Warning. The post will contain spoilers for Clannad After Story. If you have not seen Clannad After Story, I highly recommend that you do not read any further at risk of spoiling some incredible moments.
Recently, I managed to finish Clannad and Clannad After Story. Overall, I was very pleased with it, but if I have any complaint, it is that I just did not like the ending of Clannad After Story. It was not a bad ending strictly speaking. The illusionary world and the light orbs were worked in from the very beginning and the ending did not leave me thinking “what just happened?” Additionally, it was nice to finally see Tomoya’s family finally find happiness together. However, I just didn’t feel that the ending fit with the themes of the rest of the story.
The first and foremost theme of Clannad is family. But arguably more powerful than the family theme is the character growth over the course of the story, especially in response to difficulties. Or, even simpler, how things change and how individuals deal with it. Much like life, the journey in Clannad isn’t always a happy one and Tomoya (and other characters as well) experiences a lot of hardships. But how the characters respond to the hardships was a fundamental part of the story. Whether together with friends and family, or by themselves, characters eventually accept and overcome the difficulties and disappointments they experienced in their life. And in the end, they change because of it.
Unfortunately, that growth wasn’t represented in After Story’s ending with the alternate timeline where Nagisa never passed away. If you remember, in the aftermath of Nagisa’s death, Tomoya spent five years drinking, gambling, and thinking that he should never have met Nagisa in the first place (a feeling of regret that I can certainly relate to somewhat). But then, episode eighteen happens (the most beautiful and profound episode of them all) and on his trip with Ushio, Tomoya learns the truth about his father and comes to realize what a terrible father he himself has been for Ushio. This moment represented the turning point, where Tomoya realizes his love for his daughter and decides to stop neglecting her.
Putting Ushio under the care of Sanae and Akkio was Tomoya’s way of trying to forget everything that had happened. Ushio would remind him of Nagisa, and because he had not come to terms with Nagisa’s death, Tomoya did not want to live with his daughter. Things change with his decision to take Ushio under his care, but the final step would be to finally accept that his wife passed away. Not only that, but I wanted to see Tomoya conclude that even though it was cut short, he does not regret having met, befriending, and marrying Nagisa.
Thus, the ending I would like to see would have everything be the same up till the point where Ushio dies. This time, instead of watching another person he cares about die, Tomoya would be able to help Ushio recover and their life together would truly begin. For much of Clannad, the story focused around Tomoya helping others come to terms with their own troubles in life. It would be fitting, then, that the final part of the story would be about Tomoya coming to terms with his own life’s troubles. First with his father, then with his daughter, and then finally with the fact that his wife is gone. The pain and sadness happened, but he has become stronger because of it. And in the end, he resolves to keep moving forward with in life with all his friends, family, and most of all Ushio.Clearly, I am no skilled writer and I can’t properly describe what I would’ve liked to see with the ending beyond vague descriptions. But hopefully I have been able to explain my reasoning for the suggested ending, as the idea itself is more important.
As a whole, I really enjoyed the Tomoya’s journey in Clannad. It was beautiful, profound, filled with memorable moments and wonderful characters. The ending was the first big disappointment, but even that was not enough to ruin everything else that I experienced while watching it. For now, I’ll end this post, but you can be sure that you’ll hear about Clannad from me soon.