Wednesday, July 21, 2010

藤林椋 (Fujibayashi Ryou)


"It's in the genes that girls will like fortune-telling."

Fujibayashi Ryou is a somewhat-often-present minor character who has some extra prominence during roughly Episodes 15-18 of Clannad. She doesn't have a full arc for herself: most of her significance derives from her attachment to her sister.


Ryou is a fairly reserved high school senior with a strong bond to her sister and a passion for fortune-telling; she's also a class representative, like her sister. She tries to assert her authority as a class representative, but she's too timid to be effective at it. In particular, she tries to get Tomoya to come to school on time, which never succeeds. She knows the ins and outs of the school, but she doesn't seem to have many good friends (probably due to her timidity). Her best friend is her older twin sister, Kyou, who is excessively and violently protective of her. This makes some sense, since it seems Ryou is easily made uncomfortable and possibly scandalized by things (like the "bi" incident with her sister). Her biggest quirk is her passion for fortune-telling: she loves it in all forms, but it seems she prefers to use cards herself. The fortune-telling isn't meant to be totally serious, though: she knows there isn't just one predetermined future, there are many possibilities. Due to this, her fortune-telling is more for fun and games than anything else. Her first appearance showcases her quiet, unassertive personality and her fortune-telling passion well:


Ryou's story is largely tied into her sister's story, because they are usually together, and her sister is a much stronger personality than she is. As a class representative (and one who takes her job more seriously than her sister, it seems), she helps to get the drama club reinstated, even with all the student council's directives and requirements. She's first introduced into this by some tricky on Sunohara and Tomoya's part, resulting in a very humorous scene early in the show. They tell her someone is going to confess his love to her, and it turns out to be Nagisa asking for help with the drama club. She agrees to help as best she can. This involves explaining how many members to acquire and how to get members, along with the requirement to have an advisor. Basically, she is like the liaison between the drama club and the student council.

Besides this background role of helping the drama club (and being, at least nominally, a member as well), she comes into more prominence after Nagisa falls sick and must stay at home for a few days. Ryou has always had some feelings for Tomoya, and her sister decides now is the perfect time to act on these. Kyou sets up many lunch dates for Ryou and Tomoya, and she even takes them to use a love fortune-telling machine (which backfires). This last incident does result in a conversation between Tomoya and Ryou alone (although it doesn't amount to anything romantically).

With all the prodding her sister does to get her and Tomoya together, Ryou's attempts in the end fail. After the tennis injury where Tomoya vigorously defends Nagisa, Ryou is in tears like her sister (although this may be more out of apology to her sister than for losing Tomoya: see Themes section below).

Following this incident, she becomes a quiet background character again, being involved in the group of friends, but never really having any defining moments. She's present most times the group is together (and most times her sister is anywhere). After high school, she heads off to nursing school. At the New Year's Party, she comments on how life is mysterious, and she reiterates her belief that there is no one predetermined future: there are many possibilities. During the final episode montage, we see her, now a nurse, working in the hospital, smiling to brighten her patients' day.

Effect on Main Plot

Like her sister, there's not really anything supernatural in Ryou's story. Her fortune-telling, though, could be considered in that realm: if it worked, it would definitely be supernatural. Her acknowledgement of life's mysteriousness could be seen as an implicit recognition of the supernatural, and her statement about the fact that there is no predetermined future is definitely an important idea for understanding the ending.

Besides that, her main help to the plot is her working for the drama club. Without her knowledge of the student council and her helpful spirit, the drama club may have never made it to the point of performing Nagisa's play. Considering that this drama club is a big factor in bringing Tomoya and Nagisa together, she could be seen as playing a role in that, by extension. She's also another girl Tomoya passes by as he realizes his devotion to Nagisa.


Like her sister, the big theme for Ryou is family, specifically sisterly love. She is rarely seen without her sister at her side, protecting her from Sunohara's antics (and, at times, from Tomoya's). A great example of this is when Sunohara asks her to act as his fake girlfriend, and Kyou intervenes to protect her (somewhat scandalized) sister. Kyou does a lot for Ryou, and Ryou wants to pay her back. I think this is one reason why she goes on the lunch dates and everything with Tomoya: to appease her sister. One idea I've heard is that Kyou is projecting her desires for Tomoya onto her sister, and then attempting to get them together to appease herself. While this may be a bit of an overly cruel interpretation, I think there might be some truth to it. While I can tell Ryou has some desire for Tomoya, it seems like a lot of the concrete acts that are done are the result of Kyou's prodding and planning. Without Kyou's constant support (and, I'd say, peer pressure), I feel like Ryou wouldn't be trying to get together with Tomoya. See her dejected expression after her sister once again pressures her to show desire for Tomoya:

I think Ryou knows, at some level, that her desire for Tomoya really isn't that strong, but that her sister's is, and because her sister wants her to get together with Tomoya, I think Ryou is going along with it more for her sister's sake than for her own. As we see in the gym closet scene, Kyou's desire for Tomoya trumps thoughts of her sister. In the end, when both Ryou and Kyou are rejected by Tomoya as he helps Nagisa away from the tennis match, Ryou tells her sister, "I'm sorry." I think this line shows that Ryou recognizes just how strong Kyou's desire for Tomoya was, and she is sorry for failing her sister in regards to Tomoya. That's just my opinion, though; others may see it differently.
That sisterly love is, I think, the only main theme in Ryou's story. The only other thing would be the element of choice in the world that I mentioned earlier, the fact that there is no one predetermined future. Again, that will be mentioned again when discussing the ending.


I feel like there's not too much for reflection with Ryou. She's a quiet girl who likes fortune-telling and order (her class representative side showing through). She tries to help her friends, and above all she tries to help her sister and show love for her. The only thing I can really get from this is one lesson: don't be like Ryou in regards to Tomoya. Don't let other people pressure you into doing things that just really don't fit you. Ryou's desire for Tomoya was not very strong, in my opinion; it was more of a vague "interest" than a true desire, I think. If left to her own devices, it wouldn't have been strong enough to act on. But with her sister forcing her and pressuring her, she had to act. Also, don't let other people act out their feelings through you: let them do it themselves.

That's enough preaching to draw from Ryou's story. I do like the fact that she and her sister both go into professions that help people at the expense of their comfort: little kids can be hassle at times, yet Kyou becomes a kindergarten teacher, and being a nurse seems like a very tough and tiring job, but Ryou becomes one anyway. I appreciate their willingness and desire to help others; that's definitely one Christian aspect hidden in the show.

Thank you for reading. God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: All clips are from the Clannad Central YouTube channel run by the Clannad (クラナド/Kuranado) fan page on Facebook. All character themes and other music from the show can also be found on said fan page, in the music player. My gratitude to them and all the work they do.


  1. Oddly enough (and I know you probably might take issue with this...), I feel that Ryou's reflections on fortune-telling point to the idea of multiple worlds as a potentially important thing. I'm not entirely sure where it's headed, but I think this partially helps tie into the ending, as well.

    I also can't help but wonder if maybe Ryou is meant to be compared to Nagisa, that while she has a similar disposition to Nagisa, she doesn't have the drive or determination focused on Tomoya.

  2. Hm...I thought I had mentioned that in here more than I did. I was definitely thinking that, I just forgot to mention it here. Of course, choice = multiple worlds, to some extent. Again, when I get to the ending, I'll explain that a lot more.

    On Ryou = Nagisa...I've never thought of that before. Possibly. I've also heard Tomoyo = Nagisa. And Kouko = older Nagisa. So...all the female characters are not characters in their own right, but just failed versions (or older versions) of Nagisa? I'm not so sure...