Last year, I joined OWLS, which is a group of otaku bloggers that aims to spread acceptance to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Every month, we are given a theme and for January, our theme was Revival:
The previous post in the Revival series was written by Shokamoka. Be sure to check it out!
For this post, I am going to write about one of my all time favorites: Clannad. I am going to focus on the show’s main character Tomoya and his journey through both Clanaad and Clanaad After Story.
WARNING THIS POST WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS!
Clanaad follows the story of Tomoya, a high school “delinquent.” He doesn’t care about school or his future. Instead, he listlessly wanders through his life without a clear purpose. It isn’t that he doesn’t have one- it’s just that his former purpose was taken away from him. When he was younger, Tomoya was on the basketball team until he dislocated his shoulder. This injury made him physically unable to raise his arms above his head, a must for shooting hoops.
It was actually Tomoya’s father who ended his basketball career. Tomoya’s mother had died several years earlier, leaving his father to raise him by himself. The stress and despair made him turn to alcohol and, in a drunken rage, he fought with Tomoya, causing the shoulder injury.
In a short amount of time, Tomoya had lost his passion, his mother, and also his father, who became very distant after the accident.
He continues his empty existence, drifting through each day. That is, until he meets Nagisa. She is a shy and timid girl who has health issues. Because of this, she tends to rely on other people and isn’t able to do much on her own. However, she is kind and understanding.
One day, Tomoya randomly stumbles across Nagisa and he becomes interested in the strange yet unique girl. Nagisa wants to start up a Drama Club, but the previous club was disbanded because it did not have enough members. Tomoya decides to help her because he doesn’t have much else to do. He doesn’t know it at the time, but Nagisa would break up the monotony in his life.
It is a moment that would literally change him forever.
Finding Purpose In Those Around You
At first, the Drama Club is mostly Nagisa and Tomoya figuring out how to restart it as an offical club. Through their adventures, the two of them meet several other characters, such as Fuko, Kyou, Ryou, and Kotomi.
Despite being jaded, Tomoya is actually a very kind person. He begins helping these different girls with their personal problems. And in becoming friends with them, Tomoya helps them with their own revivals. Fuko is able to attend her sister’s wedding… Kotomi gets closure about her parents. And as these girls experience a sense of rebirth, Tomoya experiences his own. He becomes closer to Nagisa and slowly begins to enjoy his life again. He looks forward to seeing Nagisa and being a part of the Drama Club.
Although he still can’t play basketball or achieve some of the things he had hoped, he found a new purpose: Nagisa.
The anime shows that sometimes it isn’t about material gains like wealth or status. Sometimes being able to help or be with a person you care about- whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a lover- is enough to make you feel whole.
Tomoya learned this through his own Revival. However, the rebirth he felt in high school was one of many in his life. As humans, we go through many different phases over the years, and Tomoya is no exception.
His journey of revival continues in Clannad’s sequel, Clannad After Story.
Losing And Regaining That Purpose Once More
At the very end of the first Clannad series, Tomoya and Nagisa begin dating. In After Story, the series explores their relationship as it grows. Not long after high school, the two get married and Nagisa decides she wants to have a baby. Tomoya takes a job as an electrician to help support his new family. It is rough because his job is hard work and they live in a tiny apartment. Additionally, Nagisa’s health still isn’t the best because of her fragile constitution. It is an extremely tough pregnancy. But the two of them are very happy together.
SPOILER WARNING AGAIN~ MAJOR SPOILERS UP AHEAD!
That is… until the baby is born.
Nagisa does not survive the birth. The pregnancy took too much of a toll on her body and she dies. But the baby survives. As you can imagine, Tomoya falls into despair.
After his rough teenage years, he had finally found a new purpose for living. He worked extremely hard to maintain that purpose, to help keep Nagisa happy and smiling. But it was all taken away from him in an instant. The very thing that was supposed to grant Nagisa’s wish is the same thing that ended her life.
Tomoya fell into a depression that lasted five years. For that whole time, he rarely interacted with his daughter, Ushio. She reminded him of Nagisa- she looked just like her. Instead, Nagisa’s mother took care of Ushio for the first couple years of her life as Tomoya remained in a state of stasis.
Note: If you are having trouble coping with the loss of a loved one, or are experiencing extreme depression, please seek professional help.
But then one day Tomoya goes on a trip with Ushio. He buys her a toy robot and takes her to a field of flowers. Ushio loses the toy and starts looking for it. Meanwhile, Tomoya comes across his grandmother, the mother of his father. She explains how hard it was for his father to take care of Tomoya as a child after his mother died. He goes back to Ushio who is very upset that she still cannot find the robot. She cries because it was the very first thing that her father gave her. In an epiphany, Tomoya realizes that he is making the same mistake that his father made with him. He embraces Ushio and promises that he will be a good dad from now on. Ushio sobs, glad that she is finally making a connection with her father. (In my opinion, this is the most heart-wrenching scene in the entire series.)
Even though Tomoya had to go through a second period of loss- one that lasted even longer- he was able once again to revive himself. Although he had lost Nagisa, he was able to find another purpose through caring for his daughter Ushio.
Unfortunately, sometimes we have to take a step back in order to take a step forward. Tomoya’s story represents the uncertainty of life and how everyone goes through stages. Sometimes something terrible has to happen for us to wake up and realize our full potential. In the end, despite all of the pain and suffering he went through, Tomoya decides he would do it all again, just to experience that time with Nagisa again.
Together, Clannad and Clannad After Story are one of my favorite series of all time. They both explore the human condition as we all truck through our lives, through good times and bad. It’s really a wonderful series that everyone should watch. It will make your heart swell in a way that other series cannot achieve. (Actually, another series that is similar is Angel Beats, which is made by the same people. If you enjoyed Clannad, I highly recommend it as well!)
If you haven’t watched it, I HIGHLY suggest it.
The next post in the Revival series is going to be by Miandro from Miandro’s Side. Be sure to check it out! You can also read my OWLS from 2017 by clicking here. Or you can check out a bunch of great OWLS posts by other members from last year!
6 thoughts on “Clannad: The Revolving Ups and Downs of Life (OWLS 2018 “Revival” Blog Tour)”
Certainly what makes Clannad special and a series set apart is the last half of After Story, going to a place that no anime goes before, exploring marriage, parenting, death, and restoration. I think that last word, restoration, is so important in context of the series, and the way in which it comes: Tomoya’s father is restored, both as his dad and as a son himself, through forgiveness (he doesn’t really deserve it, and Tomoya understands that he, too, doesn’t deserve his father’s love). Tomoya is restored through the efforts of Akio and Sanae, though he doesn’t deserve it. And the entire family is restored through Ushio, who goes through space and time to bring back life to her family—she is “perfect” and pure, in a sense, and is the only one able to do this for her family, the only one who hasn’t made mistakes, a perfect sacrifice if you will (she dies…and then looks as if she’s going to die in the illusory world, too), giving the family she loves so much a chance at happiness and restoring them. So much depth in this show—I love it so much!