After Story: Pressing Forward
clannad after story 14-16
Posted by tai on Mar 16, 2009 under Anime, Clannad, Discourse

I just recently got a solid connection to the net, so at last I can start catching up on all the anime I’ve missed the past two months. Obviously, the first thing I started catching up on was Clannad.

Clannad has taken quite a big turn from the standard visual novel genre, as I watch on it seems to be shifting towards those Korean dramas where peoples’ lives grow and fade intermittently. The characters and we, the audience, are caught between emotions. The coinciding uncertainty as to whether one should smile or cry is a very hazy emotion, yet Clannad is able to capture it spot on.

Clannad After Story 15 09:27Clannad After Story 15 15:02

However, as accurately as Clannad captures these emotions, I find it harder and harder to sympathize with the characters—the transition from love story to life story is leaving me behind in my youth. Unrequited love is something I am familiar with (and surely most others, too) and in the situations they presented to me my mind jumped through my past experiences and absorbed itself into the Clannad world. But as the story progresses from unrequited love to mutual love, from mutual love to marriage, and from marriage to family, the situation drifts farther away and I no longer have a vantage point from which I can get a clear, close view of the situation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Clannad’s cohesion with my own life that was so eminent in the former parts slides ahead of me. It seems like these closing episodes will be something I will learn to understand over time, as I progress forward in my own life and gain the experiences necessary to make the connection. As it stands now, Okazaki & Co. have grown up ahead of me and show me how much more I have to go through.

Clannad After Story 16 08:48Clannad After Story 16 08:53

It’s strange, however. I know that if Clannad had started at this point, I know would have no interest in watching it whatsoever. I have no recollections of ever going though marriage, supporting a family, having a child, and losing one dear to myself; in this case the relevance of this hypothetical Clannad naught but zero. Yet I watch on, knowing but not understanding; seeing but not feeling. Why does Clannad, which has advanced from the relevant to the irrelevant, still hold my interest?

Clannad 18 21:10Clannad 18 21:55

I believe the answer is because it advanced, as opposed to starting somewhere already out of reach. I laughed with the characters and I cried with them, while they initially were walking alongside my memories. I got to see their deepest secrets, and in doing so I revealed my deepest secrets to them. The Theatre Club became a family, my family. So as it moved forward, although it surpassed the realm of my memories, we were still attached, holding on to the unbreakable thread also known as family. Now, as a spectator from behind, I get to see everything by the third eye, and even though I can no longer sympathize with them, I can still see how their actions led to them arriving at their unstipulated destinations.

Clannad After Story 16 21:35Clannad After Story 16 21:47

This path they lay down before me is now a trail for me to follow or avoid. Now it is my turn to make the move forward in the footsteps of they who have left before me. I cannot feel what they feel now, but I know that by pursuing their tracks I will gain the memories that are needed to return me to their sides. Clannad is becoming a guide; a guide I can choose to follow or avoid to help me reach my own aspirations. I have pushed this argument quite far, but the bonds I have with the characters that have outgrown me stand as strongly as it did when the characters were within my grasp of maturity. I think it’s unarguable that I will enjoy the first season much more than the second, but After Story is making me face the reality of growing up everyone has to do so sooner or later in life.

Because I have yet to advance as far as the After Story characters, I have no memories, so I lose the ability to sympathize. However, this new observation deck offers me another activity: thinking. Watching these episodes triggered me to think about what life and love mean to me, what sacrifices are necessary for either and what I would do if I had to choose between the two. Do love and happiness equate? Do life and happiness equate? What action should we take when we advance along one path believing it leads to the best, only to discover in vain that tragedy lies ahead? These past few episodes have taught me nothing directly, but have made me think and analyse what it means to be alive and what it means to live.

Clannad 01 01:19

  • On March 16th, 2009 at 01:43,
    zzeroparticle wrote:

    Whatever the answers are, you can’t help but think of how well the characters are developed and how their bonds are tested as the story goes on. Part of what I find so fascinating is that I can identify with their struggles to carve out a life for themselves while going back to the solid pillar of support that the concept of family can provide. And yeah, life catches up with you really quick, especially after the college years. Work, responsibility, and independence will force that into you if college hasn’t done that already.

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