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Part 2:

Clannad: The Motion Picture

I'm a big fan of Clannad. I love the visual novel, I love the anime series adaptation, I love the music, and when I finally am able to understand Japanese, I'll likely love the various other media that have come out for it.

However... this is the exception. The Mongols of the Clannad series, if you will. DFTBA

I won't say this is a bad movie, because it has its merits. I won't say it's a good movie, either, because it feels rather disjointed overall. I will say that this movie should not have been a Clannad movie. With a little extra work, it could easily have been made into its own original story and characters. This movie adaptation did most of the work already with all the changes it made to the story and characters, so changing a bit more and taking out the Clannad remnants could have easily made the movie better than what it ended up being.

Those familiar with Clannad know the basic premise. The narrative follows Tomoya, a high school student that lives with his negligent father and is a well-known delinquent at the school he attends. However, when walking to school one day, he happens upon Nagisa standing at the bottom of the hill, hesitant to attend school. After giving her some brief, one-sided encouragement before moving on, he is soon dragged into her life and the lives of many others, people facing their own troubles alone. Tomoya, not as uncaring as he initially seems, is driven to help them along the way. That is the main gist of the original story.

Like the earlier Kanon, Clannad originated as a branching-path visual novel by Key, so an anime adaptation has to make some choices in how to translate it to a linear story. The 2007 series does it much like Kanon, doing its best to integrate most of the individual characters' stories into the telling of the main storyline, that being Nagisa's. Not so with this movie adaptation.

The movie takes a different path by cutting out everything aside from Nagisa's storyline. The story thus becomes one focused entirely on their relationship. It is a romance movie that tends toward the serious side. Tomoya meets Nagisa at the bottom of the hill and offers encouragement, telling her to find a reason for herself to come to school each day. He thinks that will be the end of it, but Nagisa returns to him, telling him the motivation she found for herself is to revive the drama club and perform at the festival. Tomoya, at first reluctant to help, eventually comes around and does what he can to help her achieve her goal. In that time the bond between him and Nagisa develops. However, the festival is just the beginning, and Tomoya must soon face a terrible reality.

The movie is meant to be a serious, emotional ride for the viewer. It uses contemplative scenes to build tension while at the same time using expressive visuals and the main narrative to build the emotional connections between the viewers and Tomoya and Nagisa. Excitement in the movie isn't played up and is brief when it does happen. Optimism and affection are emphasized whenever possible, along with sadness. The mood is reflected in the visuals; you'll often see shadows obscuring parts of a shot, or radiant light highlighting another. The colors are dull when things turn for the worse, but vibrant whenever someone in the scene is in good spirits. That's almost always Nagisa, incidentally, so when the big event happens later in the movie, don't be surprised when the visuals change to reflect the new reality.

Unfortunately, it's the presentation of the movie that runs into problems, and that hurts the mood the viewers will end up feeling.

The movie's plot revolves entirely around the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa. Entirely. Unlike the VN and TV series, the movie cuts away everything else and focuses exclusively on that aspect of the story. The other main characters from Clannad are cast aside to minor roles at best and nonexistence at worst (Fuuko, nooooooooo!). Even more, most of the characters that do survive the cut are changed in some fundamental way. I won't say who and to what for them, because as far as changes go, those are the least relevant. I do want to bring up Tomoya and Nagisa's changes, of course, given that they're central to the story.

Tomoya's character in the other media is one of indifference and mild cynicism, but also caring – if you could get him involved, which he'd readily do under some circumstances. Genuinely a good guy. He's changed in the movie to a completely jaded husk of a person, not caring about anyone and having to be forced to really do anything that involves interacting with other people. Nagisa, on the other hand, is changed from a somewhat airy and shy girl, yet cheerful when with friends, to one that is almost optimistic to a fault on the outside and will follow around Tomoya for no given reason despite him essentially telling her to go away. I have no problem with these character types, but changing the two main characters in Clannad to them does a lot to break up what Clannad was intended to be as a story. It would have been better to make new characters for the story told, which brings us to that point.

