Saturday, July 31, 2010

The School's Trees: The Trust of a Child

As I said before, this is where things actually take off. This is After Story, one of the most moving masterpieces of all time, this is....

Baseball? What?

Yes, the writers put us into a BASEBALL game at the start, with Tomoya being relied upon to supply the players. By now I'd gotten used to the writers taking what would normally be filler and making it crucial to the plot, so I didn't mind. But baseball? What did these guys have in mind this time?


The last few minutes of this opening episode scream foreshadowing. Tomoya is put into a situation where only he can save the hopes and dreams of his friends, with Nagisa's success hanging on his willingness to try? Gosh, that sounds so familiar!  That sounds like Nagisa dying and Tomoya only having to make a wish... only here, he doesn't choke. What saves Tomoya here is that Nagisa is alive and waiting for him. And so he musters it up into one shot, and BAM! Out of the park the ball goes, and Nagisa comes back home. The family has won, because Tomoya believed.

The writers have been setting up this scenario over and over again, trying to tell you in all the ways they can without actually telling you what's going to happen. Remember the basketball scene? Where Tomoya shot and made the basket? That's another time the writers put the foreshadowing on heavy. The beginning is a mirror of the ending, making a beautiful symmetry. Seriously, everything lines up. Anyway, on to more serious issues.

Sunohara's Arc
This is the arc that deals with Tomoya's cruelty towards Sunohara. Tomoya has always been a bit of a prankster, but his shenanigans towards Sunohara have always been particularly hurtful, and it comes to a head here. What on earth prompted Tomoya to do this to Sunohara in the first place? I personally think this scene from the Afterstory Bonus Episode

Could it be that part of Tomoya's intentions in telling Sunohara that Sanae is Nagisa's sister is some form of revenge for having to watch Sunohara play a cruel prank on Kyou? I'd like to say that it's more than half of it. Tomoya really hated what happened there, and has probably held a grudge against Sunohara ever since then, and lost all pity for Sunohara. So, yeah, this really is Tomoya's revenge. And boy, is it a big one. Tomoya lies to Sunohara and tells him that he's dating Mei, and that starts a chain of events leading up to this:

What I love about this scene is that most of what Tomoya is saying is self-reflective. He's not just talking to Sunohara here, but himself. Tomoya is just as afraid of being what Sunohara is, but has become just like him: bitter and cruel. In fact, Tomoya has become worse than Sunohara in his attempts to get even. He really enjoys hurting Sunohara because he believes that Sunohara's too soft and needs to toughen up.

But the words I thought it was alright if it was with you! are enough to jolt Tomoya out of his cruelty. And wouldn't it jolt you? To be told that all the times that your friend has listened to all your dumb pranks was because he trusted you enough to suspend reason itself? I know that would change me, and it changes Tomoya. From here on out he'll never play pranks again, and becomes quite gentle.

OK, one more time just for the hell of it!
Why's this so important? Because if Tomoya hadn't changed here, he may have still had that mean streak with Ushio around. Imagine someone with Sunohara's level of trust in Tomoya, but they're much younger, and you have Ushio. Without this pivotal moment Tomoya may have permanently damaged Ushio. What, you don't think Tomoya is capable of that? After watching him cruelly torturing his friend Sunohara throughout the entirety of this show, even though Sunohara sees more good in Tomoya than Tomoya does in himself? Tomoya's capable, and at the point of his life where Ushio meets him he's even weaker than he is now, so he'd be willing. Without this arc Tomoya would have destroyed Ushio. 

Still not convinced? Fine. Sunohara relies upon Tomoya as a child does a father to keep him out of harm's way, to give him advice on how to deal with girls, and to be there when he needs him. He's also as annoying as a child, acts like a child, and overall needs as much guidance (and beatings) as a child without ritalin. When you think about it, all those humorous moments with Sunohara are actually very dark humor, because each and everyone of them attests to Tomoya's failure. The fact that Tomoya doesn't have a good example from his father is part of the point. Tomoya is only acting as he sees his father acting. But here he's shown that it's not enough to imitate your father, you have to be yourself. Well, he's shown that partially. The  rest of that character development comes along after Nagisa dies. But for now, this is enough for Tomoya and for us.

