Saturday, October 23, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Characters, #6-Sunohara!

Oddly enough, my school's anime club just finished Sunohara's arc this week: what a crazy random happenstance!
I think Sunohara's first appearance is what informs viewers that Clannad is not going to just be a complete melodrama: there's going to be tons of humor as well. Sunohara is basically the comic relief character in the first season, and he fulfills that role at the beginning of After Story as well. Of course, if he was only a comic relief character, he wouldn't really be important, and I don't think he'd be as popular as he is (though his comedy has to be a big reason).
Liam wrote lots of great stuff about how Sunohara relates to Tomoya's character development in his post on the After Story arc, so I'm not sure if I can really top that. I can just make a couple of observations of my own. First, Sunohara shows us that Tomoya is not a completely useless delinquent; his over-the-top immaturity provides somewhat of a contrast to Tomoya. True, Tomoya is still a delinquent, and he can be immature at times, but compared to Sunohara, he's got a great head on his shoulders. Second, Sunohara's presence means that Tomoya is not completely antisocial. At the beginning of the series, Sunohara is more or less Tomoya's entire friends circle; if Sunohara wasn't there, what would Tomoya be like? Would he have any social skills left at all? Clannad would be very different if that were the case.
That's my main observations. Personally, I have to say that I like Sunohara the most for his comedy and for the fact that his arc shows he's actually a good brother to Mei, though he's not perfect. It goes to show that even people who look like absolutely immature delinquents on the outside have a deeper, more mature layer underneath (and no third, even deeper, layer that's the same as the top surface layer, hopefully).

Y'know, Sunohara's that one friend. You know who I mean. The professional nutjob, who on most days you want to kill because he only complicates your life. He has all of these random schemes, none of which actually work, and has no social graces whatsoever. He acts like a moron more often than not and you wonder what the hell you're doing around him. But when you're in trouble he turns a completely different leaf. And you realize that he's actually really cool. Jaded? Oh yeah. But cool. 

And wise. Can't forget the wise part.


There's a certain ironic appropriateness to this week's follow-up to Tomoyo, though I can't for the life of me figure out how Sunohara wound up beating her out...enough on that, though. I think the above clip speaks for itself, in many ways. Sunohara is, well...that guy. At least on first glance. He's a tad perverted, he goofs off, acts like an idiot, chases after each one of the female leads for at least a short amount of time...yes, even Kotomi...

Yet as we see more of his character emerge, he's not actually that bad of a guy. Sure, he has negative character traits, but there's actually some quite positive ones, too. One moment which particularly comes to mind is his advice to Tomoya during the Alternate Worlds: Kyou episode. He notes that the longer Tomoya tries to avoid hurting both Kyou and Ryou, the more pain there will be when he finally has to resolve the drama-filled situation. Then he heads out, giving Tomoya a playful punch and a sort of "see ya". For a brief moment, we see Youhei demonstrate an insightful, deep side. Then, he slips back into playful, simple Sunohara-san.

It's in his arc at the beginning of After Story that we can see Youhei as a strong character. His sister Mei reveals a lot about what he can be: caring, protective, and incredibly loving. She sees that he's fallen into a slump, that he won't step forward to keep her safe, and she then tries to bring her brother back to his devoted, defending self. Eventually, it works; he faces up to his nemeses in the soccer club to protect her, in one of the most awesome scenes of the series. There's something in that guy I can really admire, even if he doesn't get there very often. He's got a ways to grow, but he's growing. It's that fighter's spirit, buried deep inside him, that I can really admire.

Plus, he makes a darn good punching bag.


