Clannad Afterstory is where Clannad truly begins. Period. Everything up to this point has been preparation for the story of Tomoya and Nagisa. Think of Clannad as a chapter in a Russian novel. It tells you who everyone is, what their occupations, their hangups, even a bunch of odd stories about them. The dead Russians did this for two reasons: 1) It's a long winter in Russia, and 2) So that when the shit hits the fan you know who you're dealing with, and you know why the problems are problems. After all this time it's my favored approach to story-telling, so I approve of the set up. I'll cover a few basic points:
Afterstory is Serious
Make no mistake. Afterstory is about facing the self within. And this means that you're gonna face some really ugly stuff. Tomoya's flaws become the focus. We look at his cruelty. We look at his lack of forgiveness, his crappy relationship with his father, and all the things that get hurt with it. Gone are the days of highschool where everyone was happy and attempting to make a life together. Highschool is over and the characters go out to face the world, and in turn themselves. The Kingdom of God is within and without, and Tomoya has to accept that.
There are very few things that I cry at. Most people who know me will admit that while I'm sentimental I'm a man of few tears over things.
I bawled like a baby at Afterstory. It hit every single nerve that I had, and kept hitting them. The story takes a turn for the incredibly tragic, as Tomoya is forced to face similar events to the ones that had originally defined him. I cried for joy when Tomoya proposed, I cried in sheer despair when Nagisa died, and I cried in anger when Ushio died. Oh, that's right, did I mention SPOILERS?
From now on I won't pretend to cover up the spoilers. Nagisa and Ushio die, and somehow Ushio makes it possible for Tomoya to ask for Nagisa back. I'll start talking about things in relation to the end explicitly, and at the end I'll tie up the loose ends I made in the first half, and you'll be forced to look at things from my perspective. Not that it's a bad one, mind you. But it's still mine.
THERE. The others may post as they will now. SPOILER BAN LIFTED!
Well, no shit sherlock, you might say. But no, really. Tomoya's family has been chosen, for better or worse, and this anime follows the decisions that Tomoya and his familiy have chosen. The entirety of this anime is about two things: God and family.
Clannad is About God
Too many things add up at the right time. Tomoya meets Nagisa the day he wants to change. Nagisa is repeating a year and needs reassurance. Fuko just happens to meet Tomoya when she wants to get her goal accomplished, and so on. And eventually Tomoya is asked if he wants Nagisa. Oh yes, he's definitely asked. Maybe not asked in the way that you and I think of as asking, but there is a question that he answers. The only one capable of answering these things adequately is God, a being who IS Being, who is Family.
All this and more will be covered in the following weeks, as we delve into the story of Tomoya Okazaki. So grab on to your seats, a box of tissues, and an extra pair of eyes, and we'll dive in! Unlike Clannad, which I covered from memory, I'll be re-watching Afterstory, because there's just so much there...that and I usually don't remember the first half of Afterstory. And once you get in that far....episode 12. That's all I'll say.
Here's the general rundown of what I'll be covering in the next few weeks:
Cat Boy Arc
The Week of Tears (The Proposal, The Death, and The Meeting)
The End (With the "One Year Before" Episode)
Keep reading, guys! You're now into the real story. Afterstory.
A thanks to the people who have images up on the web that I randomly steal from . I hope you can forgive my "borrowing", and I hope that people do the same from me.