As is the case with all reviews, the ideas and thoughts contained in the paragraphs are the from workings of the reviewer’s mind. They are all his or her opinion. So keep that in mind when I say that while i’m not a fan of most romantic animes out there, I just adore clannad. The story is great, the artwork is colourful and well done, the character voices (such as the case with my last review of Strawberry Marshmallow) are brilliantly suited to the characters and for me personaly, is just an extremely relaxing show to watch and enjoy. Mabye its due to my deeply growing affinity for slower paced, relaxing, romantic, comedy type animes but I digress.
Having no clue about this show other than having seen a few pictures, I honestly didn’t expect much from this show as at first, I thought the characters looked a bit deformed. The girls to be more exact. However after the first 2 episodes I had become really attached to the smooth style they seemed to have. There was nothing over-the-top about the art and it just really suited the general mood of the show. Wether it was Nagisa’s overly honest and pure nature or Sunohara’s antics, the show never stopped being interesting. Finaly a show that didn’t seem to drag itself out to fill episodes and had a point to itself. I’ll stick with this show until the last episode it’s just that good.
Then I played the Clannad Visual Novel…
Perhaps it’s just me being bias but with the exception of Kana: Little Sister (which I will now call K:LS), this is the single greatest anime style game I have ever played. Despite what you may think though, this is by no means a H-Game. No no, not by a long shot. This is a visual Novel. To be more exact think of it this way… this is a choose your own romantic adventure visual novel game. This game is about 1 man, and the many diffrent paths you can take in your school life. How is this fun though you may ask. Whats the point of playing a dating-sim if you dont get to screw the girl at the end? Well if thats what your expecting there is no shortage of games out there for you so stop reading.
While it may not be a very well known fact, some of the best written games and storylines have come from H-Games. I very much doubt there could be a better written romantic storyline than K:LS. That game alone has made more people cry (including myself) than perhaps any other single game. However the point of this whole paragraph was not to lavaish the many incredible praises onto K:LS that could very well be. The point i’m trying to get to is that while this IS a game by the technical sence, it is also a novel. As a novel it also has a brilliantly written story for the diffrent arcs you can take.
As logic would dictate, the storyline too has to be well set out and written as to keep the reader interested. This game reaches that point and just keeps going for a couple hundred feet. Nearly every story arc completed was amazing and took me to a point where I have no further desire to watch the anime series itself as I feel it would degrade the well layed out storylines i’ve encountered in the game. Now that I have those thoughts out of the way, I shall go onto the actual review of the game characters and features itself.
Perhaps this was 1 of the first things I should have touched on in the eairly stages of my long winded writings, but this game is not in english. At least not in the typical sence that is. This is a japanese game and as such, needs a fan translation. While this fan patch is nearly finished (around 87% complete last I checked), there are parts of the game not in english and a few random sentences throughout the game that are still in japanese. However that by no means detracts from the game itself. While there are a few errors here and there, you are able to understand the game fully so this didn’t earn any negative points for me.
As is the case with h-games, Clannad comes with a CG mode, Music mode, Main Story and After Story feature. All the standards but what is an after story? Well this part of the game is a continuation to the Nagisa story arc and takes place 10 years after you graduate from school. Unfortunatly this portion of the game has yet to be translated so i’m unable to comment on anything further about the after story. Sorry. From what i’ve heard however it is especialy sad so until the fan patch is fully ready (I played with a beta release of the patch) we cant know for sure unless you are fluent in japanese.
Unfortunatly the biggest issue I had with this game was the window size it runs in (if you pick window that is). I run at 1440×900 on a widescreen so playing a window game at 640×480 is a little odd and small for me. I would of liked to be able to play at least 800×600 but that is apparantly being fixed with the re-release of Clannad shortly. Another issue some may have is that there is a lot of reading to be done. I mean a LOT. Being a visual novel there are apparantly over 66,000 lines of text to be read in this game so prepare yourself when you choose wether or not to play this.
Main Story Characters
This will be perhaps the biggest part of the review as there is just a ton of information to go here. I’m only going to list the main and Arc’able characters and a bit of their story line. I’ll try my best not to add any spoilers that may ruin the game.
Okazaki Tomoya – The Main character, and guy you play as. Often late for school and has a bit of a cold attitude toward people. He is labeled a delinquent due to his attitude and tendency to skip classes. When he does attend classes, he usualy sleeps during the lesson. He is best friends with Sunohara despite what he may say about it.
Furukawa Nagisa – I guess you could call her the main female character. She is repeating her last year in school due to her becoming sick and missing a very large portion of her previous years classes. She is 1 year older than Okazaki and most of the other characters due to this also. Her dream is to revive the drama club at school and enlists Okazaki to help her bring it back to life.
Fujibayashi Kyou – A pretty girl with long purple hair. She is the twin sister of Ryou, and has a secret crush on Okazaki. Known for her aggressiveness and bad mouth, she always seems to have a dictionary or heavy book somewhere on her incase she needs to inflict pain on someone. She is a pretty good cook and has a pet boar named Botan. After she helps her sister Ryou confess to Okazaki, she becomes depressed and avoids him as much as possible due to her feelings for Okazaki.