The story itself is changed significantly as well. The main events, up to a certain point, are kept intact to one degree or another, but the portrayal, the feelings, the reasons – they're completely different. Clannad in the VN and TV series was a lighthearted, humorous story with very emotional turns as it progresses. The movie does away with most of the humor and goes nearly full-on serious. The scenes of the dream world in particular are completely different and carry none of the original aspects or feelings. I have no problem with the story itself, but it's so significantly changed from the original in tone, feel, and other characteristics that I think it'd have been better to tell it without the constraints that using the Clannad name brings. The story's intent was not preserved in the movie.

There's something to be said about the original intent of a story and how it's brought into adaptations. It's not a strict rule, as one can see with adaptations of other stories. Many stories are defined by the characters, and many others the plot central to it. That's why some stories, like the Batman series, can be retold in so many different ways, in so many different tones. The character of Batman and his ideals is central to it, not the tone of the story itself. Clannad, however, is defined more by the tone it has and the deeper meanings behind events. Without that preserved, it ceases to be Clannad and merely becomes a story with Clannad characters and story progression. That is why I say it should not have been a Clannad movie.

The quality of the movie is another matter. Clannad or not, the movie's story must be judged on its own merits as well. Unfortunately, I feel as though it was not executed very well. It tried many things, and the intent behind them was good, but it failed to bring it all together in the end.

In essence, the movie suffers from spending too much time on certain elements and not enough on others. The movie hinges on drawing the viewers in through the characters, so being able to empathize with them is paramount. However, the two main characters are a little too distant from the average person for us to really connect with them in the short amount of time given to us. It's possible, but more time would've been needed setting them up before moving forward with the story. A few too many distracting elements were scattered through the scenes as well, hampering the effort, and several parts were narrated rather than shown. Narration is hardly ever a good way of telling a story that's so dependent on evoking a connection from the viewer.

As the story progresses, we don't get to see much in the way of meaningful interaction between Tomoya and Nagisa, so we don't really get a feeling for the relationship progression. So when Tomoya ends up declaring his love for Nagisa after her performance feels more like it being a love based on the dreams, rather than one between the characters. This isn't helped by the fact that the next thing we get is a narration, again, of what they did afterward. We're just supposed to accept that they love each other because stuff that's spoilers! And when the bomb gets dropped soon after, because we don't have the connection to the characters that we need, the emotional impact is minimal at best. We know we should be sad, but that's all it really amounts to.

The rest of the story feels even more rushed. Within the confines of the movie, the viewers have no way to understand why one character is doing what she's doing, and we never get a proper build up of tension for the finale of the movie. That part especially feels rushed. The ending feels like it gets foisted upon us and we're told to feel the bittersweetness. It just doesn't work. It could've done better if the connections were made early in the movie, but even then, the moment doesn't feel right. I know exactly what they were going for, and I can appreciate it on a conceptual level. It just didn't work out the way it should have.

I want to make a special note concerning the dreamworld sections. In the original story, these end up being rather important to the story itself, so time really needed to be spent on them in the original. In the movie, however, I feel like they were being used as some sort of proxy for conveying the feelings of Tomoya and Nagisa. Putting aside the changes made to them from the original, the movie's version of them just lacked any sort of tangibility. Nothing in them mattered. They aren't strictly necessary for the story, they're merely there as another part of the world. In a movie that's only an hour and a half long and requires every moment to be used to their fullest, these sequences felt out of place.

Overall, I think the main thing to take away from this is that the story, as presented, would've been so much better if it either had perhaps another half-hour or so of screentime available to spend on the characters or found a way to use less time on the nonessential parts. The story is good, it just didn't properly show it. The time it had to do so was squandered a bit on less important details, taking away from the core aspects. Perhaps it was trying to rely on previous knowledge of the characters to fill the gaps, but when you change the characters so much, previous knowledge and connections become meaningless.