This arc is one of the reasons I love this show so much: it's willing to change the status quo. While Tomoya never stops playing around with Sunohara his level of cruelty drops, meaning that half of the plots that could have been started (Tomoya being a cruel bastard to person x) are no longer possible. It was a bold move, but a good one. Even today when I watch this arc I'm amazed that they took something as "subtle" and long standing as Tomoya's pranks and ended them, because without this change Tomoya and his world wouldn't have been nearly as believable, because people do change over time. Nagisa stops doubting herself. Akio opens up. Tomoyo stops being a gang leader. Kyou finally becomes gentle. Kotomi gains confidence. But all these changes happen because of experiences that teach them that what they're doing now isn't good enough. That change is needed. That they must break out of their ruts and become something new.

That they must become human. 

A special thanks to the Clannad Fanpage for graciously uploading all the videos that I've used in this post. Taylor went through a few hoops to get me this stuff, and I'm grateful for the time and effort he put into these videos. I'm also grateful to all the people out there with Clannad blogs whom I've "borrowed" pictures from. Your work makes this blog possible, even if you don't know it. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Afterstory: The Beginning (Extra Post)

Clannad Afterstory is where Clannad truly begins. Period. Everything up to this point has been preparation for the story of Tomoya and Nagisa. Think of Clannad as a chapter in a Russian novel. It tells you who everyone is, what their occupations, their hangups, even a bunch of odd stories about them. The dead Russians did this for two reasons: 1) It's a long winter in Russia, and 2) So that when the shit hits the fan you know who you're dealing with, and you know why the problems are problems. After all this time it's my favored approach to story-telling, so I approve of the set up. I'll cover a few basic points:

Afterstory is Serious
Make no mistake.  Afterstory is about facing the self within. And this means that you're gonna face some really ugly stuff. Tomoya's flaws become the focus. We look at his cruelty. We look at his lack of forgiveness, his crappy relationship with his father, and all the things that get hurt with it. Gone are the days of highschool where everyone was happy and attempting to make a life together. Highschool is over and the characters go out to face the world, and in turn themselves. The Kingdom of God is within and without, and Tomoya has to accept that. 

Afterstory Is Sad

There are very few things that I cry at. Most people who know me will admit that while I'm sentimental I'm a man of few tears over things.

I bawled like a baby at Afterstory. It hit every single nerve that I had, and kept hitting them. The story takes a turn for the incredibly tragic, as Tomoya is forced to face similar events to the ones that had originally defined him. I cried for joy when Tomoya proposed, I cried in sheer despair when Nagisa died, and I cried in anger when Ushio died. Oh, that's right, did I mention SPOILERS?

From now on I won't pretend to cover up the spoilers. Nagisa and Ushio die, and somehow Ushio makes it possible for Tomoya to ask for Nagisa back. I'll start talking about things in relation to the end explicitly, and at the end I'll tie up the loose ends I made in the first half, and you'll be forced to look at things from my perspective. Not that it's a bad one, mind you. But it's still mine.

THERE. The others may post as they will now. SPOILER BAN LIFTED!

Clannad is Family

Well, no shit sherlock, you might say. But no, really. Tomoya's family has been chosen, for better or worse, and this anime follows the decisions that Tomoya and his familiy have chosen. The entirety of this anime is about two things: God and family.

Clannad is About God
Too many things add up at the right time. Tomoya meets Nagisa the day he wants to change. Nagisa is repeating a year and needs reassurance. Fuko just happens to meet Tomoya when she wants to get her goal accomplished, and so on. And eventually Tomoya is asked if he wants Nagisa. Oh yes, he's definitely asked. Maybe not asked in the way that you and I think of as asking, but there is a question that he answers.  The only one capable of answering these things adequately is God, a being who IS Being, who is Family. 

