Sunday, July 4, 2010

伊吹風子(Ibuki Fuko) -- Personality and Story


"Fuko has an average Earthling's thought process! Fuko's neighbors often say Fuko is a very normal Earthling!"

Ibuki Fuko (yes, I use the Japanese name order, just because I can) is the subject of the first minor arc (because I refer to all arcs besides Nagisa's and Tomoya's as minor, even if they are important)  in Clannad. Her arc runs between Episodes 2 and 9 (roughly); after that, she is only seen intermittently in occasional "Fuko Ninja" moments (like the one the picture is from), until the last quarter or so of After Story.

(Since Fuko is an important character, this post is long: be prepared!  Also: it's split into two posts for easier reading.)


Fuko, personality-wise, is a quirky, hyper, stubborn, often childish high school sophomore (in Japan, high school is three years rather than four, as it is in America, so a high school sophomore is a first-year student). She believes starfish (hitode) are the cutest things on the face of the planet. This belief is so adamant she gets into a short fight with Nagisa over which is cuter: starfish or dango (watch it here). If she's around starfish or starfish-shaped objects, she can go into a trance because she cannot handle the cuteness (as in the beginning of this scene). Her childish stubbornness that her views are right, even when there is evidence to the contrary, can lead to physical pain (like when Tomoya keeps getting her to hit her cut hands because she won't admit that they hurt). When meeting someone for the first time, she will quickly make a judgement of them, a judgement that is often very persistent (as when she refers to Tomoya as "the person whose existence is weird" or immediately takes on Nagisa as a friend). That being said, she is also impulsive, such as her sprinting into the forest in the final scene of After Story. Her childishness can often lead to day dreaming; for instance, she imagines many strange ways to inform the school that the sculptures she passes out are starfish. Amidst all the quirkiness, hyperactivity, stubbornness, and childishness, she has some maturity, most evidently shown in her devoted love to her sister, represented in the starfish sculptures (to be explained below).

In summary, then, Fuko is an exemplar of childishness (which her character theme, "Hurry, Starfish," portrays well), yet with some mature family loyalty also.

To see Fuko's personality in action, here is her first appearance:


We first meet Fuko as a strange girl alone in an empty room after school, carving some sort of star-shaped object with a chipped knife (as we in the scene above). Tomoya finds her there and takes the knife to keep her safe. Later she finds him eating lunch outside with Nagisa and pesters him to get the knife back. Soon Tomoya runs across Fuko again: this time, she's handing out her star-shaped sculptures to people. According to her logic, if someone receives a gift without reason, they feel like they must do something in return: her suggestion is that they attend her sister Kouko's wedding. Tomoya and Nagisa agree to help her, yet soon they discover the truth about her, and why she never leaves the school: she is actually a sort of "ghost." The original Fuko was hit by a car on her first day of high school and has been in a coma ever since: she's really Tomoya's age. The Fuko Tomoya and Nagisa know is basically Fuko's consciousness taking a physical form, in a magical, unexplained way. Tomoya and Nagisa check with Kouko (who used to be an art teacher at the high school; Nagisa had her as a teacher her first year) to confirm this truth. Then Nagisa takes Fuko (with the fake family name of "Isogai," stolen from the Furukawas' neighbors) into her home. Everyone begins to help Fuko out: Tomoya, Nagisa, Akio, Sanae, Kyou, Ryou, Sunohara, etc. They even hold a mock class for her with Sanae as teacher, because she has never been in a class before.

Then her story begins a tragic turn. As starfish sculptures (for we have learned that they truly are starfish, not stars or shuriken) are passed out and word of Kouko's wedding is spread, the school's Founder's Festival approaches. Tomoya and Nagisa decide to invite Kouko to the Festival and have her meet up with Fuko. Unfortunately, Kouko cannot see her sister. After that, other students around the school slowly stop being able to see her, and they forget her existence, which coincides with Kouko's information that the original Fuko's condition has worsened, and she may never wake from her coma. As more and more people forget her (which also happens to some due to their visiting her in the hospital), Tomoya and Nagisa (the last to remember) buy her a birthday set and have a pre-celebration for Kouko's wedding the next day (which will be at the school). They fall asleep with Fuko sitting between them: when they wake up, she's gone, and they've forgotten. At Kouko's wedding, they suddenly remember Fuko, and she reappears; at the same time, they learn that everyone who received a starfish came to the wedding. Once Fuko thanks Tomoya and Nagisa for all they have done, and congratulates her sister, she disappears for good.

...Or so we think. Throughout the rest of the first season, Fuko (who no one recognizes) appears intermittently in random moments ("Fuko Ninja" moments) for comic relief. For instance, when Kyou is trying to win a claw game to get a gift for Kotomi's birthday, Fuko appears to help, only to grab a starfish instead of Kotomi's gift. Or when Tomoya uses a charm to have the first person who speaks to him be the one who likes him, Fuko is the first one he runs into, though he keeps her from talking.

In After Story, Fuko is non-existent until the last quarter of the series, when Tomoya and Ushio are introduced to her by Kouko. She has just recently woken up from her coma, and though physically she is as old as Tomoya, mentally she is still a childish high school sophomore. She becomes good friends with Ushio, playing with her often, and multiple times trying to steal her.

The final time we see Fuko is when she is walking with her sister to get a check up at the doctor (she did come out of a ten-year coma: she needs check ups!) and, after some pestering of Kouko, she runs into the forest and approaches a girl under a tree...hence the shot in the opening theme of the first season.

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