I know there a plenty that really do like this movie and were moved by it, though. Perhaps I am the type of person that doesn't respond well to short experiences like this. Who knows. Maybe the real quality of the movie just passed right over my head. On that note, I do want to say that the visuals for the movie tended to be pretty good. I felt they were a little on the heavy-handed side at times, but when telling a story like this in just an hour and a half, subtleties can just slow things down when you need to keep it moving along. Overall, the animators did a good job utilizing visuals and camera angles to achive the maximum effect.

In addition, the movie also keeps things fairly simple, which is actually a good thing. The plot is easy to follow and the characters' motivations and feelings are clear as day. Like I said before, I have no issue with the characters themselves. It was a bit nice to watch as Nagisa's unrelenting optimism chipped away at Tomoya little by little, and all the supporting characters did contribute at least a little. Could they have been utilized better, or even combined roles into few characters to provide a stronger secondary character aspect? Definitely. But what's there does work, even with the little time they have. I think the movie is consistently good at keeping the secondary characters present just enough to keep the whole movie grounded. Without them, the whole thing could've descended into a pit of bad feelings for the viewer.

One special note: Nagisa's performance at the festival and her telling of her story is fantastic. The visuals are great and the narration is more or less flawless. Absolutely no complaints. None. The absolute high point of the movie.

If you're a fan of Clannad, don't go into this movie expecting the same type of experience. If you aren't familiar with Clannad, try to ignore the oddities with the secondary characters and see if you like it, but know that this movie has MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILERS for the visual novel and anime. If you plan on reading or watching one or both of those, do so beforehand; it is possible to truly enjoy the movie while knowing what's generally going to happen due to the changes made to it, but the VN and TV series' impact may be cut down significantly if you watch the movie first.

Rating: C

Edited by HalcyonSpirit
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hey halcyon sorry but both of your reviews give zero context to anyone who hasn't seen them or doesn't know of them. in both cases you haven't actually told me anything about the series or the movie, just whether you thought they did a good job at whatever it is they did. something to keep in mind for next time. i'm sure if i knew these movies i would appreciate your opinion but as someone who doesn't know these things already it didn't hold a whole lot of meaning for me.

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When I wrote those at 2am I thought it wouldn't need context since obviously people would remember what I had written about both series earlier in the thread, so stuff like that wouldn't be needed. Evidently, my logic center doesn't work very well at 2am.

I'll go back today and edit in context just for you, since you provided constructive feedback that I need but so seldom get. Is there anything else you wanted to see besides the typical "here's what the story is about" type thing?

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When I wrote those at 2am I thought it wouldn't need context since obviously people would remember what I had written about both series earlier in the thread, so stuff like that wouldn't be needed. Evidently, my logic center doesn't work very well at 2am.

I'll go back today and edit in context just for you, since you provided constructive feedback that I need but so seldom get. Is there anything else you wanted to see besides the typical "here's what the story is about" type thing?

not really, basic premise and how well it's presented is plenty. i just wasn't really sure what either of them were about lol

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Done and done.

It was nearly impossible to really get into the presentation details on their own without having to rewrite each of the reviews entirely, so I settled on just giving a basic rundown of how the plot progresses in the beginning without getting into spoilers, and then a brief summary of how the series/movie is presented before moving on to the original reviews. Since much of the presentation is covered in the original reviews anyway, just alongside my thoughts on whether I liked it, I figure that's a decent compromise this time. I'll try to structure future reviews better and more comprehensively.

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So I finally got around to watching Cowboy Bebop with fairly high expectations obviously. I think I had binge watched up to the double-episode and I thought it was one of the best pieces of television in general I had ever seen. Absolutely stunning. But I thought the second half onwards were pretty eh in comparison, left me a bit sour.

Got a few episodes of Adventure Time left and then it's Avatar time!

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So I finally got around to watching Cowboy Bebop with fairly high expectations obviously. I think I had binge watched up to the double-episode and I thought it was one of the best pieces of television in general I had ever seen. Absolutely stunning. But I thought the second half onwards were pretty eh in comparison, left me a bit sour.