All this and more will be covered in the following weeks, as we delve into the story of Tomoya Okazaki. So grab on to your seats, a box of tissues, and an extra pair of eyes, and we'll dive in! Unlike Clannad, which I covered from memory, I'll be re-watching Afterstory, because there's just so much  there...that and I usually don't remember the first half of Afterstory. And once you get in that far....episode 12. That's all I'll say.

Here's the general rundown of what I'll be covering in the next few weeks:

Opening/Sunohara Arc
Gang Arc
Cat Boy Arc
The Week of Tears (The Proposal, The Death, and The Meeting)
The End (With the "One Year Before" Episode)

Keep reading, guys! You're now into the real story. Afterstory. 

A thanks to the people who have images up on the web that I randomly steal from . I hope you can forgive my "borrowing", and I hope that people do the same from me. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The School's Trees: NAGISA!!!!

Apparently I made quite a following back at university, because a lot of my friends from there have watched Clannad. Most of them really love it, but they always remark upon one thing: the end is deus ex machina. As I'd explained earlier, that's not how I see it. The ending is so incredibly planned and told to you over and over again that if you don't notice it it's your own fault. The writers frequently tell you that the ending is not only possible, but it's the only ending that can be. Repeat after me, kiddies: THE ENDING IS NOT DEUS EX MACHINA. A deus ex machina is where the gods come out of nowhere and rescue the protagonist, and everything ends well. Clannad defies this definition to a T. Everything is planned, and the ending is well within "the rules". Nothing sums this up like the ending the first half of Clannad, where Nagisa finally finds out about her parent's pasts. Tomoya is the first to find out so that way he can help steer Nagisa away from her search.

Unfortunately, however, Nagisa finds out the night before the play, and that goes as well as you can imagine. Nagisa has trouble accepting the idea that her own dreams are worthwhile, and this is the nail in the coffin for her. She gives up. So she stands, on the stage, unable to do anything, until Akio comes in:

Quick story time: When I first watched this speech, my jaw dropped. It wasn't that I didn't know what Akio was saying, I had just never thought of it that way before! To me this was a completely new way of thinking about parenthood, the best way that I'd ever heard. We didn't give up our dreams. We changed ours to yours. That is a parent. Something about that has dramatically impacted me ever since, because I have a dream. I want to be an iconographer. I want to be someone who makes images of God for other people to pray with so that they can go to Heaven. I also want to be a priest, someone who helps guide people to Heaven through my example and prayers. This is the first time that I asked "Is that enough? Is it enough to only want things to that make me happy? Even if they're done for the sake of everyone?" To this day I can't answer that question. I hope to be able to someday, but for now all I can do is follow my dreams and hope that, in fulfilling my dream, I can make my children's dreams possible as well. The fact that Akio was not given that chance is something that I haven't missed. Nagisa was too sick for Akio to do what he wished, but it didn't matter, because Nagisa came first. She was Akio's dream, even moreso than theatre. And that's the way it should be. I'm sure that if Akio had the chance to keep doing theatre he would, if it meant that Nagisa could be taken care of. But those two dreams couldn't be compatible for him, so he threw away the theatre.

Oh well, I'll know if/when I get there.

