ClannadClannad is a Japanese visual novel developed by Key and released on April 28, 2004 for Windows PCs. While both of Key's first two previous works, Kanon and Air, had been released first as adult games and then censored for the younger market, Clannad was released with a rating for all ages. It was later ported to the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 consoles. The story follows the life of Tomoya Okazaki, a high school delinquent who meets many people in his last year at school, including five girls, and helps resolve their individual problems.
The gameplay of Clannad follows a branching plot line which offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the five female main characters by the player character. The game was ranked as the best-selling PC game sold in Japan for the time of its release, and charted in the national top 50 several more times afterwards. Key went on to produce an adult spin-off titled Tomoyo After: It's a Wonderful Life in November 2005, which expanded on the scenario of Tomoyo Sakagami, one of the five heroines from Clannad.
Clannad has made several transitions to other media. There have been four manga adaptations published by ASCII Media Works, Flex Comix, Fujimi Shobo and Jive. Comic anthologies, light novels and art books have also been published, as have audio dramas and several albums of music. An animated film by Toei Animation was released in September 2007, followed by two TV anime series including two original video animation episodes by Kyoto Animation produced between 2007 and 2009. Both anime series and their accompanying OVAs are licensed by Sentai Filmworks and were released in North America in 2009. The animated adaptations have received high sales figures in Japan as well as critical acclaim abroad.
Clannad PlotClannad's story revolves around Tomoya Okazaki, a third year high school student who dislikes his life. Tomoya's mother (Atsuko) died when Tomoya was young, leaving his father (Naoyuki) to raise him. After the accident, Tomoya's father turned to alcohol and gambling, and had frequent fights with his son. One day, Naoyuki, while arguing with his son, slammed Tomoya against the window, dislocating Tomoya's shoulder. Ever since then, his father has treated Tomoya nicely, but distantly, as if Tomoya and he were strangers rather than a family. This hurts Tomoya more than his previous relationship with his father, and the awkwardness of returning home leads Tomoya constantly to stay out all night. Additionally, the injury disables Tomoya from participating in his basketball club, and pushes him to distance himself from his school and other activities. Thus his delinquent life begins. Tomoya's good friend Youhei Sunohara, who got thrown out of the soccer club for a dispute, is also a delinquent and often hangs out in his dorm room with Tomoya doing nothing much.
The story opens on Monday April 14, 2003 at the beginning of the school year, when Tomoya meets by chance Nagisa Furukawa, a soft-spoken girl one year older than he is who is repeating her last year in high school due to being sick much of the previous year. Her goal is to join the drama club which she was unable to do due to her sickness, but they find that the drama club was disbanded after the few remaining members graduated. Since Tomoya has a lot of time to kill, he starts to help Nagisa in reforming the drama club. During this period, Tomoya meets and hangs out with several other girls who he gets to know well and help with their individual problems.
Clannad GameplayClannad is a drama and romance visual novel in which the player assumes the role of Tomoya Okazaki. Much of its gameplay is spent on reading the story's narrative and dialogue. Clannad follows a branching plot line with multiple endings; depending on the decisions that the player makes during the game, the plot will progress in a specific direction.
There are six main plot lines that the player will have the chance to experience, five which are initially available. Throughout gameplay, the player is given multiple options to choose from, and text progression pauses at these points until a choice is made. To view all plot lines in their entirety, the player must replay the game multiple times and make different choices to change the plot progression.
When first playing the game, the scenarios for all five heroines and additional smaller scenarios are available in what is called the School Life story arc. When the player completes a character's scenario, he or she receives an orb of light. When eight of these lights are obtained, the game's second story arc, called After Story, is made available. One of the lights disappears during School Life, but reappears in After Story. To view the true ending of Clannad, all 13 lights must be obtained. Originally, the lights were meant to be items that players could use in the game, but since this increased the game's complexity, and detracted from the storyline, the function of the lights was simplified and made less intrusive.
ReceptionIn the October 2007 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine, poll results for the 50 best bishōjo games were released. Out of 249 titles, Clannad ranked first at 114 votes; in comparison, the second place title, Fate/stay night, got 78 votes. The PlayStation 2 release in 2006 was reviewed by the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu, which gave it an overall score of 26/40 (out of the four individual review scores of 7, 7, 6, and 6). In 2008, Clannad was voted No. 2 in the Dengeki poll of most tear-inducing games of all time. In 2011, Clannad was voted No. 4 in Famitsu's poll of most tear-inducing games of all time.
For the anime television adaptations, the first season of Clannad received reviews ranging from positive to mixed, while the second season Clannad After Story received wide critical acclaim. The THEM Anime Reviews website gave the entire series a score of 4 out of 5 stars, with reviewer Tim Jones describing the first season as "the most fleshed-out and real Key animated adaption to date," and reviewer Stig Høgset stating that the second season After Story "will play up the tragedies and the drama considerably, quite possibly tearing out your heart in the process. This is where time truly starts to fly by, lending the show some real weight in the emotional departments."
Theron Martin of Anime News Network gave the first season a 'B+' rating, criticizing its extensive use of moe elements, but considered it appealing entertainment for a "fan base who revels in this kind of thing." His review for the second season After Story was much more positive, giving it an 'A-' rating. He praised the second half of the season as "the best-written quarter of Clannad," stating that it "effectively builds up and delivers its emotional appeal, reinforces the series' central theme (i.e. the importance of family), and peaks visually," and concluding that "only the most cynical of souls will avoid shedding at least a few tears at certain points." On the DVD Talk website, the reviewer Todd Douglass Jr. gave Clannad After Story a "Highly Recommended" rating, stating that "the range of emotions Clannad takes you through is quite daunting. It's charming, cute, hilarious, mysterious, and tragic all at the same time. Few shows are as memorable, and few are this good for this long." He concludes that the storytelling is "heartfelt" and "memorable in so many ways," and that "few shows rise to the levels this one does."
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