Ever since an accident that ruined his basketball career, Okazaki Tomoya doesn’t put any effort in his high school life any longer and is thus considered a loser by most people except his best friend, Sunohara, who is equally shunned. However, Tomoya finds a new purpose in life as he meets the timid but determined Nagisa Furukawa, a girl working hard to reestablish the school’s abandoned drama club. Helping her accomplish her goals, he finds out that life could even have something worthwhile for a loser like him…
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: More than a mere retelling; emotionally poignant; beautifully concise in its use of “family” theme
Lows: Most side characters never really introduced; overemphasizes the “tear-jerker” elements
The Clannad movie is a peculiar thing. At first glance, it cuts away around 90 percent of the original Clannad TV series with an awfully sharp knife, puts a few dashes of new seasoning on it and reheats everything on the stove until it’s somehow fit for human consumption. But given a closer look, that’s just the way how famous chefs work as well.
The bad things first: If you liked the original series for its abundance of weird characters, its over-the-top humor and its more-than-occasional silliness, you probably won’t have much fun. The Clannad movie is Okazaki’s and Nagisa’s story, plain and simple, and there’s hardly a minute spent on the multitude of other plots that graced the series. Even Sunohara, whose story is a bit expanded in comparison to the predecessor and who has quite a bit of screen time, essentially has little more than a supporting role.
That doesn’t mean that there are no side characters in the Clannad movie: they are there, and there are almost as many as in the series, they are only never really introduced. If you’ve followed the original episodes, you won’t have any trouble identifying everybody; however, newcomers might find it a little weird that so many different faces seem to carry some significance in the story – only that they don’t. Another (albeit minor) flaw is the strong emphasis the expanded plot puts on the tear-jerker elements on the story. The Clannad series had quite a few sad moments in its many episodes; this movie of only 90 minutes at least matches these numbers. Too much of a good thing? Probably.
On the bright side, I cannot stress enough how pleased I was to see the Clannad movie truly expanding the plot beyond what the series shows. Here’s finally a motion picture that relates to everything the fans like about the original but not only repeats it but continues the story in a sensible, believable and heartwarmingly human way. Even though the sheer amount of sad drama is a bit overbearing, the movie as a whole is emotionally poignant and absolutely believable at the same time. Forget the supernatural elements of the series, forget the overblown humor – here’s what remains of Clannad if you cut away everything that detracts from the simple and sincere relationship developing between Okazaki and Nagisa.
What truly makes this movie shine, however, is that it finally returns to the roots of its name: “Clannad” is Gaelic for “family”, and while the series explored many different concepts of family without coming to a true resolution, the Clannad movie is perfectly concise in how it presents its theme. In this story both happy and sad, family is the one thing that can hold the world together when everything else seems to be falling apart. That’s why I strongly recommend making the Clannad movie your Christmas movie this year. Aside from Tokyo Godfathers, I can’t think of a better film to get you and your beloved into the right Christmas spirit this year.
Clannad The Motion Picture can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.