A brief explanation of Nagisa is in order. I'm sure quite a few of you are wondering "Why the hell is Nagisa like this? She's got such awesome parents! How could she be this weak?" Fortunately I can shed light on this in a way that many people can't. My last year in highschool I relapsed with Lyme's Disease. That basically means that if I don't take care of myself I have three ending options: A) Go blind   B) Go crazy  C) Have all those things happen AND I die in slowly, with all my nerves on fire. For the next four years I grappled with this disease. During that time I lost (for limited times, thank God) the ability to trust my senses, my ability to walk, my ability to think clearly (if at all), and the ability control my emotions. The disease is in control now (thanks to the smart managing of what I eat, turns out the disease damaged my body so I can't have dairy or eggs without getting depressed and tired), but one thing sticks with me: fear. Nothing will take away your courage faster than finding out that your very body isn't reliable. It doesn't matter how strong the people around you are, or how much they believe in you. Your body failed you, and that changes everything. For if your own body won't work with you, then what will? Certainly not the world, because it made the rules that your body can't live up to. Certainly not your friends. They can't understand because their bodies don't fail them in that dramatic of a fashion. And sure as hell not God, who gave you the body that fails you so often. If your body can't help, what can?

That's Nagisa's problem. Nagisa's body has done nothing but fail her for a long time now, and so she won't trust in her dreams. Why would she WANT to? Her body can't carry them out, so why bother wishing? And if others have dreams why be so presumptuous as to cancel them out with your own, since the possibility for failure is so high? Better to fail at your own dreams and let others carry on. This is what keeps Nagisa back. This is her fear. Her body has failed her before, and so she doesn't want to get in the way. She almost wants to  die, so that others can carry on with their dreams. She has gotten so used to the idea that her body makes it impossible that she's willing to just lay down arms at the first sight of trouble! The fact that Nagisa even voiced her wishes at the beginning of the show at all shows tremendous strength and willpower. Contrary to what you may think, Nagisa is not weak. Her ability to carry on in the face of her failing body is a sign of grace and power. This is evidenced by Nagisa completing her dream after the pep talk/bashing of Akio and Tomoya. She didn't realize that everyone else had bet the farm on her, and that she needed to succeed. For the first time in her life, it didn't matter how bad Nagisa's body was. Others depended on her, and she couldn't let her own weakness get in the way.  For once Nagisa had a true reason to reach beyond herself, and she did so.

As important as it is for the characters, Akio's speech is possibly the most important speech of all of Clannad. In it he details the importance of children in a family, and that a parent's dreams (and happiness) depends on the child doing whatever he wants. In essence, a parent surrenders himself completely to his child for the child's sake. KEEP THIS IN MIND, BECAUSE THAT MEANS A LOT OF OTHER THINGS AS WELL. Like a bunch of little light orbs that you've been seeing  for awhile....but more on that later. The stage is set, and the ending's key component has been revealed. You may not see it yet, but that's perfectly fine. For those of you who've watched this show please go and check up what I've just said. You'll find that not only does it work but it's the only way. The ending is not deus ex machina, because Akio's speech exists. 

A note of appreciation to Clannad Central and to all the people that I randomly steal stuff from to get this blog to work. Thank you for your had effort, it won't be wasted!

A second note: I know I'd said before that you guys wouldn't hear anything out of me, because of my schoolwork. Well surprise, I'm sick! There's a bug going around in the house, and I'm the last one to get it. So, I decided that since I couldn't iconography done that I'd lie in my bed and type. I hope you guys are happy ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

The School's Trees: Okazaki, Shoot! (Second Theatre Arc)

People call this arc a few different things: Tomoyo's Arc, Kyou's Arc, the Randomness Arc, but none of those really sum up what's going on. This arc isn't about any of the girls, because Tomoya has set his heart on Nagisa.  This arc is about Tomoya realizing that he's chosen Nagisa, and his confirmation of that choice.

