The year of Clannad continues! A dream so big it had to be a movie…

In 2004 Key Visual Arts released their highly anticipated third visual novel entitled Clannad. Since Toei Animation had made a TV anime series and a movie of their prior two works (Kanon and AIR) respectively, they decided to let Toei adapt Clannad into an animated movie. Thus in September 2007 Clannad:The Motion Picture was released.  In March 2008 the work was released on three DVD versions (collector’s, special, and regular editions) in Japan. The movie was licensed by Sentai Filmworks in November 2010 and set to be released March 15, 2011. (The author of this post received his copy early thanks to RightStuf)

This release by Sentai Filmworks uses the DVD version of the film on one disc. The special features include production sketches and trailers for other works licensed by Sentai. The disc is in a eco-friendly DVD toll-case.

I had never seen the movie before purchasing this set. From what I knew of Toei’s prior adaptations, the character models would be vastly different and the story would be different than what was used by Kyoto Animation. I wasn’t prepared for the difference in camera angles as well as background imagery. I could never fully adjust for the different models because as soon as I got used to one, someone would get a strange face and throw my judgment off again.

While I complain about the character models, I can’t complain about the rest of the animation. Toei did a fantastic job with lighting as well as modeling the city to look fantastic. The different camera angles allowed the movie to feel closer to the characters as they would jump towards the screen at times. The rainy scenes always had visible raindrops to enhance the rainy aspects of the film and gave it a realistic view. I can’t say if it was my DVD player upscaling the image, but it looked great on my HDTV.

Conversely, the constant “re-doing” of pans again and again became tiresome quickly. There would be times where a pan-up of a character was repeated three times in a row for dialogue purposes. To me, that cheapened the movie somewhat as I felt it was a cost-saving measure instead of adding other views. My other complaint was the over-use of splitscreens. The motif also grew tiresome after a couple which served no purpose as the other half of the screen remained black.

I may surprise some with my view, but I really enjoyed this adaptation of Clannad. It’s not fully accurate to the original work, but not all adaptations have to be. Toei incorporated pieces and put together a new take on the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa. As opposed to the adaptation by Kyoto I really felt as though Tomoya became really depressed after what happened to Nagisa. For what they were trying to accomplish, I think it works extremely well as a re-telling of the story.

Condensing a 30+ hour (at bare minimum) visual novel game into a 90 minute movie is incredibly tough. By focusing only on the Tomoya-Nagisa relationship with spare insert parts from the other characters, Toei made something new. The plot is rather logical, but there are places where it feels rushed to fit the overall storyline. It’s well worth watching if you’re a fan of Clannad in any form just due to the uniqueness of it.

The only new cast member to the group was Kenji Nojima as Tomoya who did a good job (though I still prefer Yuuichi Nakamura personally). The rest of the cast is amazing as usual. Compared to my last review of the dub, I have no complaints about the adaptation. It was a solid vocal performance all-around, though Chiisana Tenohira got cut off way too early for the ending theme.

As mentioned before the only special features included are production sketches as well as trailers for other works. The listing originally included a clean opening and ending animation, but it is not missed as the Japanese release lacked it as well. I’ll say that Sentai did a good job on this release. My only complaint is that Kyou gets re-named for no real reason in the subtitles.

As usual, I’ve made a Photobucket album of more screencaptures, so feel free to browse through.

Next month, it’s time to finish this series once and for all….

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