Saturday, October 2, 2010

The School's Trees: Top Ten Favorite Characters, Number 9: Sanae Furukawa

The door slides. We step in.  The shop before us is deserted.  We walk forward with Tomoya and gaze down at the trays of bread laid out next to the register.  We follow his gaze.  “That's this week's new release.”  A voice breaks the quiet cheerfully, and we turn with Tomoya and gaze up.  A girl, hair hanging down on either side of her face, stands there smiling.  “Please try one if you like,” she goes on.  “You don't have to pay, since they're left over.”  And that is how we meet Sanae, the happy, beautiful mother of Nagisa who offers never-before-heard-of bread concoctions to strangers one minute, and then flees in tears the next.  Somehow, this sweet, girlish character with her open smile and caring heart captured me.  I never decided to like her.  I simply watched, a little disbelieving, as she ran from the Furukawa Bakery crying in the first scene, and then appeared in the next one, cheerful and ready to dole out ridiculous names to Tomoya.  Sanae adds something important to Clannad.  Her mischievousness, her sweet nature, her unguarded love, and most of all her acceptance of the people around her, touches those she meets and binds together those she loves.  Sanae cares for people because of both who they are, and who she believes they will become.  By accepting others and not judging them harshly, Sanae gives those around her an  invaluable freedom.  She offers them the opportunity to be themselves.  This is her gift to Clannad.  

Sanae Furukawa: the caring character. Sanae is the perfect mix of youth, beauty, womanly instinct, and care. The reason I love Sanae so much is because her care and consideration for others, both in and outside of her family, is amazing. Whether someone needs a place to stay, a fake girlfriend, or just a little bit of inspiration, Sanae is always there to help. Sanae has a voice that stands out even though it is physically soft. She may not always have a whole lot to say on a subject, but when she does say something her wisdom and care are perfectly united. She never seems to have a bad response, and a lot of the time it seems like she has the best response. I can’t think of any situation where her opinions or decisions have caused somebody else trouble... except for maybe her choice to continue making bread. Her bread seems to be her biggest fault as people often insult it (including her husband) and are often felled by it. Her bread is probably better being used as decorative ornaments as it’s generally okay for as long as you’re only looking at it.

Sanae is a very strong character, and she’s willing to stay strong for those around her. She knows when she is being depended on, and she won’t break down or give up. When Nagisa died giving birth to Ushio, Sanae and Akio started taking care of Ushio. For the next five years, Sanae held back sorrowful tears because she knew that Ushio needed her.

All the characteristics of Sanae make her the perfect motherly character of Clannad.

"Watashi no pan...watashi no pan..."
When you hear those words, you know there's over-exaggerated drama on the way.
That's, of course, the feature of Sanae that comes to mind first. But that's not all, not by a long shot. How could one forget the mix-ups of her being Nagisa's older sister, or the awkward incident when she plays Sunohara's girlfriend?
For the majority of the series, Sanae is basically a humorous character, and her bread-based shouts are one of the show's iconic gags. But she's not all fun and games. Her emotional parts can be some of the most heartbreaking in the series. Personally, what really strikes me is the scene late in After Story, following Tomoya's reunion with Ushio. Tomoya wakes up in the middle of the night and overhears a conversation between Akio and Sanae, where Sanae cries for the first time after Nagisa's death. I think her entire power in the show is summarized in that one scene. And that's why Sanae is a pretty great character (though there are greater ones, as you'll see in the upcoming weeks).

I love Furukawa Sanae. I really, really do. (And her pastries, of course, but that's another matter altogether.) We can easily see some of Nagisa's traits in her, particularly her deeply caring nature, and her fragile self-confidence (though she is very self-assured when she has someone backing her confidence up. She's overdramatic in the most lovable way possible, and she cares deeply about her husband Akio. She's perky, sweet, and she makes fantastic pastries. She also happens to be quite cute and youthful.

Beyond the fantastically awkward situations which the last point in particular leads to, Sanae serves as a stable and solid character. She's always a support for the rest of the characters, a strong mother. Her personality, though it doesn't directly reflect this strength at first seeming, is one of the most powerful. And, really, I can't say much more than this scene right here...

Okay, I know Wolfsbane already linked it. But I feel that it epitomizes the true character of Furukawa Sanae. She takes her joy from giving love to others, and from this constant gift, she draws her strength. She's constantly thinking of everyone she loves, and fears that she can't give them enough. She gives the best that she can, but is always nervous that it will be insufficient. She strives to be strong, so that others can live on. And, in the end, it's Akio who knows what she has to deal with, that she still has to fall back on someone for support. Her kazoku. That's why I like Sanae, and it took me some writing to realize that I truly did like her this much. She's not an obviously powerful character, but she's one of the most powerful characters in the show.

There's a lot I can say about Sanae. Tons. I can go and talk about the girlfriend situation with Sunohara, her crying on Akio's shoulder, or those abominable things she thinks are pastries. But none of those define Sanae in my mind.

But this does:

At this point I couldn't help but understand Sanae, if only because I"m paranoid. Aren't her "bumps" just a little too carefully planned? The whole thing seems so canned, so unnatural, but yet so bloody hilarious that I can only conclude one thing: Sanae knew what was going on and went along with it. The joke's on us. From this incident I can only conclude that Sanae and Akio are perfectly suited for each other, because they really are both practical jokers, it's just that Akio's far more obvious. But Sanae wins out in the end, because she gets to laugh at us with her joke while we roll our eyes and think she's being over-emotional once again. Whatta dirty rotten trick!

I approve. Intensely. Go Sanae!

I'd like to thank all the people who helped me come up with this post for all the people who read. I'm grateful to work with such talented people that God provides me, and I hope that that continues. 

Once again, thank you Clannad Central and Taylor for giving us our videos as we need them. Your awesomeness is uncontested.