The first girl out of the running? Kyou. I still love this girl, she's always been one of my favorites in the whole show. Why? I don't know, I guess cause she reminds a lot of myself (minus being manipulative, I 'm not that ;) ). How is this determined? Well, Tomoya gets lonely for Nagisa, and goes to the girl in the second library. She asks him if he wants to do a charm, and he agrees. Well.... it's a charm to get locked in a storage room with the girl of your choice. Since Nagisa's sick at the time Tomoya chooses Kyou. Here's the incident:

There's quite a few reasons why these two aren't meant to be together. The first? Kyou actually WANTS to have sex with him! Say what you will, Kyou's talking herself into it. That's the first turn off for Okazaki, he wanted to make sure this very situation didn't happen! The second? Even when it becomes apparent why Okazaki picked her, she doesn't live up to it. In fact, she makes it worse by focusing on herself and Ryou. And then the third reason? She's not Nagisa! It's really that simple. If this was Nagisa then things would have gone off without a hitch, and they would have gotten out with the least bit of sexual tension. It would have been a walk in the park. But Kyou's selfishness wrecks that chance for her. As much as I like Kyou, she had it coming.

And then there's Tomoyo. Tomoyo is awesome. She's kind, innocent, and powerful, and thoroughly cool. Without Nagisa I'd say that Tomoya would have chosen her, because she offers Tomoya a similar chance for happiness that he would have for Nagisa. I mean, look at the Alternate Arc with Tomoyo. It's not the same way, but Tomoya could have been happy there as well. He would have learned to look beyond himself and give all of himself, to live for a family. Would it have been nearly as dramatic? No, not even nearly. And even if he did choose her his story ends and Tomoyo's begins (click here to read Tomoyo After. Don't worry, it's the clean version.) But alas, it was not to be. Tomoyo, while impressive, is too late. He's already learning to do these things for Nagisa's and his sake, and there really isn't room for anyone else. It's a real shame, too. Tomoyo After is beautiful as well, in its own way, and I'm glad that they wrote something for Tomoyo, who's a fascinating person in her own right. I recommend the manga heartily, but watch out for anything else. The game is hentai, and I think that ruins the point of the story.

So why does Tomoya choose Nagisa? The incident makes him choose Nagisa first happens relatively early in the arc, ironically enough.

Simple. She helps him reach for happiness. For success. For God. Even Tomoya wants something for himself now, and that something involves Nagisa. "Okazi-san, shoot!" is the death knell for all the others' chances of being with Tomoya. From here on out Tomoya reaches for the theatre club with all his might, something that he hasn't done since he hurt his right arm. Think about that for a moment, folks. Tomoya's actually reaching out for something beyond himself!  The guy who wouldn't be caught dead being involved in a club is now doing things like getting himself suspended so his dream can come true. That's a huge advancement already. But unlike earlier in the show, Tomoya actually admits his need to reach beyond himself, in the video clip below.

I still don't entirely understand Clannad, and this is one of the scenes that always gets my approval even while I'm baffled. Something about it doesn't click to me, but yet I find myself loving it anyways. Is that insane? Probably. But the point still stands. This is the defining moment of Clannad, where you see why Tomoya and Nagisa should be together. I would pick it apart and explain why it's that way to you, but unfortunately I can't. Because it just is. The two of them together are powerful, and that's what matters.

On some level I understand because I find myself entering a relationship a bit like this at the moment. Without getting into too many details (this being the internet and all) I'll say this: a relationship can't be just about the two people who are in it. It has to be about everyone else as well. The Gospel of John states The Kingdom of God is within you. What most people don't know about that passage is that the English translation blows chunks. The word "within" in Greek can mean "within" and "outside", with the context of the word telling you which way you're supposed to take it. Supposedly the context of John for that passage is a bit vague, so a more literal translation should be "The Kingdom of God is within/outside you". I think that the reason why relationships work has something to do with that passage and with it's mean. You can't just be focused on the other person, you must be focused on everyone else as well. Tomoya and Nagisa work because they can live this reality of living inside and outside themselves.

While I apologize for not making as much in this post that really is the impact that it made on me, and for being sincere I will not apologize. Life can't be about only you, and that's the message I took away from this arc.

My sincerest thanks to the Clannad Fan Page as well as the random people from google who I took all these images and from. I didn't ask for permission, so if those people see what I'm doing and want me to take the images down I will do so. Kudos to all those who spend their time inadvertently helping me out!

