Clannad is one hell of a show. It took me completely by surprise when I started watching it and now that I just finished the second season, After Story, I can honestly say there has never been a series quite like it. From the very beginning Clannad demonstrates that it's a different kind of show. It's an emotional rollercoaster that's also funny and smart. The characters also feel so real it's uncanny and everyone is memorable in their own way. Needless to say this show is a hit and it's one that should appeal to a wide array of viewers.
In case you're unfamiliar with the franchise you should know that Clannad comes from PC game developer Key, who also created Air and Kanon. Both of those shows are regarded highly by anime fans and for good reason. Key has shown time and time again that they have a real knack for creating fascinating characters, rich worlds, and heartfelt stories. Clannad carries the torch passed on to it by the other two Key shows and the first season exemplified everything the developer has become known for.
Rather than dig back through and fill you in on everything that happened in the show to this point, I'll simply suggest that if you're interested you should check out the other reviews. This is the final installment of this show and if you don't know what's going on by now then chances are good you're new to the series. With that being said I also feel compelled to leave out specific details regarding what transpires in this volume. The thirteen episodes in the second collection of Clannad After Story are among the most emotional and impactful the series has produced. There are things that happen within this installment that completely blindside you and not being prepared for them magnifies the experience.
So, what can I say about what transpires here? All I'm going to say is that the story advances in years. There's marriage afoot, a child on the way, and tragedy that strikes seemingly out of nowhere. This volume features the characters dealing with the death of one of their own, and let's just say it's pretty tough to watch at times. The producers are brutal with the way they break down the story and they drag some of the characters through hell and back.
What's most interesting about this volume is the supernatural twist that comes at some points. Viewers that have been watching the show know quite well the side-story about a girl in an empty world and a junk robot she built. This comes into focus here and it manifests itself with great impact on the story. It was nice to see the multiple storylines converge such as they did towards the end here, but I can't deny that it feels a little too convenient. The show has a rather indistinct ending and some of the events leading up to just don't quite mesh with what we experienced over the course of three other volumes. It's all still very good, just different somehow. I suppose one could argue that the show matured along with its characters.
If you haven't seen Clannad or After Story, then you're missing out on one of the most unique shows to come along in quite some time. It has been a long time since I've felt this way after watching a show and the range of emotions Clannad takes you through is quite daunting. It's charming, cute, hilarious, mysterious, and tragic all at the same time. Few shows are as memorable, and few are this good for this long. Consider this one highly recommended!
Clannad After Story is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The show looks quite good with a fine degree of sharpness, a clean presentation, and vibrant colors. The series maintains the overall look of the original and one should expect more of the same, which is a very, very good thing. Like the first show, After Story does have a touch of softness in some scenes and there's a little bit of grain, but it's definitely not enough to be distracting. This is an attractive, yet unassuming show that stands out in a lot of ways despite its minor flaws.
After Story disappoints a little in terms of the audio, just like the first season did. The Japanese 2.0 stereo is the only available language option, though English subtitles are present if you need them. The presentation is minimalist and there's nothing that really jumps out with this installment. Things are clean and crisp all around, but the subdued audio is more functional than flashy.
Some trailers and clean animations are all you're going to find here for bonus features.
The first Clannad series impressed me in so many ways. The show had a lot of heart and the atmosphere was wholly unlike anything I had seen before. This holds true for the sequel, After Story. Once again the show will draw viewers in and tantalize them with unique stories, strong characters, and powerful moments. This second installment brings about a dramatic closure to the show with some tragic moments for its characters to suffer through. It's heartfelt storytelling and memorable in so many ways. Few shows rise to the levels this one does and the final episodes are pretty hard to watch because they leave such an impression. Highly recommended from start to finish!
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