Got a few episodes of Adventure Time left and then it's Avatar time!

i kinda agree with you the first half was a lot better than the second, the winddown was a little underwheming. i also just went through all of the avatar series up until current korra, and it's AWESOME. the first little while feels kinda meh but it picks up really well early-mid to mid show and then you love it for ever and ever

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So I finally got around to watching Cowboy Bebop with fairly high expectations obviously. I think I had binge watched up to the double-episode and I thought it was one of the best pieces of television in general I had ever seen. Absolutely stunning. But I thought the second half onwards were pretty eh in comparison, left me a bit sour.

I felt the same the first time I watched it, but Bebop gets better each time you watch it, especially the later episodes. There's something new to notice with each viewing, it always impresses me. It's definitely a series that rewards rewatches.

A show that I can't get out of my head is the Ghost in the Shell series. I mean, I first saw Stand Alone Complex a few years back when it aired on AnimeCentral, but it used to come on late, and I'd fall asleep watching it. I'd miss episodes, or not give it my full attention, and it felt too heady and philosophical for me. I watched it properly this summer for the first time, giving it my full attention and oh, wow! It's got to be one of the most impressive things I've ever seen, period! I mean, ever since I finished watching the series a couple weeks ago, I've just been itching to watch the whole thing again... I mean, I've loved series like FMA and Bebop, but this just felt like a peerless classic. I mean, I think I still like FMA a bit more, but I feel like this ought to have the status in anime that The Wire has in western television.

I also finally got around to watching Samurai Champloo, which was a fun set of 20 or so stand-alone episodes, but I felt like it fell apart in the final three. It just felt like a huge misstep, ending the series like that. But aside from that, it was a lot of fun.

Which reminds me of Trigun, which I watched much earlier in the year. Like Champloo, that was a lot of fun when it wasn't bogged down by the overall story and it focused on standalone episodes. Then it unraveled quite spectacularly in the story-&-character-burdened latter half. It just lost its charm and got tangled underneath a bland story and tripped its way to a bland ending. Still, I hear Badlands Rumble is good, so I'll have to watch that.

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Berserk

Watched that a while ago based on it being mentioned in this thread. Enjoyed the first third/half of it. Nothing particularly wrong with the politicking I suppose but it wasn't my thing, and the ending was begging for an ending. Manga was probably fine, but the selection used for the anime was odd. Still, good ass-kicking and adventuring for all of the first portion and for parts of the remainder.

A world of shit.

I brim with anticipation.

I've heard about Endless Eight, but I figure I can skip it if I don't like it. Or take a nap. And there might be other issues with the second season but it's all quite irrelevant to me as I'd tune in to just about anything for that voice acting of Michelle Ruff.

"Your loss." hnnggghhhhhh

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Started and finished both Baccano! and Afro Samurai over the past coupla days. I enjoyed Baccano! immensely, great characters in that one. As for Afro Samurai...I thought it was enjoyable, but I couldn't take it seriously at points.

Starting FLCL today. PREPARE BRAIN FOR CLUSTERFUCK JAPANESE GOOFY MAX LEVELS.

Also Adventure Time is the shit yo. LSP FTW.

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So I finally got around to watching Cowboy Bebop with fairly high expectations obviously. I think I had binge watched up to the double-episode and I thought it was one of the best pieces of television in general I had ever seen. Absolutely stunning. But I thought the second half onwards were pretty eh in comparison, left me a bit sour.

Got a few episodes of Adventure Time left and then it's Avatar time!

Huh. I thought personally that some of Bebop's best episodes were in the later half of the series. Black Dog Serenade, Mushroom Samba, Speak Like a Child, Pierrot le Fou, and Hard Luck Woman, most notably.

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I have mixed feelings on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It feels like it would've been better if it would get out of its own way. The Stand Alone episodes are excellent -- there's a very Bebop feel to them, where they just present the setting, the characters, and the action to you without any extra baggage and let you enjoy it. The Complex episodes, on the other hand, were a lot shakier. They felt almost deliberately confusing, as if they felt "deep" and "hard to understand" were the same thing. The second season was much more balanced, though -- the difference between "stand alone" and "complex" was much less stark, and I enjoyed it more overall.