Later edit: Well, it was bound to happen, but Taylor found the one post where I used videos not from him. He has corrected the blemish, and here we are! Congrats Taylor, and thank you for your unfailing drive to make this blog what it is! (9/4/10)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The School's Trees: Everyone's Waiting for You (Kotomi Arc)

This is the second character arc of Clannad, the one that I'm the most conflicted about. Why? Well, on the one hand it's a great amount of fun. The violin recital is undoubtedly one of the funniest moments of Clannad. Heck, it's so funny I'll post it!

See what I mean? She's just so deadly, so unaware, so......cute. If I may, I would like to say that she is the cutest of the girls, even moreso than Fuko. There's just this charm to her that's so disarming, so honest, so...

Bo-n-jour? It's cuteness. All of it.

All arcs of Clannad are a foreshadowing of the end, and this arc is no exception. Kotomi's arc is even more blatant in its foreshadowing than Fuko's, showing us many things about Tomoya and the child that he and Nagisa will have. I can't say too much without giving it all away but rest assured, when the time comes I will do a full comparison between all the Clannad girls and the child. For the moment, just take into account Kotomi's relative isolation, and this video clip (skip to 5:12)

Tomoya's heroism once again shines out. His belief that the world, that God, will love Kotomi is just as strong as his belief in Fuko. Despite Tomoya being a jerk and his inability to stay awake for any length of time his faith and love are enough to help get Kotomi to a place where she can heal. She puts her trust in God, in the world....

And, once again, the world reciprocates as Tomoya had promised, as shown in the following scene:

I gotta admit, this is the corniest part of Clannad. No matter how much time passes, I can't help but roll my eyes over the sheer corniness of that scene. However, it does prove the point. Corny or not, it's beautiful.

The lights around Kotomi are also the key part of this story, and for obvious reasons you should be wondering what the heck they are. Rest assured, I will explain it. But for now, be content with the fact that I know what's going on and you don't. ;)

As good as her arc is though, in my humble opinion it has the most plot holes of Clannad. I say this for a few reasons. First, her seeming abandonment by her godfather. Second, THE BRIEFCASE! And third, her mental state, which goes back to the the first reason.

First, the issue of her godfather. Now, I understand that things probably work a bit differently in Japan, but why the heck didn't this man take Kotomi in? He obviously cares for her, and even though she's scared of him initially that really shouldn't make a difference as to what her godfather's actions are. His seeming lack of common sense always jerks me back to reality, something that I really can't forgive the writers for. That and putting him in a trench coat and sunglasses and a hat REALLY make him look like a bad guy. Seriously, writers, seriously. What the hell were you thinking?

Second, that briefcase. I understand on some level that it's a miracle that the briefcase made it all around the world, but for criminy's sake those sorts of things just don't happen. And for comparison, I agree with the ending of Clannad, which is as about as out of the blue as it gets for an anime, and I didn't buy THIS. Are my priorities screwed up? Probably, but then again I always had a bit more trust of God than I did humanity.

Third, Kotomi shows some signs of PTSD and having some sort of personality disorder. I don't just say that because she's weird, I'm saying that because of her inability to connect with others, her misunderstanding of social cues, and that maddening toe walk which no woman with her bust size would do willingly. Something's just not right, which fuels problem number one that I have with this arc. If she has these issues why didn't someone step in and help her before Tomoya?


OK, I feel better now.... the Dango song....yay....

Despite having these plot holes I could drive my Chrysler through, Kotomi's arc is amazing. While it didn't affect me as much as Fuko's arc did, Kotomi's arc is a good follow up to the masterpiece that is Fuko.  I love Kotomi's violin, I love her innocence, and well, I love Kotomi. I'm sorry that I can't talk as much about her overall place in the plot yet, but trust me, I'll have plenty to say later.

With three hiragana.

Many thanks to Clannad Central for uploading these videos specifically because we asked them to. You guys are awesome!

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.