“I’m the worst aren’t I? The one thing I didn’t want to forget…”
“You’re not the worst. It’s only natural.”
-An exchange between Tomoya Okazaki and Fuko Ibuki in Episode 9: “Until the End of the Dream”
I was very moved by the Fuko arc. Like an Alzheimer’s disease story in reverse, everyone gradually forgets about Fuko Ibuki, even her closest friends. What is so very sad about this story is what Nathan pointed out: that after all her hard work to prepare for her sister’s wedding, after all the relationships she had worked so hard to form, all of her effort was simply slipping away. It wasn’t fair. In the end, though, as supernaturally as they disappeared, the fruits of Fuko’s labor return. All the students show up to greet her sister at her wedding. Though they do not concretely remember their time together, all the students feel like they know Fuko, that they are aware of her presence to some degree. She maintains a star-fish shaped presence in their hearts. Finally (SPOILERS!!!!)… when Fuko does wake up from her coma, she is more outgoing, aggressively pursuing Ushio. Her growth in the “dream” is not lost.
Though the story is so moving, what truth could it possibly touch on? Do we even have situations that look like this in the real world? Perhaps you could relate it to the fading memory of friends we no longer talk to, but I think that there is something stronger, more relevant than that. I believe that the Fuko story reveals the fraility and weakness of the human condition. When Tomoya finally remembers Fuko right before the wedding, he remarks that he indeed is “the worst” (a description which he has rejected the entire arc) because he had forgotten the one thing he “didn’t want to forget.” One thing that this show tells us is that, despite our best efforts, we cannot hold onto even those things we most desperately do not want to loose. We are completely powerless to preserve even those things which we value most.
However, the story does not end on this despairing idea. To this tragedy there is a twist. All things work out for good in the end. Even though human effort alone is not enough, by some higher grace, human effort and good will is not in vain. Fuko’s efforts somehow manage, supernaturally, to succeed. Though we cannot hold onto even those things we love most, all is not lost. We gain what we need from the experience. We are given the bitter sweet ending that tells us that our suffering was not for nothing, that it had meaning, and that even though all things in this world pass and change, they are not without effect, and that all will be made right in the end.
In this supernatural moment, we begin to see God in Clannad, if we are looking. God does not allow Fuko’s efforts to go to waste. Though humanly, she cannot achieve her goals, by grace, she can supernaturally overcome her obstacles and end happily. Humans cannot control their own lives, but through grace all things work for good.