I highly recommend checking out the first Season of Clannad especially if you have seen either or both of the other Kyoto Projects of Key Visual Novels.

This ends my blog series on Kyoto Animation I hope you enjoyed reading this series.  I am currently looking at other series I am going to do, however, the new fall anime season starts next week, so I’ll be busy writing about that.  But I will still have smaller posts mixed in with the Fall 2008 anime posts.

Lucky Star:Kyoto Animation Releases the Loli’s

We all scream for ice cream!!

I continue my blog series on Kyoto Animation with one of 2007’s most popular anime Lucky Star.  It is a slice of life anime that follows the lives of four girls.  The main character is named Konata Izumi, a high school girl who is a gifted athlete, but only wants to spend her time watching anime, reading manga, or playing video games and MMORPG’s.  She attends school with her three friends Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi, and Miyuki Takara.  Like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya it has a cult following.  Often I wonder which show has the biggest following because the fandom for both shows is just ridiculous.

The animation in Lucky Star is top notch, while the art style and direction seems to be more on a cartoony design it does not cause the animation to falter at all.  Yes, these girls are in high school even though they look like they should be eight years old.  This is the power of the loli’s, I don’t know if this is one of the reasons why this show was so popular. The show is considered a slice of life comedy, and there will definitely be laughs along the way.

Thumbs up from Konata? 1000 points!

The story in Lucky Star is non-existant, but it’s supposed to be that way.  Each episode can be watched seperately without seeing the others, now obviously when they make references back to other episodes every now and then you won’t get it, but if you watched this series out of order you wouldn’t be completely in the dark for every episode.  While to some this may seem like a real negative point, I see it as a positive, because it’s a light entertaining show with no huge complex storyline it makes the show much easier and entertaining to watch.


Haruhi in a commercial in Lucky Star

Lucky Star wasn’t called the anime for the otaku for no reason.  It makes TONS of references back to other anime from making slight jokes, to openly talking about it.  Some shows that get reference points in Lucky Star that I can remember off the top of my head are: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kanon, Gundam Wing, Strawberry Panic!, Shuffle!, Initial D, Maria-sama Ga Miteru, and ToHeart to name a few.   Not to mention all of the background references to other shows for instance since Konata is an otaku she has the typical otaku merchandise in her room such as manga that has the actual covers of the manga they are portraying, figurines of other popular anime character, to having a Bonta-kun stuffed animal in her room. (Bonta-kun is the mascot character from Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, another show by Kyoto Animation.)  The appearance of many references to other shows is a great input not only does it give it a “sense” of realism having an anime world with so many other references to anime in it, but it makes it fun for the viewers to see all the references and name as many as they can.

I say

I say "Dance, Dance!!"

This show is either a hit or miss with people and for many people it’s going to land into the miss category before the OP even finishes playing.  Picture this a teenage to young adult guy or girl is already a little sketchy on watching this show after they have seen a few screenshots because to many the whole super loli character designs will turn them off from the show immediately.  If they get past the loli characters and decide to give it a shot they hear the OP which for many will already set their mind and they will hate it no matter what, or not even finish the song and turn it off.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind the OP at all but for anyone who sees the show they can definitely see someone not liking the OP and that ruining the entire show for them.

Loli's in maid costumes?

Loli's in maid costumes? Otakus rejoice!!

The show is good for easy watching.  I highly recommend it to anyone who watches anime regularly, if you are just a casual watcher you’ll probably miss out on a lot of references to other shows, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the show.  If you are looking for a show that has a storyline then you’ll want to pass.  If you can pull yourself past the whole extreme loli and you know what kind of show you are getting into you will probably like it.  This wraps up my post on Lucky Star tomorrow I will write about the latest show from Kyoto Animation here’s a hint.

More moe looking girls

More moe looking girls....

Kanon: Kyoto Animation’s Sad Girls in the Snow

Tonight I am continuing my blog series about Kyoto Animation Kyoto Animation shows with the sad, but still great Kanon.  To avoid any confusion I will be writing about the 2006 edition of Kanon.  Kanon is Kyoto’s second anime based off a visual novel by Key.  It is quite apparent that Kyoto is getting better with storytelling because as compared to AIR it is much better.  Nothing has changed from the soft colors, big colorful eyes, and girls that just scream moe at the viewers though.  The OP is a great fit it is a slower, softer song that seems to have very sad overtones to it which is a hint to what’s in store for the viewer.

The story follows the main male lead character named Yuichi Aizawa.  The background information is fairly cliche in the sense of the protagonist returning back to a city that he hasn’t been to in a long period of time this one being seven years.  He doesn’t remember the memories of his childhood that he gained here while playing with the other children who he sees again for the first time in a long time.  The background sounds very cliche for harem anime but luckily the similarities for the most part stop there although not completely.

