Title: CLANNAD - ク ラ ナ ド- Part 1 – Episodes 1 to 12
Published by: Siren Visual (In Australia)
Based on: Clannad (Visual Novel) by KEY/Visual Arts
Audio: English and Japanese
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Run Time: 300 Minutes over 3x DVD’s
Cost: $AUD 29.95 (Game Traders on sale, normal price elsewhere $40ish. Part 2 also out now for approximately $AUD 40ish as well)
Clannad originally was, without a doubt, one of the more random purchases I have ever acquired from a gaming store. Originally, I went to the certain Game Traders store looking for a game, but instead I bought this to warrant making the trip (and had to return the next day because they forgot to put all the discs in the box =/).
Prior to acquiring this DVD set, I had no idea about anything regarding Clannad, and only bought it because I enjoyed Little Busters, a later project by KEY. Whilst the genre is usually a hit or miss with me, I thought after handling Little Busters well, that KEY’s previous works must be just as good and not end up too horribly romantic or anything bland like that. Did it meet my expectations? Read on for my impressions of this DVD set.
Tomoya Okazaki is depressed at the prospect of school. His days are spent considering the path which lies ahead of him, the shadow of his vacant alcoholic father constantly looming over his daily void. He meets a group of strange girls at his school, each with unique social problems, and begins to gain perspective on the deep loneliness he feels. When the drama club is established, paranormal turmoil unfolds and hearts are broken.
The storyline is interesting since they don’t rely on one storyline through the whole series, instead, they have chosen to have a primary storyline and then have a number of backstory storylines which they use as the episodes continue. In this DVD, two and a half storylines are investigated. The first is Nagisa Furukawa’s storyline which involves her and Tomoya trying to resurrect the drama club, and finding it near impossible to do so. After a few episodes, this storyline is put to the side and focuses on Fuko Ibuki, a mysterious ghost girl wandering the halls of the school, handing out starfish shaped carvings. This is the only storyline that is concluded in the first DVD, with the third arc being started on which is about Kotomi Ichinose, and Tomoya’s efforts to get her active in the Drama club but alas, more hardships hit them.
I have to say, I didn’t think I would enjoy it after watching the first episode, however, I did persist and concluded that the episodes were all really well done. Whilst the series does originally give the impression that it is a romantic school-life series, it instead keeps it interesting by adding a lot of comedy, violence and super-natural themes to the storyline. They also do tear-jerking moments quite well, but they make sure it is actually for a purpose over just spotaneously trying to get sorrow or sympathy from the viewer.
My only issue with the storyline of this set so far is the number of episodes dedicated to Fuko’s chapter, as whilst out of all the storylines it was most probably the best to introduce all the characters in, in comparison to the other chapters in the whole series, I think they used too many which could have been dedicated to building up another characters own arc.
In terms of graphic quality, it is of a very high standard, especially considering that this was released in 2007. The character designs are all unique and despite the designers seemingly big love of girls with purple hair, I do think that all the character designs are pretty well done. They generally portray the characters personality well and especially in the case of Tomoya, he didnt look like a generic visual novel protagonist. As can be seen in all the images above, the locale designs are well detailed, leaving no corner unturned in the design department. The animation is also well done, and whilst there is the normal expected animation quality, they use additional details to demonstrate the mood of the character such as stars to indicate Fuko’s daydreams and over the top combo counters as Tomoya beats the crap out of Sunohara.
Opening Theme: Megumeru ~cuckool mix 2007~ by eufonius
Youtube Link: Click Here
This opening uses a remix of the visual novels opening theme, and personally, whilst it is different, I would consider it on par with the VN theme, since there are some parts each of them do well [Visual novel opening here]. In terms of animation, I am not fully sure if the entire contents are taken from scenes within the anime, but from what I can tell, at least some of them are. However, I thought it did a good job at introducing the main characters and it worked well with the song. One gripe I had with it, as with a lot of openings is that whilst the main character is Okazaki, there was no presence of him at all in the trailer.
Ending Theme: Dango Daikazoku by Chata
Youtube Link: Click Here
This ending does fulfill all the criteria for a cute ending theme and animation, and it does link into the series quite significantly (You could say the Big Dango Family is the mascot of the series, alongside starfish) however it just isn’t the sort of song I enjoy. It is far to slow paced, and generally after watching it once I hit the skip button on the DVD player during recurrent playthroughs.
In terms of the other music played during the episodes, there seems to be a wide variety of tracks, however I did feel that they relied on the same track too many times, when there would be other songs more suited to the setting. However, it is not like the songs got old too quickly. This is partly thanks to the relatively good english voice acting they had and none of the voice actors (or actresses) were unbearable to listen to, and overall suited their personalities and tone of voices well. Lip syncing was overall accurate and there were little to no visual discrepancies in terms of voice to mouth movement.
I will be upfront and honest, I have a soft spot for titles released by KEY. Whilst a lot of them are based on school life dramas which is a medium done to death in a million other anime series on the market, this one was a refreshing watch, and most probably would be one of the top school life series I have watched so far. The supernatural elements alongside the comedic elements and the small backstory components that are built upon as the episodes continue definitely maintained my interest.
In terms of special features that come in the DVD, within the three discs there is no special features with the menu interface only giving the option to select individual episodes and a languages selection box. This set however does come in a box with a better design and definitely something better to store on a bookshelf or DVD rack.
Storyline: A (9)
Characters: B+ (8)
Visuals: A+ (9.5)
Music/Voice Acting: A- (8.5)
Personal Opinion: A (9)
Overall Score: A