I’m not exactly sure what’s up with Kyoani and Toei’s key rivalry (when one of them adapts a key work, the other one does at well and vice versa), but the Clannad movie premiered about a month before the start of the TV-series. It took me this long to watch it due to the spoilers, but I’m glad that I did in the end, because Osamu Dezaki did the story a surprising amount of justice, considering how he managed to stuff such a huge story that took Kyoani 50 episodes, into just 90 minutes.
When you look at the big picture, this movie is obviously inferior to the TV-series, because it has far less time to flesh out its characters. Nevertheless, when you look at the individual details, there’s quite a lot to like about it. In fact, even though the movie and the TV-series have the same story, the execution, focuses, themes and characters are so completely different that they’re both worth watching in their own ways.
First of all, the graphics. The TV-series actually has better animation, but the screenplay of the movie, with typical Osamu Dezaki effects, camera-angles and filters is far more interesting to watch. The visual direction may be less consistent, the budget of the movie is actually smaller than Kyoani’s version, but it’s much more interesting to look at.
As for the characters, the movie dumps most of the side-stories and instead gives its full focus on the main characters (while not forgetting to spend about a minute of background on the major side-characters, in order to make them more than just one-dimensional paper bags). I was especially surprised by Nagisa and Sunohara, who are actually more interesting to watch than their versions of the TV-series. Nagisa is a much stronger character here in this movie, so much actually that she reverses the entire role of her Tomoya: where it was Tomoya who looked after Nagisa in the TV-series, here Nagisa looks after Tomoya. Sunohara is actually much more of an extreme character here, but the visual comedy around him makes him actually quite charming.
The after story also has quite a different approach to it. While not as impressive as in the TV-series, I liked it, as well as the role that the side-characters played in it. Overall, these people were really enjoyable to watch, even though the movie had very little time to really explore them individually. They do a great job in supporting the main storyline without overtaking it.
Where this movie drops points, however, is with Tomoya himself, especially his angst. He’s just too gloomy throughout nearly the entire part of the movie, and doesn’t really feel like the dynamic character he should be, for the role that was given to him. And that’s a bloody shame, because he’s the main character!
The thing with Osamu Dezaki is that his works are either brilliant and imaginative, or they flop gigantically. The Clannad movie belongs to his better side, and he showed that the Clannad Story even works in movie format with the right amount of cutting. This is really what recap movies should realize: you can’t tell a story just by cutting things randomly, you have to create a good standalone story as well.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Well paced, creative and actually puts 50 episodes into 90 minutes while standing on its own as a solid story.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Tomoya is too angsty, but all the other characters have their charms.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – The animation quality itself isn’t special, but the visual direction makes more than up for it.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Simplified, but it works.|