He is attending school and meeting friends, who all seem mainly to be girls, and also meeting other friends who do not attend his school.  Kanon follows the story of Yuichi as he interacts with the girls that he meets and slowly recalls the past memories he has had with each of the girls.  Each section of the show seems to focus on a particular girl, while of course there are introductions in the beginning the show begins to shift to focus on one girl.

This show earned the title sad girls in the snow for a reason first off because it’s winter during the show and there is usually snow on the ground and well it’s sad at parts, fairly simple.  These girls do have their fair share of problems as nearly all of the cliche problems usually found in anime seem to be present in this show while some other problems are not so cliche.  Also keep in mind that all the girls correspond to a certain archetype as well.


Makoto loves the Jam....not

The first girl’s story we see played out is Makoto she is the mischievous girl who tries to give the character a hard time by playing pranks on him all of which fail.  I will go ahead and say it that her arch is probably the saddest out of all of the girls.  I will state here that the viewer does need to know that some of the problems the girls are facing are more “magical” than others.  The viewer finds the reason for Makoto’s problem and you slowly watch her deteriorate into nothing.  By deteriorate I mean she slowly loses her ability to function which is rather sad.


Mai guarding the school at night

After the finishing of Makoto’s arc the show moves to focus on Mai Kawasumi who is the silent character type.  She is guarding the school from spirits that have appeared and she stands there each night destroying any spirits that appear.  However, she is having a problem that is eating away at her and spreading through her body.  Later you find out why the spirits are attacking, what caused them to appear and you learn of the reason why Mai guards the shool each night.  Her situation is more original than the others and the reason why she is in bad health is more original, but maybe harder to understand.


Shiori, the sickly child

After Mai’s arc comes Shiori’s arc which is probably the most cliche out of all the arcs.  Shiori does not attend school because she has a sickness which does not allow her to attend school.  She finds out the disease is going to kill her.  You find out she has sister who attends school who has turned her back on her because she knows in the back of her head her sister will die so she doesn’t want to be too attached to her. It shows the pain that the two sisters endure because they want to spend time together, but they don’t want to face the fact that they will be seperated forever.


Nayuki: the snow bunny creator

Shiori’s arc is followed by Nayuki’s arc. Nayuki is Yuichi’s cousin so you must know that the history is going to run deep between the two.  You find out that Yuichi rejected Nayuki when they were younger in a rather harsh way destroying the snow bunny she had made for him.  Yuichi doesn’t remember the event until later on.  Her mother gets hit by a car after buying a cake that Nayuki wanted.  This makes her feel responsible for the accident which sends her into a huge depression.

Ayu: the most moe of them all

Ayu’s arc is the final arc to be resolved.  She says the famous catch word “Uguu..” like Misuzu’s “Gao..” it is also extremely awesome.  Throughout the series Yuichi spends the most time with Ayu and their relationship runs much deeper than what Yuichi remembers.  Her arc is the deepest and is one of the most complex.  She says she attends a school in the forest, which turns out to play a big role in her and Yuichi’s past.  You find out the truth behind Ayu which is one of the most emotional scenes in all of Kanon.  The ending is a happy one after you see all of the conflicts resolved.

While the show is full of strong details and animation, there are some issues with the show.  One weakness of the show is that it only focuses really on one girl at a time.  It causes other characters to be strangely absent for long periods of time, and once their arc is over they will not really be seen for the rest of the series.  Another weakness is the filler episodes that were added in the series.  The 2002 series had 13 episodes while 2006 series has 24 episodes.  So you have some filler that wasn’t there in the first series.  A small weak point is that many may not understand the ending very well.

In final statements I highly recommend Kanon it has high quality animation, more focused storytelling, although it can seem a little too focused at times, it doesn’t take anything away from the show.  Of the three Kyoto Animation series based off of Key Visual novels this one is the most emotional.  I highly recommend this show to anyone.  The show has many great features and few flaws, and the flaws are rather minor in comparsion to the greatness of this show.  This wraps up my post for Kanon, here’s a hint for the next show in my blog.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:”Aliens, Time Travelers, and Espers Read This Post!”

I’m continuing my blog series on Kyoto Animation tonight with one of the most popular anime series as of recent history, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  The amount of sheer fandom that this show has achieved is somewhat staggering as well as puzzling.  You would think that a show of some random girl running around looking for aliens while dragging a group of other students with her would make for a mediocre show at best.  However, I guess the people in charge of the show really shocked world and decided to show us that a high school themed show about a guy and girl can seem fresh and funny.

