The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Clannad – The Motion Picture

Title: Clannad – The Motion Picture aka Gekijouban Clannad
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Toei Animation
Format: Movie; 93 minutes.
Dates: 15 Sep 2007

Synopsis: Okazaki Tomoya is despondent with life and is haunted by a nightmare. His relationship with his father has slowly soured since the death of his mother, and his school-life, shared with his rambunctious best friend, Sunohara Youhei, is mostly empty and meaningless. That is, until one day he meets a girl named Furukawa Nagisa, who can’t quite find the courage to walk up the hill on the long path to their school.

The Highlights
Adaptation: Very different to KyoAni’s version, but still worthwhile without being as good.
Pacing: Surprisingly good given the time limitations.
Directing: Too often excessive and jarringly over-the-top.
Characters: A strong focus on the leads; I particularly liked Nagisa’s character.
Music: Subpar; doesn’t set the right tone.
Ending: Much less controversial than After Story’s ending.

Having seen the two TV series before the movie, I knew that, if I wasn’t careful with how I approached it, I’d be constantly comparing the two adaptations instead of just trying to appreciate the movie for what it is. The first ten minutes reaffirmed that a constant comparison wouldn’t just fail to do this movie justice, but wouldn’t do my potential enjoyment of the movie any favours either. I’d go so far as to say that, while the KyoAni take on Clannad is a fairly direct adaptation of the source material, this is more of an “interpretation”. Looking at it this way, it’s a good movie, and I’m particularly impressed with how much they managed to fit a fairly expansive story into just an hour and a half without making it feel (terribly) rushed, but there are some serious execution problems. And, just for the record, if I had to pick between this and the two TV series, I’d pick the KyoAni versions in a heartbeat.

I hate writing reviews dominated by comparison, but in this case I almost can’t help it. There’s not too much that the movie does better than the TV series, but the TV series have several advantages, not least of which includes an order of magnitude more time to thoroughly explore almost every facet of the source. The movie, on the other hand, realizes its time limitations and strips away everything but the bare essentials. Even then it’s not loyal, but expecting it to be loyal is a mistake, since the story presented here, while different in the details, is still dramatic, heart-wrenching and romantic… maybe not quite as much as KyoAni’s takes, but still respectable enough on its own.

Even more than the series, Clannad – The Motion Picture is a story of two people: Tomoya and Nagisa. With the exception of Sunohara, the rest of the cast are relegated to the roles of extras. I particularly liked what they’ve done with Nagisa in this outing: she’s a stronger, more vibrant and lively character here than she is in the series, where she was occasionally too vulnerable and docile. Unfortunately, Tomoya becomes a walking fountain of angst in this movie more often than I’d have liked. The respective seiyuu give performances that similarly reflect their characters: I’d willingly argue that Nakahara Mai gives a stronger performance as Nagisa here than in the series, no matter how many fanboys’ toes I tread on, but Nojima Kenji (who wasn’t in the series) fails to forge a unique male lead with Tomoya.

The directing is the essence of “excessive”. There’s what appears to be an effort to replicate Shinkai Makoto’s style with lots of strong, natural colours and a dynamic use of light, focus and camera movements, but it’s often used inappropriately and comes off as jarring. The animation itself is reasonable, a smidgen above the minimum expectation I have for movies, but the music is woeful, with lots of meandering wind instruments setting a mood more suitable for a mystery than a touching romance story.

As much as I tried to ignore it, it’s just somehow disconcerting to see Fujibayashi Kyou walk around as Sakagami Tomoyo’s best friend and personal cheerleader knowing how much tension there was between these two in the series. But, I don’t care whose adaptation this was, seeing Ibuki Kouko beat up Sunohara was incredibly cringe-worthy. This is a different adaptation to the series, but one that’s worthwhile when judged independently. And those who were unsatisfied with the ending of After Story might even find more comfort here.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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