Dezaki Osamu makes another attempt at adapting one of Key’s works, this time, CLANNAD. Though with only 90 minutes to tell the story, he opts for a different approach which may not appeal to all viewers. Unlike a previous review I wrote on Initial D 3rd Stage, I won’t be going into a summary like I did before, nor will I be writing any spoilers.
The story was flawed in many aspects. For one, it failed to recognize the title of the movie, which is CLANNAD. It’s “family” or “clan” in Irish, so you would think with a name like CLANNAD that the storyline would actually adopt this stance. Instead though, they either ripped it out or mangled it. I’m not too sure which it is.
Either way, when Dezaki attempted to adapt the game into a motion picture, he went for a completely different take. Instead, it focuses more on the relationship Tomoya and Nagisa formed, with the majority of the movie taking part within the first 70 minutes, and the conclusion taking a bare 20 minutes. I don’t know how “tragic” he wanted to make this look, or whether or not it was a masterpiece… in my opinion though, it was a rush. The 20 minutes at the end of the movie was not enough to properly elaborate on what really happens to Tomoya and his friends, as well as what role he’s supposed to be playing.
In the TV animation, Tomoya was the player. He was the one out there helping people, having this attitude of his, but at the same time having family problems. In the movie, he is instead the victim of circumstances, just going with the flow and letting others support him rather than supporting himself. I’m sure that there are people who like one or the other type of main character, as it is quite a subjective and opinionated topic. I will admit though that in the game during After Story, Tomoya was indeed the victim, but that could only go for so long. He discovered he had to support himself, and to rely on others for so long would not be something that he could accept.
On the topic of the Illusionary World (幻想世界) , it appears that it was altered drastically in order to achieve what Dezaki wanted to do in order to build up the relationship between Nagisa and Tomoya, as well as the ending that he wanted to see. For better or for worse, the changes were indeed needed, as you only have a 90-minute span to tell the story, and I might have done the same thing.
Character-wise, the only people I found to be in the same line of character personality was Yoshino Yuusuke and Sunohara Youhei. Yes, even the idiot. Those two are closest to what they were always meant to be, while others were skewed in some way or altered a bit much that it felt a little odd (and sometimes not very convincing to the audience) at times.
What do you want me to say here? It’s a movie budget, of course. I noticed there were some interesting angles used, like splitting the screen in half and having the animation run differently on both sides. What I didn’t like though was the constant use of stills, triple-pans, as well as odd angles. I do like that they’ve avoided the Big Chin Effect(tm) that Kanon 2002 had. However, I don’t think there was a very good use of movie budget levels here for animation. Other notable companies like Sunrise (Z Gundam remakes) and Production I.G. (GitS: Innocence, Tsubasa) have done a much better job for movies, and even Kyoto Animation in its CLANNAD adaptation was many, many times better. Artistically, the only thing that really looked symbolic was Illusionary World. The scope of the level of despair in the world was pretty intense, and the imagery and visuals certainly showed it. However, they lacked this kind of symbolism for everything else, and sometimes their use of CG for the sakura petals didn’t seem to fare very well.
Kadonosono Megumi’s character designs were certainly brilliant, charming, and on paper were very beautiful. Unfortunately, a lot of it was lost in its transition from the concept boards to the filmstrip, instead adopting a style similar to Kanon 2002, minus the Big Chin Effect(tm).
I don’t have a 5.1 channel surround sound system to be able to accurately tell how well the soundtrack was, but the music was overall fine. Inomata Yoshichika’s music was not bad, and certainly fit the mood for most of the movie
This was one of the key, interesting things about the movie. If you recall, I mentioned Tomoya was the player in the TV animation, and the victim in the movie. Nojima Kenji really shows this in his acting, seeming much like a loser at first and then progressing to someone who felt like he was set. His voice acting in the drama CDs are of the same caliber, but you can tell that his voice is more suited for someone else like Tohno Shiki in MELTY BLOOD (who he also voices, by the way). This may have been a key point for Kyoto Animation in their choice of actor for Tomoya; Nakamura Yuuichi suited the role due to his assholeness as well as the I want to help others attitude. In fact, this was something that was left out of the movie considerably, letting Kenji fit the role better than Yuuichi.
Other roles seemed fine; Youhei, Yuusuke, Kyou, Tomoyo and others certainly fit their roles as intended. Nagisa however, comes off more like… you ever read those fairytales where it’s like an angel that comes down from the heavens, can only stay a period of time, and then leaves? It’s like that for Nagisa. She’s too carefree, cheerful, but at the same time Dezaki attempted to throw in her uneasiness from the games, making it all too awkward in my opinion. Even when she’s singing the Big Dango Family theme, it doesn’t seem like it suits her much.
This is going to be a movie where you just watch it once and you forget about it. The casual viewer won’t even give this a second look, and those who are biased towards the game will put it down for all it’s worth. I give this a 6.0/10.0.
Sidenotes Beyond The Review
If, and I say if, I happened to have my way with this review, I would have given it a 4.0 instead. The movie failed on many levels to deliver the correct theme, instead changing it to something else as well as taking too much time with the School Life aspect of the storyline and little on After Story. Delivering a conclusion in 15-20 minutes was rubbish and failed to properly elaborate on the important parts of the storyline. Instead of “a man that goes with the flow” as the topic of the movie, as it appears to be… I would have gone with “a man that grows up and learns what it’s like to raise a family” instead. That would have been a much better theme, and would follow the origins of the game more closely, even if it has to lose a lot in content.
If I had to say so myself, TOEI Animation signed up on CLANNAD not for making a movie worthy of the name “CLANNAD”. They made it for the money; for milking, and just to enjoy some extra financing. I must imagine that Key/VisualArt’s charged them a lot in order to let them skew the story this heavily. Kyoto Animation’s adaptation of the game is more noteworthy and true to the source material, while at the same time delivering a composition that isn’t rushed, takes its time, and lets it sink deep into the audience.