The Slice-Of-Life genre has prided itself on blending soap opera drama with the follies of everyday life. One such breakout hit is Studio Key’s Clannad, a series borne from a popular Visual Novel and turned into a critically acclaimed juggernaut that’s captured the attention of discerning anime fans across the globe.
Taking place almost immediately after its predecessor, Clannad: After Story returns to the lives of high school sweethearts Tomoya and Nagisa and their rag-tag group of friends. With its potent mix of slapstick comedy and heartfelt melodrama, Clannad knows how to develop a story all the way up to its gut punching climax. Studio Key and Kyoto Animation really grasp the importance of capturing the little moments of everyday life, and as the grand machinations of the show build towards its inevitable climax, even the most cold hearted anime fan will find some enjoyment. This is a show that’s not afraid to explore such weighty themes as loss, trauma and redemption whilst also providing the usual dose of broad humour the genre is known for.
As with many Anime series that tread finely on the line of melodrama, things can certainly get a bit much. This is not a show I would recommend to marathon your way through, as the frequent story beats can occasionally hinge on far too many shock twists (usually involving something atrocious happening to one of the principal cast). Those already familiar with the source material will be all to aware of how heavy things can get, a feat that is somehow exemplified by the doe eyed saccharine art style. Oddly enough, my first viewing of After Story took place without prior knowledge of the Clannad franchise. Despite this though, After Story spares no opportunity in catching up audiences, making the series feel more akin to a “where are they now?” reunion than a direct sequel. This in itself is quite an amazing feat considering the tight timeline the narrative takes place within. Arguably, Clannad: After Story is where the real meat of the narrative truly takes place, so viewers should have little problem picking the series up from this entry point.
As a viewer in his mid-twenties, it was easy to connect with the characters as they took their first tentative steps out into the real world. Seeing these characters deal with the obstacles of everyday life certainly helps build towards a truly heartbreaking climax. Despite it’s overly saccharine nature though, viewers patient enough to wade through the more cloying aspects are sure to find After Story a rewarding experience.
Clannad is a deceptively unique title. Whilst it certainly hits all of the major tropes of the slice of life genre, this is a show with far greater ambitions. Whilst newcomers may well benefit from starting with the original series, Clannad: After Story is a worthy successor. At times overly sentimental and at others beautifully observed, Clannad: After Story is a show that genuinely has something to say, and deserves be witnessed by everyone.