I will never forget Sunohara.  No matter how long and hard I try, that crazy, loud, and obnoxious character will never leave my memory.  Over a year ago, I got back in touch with an old friend.  In the course of the first conversation we'd had in 8 years, this friend told me to watch a show called Clannad.  Last winter, I finally got around to following his advice.  Clannad was my first introduction to anime.  Up until that point, I'd never seen any of it.  My first few minutes of anime didn't leave too large of an impression.  Good music, great art, a girl, a guy – it was nice, it was sweet, ok. And then, I met Sunohara, and things suddenly looked a little different.  I had my second introduction to Clannad, compliments of Sunohara.  I will forever be indebted to him.  There's sweetness, beauty, and depth to Clannad, and just as important, there's humor, and there's Sunohara.  I want to smack him.  I want to hit him.  I cheer when he flies through the air, but that's why I like him.  He is Sunohara, and he fulfills his purpose in life...  

Youhei Sunohara: the idiotic character. Do you know that one guy who seems to be all about his own self and talks big, but when it comes down to it, he’s actually just an annoying punk? Yeah, that guy. Well, that’s about the character that sums up Youhei Sunohara. A lot of people know him. Almost nobody likes him. He skips classes regularly, and he’s probably the only person with a worse academic record than Tomoya. He picks fights, and he seems to be prone to battles he can’t win. He has a little bit too much persistence, especially when it comes to trying to best Tomoyo. His reasoning is generally poor and often useless. He often expects a lot more than he deserves. And of course, he leads us all to believe he’s a total idiot. However, as much of a cause Sunohara is when it comes to disturbing the peace, I simply cannot get over this character.

I’ll try and explain this to the best of my ability… Sunohara just has this certain effect to me when I’m watching Clannad. You know when you’re watching a movie or a TV show, reading a book, etc. and you get all this evidence on a character that leads you to believe you can completely sum them up, and then you think of that someone as completely useless or stupid or dirty or just straight having a negative effect on the other characters or the storyline, but then suddenly that one character, that character that seemed like nothing, does this one amazing, beneficial thing that seems completely out of character, one thing that completely shocks you to the point where you suddenly see that character as something totally different? That is one of my favorite things in the entire world. That’s the thing that could win me over better than anything else. I would admire that character more than ever on that occasion, and I would see them as something different anytime after that. To me, it’s a very powerful effect when that happens, and that’s the exact effect Sunohara had on me. I had watched the first few episodes, and Sunohara had been the obvious comic relief character, but then as I was watching Fuko's arc, Sunohara had had a few, more serious moments. Then, it got to that scene where Sunohara had just about forgotten Fuko completely, but he had that one moment where he said he didn’t hate her, and he was trying as hard as possible to remember what he could even though he couldn’t. This was the first scene of Clannad that made me want to cry, and it was mainly because of Sunohara. Wait………Sunohara?! I was amazed at what was going on. My mind was blown. This character had done something that I did not expect at all, and that’s what made me like him so much. And that’s not the only time it happened. There was that scene where Sugisaka tried to make Nagisa give up on the theater club by trying to get sympathy from Rie's handicap, but Sunohara suddenly busted out and told Nagisa that she didn’t have to listen to Sugisaka's pleas for pity. At the end of his arc in After Story, he ended up running in at the last minute to protect his sister, and he ended up fighting Tomoya, his best friend because of how much he loved his sister and how he felt the need to protect her, even though he had waited until his final chance to do it. The emotion he showed in all of these moments gave me chills, and it made me think that Sunohara was so much more than people viewed him to be.

I was doing the compilation video for the end of the post earlier, and I noticed that some of my favorite moments of Clannad, whether they were funny or serious, were based on interaction with Sunohara. In all, he makes an amazing friend to all of the characters of Clannad, especially Tomoya. He may seem like nothing but a ruffian at first, but he’s really kind and he’s willing to go out of his way for those he truly cares about. In all, Youhei Sunohara to me is a complete amazement................but he’s still an idiot……

A special thanks to everyone who wrote this post with me. Without writers like you guys this blog would not be what it is. The same goes for you readers: thank you for reading and enjoying. Once again, thank you Taylor for your hard work on all these videos that we use. Keep up the good work guys!