Category Archives: Clannad

Seize the Moment

I want to talk about ARIA and CLANNAD a bit. These two titles form the basis of some kind of similarity, a thread, that connects a mentality and a vision and a group of fans who today identify with the type of works like ARIA and CLANNAD and Yokohama Shopping Log and Haibane Renmei and the like. These past-decade gems have their share of fans, pure and simple, but they weave that staple kuukikei emotional fabric that many other shows followed on.

I think that’s kind of what I took away from reading this interview of fhana. These guys are music nerds, sure, but like their music they themselves are creatively captured by the ideas in which weaves those works together. Now they do the same through their anison-inspired, aural canvas.

The image I feel the most connected to when I listen to fhana is actually an 2010s work, albeit barely: Sora no Woto . Debuted in January of 2010, its bright hillsides, rustic landscapes and Iberian motifs colored not just what we saw on the screen but the inclination of our hearts, that helped those who followed the story to its bittersweet conclusion. It’s that full-blast vocal of towana, the closed voicing, the genre fusion in which typified late-night era anison in which evoked those feelings via fhana’s offering today. Click on the link up there to get a sample of what I mean.

Below, on the flip side, is fhana’s latest music video promoting their new album. I think that’s a good example by itself.

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.

Aspect Ratio of My Heart

…is not 4:3.

Sorry, unlike other busy bees I won’t be waiting for the 16:9 CLANNAD but I will very definitely use that excuse to watch it again. CLANNAD is one of those games that I didn’t want to try to play after seeing how AIR and KANON turned out, and thankfully Kyoto Animation is the kind of studio that you trust to bring a good adaptation.

No matter because of the framing, because of the clipping, because of the Golden Rectangle, or because 4:3 is not how it was meant to be seen, it doesn’t negate the fact that CLANNAD is a show that does take advantage of these elements in an anime’s presentation.

What’s amusing is how did the folks in Japanese TV broadcasting come upon this idea as a way to sway subscribers…? Viva the otaku revolution. Then again, looking at a fair sample of the blogs out there talking about CLANNAD, the issue is more or less silent. I guess most people still don’t care?

I know when I dream, I don’t dream in 4:3. Nor should you.