Well guys, it's that time of year again: yet another person borrowing my Clannad DVDs and watching the show. It seems to happen once or twice every quarter, so I was happy that this time it was my roommate, the inestimable Sparky. Maria and I got him to watch Angel Beats first (we convinced him by telling him there were guns) and, once he was hooked on that, I gave him the Clannad DVDs to watch. He got through the first season relatively quickly for someone on 18 credit hours and about 20 hours of work a week. So, he started After Story earlier this week, and Maria and I had the joy of watching the first episode of After Story with him.
First things first: THE SHEEP ARE DANGOS!!! THE SHEEP ARE DANGOS!!! HOLY SHIT THE SHEEP ARE DANGOS!!! I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out, but to be honest I didn't really care to think about it until Josh emailed me and asked what the sheep were about. Now I look at them, and it makes perfect sense! They're the right shape, size, and the smell is what tipped me off... (the girl says they have a nice smell, like another certain little girl who says the dango has a nice smell). Anyway, now that that mystery's been solved...
This show has a special genius to it: it takes the final plot of the show and finds ways to repeat it throughout the show. Fuko, Kotomi, Tomoyo, Nagisa, the entirety of the first season repeats this cycle of introducing characters, identifying the problem, trying to solve the problem with just your own strengths and failing, and then calling upon the larger world to help in solving the problem and succeeding. It's a beautiful cycle, one that writers should pay special attention to.
The first episode of Afterstory manages to do this all in one episode with the awesomeness of a baseball game. Everyone gets together and plays for the common and personal good, and everything falls to Tomoya. Despite whatever misgivings and deficiencies he has, he is told that he can do it, and that Nagisa depends on him to get her home. Tomoya hits the homerun, much to his incredible surprise and joy, and logs in yet another memory-light for the robot to notice in the other world. It's a reflection of the last episode of the show in the clearest way, and is honestly the best bit of foreshadowing in the show.
Tellin'ya, people, the show is GENIUS.