Sunday, July 4, 2010

伊吹風子(Ibuki Fuko) -- Effect on Main Plot, Themes, Reflection


Continued from previous post.

Effect on the Main Plot

I think the most crucial thing Fuko does for the main plot is to draw Nagisa and Tomoya together.  Though they had already been working together on the drama club, she brings them together to work on a more immediate goal: her sister's upcoming wedding.  An experience of joint effort often brings people closer together: that's why retreats and other events often have teambuilding exercises involving joint effort, such as a relay race or constructing a sculpture.  These types of things join people.  And that's what carving and distributing the wooden starfish does for Nagisa and Tomoya.  Not only is the joint effort a cause of closeness, but Fuko herself works to bring them together.  The pre-celebration scene is where this is most shown, I believe.  In the scene, Fuko orders Nagisa and Tomoya to call each other by their first names, because they are close enough that they should be doing so already.  She succeeds with Tomoya and fails (at least for the time being) with Nagisa, but overall she still succeeds at bringing the two together.  And it's an effect they feel after she's gone: in a scene later in the show (I can't at present remember exactly where), Tomoya is calling Nagisa by her first name and then reflects, "When did I start doing this?"  It shows that one person's influence can persist, even when that person is lost in memory.

Fuko also leads Tomoya to connect with Yoshino, Kouko's fiancee.  Though Tomoya originally meets him in a random encounter, he continues to come into contact with him due to his being engaged and later married to Kouko, who he comes to know because of Fuko.  Yoshino is a key player in Tomoya's character development in After Story, so Fuko's influence here is definitely important.

You also first see a light orb (crucial for the ending) in Fuko's arc, when everyone holds the fake class for her, she becomes class leader, and Sanae tells her that all of them are her friends.

In After Story, she acts somewhat as an older sister to Ushio, and, in the process, I think she also helps Tomoya grow closer to his daughter.  After all, she sparks a bit of a defense reaction in Tomoya, who tries a few times to protect Ushio from Fuko's strangeness.  And there is the final scene, which I will analyze in a separate post (because overall I'm still not completely sure what to make of it).

Now for a couple theories I've heard in regards to Fuko's influence.

One theory is that Fuko is the sheep seen in the invisible world in the beginning of the second episode of After Story.  The weight of that theory depends on your interpretation of the invisible world, which I'll cover in a later post.

Another theory, which I think is true, was espoused by Nathan in his recent blog post, and that theory is that Fuko is a foreshadowing of Ushio.  He says Kouko and Yoshino are foreshadowings of Nagisa and Tomoya (their appearances seem to indicate this, as the former pair resemble older versions of the latter pair), which I had never thought of before, yet it makes total sense.  It's also a good explanation for Yoshino's key role in helping Tomoya take on his husbandly and fatherly duties.  In regards to Fuko, her being like a child to Nagisa and Tomoya is obvious.  At one point, Nagisa even tells Tomoya, "It almost feels like we're her mother and father."  And at the end of the pre-celebration party, Tomoya says that it feels like he, Nagisa, and Fuko really are a family.  You can't get more blatantly obvious than that.  Thus Fuko does even more for the main plot: she introduces Nagisa and Tomoya to role models that are like older versions of themselves, and she prepares them for the experience of having a child.  So all in all, Fuko really works in getting the two prepared to be a family.  (Again, I give all credit to Nathan for this insight).

In summary, then, Fuko's effort on the main plot is to bring Nagisa and Tomoya closer together, introduce them to role models, and prepare them for the idea of their being a family.


Fuko definitely showcases the importance of family.  By some mysterious circumstance, she got a chance to engage the world after being in a coma for two years, and she dedicated all her time to making her sister's wedding the best it could be, and to making her sister as happy as can be.  Of course, maybe her love for her sister is what gave her the chance to engage the world anyway.  Maybe her deep family love "incarnated" itself in a way so that she could affect things with her love.  No matter how you look at it, though, Fuko shows the deep, affective love that can be found in true family.

What I have just mentioned above also ties into the theme of self-sacrifice.  Instead of using her time engaging the world to her own benefit, she uses it to help her sister.  (Since true love is self-sacrificial, this theme is integrally tied into the theme of family and family love, I think.)

Another theme is perseverance.  No matter how many times Fuko's starfish are rejected, and even when people stop being able to see her, she still presses on in her quest to show her love for sister and to help her.

Fuko's story also shows the presence of the supernatural (like the idea I referred to in my introduction as "magical realism" or a "fairytale").  It's never explained how Fuko's consciousness becomes physical and able to affect the world, and the fact that everyone forgets her is not exactly explained either.  They're supernatural elements to her story, and supernatural elements are key to the entire show.

As I continue to evaluate, analyze, and reflect on the series, I'm sure I will recognize more themes, and I will explain them then.


I have many friends who are attached to Fuko as their favorite character and favorite arc.  While she's not my favorite character (I think Akio holds that place for me), I do think she has the best of the minor arcs (although there's a special place in my heart for Kotomi's as well).  Its length gives you a chance to really connect with Fuko before her bittersweet disappearance.  She worked so long and hard to make her sister's wedding a beautiful reality, and she succeeded, yet in the end, she disappeared into the mist.  It truly is heartbreaking, and a big part is how engaging her character is.  Her quirkiness catches your interest, and I think her childishness gives her a powerful potential for connection.  It's hard not to be entranced by the innocence of a child, and I think Fuko captures that essence of childish innocence.  I think that's part of what makes her so captivating a character and, in turn, so heartbreaking.  Her recurring comic relief moments are always refreshing; everyone (including I) loves to see a beloved character return, if only for a minute.  And her recovery from her coma in After Story is pretty high up on the list of joyful moments in Clannad.  I think Fuko is one of the greatest chracters, due to her lovable quirkiness and childishness, her ability to engage the viewer, and also her example of familial love and self-sacrifice. 

And the fact that the last lines of the series (not counting the extra episodes) are from her just proves her worth all the more.

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. I like the idea of Fuko being the sheep, it even lines up with what happens in Clannad.

    Very nice series of posts, I look forward to this continuing!

  2. It is an interesting idea, but, like I said, it depends on how you view the invisible world. And I'll explain my interpretation later on.

    Thank you! I look forward to yours continuing as well!

  3. Also, keep in mind Akio's speech about parents taking on the dreams of their children at the end of season one. Tomoya and Nagisa take on Fuko's dream as their own, just as if they were her parents.