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The last anime I watched was Tiger & Bunny, and it was okay. The plot is interesting, but it doesn't really captivate all of my attention. The next anime I plan to watch is Tengen Toppa Gurren Langann. I heard it was good, so I'm looking forward to it.

So damn good I marathoned it in one day. Never did that before. In fact, I'm willing to say that it was the last truly great anime I've seen in awhile.

The anime adaption of Valkyria Chronicles pretty much killed my interest in anime, and I'm so far out of the loop now, I don't know what's out there that isn't moe and/or post Naruto/One Piece shounen junk. Last things I watched earlier this year was all of Hajime no Ippo, Spice and Wolf, Deadman Wonderland(got stupid), and Nodame Cantabile.

Edited by Malaki-LEGEND.sys
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It is pretty damn depressing when you look at those season preview images and see half of them that seem to be populated by complete moeblobs. I mean, no offense if you like that stuff or anything, but I don't think it's possible for me to have less interest in it. :P

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Watched that a while ago based on it being mentioned in this thread. Enjoyed the first third/half of it. Nothing particularly wrong with the politicking I suppose but it wasn't my thing, and the ending was begging for an ending. Manga was probably fine, but the selection used for the anime was odd. Still, good ass-kicking and adventuring for all of the first portion and for parts of the remainder.

I'm pretty sure that's how the arc ended in the manga, so I don't know how else they could've handled it.

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Huh. I thought personally that some of Bebop's best episodes were in the later half of the series. Black Dog Serenade, Mushroom Samba, Speak Like a Child, Pierrot le Fou, and Hard Luck Woman, most notably.

Well there were still good bits for sure but something changed in the overall tone that just didn't sit with me. I can't put my finger on why in particular but my massive smile after every episode in the first half wasn't there as often and it certainly wasn't there at the end.

I don't like to over-analyze why but if I ain't smilin' then tings be wrong.

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It is pretty damn depressing when you look at those season preview images and see half of them that seem to be populated by complete moeblobs. I mean, no offense if you like that stuff or anything, but I don't think it's possible for me to have less interest in it. :P

Well apparently pedophilia is the new hotness. Don't get me wrong. Little kid characters are cute and adorable and etc., but when your 17 - 20 year olds look like 5 year olds and sound like 3 year olds...

Well yeah, that's disturbing.

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Well apparently pedophilia is the new hotness. Don't get me wrong. Little kid characters are cute and adorable and etc., but when your 17 - 20 year olds look like 5 year olds and sound like 3 year olds...

Well yeah, that's disturbing.

That's a bit of an exaggeration :P

Anime (at least for a while now) has always been made to cater to the fans. And the fans really dig the moeblob style for now, but I don't think that's changed the fact that there are still good shows out there and you shouldn't knock everything just because of this particular type of fanservice, or else you'll be missing lots of good shows from enjoyable ones like Hyouka to freakin' great ones like Madoka.

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I am vaguely interested in Madoka, but quite honestly, either of the two main flavors of moeblob (cute girls doing cute things just for the sake of being cute, or milquetoast male protagonist surrounded by a mostly-broken harem) hold direct negative appeal to me. My preferences on entertainment in general value good storywriting above all else, and almost to a rule, these sorts of series forgo that in favor of pandering to specific audience fetishes. Like, I know multiple people in here have praised the Key VN adaptations, and I haven't seen them myself, but I have read a decent amount about them, enough to make me feel like they generate their "feels" via overt emotional manipulation, instead of having them arise more naturally as the story progresses. There are several series I could point to that pull off this natural progression brilliantly, but it isn't something I think I'd find in most moe-centered series.

Even ignoring all of that, I just can't wrap my head around the usual art style. Girls with eyes that cover more than a third of their faces? *shudder*

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