A high definition beginning to a family

In the fall of 2007, TBS began airing the third of the Key visual novel series that would be adapted into an animation production by Kyoto Animation: Clannad. This series would spawn the most episodes of the adaptations with 23 on-air and 1 OVA combined with a second series. This would be the second HD work by Kyoto Animation after the earlier Kanon collaboration. During 2008, the series was released on 8 DVDs and sold very well. In December 2009, a Blu-Ray Box much like the previous one for Kanon was announced and sold on April 30th, 2010.

The set contains a hard box covered in light pink colors with flowers around to resemble the regular edition DVD covers. Inside the box is a special binder with a brand new illustration of all 5 main heroines and Fujibayashi Ryou surrounded by falling sakura petals. Inside the binder are five Blu-Ray discs; each with their own illustration of a heroine. The five illustrations are also placed on the inside of the binder to make one image. Included is a special booklet that lists the credits for each episode as translated by Sentai Filmworks for their NA release of Clannad.

Discs 1-4 contain 5 episodes apiece and disc 5 contains the final four episodes along with the special features. I’ve included a few screencaptures along with the episodes on each disc.

Disc 1:

  1. On The Hillside Path Where The Cherry Blossoms Flutter
  2. The First Step
  3. Once Again After Crying
  4. Let’s Find Friends
  5. The Scenery With A Carving

Disc 2:

  1. The Older And Younger Sister’s Founder’s Festival
  2. Star-Shaped Feelings
  3. The Wind That Vanishes Into Dusk
  4. Until The End Of The Dream
  5. The Girl Genius’s Challenge

Disc 3:

  1. The After School Rhapsody
  2. Hidden World
  3. Garden of Memories
  4. Theory Of Everything
  5. Stuck Problem

Disc 4:

  1. 3 On 3
  2. A Room Without Anyone
  3. Counter Measures
  4. A New Life
  5. A Hidden Past

Disc 5:

  1. Face Toward The School Festival
  2. Two Shadows
  3. The Events Of Summer Holidays
  4. Another World: Tomoyo Chapter

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve not seen much in the way of visual novel anime, but to me this is the most consistent adaptation of a game to one solitary storyline. The beginning starts slowly as we’re introduced to the beginning of all the characters’ arcs, but as we progress further into each heroine’s story the emphasis gives great depth to that heroine.

Once episode 8-9 finish, the trend of sad happiness is begun as the typical “sad events must happen for happiness to be shown” comes into fruition. Even when Fuko is my least favorite heroine, I still tear up when her final episode is played. It only is enhanced as Kotomi’s strong arc carries over the bond of family and friends to a new person in the drama club. Afterwards the show feels a bit cluttered with Nagisa, Kyou, Ryou, and Tomoyo competing for Tomoya’s heart.

Clannad finishes strongly with part of Nagisa’s route that ends the show on a dramatic high note when Tomoya and Nagisa finally become lovers. The bonus episode helps to transition the show from a competition of love to the bond between the two main characters on a very humorus note. Also included is the very touching OVA of Tomoyo’s arc. It would have been very difficult to adapt her arc into the main plot and having her story be in an OVA keeps her character memorable.

Honestly, each episode looks absolutely gorgeous in HD. I’ve done a comparison on two separate systems and the DVDs lack the depth of color that is present in the Blu-Ray edition (incoming post later). While some backgrounds seem awash due to lack of definition the overall image is incredible. If I am to show someone that anime can be considered artistic, this is a great choice to present to anyone.

One of the new additions to this set is a 5.1 audio mix in both Linear PCM and Dolby HD format. The show sounds greatly different than the 2.0 mix (which is also included in LPCM format) and it greatly enhances the show to feel more grand.

Included on disc 5 are the extras (which include Tomoyo’s OVA for some reason). Included is a 114 image gallery of promotional art as well as DVD cover illustrations. Each looks great with a high amount of clarity, especially the LE DVD covers. Also included are the textless OP/ED, two TV spots to promote the show, and the preview for Tomoyo’s OVA.

This set includes both Japanese subtitles and the English subtitles created by Sentai for the NA release. There’s a few grammatical errors, but they are very readable. My main complaint would be the lack of a bold line for the words like Kadokawa used for Haruhi.

Overall, this set is more known for its hefty pricetag moreso than it’s quality. For the price one pays for this, you would imagine the extras to be a little more than a couple CMs, the textless OP/ED, and an image gallery. If you are looking for the show in its absolutely best image quality and are willing to spend a good amount of money, then this set is for you. Otherwise, it may not be worthwhile for your tastes. As usual, I always take more images than I can use, so click here.

4 thoughts on “A high definition beginning to a family

  1. Nice review~ It’s been over three years since I watched the first season of Clannad but I remember the basics of what happens. I too liked Kotomi’s arc as well as Nagisa’s in the end. I remember the detail of Nagisa finding out the truth about her parents and standing on stage crying her eyes out – since I remember that particular part, it must have left an impression on me. The one thing I don’t like about Clannad is that the humor often felt out of place, especially the slapsticks like Tomoyo pounding on Sunohara. But the great drama makes up for it, especially in AS of course 😉

    • While I’ve seen Clannad three times this year (DVD review upcoming, showing it to a friend, and for this review) I still have difficulties remembering what happens in each episode whereas I can pinpoint scenes to episodes for After Story. It’s both good and bad that the story flows together so nicely that it’s difficult to single out specific scenes at times.

      Nagisa’s stage performance is definitely the climax of the show. All throughout the season we see the impact of family from their introduction in episode 1 through the love of sisters in Fuko’s arc, the bond between parent and child in Kotomi’s arc, the love of twins in the Fujibayshi portion, and the rekindling of familar love in Tomoyo’s arc. Her father’s outburst definitely puts an emphatic conclusion to the season’s climax to show that with family anything can be overcome to finish a dream.

      I was ambivalent on the comedic portions during my first time watching the show, but I greatly appreciate them in further viewings. I liken it to the final line in Dango Daikazokou: “All of the good things and bad things wrapped into one” You can’t have sadness without comedy to balance it out, otherwise it’d simply be depressing. I do wish they had kept the ultra 64-kick combo from Tomoyo’s arc somehow; it would’ve been a great conclusion to that portion.

      • I like the slapstick humor because it’s important to show the relationship between Tomoya and Sunohara, and somewhat describes their way of life at the beginning of the series.

        The only thing I don’t like about Clannad (AS) is that the Tomoyo and Kyou arcs got only one episode, because especially Kyou’s is very good in the visual novel.

        • You’re right. The relationship between Tomoya and Sunohara is one based primarily in comedy (especially from the novel) and they needed to emphasize that in the show.

          Personally I really liked Kotomi’s arc in the VN more than any of the others and felt it was tolerable in the show. The problem with Kyou’s, Tomoyo’s, and Kappei’s routes is that they are really difficult to weave into the story that was created from Nagisa’s route without drastic modifications. I’m just glad to see Kyou and Tomoyo get special episodes to feature the highlights of their routes.

          April 20th can’t come quickly enough.

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