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The place where wishes come true

This entry covers the closing episodes of Clannad After Story. I will probably do one last shorter entry for my overall thoughts and opinions, but first I need to set the story straight. I’ll give you a forewarning that this entry is extremely long. A PDF version is being prepared.
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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.
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a new approach to online team collaborative projects
Posted by tai on Nov 19, 2008 under Discourse, Research, Special

Every person, group, company, territory, has a particular way of doing things. Most of us have our own system on how to handle things. Leaving post-it notes, keeping a PDA of daily to-do lists, putting an elastic band around our wrist, setting random alarms, and so forth, are all ways of getting things done, and help fight against forgetfulness and procrastination. Most likely we don’t even think twice about our personal procedures, but when different people with different methodology start collaborating with each other it is necessary to set guidelines on the exact procedures and protocols for all the tasks involved in the projects at hand.

I’m being hosted under BWYS, a scanlation group: They take Japanese manga (comics), translate it into English, and release it online. My friend is the leader of the group and since they would be animanga fans like I am, I joined their IRC channel for some social while closeting away on my computer. However, I was (and still am) much more into audio/video than illustration; I didn’t really have that much background in manga, especially compared to the members of BWYS who work with manga on a daily basis. But I knew Photoshop well and soon I started typesetting and editing for them, and with that I started learning the specific procedure we go through to prepare a raw file into a final release. Most members, having practiced this methodology for quite some time, don’t have much criticism on the system, but I being newer to the scene have a lot of thoughts on the system we use, from both general-workplace and scanlation viewpoints.
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gangs and the theatre club
Posted by tai on Nov 17, 2008 under Anime, Clannad, Discourse

Misae’s arc has now concluded and we move on to the next supporting character Yukine Miyazawa. All the moonwalk-characters in the ED have now been introduced to us, and I take this as a sign that After Story will return to the original characters; Tomoya and Nagisa most importantly. I personally am getting a bit weary of these two-episode mini-arcs that, albeit being touching nonetheless, don’t really fit into the grander scheme. But back on topic:

Yukine is a no-bias humanitarian figure who will never fail to care for anyone regardless of their history. She is reputable between both dominating clans, and is seen as a mothering figure. If you haven’t noticed already, one of the biggest themes in Clannad is the need and result of having a family. Tomoya moved out because he was having problems with his father, Nagisa had that incident where her parents reformed themselves for her sake, Kotomi is orphaned, Tomoyo was on the verge of having a broken family, and now we find out that Yukine is assuming a parent-like role for her brother and his entire gang. The theatre club is just a family within the student body as a substitute or supplement to their blood family; the members aren’t there for the theatre but for each other.

Likewise, with a gang, they aren’t there for the fights or parties, but for each other. It’s natural for different groups of people to have disputes with each other regardless of whether we call them “gangs” or not; the Theatre Club had a conflict with the Music Club over the issue of the teacher-supervisor. Gangs are generally comprised of male members, and males are generally less sensitive and easily aggravated, so they are more prone to physical solutions. Regardless, disputes, physical or not, are the main reason why people join hands and team up, and the way these disputes are resolved is what strengthens or weakens the bonds between the members. With Yukine’s brother in the hospital, Yukine is the keystone for her brother’s gang as a primary caregiver and role model, much like how Tomoya was the key member to the theatre club during its founding days.

Currently, the theatre club has no particular figure of dominance, and judging by the next episode preview when Yukine’s monarchist gang runs into leadership issues we will learn why an even-authority status is best in family relationships. It’s my bet that Tomoyo Sakagami will play a big part in this arc due to her experience with gangs and family problems, and that she and Yukine will be on anything but good terms with each other.

the will of being and the woes of remembering
Posted by tai on Nov 4, 2008 under Discourse, Movies, Visual Novels

When humanity has fallen into the pits of war, what is the place of a relic of the past? A relic, which has seen only beauty, kindness and compassion? A relic, which has been recovered in a time it should not exist in? In a time where humanity is on the verge of self-extinction, what role does such a relic take? Is it an artefact that one would look at and proudly think, “This is the pride of mankind”? Or is it an omen one would consider to be a taunt from the people of the past?

Kuzuya cannot bring herself to accept the current state of humanity.

Kuzuya cannot bring herself to accept the current state of humanity.

These questions are answered clearly in Planetarian and . Everything humanity does: thinks, says, destroys, produces; is a little relic of its own. It is a relic that has frozen the values of the time it was created in. And when this is recovered tens, hundreds, or thousands of years later, it becomes a soliloquy from the people of it’s time. It is a tool to force people to look at the past and reminisce about all the events on the thread that connects the relic to the present. It is a proof of our opposition to change. Seeing light in the dark world we have hand-made for ourselves only makes it feel darker; seeing happiness in a prison of death and sorrow only depresses us further. One who has lost hope would turn a cold shoulder and deny its existence as not to be humiliated by the woes of their own civilization, but one who even has the faintest glimmer of hope accept it readily.

It matters not if the relic is an artefact of war, like the spire in Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho, or an anthology of history like the archives in Pale Cocoon. Proof of vanity in glamorous times are either accepted or denied; proofs of glamour in times of vanity are similarly accepted or rejected. Because humans are self-aware it is impossible for us to look at something as a stand-alone. Everything we perceive is relative, relative to the events in our memory and our current environment. Beauty in times of beauty and darkness in times of darkness is never given a second thought, for is this change that will bring humanity to it’s rise and fall; and it is the change we pray to avoid but have no escape from. And because of this unavoidable terminal change, we leave behind relics of our time as a proof of our existence whether such things belong in heaven or the purgatory below.

The desire to not be forgotten is a selfish desire, but it is engrained deep within our will to live. However, the choice to respect and remember or to ignore and forget is a conscious option. Will we be selfish and choose to forget like Rika in Pale Cocoon? Or will we remember like Kuzuya in the visual novel Planetarian?