I have tried to figure out how this show grabbed the hearts of so many anime fans to the point of rabid loyalty, but it is beyond me.  Don’t get me wrong this show is good I really enjoyed it and I still watch it even now, however, you won’t see me running around with a Haruhi t-shirt on, have a large amount of Yuki figurines, or even better a Mikuru pillowcase on my bed.  However, the latter type of fandom is the type of fandom that this show has generated.  Now I’m not saying that if you have the above mentioned items your strange or that typical “otaku” guy or girl although the Mikuru pillowcase could raise some eye brows but whatever.

Kyon's famous reaction to Haruhi's ideas

Kyon's famous reaction to Haruhi's ideas

The show features very good animation and the character designs to many people seem somewhat ordinary.  I believe they are nice and get the job done, but it’s not how the characters look but how they interact with one another and the environment around them.  The monologues that happen inside Kyon’s head are actually very suitable for the show as he tells what he thinks in his head about the events around him.  For some reason it really adds to the comedy of the show.  Kyon is the guinea pig of Haruhi, she likes him so he’s always caught up in her ideas.  Although he never leaves so he must not mind it too much.  He helps keep Haruhi in check while at the same time enjoying the costumes that Haruhi throws on Mikuru.  Haruhi is very over the top about everything as she runs around like a little dictator demanding things of her servants.  However, her blunt attitude can be very annoying to fans, but I didn’t really mind.  I thought it was much better than the one dimensional harem girl characters that many people guys seem to love.

Mikuru says "Classified Information"

Mikuru says "Classified Information."

Mikuru is as Haruhi puts it the “decoration” of the show. She is the source of every element of fan service the show manages to create minus a few bunny girl costume appearances by Haruhi that I’m sure had several Otaku reaching for tissues to stop the nosebleed.  Yuki is the silent type with glasses (see knocking out two archetypes there) while she doesn’t say much, she is interesting with her ability to cast incantations on objects as well as her very serious, and deadly combat abilities.  Koizumi is the character who really is the “follower” of Haruhi, kind of like a butler who just smiles as he watches his master have fun but can be serious if pushed. (like the destruction of the earth)

The show is about a girl named Haruhi, who is apparently God that can create and destroy universes at a mere thought, however she doesn’t realize this.  She’s looking for aliens, time travelers, and espers, but doesn’t realize that Yuki, Mikuru, and Koizumi are those three beings who are keeping an eye on Haruhi to help ensure that she doesn’t destroy the earth.  Kyon really just was in the right place at the right time and he gets caught up in everything.  Haruhi was displeased with all the clubs so he gave her the idea to create her own club.  So she creates a club to search for aliens and what not that turns into the ever popular SOS Brigade.  Besides one incident that happens with her almost destroying the earth without realizing it, that is really the entire story of the series.  Sound exciting?  I didn’t think so.

Nosebleeds begin now

Nosebleeds begin now

The show is made up of fourteen episodes with really only six contributing to the main storyline.  Seven of the other episodes are filler pretty much.  They are very entertaining and offer many good laughs, but do nothing to advance the story.  The last one is the movie that the SOS brigade shoots in the series, it is completely useless and offer nothing to the viewer except maybe a few laughs.  Now in regard to the episodes they were not aired in chronological order.  Not a huge deal really but it does have its flaws no matter which way you watch the show.

If you watch it in broadcast order (out of order) the first episode is the movie Haruhi makes during the series.  This takes up the entire episode and the viewer doesn’t even see Haruhi really except for at the end where she stands up and smiles after watching the movie.  It really throws viewers for a loop.  In fact I almost didn’t even continue watching because it was just so ridiculous and I was slightly confused.  Also if you watch out of order the characters will make many reference to things that have already happened chronologically, but the episode airs later on so you don’t really know what they’re talking about.

If you watch chronologically you fix all the problems of not knowing what is going on and you will understand all the references to other episodes.  However, the sixth episode chronologically (14th episode in broadcast order) will seem like the end.  Not a big problem but after episode six the remaining episodes are all filler and will not advance the story at all.  I recommend watching it both ways but I would watch broadcast order first.  Then whenever you watch it chronologically it’s interesting to pick up on all the references you didn’t understand before.


Haruhi from her performance in Episode 12

My thoughts on the show lean toward calling it a very good show.  The amount of animation going on in the background as well as the coloring and filters that appear really make the animation shine.  The character’s personalities make the show interesting and entertaining.  While the story is non-existent for more than half the series the events that happen really do show some good comedy.  Episode 12 the cultural festival, done by Haruhi (Aya Hirano) was good and offered a nice mix up to the show to actually hear half of a song and one verse of another. (I have the full versions of both of these songs on my i-pod God Knows and Lost My Music)  Really and truly this show is plain fun and funny.  Now I just pick an episode and watch and I am still entertained by what happens.

