Friday, July 2, 2010

The School's Trees: Until the Beginning of the Dream (Fuko's Arc)


Fuko.... aahh.... I love this arc. Like, truly love it. As in, every time I watch this arc I love it more and more. While I can say that I still love the rest of Clannad, Fuko's arc holds a special place in my heart. Why? I'll tell you.

As I had said before, Clannad had grabbed me from the first episode hook, line, and sinker. The interplay of already complex and deep main characters was more than enough, and laughing at Sunohara (who reminds me of one of my best friends) kept things entertaining in an otherwise very serious anime. I say very serious, because Fuko's arc is not a comedy in even the classical sense of the word. The characters do not defeat fate. Fuko still fades away into the blackness of our memories, and even though she accomplished her mission she'll never be remembered. That's tragedy, in the classical sense of the word. The character don't defeat fate. But they sure do spit in its eye, don't they?

I did many things after Jamie broke up with me. I screamed, punched things, gained twenty pounds in two weeks, and lost my faith in humanity, but I didn't cry. Fuko's arc was the first thing in years that actually made me want to cry. Why? Because it was sad, nothing more and nothing less. Here was a girl who had worked so hard, even in a coma, for a sister who didn't even know what she was doing, but no one would remember! The unfairness made my throat catch for a minute. But my cynicism came and ate it up. "Ah, this is corny!" I thought to myself. "Who gives a damn if this friggin girl goes back into a coma? It isn't real anyway." Then I turned to Marty, and realized that he was crying. Not a lot, mind you, but crying none-the-less. At that point I realized I was missing something. Something huge. Because if Marty, who rarely showed any emotion beyond annoyance, was crying at this then that meant I was far more cynical than I thought. And it wasn't fine as it was. I had to change.

This arc, in a special way, tells us what the ending of Clannad is going to be: Tomoya and Nagisa will be together, as a family, with a baby. They set this up by Kouko and Yoshino, the couple-to-be in this arc. And even though They don't say it outright, Kouko and Yoshino represent Nagisa and Tomoya. Why else do you think the designers of the show would have made them appear so similar? To make Yoshino look like an older Tomoya and Kouko look like an older version of Nagisa is just too blatant to be ignored. So, let's run with it! These two represent what Tomoya and Nagisa will be: a family. This means, of course, that Fuko represents Tomoya and Nagisa's child. How? Watch the video below, and see if you can figure it out. I'll be there on the other side.



If you spotted what I was talking about, goody for you. For the rest of you, don't worry about it. It'll be clear as you watch the anime and take in the themes and characters. Oh, you don't like that? Crap. Well, I'll try to explain it, but it really is just an intuition more than anything, and you'll have to forgive me if the nature of intuition prevents a full disclosure.

Because of Fuko Nagisa and Tomoya start to act like a family. They act together for someone beyond themselves, which is what a child is all about: the surrendering of self to someone else for everyone's sake. However, Tomoya and Nagisa can't do that yet, not only because they're not that comfortable with each other yet but because they haven't matured enough as people! The fact that Tomoya and Nagisa aren't all that comfortable with each other and her being a "phantom" is not a coincidence, people! This is just the beginning of Tomoya and Nagisa's dream. This is but the beginning of a beautiful reality that will spring forth, and the arc shows that in all its glorious promise. Fuko also has the same need for protection and safety that the child will have, and that only Tomoya could satisfy. Watch the clip below, starting from 2:32, and you'll see what I mean.



Ok, what's the first thing that happens at 2:32? Fuko turns to Tomoya, and remarks on her shock that the world reciprocated her love. She doesn't turn to Nagisa: she knows that Nagisa and her family loves her. What she was worried about was whether or not the world loved her, and for that reason she's turned to Tomoya, who, as a guy, is the one who she sees as dealing with the world. In Theology of the Body (start here.) men represent the transcendence, mystery, and power of God. In other words, men represent Otherness, while women represent Closeness. It's not Nagisa's job to deal with Otherness, not in the same way Tomoya does. What makes this work is that Fuko needs help with Otherness, something that Tomoya is more than willing to help with. THIS IS IMPORTANT, AGREE WITH ME OR NOT IT'S NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND, BECAUSE THIS IS TOMOYA'S FUNCTION IN THE PLOT FOR THE REST OF THE ANIME! What's Nagisa's "special function in the plot? We'll cover that later. But don't worry, I'll get to it.

Tomoya helped Fuko realize that the world would respond in a similar way that Nagisa's family did, that all the world is a giant Star Fish Festival. The outside world does not suck. And we all have to deal with that every day, and Tomoya helps make it a little easier for Fuko (and hopefully the rest of us as well). I know he did for me.

My sincerest thanks to everyone at Clannad Central and the Facebook Clannad (Kuranado) page who gave me access to these video clilps, just for this review! Their dedication is awesome.