I’ve been thinking about this series, and how to exactly review it, since Clannad’s after story contained some of the biggest highlights but also some of the biggest lowlights of the season. In the end, though, I decided to be positive about this series. Sure, the ending was terrible, I’m not going to sugarcoat that, but the episodes prior to that were utterly incredible.
Clannad already was a very good series, and its after story pretty much starts out similar, with a number of different arcs that are meant to flesh out the different members of the Clannad cast. Since Clannad already did the main characters, the first half of the After Story focuses more on the side-characters. while nothing amazing, the stories are consistently charming and interesting.
The goodness only really starts with the arrival of the second half, though. It’s here where most of the characters graduate high school and all go their own way, and this is where this series evolves into something completely unique. It’s a bit hard to describe this without any major spoilers, but the result is absolutely heart-wrenching, and yet incredibly realistic. Nearly every side character disappears from the screen in order to follow his or her dream, and we’re just left with the main couple of the series. It’s going to be very hard to find someone who wasn’t extremely positive about the turns that the series took at that point.
But yeah, it unfortunately ends in one of the biggest and most blatant Deus ex Machina endings out there, on the same level as Mai Hime. Whie the game this series is based on contains the explanation of what went on, anyone unfamiliar with the games will feel completely cheated. The series had been quite faithful to the original Visual Novel, but it did try to add in enough extra vits in order to spice up the story and make it more realistic and believable, but those two really did clash in that final episodes. And in the end the biggest flaws of this series is that it’s a bit too keen on pleasing the fans of original visual Novel. The ending just feels out of place, and Tomoyo’s After Story and Kyou’s story (which both got only one special episode) just feel like a big waste of potential. If the creators wanted to include those stories, they should have gone with a Higurashi-styled series: have different arcs focusing on all the important characters, which reset to the beginning at the end, and having each of these arcs deal with various of the side stories seen so far.
So no, I really wasn’t happy with that ending. Still in the end, Clannad has been a fantastic series, just like its predecessor Air. Both have taken the biggest heap of clichés imaginable, and went with such a harem setting to something completely daring and original with excellent and bittersweet results. Unlike Kanon, these two really helped the harem genre evolve, and with a genre that originally lived on seeing who could make the most generic heap of stereotypes, it really needed that.