In closing thoughts if you have somehow managed to NOT watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya you really should find it and watch it.  It is one of my favorites, it’s a light mainly fast paced comedy that is just plain easy to enjoy.  The flaw that half of the episodes actually move the main storyline is somewhat overlooked by having funny fillers for the most part, but I really hope in the second season they focus more storyline than extras.  I wouldn’t mind them broadcasting episodes in chronological order either.  However, those are slight flaws and will hardly destroy your enjoyment of the show.  This wraps up my blog post on Haruhi tomorrow I will write about the “sad girls in the snow” show.  If you can’t figure it out here’s a hint:

What could it be?

AIR:”The first show in my blog series on Kyoto Animation.”

Recently Kyoto Animation is a company that has made itself known as a company that delivers high quality shows in reference to animation and by many people all around just plain good shows to watch.  So starting today I will be talking about the shows that Kyoto animation has produced and discussing what I like about each show and which ones are my favorite.  I’m sure every anime fan as of late has seen at least one show that has been produced by Kyoto Animation.  If not then you must be one of those anime fans that only watch Bleach and or Naruto.

The first show I will be talking about is AIR, which is an adaption of Key’s visual novel.  I really enjoyed this show it was a slow paced heartwarming show that was very peaceful.  It’s about a young man named Yukito  who is seeking a girl with wings who flies in the sky, who he heard of from a story his mother told him.  He meets a girl named Misuzu who seems very cheerful and friendly and has her own special word she says, “Gao.”  (This just screams moe and it adds to how awesome she is)  Yukito decides to stay with her and her aunt, which starts the events that will later be played out in AIR.  The show has soft colors and the OP really helps one achieve the feel of the show during each episode.  The show just really are cheering for both characters as they have their own journeys and goals.  The two main characters are really some of the most likable characters in anime.

This anime is not for everyone. (Please note for Naruto and Bleach only anime fans)  Many will not like the pace that the show moves at.  However, if you can enjoy the slower pace then you are in for a show that has its emotional points that will more than likely have you trying not to get teary eyed.  Like I said earlier the OP to the show really sets the mind of the viewer into the feeling of the show.  While at the beginning it looks like everything is perfectly fine except for the protagonist searching for the girl with wings.  We soon learn that not everything is as happy as it seems.  The viewer finds out that Misuzu has a mysterious condition that keeps her from making any close friends.  You also learn she has dreams of flying high in the sky each night.

It's Misuzu, she says "Gao".

It's Misuzu, she says "Gao."

Her problems will either have the viewer sympathizing for her, or just make the audience shrug since there is no real explanation for her condition except she’s always been like that.  Although you will find out the reason for her condition later.  You learn also of other conditions involving the other girls that the main character meets.   By many this is considered a harem show because it involves a main male character and female characters who are seemingly attracted to him just being a nice guy.  Also the fact that it is based off of a Key visual novel helps solidify that assumption.  However, I don’t really see it a harem the main guy just helps out the girls, and the girls really don’t seem to be hoping for a shot to be with him forever in harem terms.

Like I said earlier I believe this show is wonderful however, the one problem I do have with it is the way it is told near the ending.  The main character dissappers and it goes into fairly long flashback spanning a couple of episodes.  Although the information contained here really makes you understand the whole “girl with wings” content, the part after the flashback throws the whole flow off.  The main character is missing and seems to have taken the form of a bird.  It is rather odd not to have the main male charcter there.  You find out though those dreams are slowly taking their toll on Misuzu and her final dream of flying will kill her in her sleep, as she wakes up in pain many mornings.

The mysterious dissappearance of the male character is not an all bad thing though because it really allows the relationship between Misuzu and her aunt, Haruko Kamio, to come alive.  The viewer sees how the feelings of Haruko really change for her niece as she helps her fight against her illness.  You really see the bond formed by the two and the emotional moments that the two share near the end of the show.  The last scene of AIR between Misuzu and Haruko is one of the greatest scenes in anime in my opinion.

Photo from one of the greatest scenes ever

Photo from one of the greatest scenes ever.

In closing thoughts I strongly believe that if you haven’t yet you should really watch AIR.  The flaws with plot holes and broken story telling are really overshadowed by the animation and the emotional scenes in AIR.  I believe this is a show that will have you cheering for both characters the enitre time.  This wraps up my post on AIR.  Tomorrow my next post will continue the with the blog series on shows of Kyoto Animation with one of the most popular shows in very recent anime history The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. So be sure to read tomorrow or “HEADS WILL ROLL!!”

Read tomorrow or "HEADS WILL ROLL!!"

Read tomorrow or HEADS WILL ROLL!!"