2011 Spring Cleaning Anime Challenge Review: Clannad The Motion Picture

Okazaki Tomoya is a student who goes to school only as a force of habit. He continues to be plagued by nightmares of a world with nothing left, where his existence is a mere conciousness. On the way to school one day, he meets a girl called Furukawa Nagisa, who from then on follows him to school every day, unable to climb the stairs by herself. While helping Nagisa to organize the Drama Club, Tomoya slowly starts to open up and actually enjoy his life again. But the dreams he has might be something more than just dreams..

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Plot:

We all know about the Clannad visual novel, TV series, and the sequel After Story, but did you know that a movie came out a few months before the TV debuted.  Turns out it is not so bad of a film overall.  The biggest difference between the TV series and the movie is how the cast of characters interact with each other.  The story shifts the focus from Tomoya, Nagisa, and the other girls to mainly Tomoya and Nagisa.   Fans of those side female characters will be disappointed to find out that most of the other females present in the visual novel and TV series are removed from the movie version.  The few girls who do remain are changed from the visual novel and even changed from the KyoAni version of Clannad.

Of course, not all changes are bad.  One of the better things the movie does it explains some of the backstory as to what happen with Tomoya, and what happened with Youhei and the soccer team.  Because of the removal of some of the girls and the smaller focus the story becomes streamlined a lot more and removes some of the aspects from the TV series that bog the story down or the supernatural first arc that occurs in the TV series.

Art and Animation:

The weakest part of Clannad the Motion Picture is the art and animation.  While KyoAnmi did the TV series and the sequel, Toei Animation did the animation for the movie.  The biggest thing that those who have either watched the TV series or seen screen shots from it will notice that the character designs are a different from the TV series.  The females of the cast still have the moe factor to them, but not to the extent that the KyoAni version does.  That is not to say that the character designs are ugly they are not, but those expecting the full moe experience at not going to find it here.

It would seem that Toei took some shortcuts with the animation.  Certain scenes repeat multiple times in certain cases image enhancements are added to some of the scenes which does not help make the scenes look better, but instead gives the shots a almost amateurism feel to them.

Music and Audio:

The music for the movie is all over the place.  At times, the music feels generic and forgettable, and other times the music feel touching and fitting of the overall tone of the series.  While it does miss some times especially with a track, which sounds straight out of an 80’s anime show.  The OP is the same one as used during the TV series so I will not go into a lot of detail but it does fit the shows like a glove.  There are technically two ED’s.  The first one is a somber piano and string piece that brings the sadness of the second half to life.  The second one is another fast sung version of the Dango Family song.

Most of the Seiyū from the TV series give their voices to their roles in the movie.  With the sole change being the voice of Tomoya, the Japanese dub is a great listen.  Mai Nakahara gives Nagisa her voice for the movie and does a great job with her role.  Other roles filled with such seiyū as Houko Kuwashima and Ryō Hirohashi also give great performances with their roles given.  Those who want to fully embraced the moe feeling that the show has to offer will want to watch the Japanese audio track

The English dub contains the same English VA’s as the TV series.  I am not going to into any detail here if you have heard the English dub for Clannad TV series you know what to expect.  For those who have not heard the TV series English dub, which was produced by Sentai Filmworks, contains a cast of veteran English VA that turn out a quality dub that should be expected by today’s standards.  David Matranga gives Tomoya his English voice, fits the role given, and is on par with his Japanese counterpart.  Other veteran English VA’s such as Luci Christian, Shelley Calene-Black, and Greg Ayres are present and all give performances that are on par with their Japanese counterpart.  Of course, with the English dub you do not get the full moe factor as you would with the Japanese so it will be viewer’s choice as to which audio track to listen to while watching.

Final Thoughts:

Those are new to the KEY shows and are interested in watching the Clannad series would do themselves a favor and watch this movie to determine if they should invest more time and money into the series.  Those who have seen the TV series and the sequel might want to watch this movie as well  Those who are fans though of the other girls who were removed might want to skip the film altogether.

Score: 3/5

Pros: Explains some of the backstory better than TV series, still emotionally gripping, good for fans curious about the series.

Cons: Animation is not the same quality as the TV series; fans of the side characters will be disappointed.

Clannad The Motion Picture is available from Right Stuf

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