Fujibayashi Ryou – The twin sister of Kyou and is very shy and timid unlike her sister. She is also a bad cook and likes to perform fortune telling for people using playing cards. Unfortunatly most of these predictions while very specific, are often flat out wrong. After hearing her sister Kyou talk about Okazaki so often, she develops a crush on him but cant work up the courage to confess to him without her sister’s help.
Sakagami Tomoyo – A new transfer student that has a legacy behind her of beating up people who annoy others. She is rather sarcastic and a little rude when talking to Okazaki and some others despite being 1 year below him. Her goal is to become the student council president and save the line of sakura trees on the way to school. Sunohara gets enough beatings from Tomoyo to have permenant brain damage. Despite her being 1 of the most popular students in the school and Okazaki being 1 of the most infamous she falls for him.
Ibuki Fuko – My personal favorite character in the entire game. She is a super cute 1st year student who is trying desperately hard to get the entire school to celebrate her older sister’s coming wedding. She refers to herself in the 3rd person which just makes her that much cuter. She loves starfish and often spaces out when hugging them or thinking about them. Usualy this leads Okazaki to play some pretty mean pranks on her which are just downright funny. While most of the other characters like Okazaki from the start, she seems to be a little afraid of him and it isn’t until pretty late in the game where she tells him that she likes him more than a sea snail. This leads him to the conclusion that her rating system goes as such; Starfish > Okazaki > Sea Snail.
Ichinose Kotomi – A very quiet, strange girl who loves reading books more than anything. She is in the top 10 students in the entire country and as such is given special status to study at her own pace rather than attend classes. She loves to play the violin but is rather bad at it, often leading it to being refered to as a “Sonic Weapon”. She likes Okazaki not surprisingly. She is often found in the library cutting out pages and parts of books.
Sunohara Youhei – In the same class as Okazaki and is his best friend. He is the only worse student than Okazaki and as such is also a delinquent. He is often beaten up by Kyou, Tomoyo, Fuko, Okazaki or the Rugby team members. He is basicly there for comedic value as he does have some rather funny moments.
Sunohara Mei – Sunohara’s little sister. She is 13 and comes to visit to see how her big brother is doing with his life. She is very diffrent from her brother and is considered “normal” Okazaki. As expected, she has a bit of a crush on Okazaki and stays at his home when she comes to visit. She is the youngest girl in the main story and as such you cannot end up dating her.
Sagara Misae – She is an older woman (around 30) that runs the dorms where Sunohara lives. Not much is known about Misae but due to her past she is reluctant to like Okazaki and it is left a bit open as to what really happens between the 2 in the end. Hilarity ensues when Okazaki tells her to be more strict about the dorm rules when he vists. Poor Sunohara…
Miyazawa Yukine – Another strange girl who loves the refrence room in school. She seeminly has turned it into a sort of coffee shop where she often makes Okazaki and Sunohara drinks. She seems to enjoy casting “spells” from a book she has found in the refrence room. She is very upbeat and happy and often helps people. She slowly develops a liking to Okazaki and sometimes sleeps with her head on his lap. Like Misae though, it’s a bit open as to wether or not her and Okazaki actualy date but due to the ending of her story it seems they do.
That about does it for what I would consider the main characters. There are others I would think of as secondary but if I went to list them all, we would no doubt be here for another hour so i’ll spare you that.
With all that said how does this game fair in the end? Quite well I must say. Each story arc you play through is so well written and in depth. The Fuko route almost brought me to tears it was so sad. Luckly the “True” ending was very very happy or else I would of cried like when playing K:LS. There are moments where Okazaki is a bit of an idiot with the typical male love interest syndrome of “no girls like me so I wont notice any advances”. I guess that can’t be helped though. The music is wonderfully relaxing and very easy to listen to. While there is no offical voice acting in this game yet, there are patches that will add them for you but being illegal (and the fact it erases your saved games which I dont want) since it is ripped from the playstation 2 version I chose not to play with them. If you need voices then you can just wait another month or so for the re-release of this game officialy.
So how long will it take you to finish all the main story arcs then? Well this is when the game really shines. There is apparantly a guide called the “300 hour walkthrough” and While I seriously doubt there is 300 hours of gameplay here, the lesser “90 hour walkthrough” I think is right on the money. I played this game through twice on my own, and the rest of the times with a walkthrough and it still took me over 60 hours to finish right. Without the guide I used I could have eaisly spent another 30 hours replaying scenes and hoping to get the right endings.
If you can find this game, can get ahold of the translation patch and dont mind a lot of reading then I cannot recommend this enough. Actualy i’m quite annoyed I put playing this game off for so long since it is so good. If your in the mood for a relaxing, story revolving game then look no further than Clannad. I would rate this as a “Must Play” game myself.