CLANNAD the Movie or Incremental Upgrades Leaves the Heart Wondering

I enjoyed the CLANNAD movie. But I realize it became a very narrowly tailored exercise in, well, dramatic reenactment of something that’s probably more powerful.

The problem with CLANNAD, and to some extent the Key anime adaptations we’ve seen so far, is that there is no way to traverse through all the key “checkpoints” without making a mess of the story. The story either loses some of the impact because of that, or the story just gets too convoluted for a straight-faced narrative.

In a more general sense, multi-pathing visual novels are like arcade racing games. Specifically, it’s those games that takes a couple tokens to play where you have to not only beat your AI opponents, but make various checkpoints to get more time. When you run out of time, even if you are ahead of the pack, you basically lose.

In this modular way to look at drama, where trying to hit every gut wrenching twist and turn becomes the purpose of an unstoppable, artfully sly narrative, we should see quite a few of those checkpoints in the duration of the story. But when as applied to visual novels, the difficulty arises when your checkpoints are not dotted across one race track, but in a city of one-way roads that necessarily limits you to only a subset of all possible checkpoints available in the game out of the total.

The approach in a theatrical adaptation is necessarily much more single minded. We want to go in and get it done in an hour-and-half. TV series can pursuit forks in the road, but movies lack the luxury of time to backtrack (so much).

And in exchange, the CLANNAD movie took us deeper and all the way through with Nagisa’s story. But at what cost? Was it worth it?

I think how you answer those questions will be the litmus test to determine what you enjoy the most out of an exercise in drama.

Perhaps more relevantly, with each iteration, each Key adaptation, both Toei and Kyoto Animation do a better job. At least that was my impression.

One Response to “CLANNAD the Movie or Incremental Upgrades Leaves the Heart Wondering”

  • omo

    12:27 AM, April 22nd, 2008
    Key has been declining since AIR. Toei’s gotten better and better.

    12:34 AM, April 22nd, 2008
    I respected Toei ever since it aired Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror.

    1:38 AM, April 22nd, 2008
    I actually have a higher opinion of the AIR movie than the Clannad movie, and like I’ve said on the MT board, the Toei version choosed the right approach to the Clannad movie only to cut the best bit out. And just to answer the question: no I don’t think the movie was worth spoiling yourself over for the full impact which is very likely to be delivered in the Kyoani version – mind you that’s not going to be a particularly hard job since Kyoani has the episode advantage.

    7:08 AM, April 22nd, 2008
    I thought the movie had a much stronger impact than the TV series, and delivers the full concept of Nagisa’s story rather than the somewhat-diluted mishmash the TV series was. AIR movie just had better direction (or maybe it fit the original material better) than CLANNAD movie, but both films are pretty similar in their interpretation of the subject matter.

    Source material does play a role too, not just in terms of what was missing.

    9:18 AM, April 22nd, 2008
    I’m looking at it differently though – from my prespective as a person who had played the game; I thought the movie, while delivering a version of Nagisa’s story failed to deliver the story of Tomoya, and that to me was more important. As Nagisa’s “arc” so to say is really more about Tomoya’s redemption than anything else.

    The TV series just suffered from stupid PR gimmick – if they didn’t pulled the whole “har har we were not sure if we want to do After Story” thing and just let the story keep rolling on while the Nagisa arc just began to have picked up momentum I’m certain the majority of the issues people have with it wouldn’t have occured.

    Nobody who had played Clannad didn’t see the After Story coming, I don’t know who the PR people think they were fooling. As nearly everyone has pointed out, the bit they choosed to end the story right now for the TV series is entirely too anti-climatic.

    11:09 AM, April 23rd, 2008
    I know you look at it differently, but it’s not a helpful perspective because it focuses too much on the adaptation aspect and too little with writing and direction (or much anything else).

    Perhaps to reword my post for you: who cares about Kotomi or Kyou or Ryou or Tomoyo or Fuko? Why even have them in the story (or devote a good half of the entire TV series’ length to them at any rate)? If the After Story is so important why not include it as a part of the whole right from the start?

    Do you even care about presentation? Seems like you don’t.

    1:26 AM, May 3rd, 2008
    All I can say is that for Clannad, having those other arcs ARE important. It’s important for the main story of Clannad, the After Story. I cant say how without spoiling, but it is. I felt the movie failed in showing the TRUE story of Clannad. (and the anime will get there eventually)

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