Friday, June 1, 2012

The City's Lights: Akio's the Man of the Hour

I've said before that this is the most important speech in the entire anime, bar none. If I had to do away with all of the masterpiece that is Clannad and show someone one moment in an effort to sum up the show, I'd pick this one.  It carries the crux of why Nagisa and Ushio are the way they are, and defines what the 5-year old heroine will be like  so well that, when she comes along in about twenty or so episodes, she's totally accepted as if we expected her to be like this. I mean, considering how Nagisa was originally, why would be Ushio be any different?

Well, three main reasons, really.

The first is that I doubt Akio really had words for this before the speech. Part of it just might be a simple miscommunication on the part of Akio and Sanae to Nagisa: it was so fundamental to their existence they forgot to talk about it. But of course, that's not too helpful to a girl whose self-confidence has been destroyed by years of illness. Nagisa's reaction is pretty darned spot-on for someone in that position. So Nagisa grew up without the assurance that she so badly needed, but had no idea how to ask for. Once Nagisa finds this out she quickly becomes much more self-confident and a very strong woman in her own right. She stands up herself quite a bit after this incident, and even convinces Tomoya not to run away from the town, in the calmest and strongest scene that she has before Ushio's birth.

The second reason dovetails into the first: now that Akio and Sanae know they need to talk about their ideology, they never shut up about it. They constantly remind Tomoya and Nagisa of their love for them, and do everything two parents possibly can to reassure their dream. Why on earth would that change with Ushio? If anything, they would let Ushio know that she is their dream, and that everything is for her. A child raised in an enviroment like that would be very strong, wouldn't she? She'd know that her dreams are her parents' dreams, and that she should reach out for them with all her might. Huh..

Oh gosh, more on that sob-fest later.

The third reason why Ushio is different is because of, well, Tomoya. Tomoya was a rather active little kid, filled with his own ideas about the world. But, unlike Tomoya, Ushio was raised with the knowledge that the world was a very good place, even if it wasn't perfect. She does in 5 years what it took Tomoya to do in 18, essentially.

But none of that would have happened without this play. The entirety of the first season was for this powerful moment, where we realize that Ushio's going to be OK without even knowing who she is...