Meet Tomoya Okazaki: your average, hard-hearded, cynical, juvenile delinquent. Indifferent and resentful to his surroundings, he dances to the beat of his own drum, yet lives under a raincloud in a sea of sunshine, as shown in his first words: ""I hate this city. It's full of memories I want to forget about. Go to school every day, chat with friends, and then go back to the home I don't even want to go back to. Will something eventually change, doing this?" Okazaki comes from a broken home; he suffers silently through his day, comes home to a drunken father, and repeats the routine day by day. What he doesn't know, is that his world is going to get rattled pretty soon. Not only by running into the sweet, caring, Nagisa Furukawa, who is susceptible to illness and has the oddest, yet most fantastic set of parents to ever enter the anime realm, but by a train of friends that steadily grow as the story progresses:Youhei Sunohara, Kyou Fujibayashi, Kotomi Ichinose, Tomoyo Sakagami, Fuko Ibuki, and many, many more.
Sounds like your average rag-tag group of anime kids who are out to slay demons and save the day, right?
Never. Honestly, don't even let your thoughts wander there.
Clannad is a beautiful, richly textured story that has keen eye for detail, human nature, emotion, and life. Each episode is so wrought with thought and feeling in such a way that it doesn't just shove itself down your throat--it feels like a seed planted in your body, growing and growing, until you are so overwhelmed and captivated, that your house will flood with tears and joy and pain and confusion and sentiment and so, SO much more. Personally, I am a person who doesn't cry at much. Show me Titanic, The Last Song, The Notebook and whatever other sob-story you have on your hands, I won't bat any eye. But with Clannad? The amount I was bawling, I thought I was going to make myself sick.
The main draw to the show, is the characters. Each person has their own individual quirks, unique personality, and a special something that makes them endearing; they aren't mere carbon copies of other anime superheros you've seen floating around, oh no. The best part is, NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE in this anime, is merely a background character that is there for comic relief and noise: the guy in the corner you see walking out of the store, the little girl who skips down the hallway, even the dormkeeper's CAT, aren't what they seem.
The thing about these guys is, they each have something tragic that corrupts them--something that they wish they could swallow down, but during the course of the anime, you'll see each and every one of them crack open and expose their heart. It is eye-opening, messy, and raw, but don't worry; these are not boo-who-get-over-it, eye-roll worthy problems. These are the kind of stories that, surprisingly, plague a people. It can be anything from wanting to become a stronger person, learn how to make friends, dealing with grief and loss, losing your parents at a young age, trying to be a good big brother,to getting a ghost girl to stay in the real world, turning into a cat because your purpose for one life is done, etc.
If it seems stupid now, then trust me; you'll be feasting your eyes once the show is on.
Just because some of these seem far-fetched, it doesn't make them any less real, plausible, and downright frightening. You can identify with them, laugh with them, hurt with them, think with them. And, sometimes, you can hate them, too. But that just makes them better characters!
Most importantly, even though everyone in this show has been through a lot, the last thing they do is lock themselves up in their room and mope around like Bella Swan. Personal opinion here: I'm pretty certain that their issues run deeper than being dumped by your creepy vampire boyfriend. Plus, burdens and all, they don't keep anything to themselves (for long, anyway), but instead they REACH out to one other. Okazaki is seemingly cold, unloving person; throughout the story, Nagisa shows him the importance of family and friendship, and he evolves into a kinder, open-minded guy. Nagisa, on the other hand, learns to stand up for herself, chase her dreams, and become an overall stronger person. In this lovely, close-knit town, everything is give and take, even if it unintentionally. I can guarantee you won't ever see an episode where no one learns/experiences anything life-changing.
On that note, Clannad isn't just a marvelous showcase of friendship and love, it poses a lot of intriguing points and questions. It doesn't tack it on in a cheesy, Disney-type fashion. These things just slip in there and root themselves before you eyes, to be admired and appreciated. "The world is beautiful. Even when your life is filled with sadness and tears, open your eyes. Do what you wish to do. Become what you want to be. Make friends. Don’t rush, and take your time in becoming an adult." I don't know about you, but that turns some gears for me. In this world, we take so, so much for granted. We are easily get discouraged and make molehills into mountains. It's nice, sometimes to get little reminders like this. Like: yes, to you, your life may be awful. You're not getting told you're pretty often, you want to have more friends, you want to be more social, your tanlines are awkward. On and on and on. But how often do we really stop for a moment and just think? When do you ever take pressure off of ourselves, and pause to absorb the beauty of our surroundings, not what society has made it out to be?
Whatever messages we are given seem to be so cryptic that we don't even want to take the time decoding them. This is sweet, simple, and direct. I am as much of a fan of symbolism as the next person, but just feeling the simplicity of the message resonate through you...it's magical.
All in all, Clannad has really changed my life after I watched it--no joke. I have learned to become more thoughtful, optimistic, appreciate what I have, reach out to others, and be thankful for my friends and family who are willing to support me. If I feel like I have lost all of that, I don't feel afraid to really step up and seize the opportunity.
And, I have discovered that it is possible for me to cry, laugh, and feel every other conceivable emotion, while watching a show.
As far as content goes, there isn't too much to worry about, but I'd advise some parents to be on their guard. SEXUAL CONTENT: All anime's, no matter how G-rated they are, usually have some level of innuendo and mild references to things most people would deem inappropriate. This poses itself to be less severe in other anime's, and will go over the heads of younger children. Later on the show, sex as a whole becomes a greater issue, but it is still nothing to worry about. All of the characters stay clothed and responsible. (; VIOLENCE: There is some violence to be reckoned with, and this ranges from exaggerated, cartoony school-yard brawls to full-out gang wars. Nothing is too gruesome or bloody, but the effect from these fights, are more emotional than anything else. LANGUAGE: nothing a 6th grader wouldn't know. No one is a big potty-mouth in the show, but, the characters sometimes fling rather harsh names at each other. DRINKING/DRUGS: One major character's family member suffers from a drinking problem, but it isn't referred to heavily. Sometimes, characters absolve their sorrows in drink, but hardcore drugs are never shown/referred to.
POSITIVE ROLE MODELS/ MESSAGES: This whole, entire show is one big, great role model and positive message within itself.
Overall, this is best for teenagers of 13 and older. Some of the situations require more matured minds to fully understand them and derive any meaning and lesson from them., but this show can be enjoyed as a comedy for younger children as well.
Definitely one of the biggest masterpieces ever created and my favorite television series to date. I highly, HIGHLY recommended to anyone who doesn't want to waste any brain cells on an annoying, slapstick anime, and just...to everyone. Whoever you are, I'm sure there is something to satisfy your interest in here.