Friday, September 24, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Characters, #10-Fuko


Fuko Ibuki: the childish character. She is stubborn, energetic, and yet, still very innocent. All the characteristics of a child, right? Even though Fuko resembles a new middle school student, she was actually meant to be attending high school for her first year. However, on her very first day of high school, she got in to a terrible car accident. Due to this, Fuko entered a state of deep sleep, while her sister, Kouko, waited for her to wake up.

Even still, Fuko has willpower. In fact her willpower was so strong that when her physical body was useless, she found a way to project her spirit for others to see and interact with her. You better believe Fuko put her whole heart in doing that. But what was her reason? It was for the happiness of others, specifically her sister, who, up to that point, had spent the majority of her time sitting and waiting for the day Fuko would wake. Kouko had told her unconscious sister that she wanted to get married to Yusuko Yoshino, and Fuko wanted her to be happy. Fuko knew that she couldn’t interact with her sister in anyway, so in her unconscious state, she found a way to make her sister happy. Fuko’s spirit was discovered by a couple of students, Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa, who befriended Fuko and decided to help her. Together, the three distributed wooden starfish throughout the high school where Kouko had once been a teacher, inviting the students of the school to attend Kouko’s wedding, regardless of whether they had known Kouko or not. Fuko’s will had brought her to carrying out a difficult task such as confronting every individual of a school, even when knowing nobody at the school. Then came the point where Kouko was unsure that she would even get married. The stress of having her younger sister in the hospital was overwhelming, and she didn’t know if she should pursue her own happiness and marry Yusuke. In this urgent situation, Fuko knew she had to continue working hard, and eventually she had not only personally handed a wooden starfish to nearly everybody at the high school, but also touched them in a way that none of them could even comprehend. As the wedding approached, problems began to occur. Fuko was beginning to be forgotten. This issue grew until nobody in the school, with the exceptions of Tomoya and Nagisa, could remember or even see Fuko. Though she had doubted that she should before, Kouko still had her wedding, and miraculously, even though nobody knew who Fuko was, everybody Fuko had touched was compelled to show up to Kouko’s wedding. Fuko’s emotions and her willpower had been planted deep inside the hearts of every single person. Fuko saw that her mission had been accomplished and after leaving her final contribution of some encouraging words and a wooden starfish to her sister, her spirit faded back in to her sleeping body.

The whole complex situation shows that Fuko is stubborn. It’s not necessarily a bad kind of stubborn, even though it can be, like when Fuko can’t bring herself to accept sensible reasoning. It’s more of a determined sort of stubborn. Fuko shows that she is unwilling to yield; she will do anything and everything she can to make her sister happy, and she /does/ do everything she can. Could you confront an entire school of strangers one by one? Even when Tomoya introduced the point to Fuko that nobody would know Kouko, she still didn’t give up. She wouldn’t even let the physical forces of the universe tell her that she was bound to a bed in sleep. She broke free of her body and did what she felt she had to do.

Fuko is that person that everybody wants as their little sister. However, it’s not for the same types of reasons you would want a little sister like Mei Sunohara. Where Mei is mature and responsible, Fuko is more immature and child-like. In this way, though, Fuko has a character of dependence. She relies on others, people more responsible and open than herself. Fuko was shown to be a shy, lone character. She had no friends, and she was only open with her sister. When Fuko had people to depend on (Kouko, Tomoya, Nagisa), she could open up to these people and show her true colors. When Tomoya and Nagisa met Fuko, they connected with her in a way that they could not have connected with any other character. They had found someone else who depended on them as reliable, individual people. Tomoya was known to be a lazy person, and probably nobody really depended on his actions. Nagisa was still a fragile being, unable to effectively present herself to other people. That’s where Fuko was able to make things better. She was the dependent character who needed both Tomoya and Nagisa, and they were the ones who needed such a dependent character. Fuko was mistaken as Tomoya’s younger sibling at one point in her arc. In essence, Fuko /was/ Tomoya’s and Nagisa’s younger sister. She relied on them even when her childish nature may have limited her actions.

In the end, Fuko was like a mark that stained everybody’s hearts. Don’t take that the wrong way, though. Fuko was definitely a sort of colorful, beautiful mark left behind. Perhaps a sort of rainbow tie dye pattern. Though Fuko was forgotten by everybody she had been close to, she had left behind traces of herself and the actions she carried out. Fuko would never be truly erased from their hearts. There would always be a connection between Fuko and those who had interacted with her. These connections Fuko made would prove to be strong when later Fuko would appear to those she had known in multiple instances of comical mischievousness, for lack of a better term. One of the connections would prove to be even stronger than any other. The connection Fuko had with Tomoya was so powerful that later when Fuko awoke from her years of slumbering, they met once again, even though neither remembered the journey they had once shared with each other.

Overall, Fuko is a stubborn, shy, somewhat overwhelming character, but she is also a very caring, determined one. In the end, we know Fuko to be just like any other character of 
Clannad. She is an individual with her own unique characteristics and contributions to the series. Like Tomoya stated at one point:
“She’s a little strange, but she’s a normal girl no matter how you look at her.”


Fuko is one of those characters that always makes me happy. I must admit, right off the bat, that I am a staunch member of the Starfish Legion. "Hurry Starfish" is one of my favorite songs in Clannad. At the same time, she plays a unique and important role in the series beyond providing comic relief. Like Nathan's mentioned, she serves as essentially a representation of Tomoya's future, which comes around in a very real way by the end of the series.

Why do I love Fuko? It's probably because of her combination of sweet, innocent determination and her particularly fussy insistence on her own maturity, and also her plans. It's her love for her sister, and her stubborn insistence on never backing down from her goal. It's her heart of a child, who doesn't care that bad things happen in the world; she just wants her sister to be happy.

I think Fuko, like most characters, shows the two important sides of Clannad: humor and drama. Fuko’s arc is definitely heavy on humor, with her frequent trances, her over-the-top fervor for starfish, and the “Fuko Master” moments. But it doesn’t skimp on the drama: I’ve heard of multiple people who cried at the end of her arc. The bittersweet ending is extremely powerful: she was able to accomplish her goal of creating a mob of people at her sister’s wedding, yet in the end she disappears. As I believe Sean mentioned in his post, Fuko’s story represents the fragility of human life (even though the definition of Fuko’s spirit as “alive” would involve interesting metaphysical inquisition); at the very least, it shows the transience of so many things in life, such as friendships (which is a sobering, but true, thought). Overall then, I find Fuko a very humorous character (in all her appearances, including the “Fuko Ninja” moments and her scenes in After Story), but also one with bittersweet drama as well.

Fuko was, always has been, and always will be my favorite female non-Ushio anime character. What's not to like, honestly? She's NUTS. She's sane. She's childish. She has the most mature point of view I've ever seen. She's the most determined person ever. And yet the most easily distracted. She's a paradox unto herself, something that demands that I figure her out, and yet I can't. Nor do I want to. Which is fortunate, otherwise I'd go as insane as Fuko.

However, there's another side to the madness that is my love for Fuko: she reminds me of my little sister. Yes, there is someone who acts even remotely like Fuko out there, waiting to inflict her insanity on you. No, she won't smother you with starfish, but she will destroy your puny mind with her anti-logic that's designed to kill all those braincells you hold dear. Maybe that's why I like Fuko so much: she reminds me a lot of my family life: quirky, insane, and yet deadly serious in a package that's too cute, adorable, and deadly to ignore. Or maybe not, I can never be too sure.

Fuko is like no other character I have known.  She is energetic, entertaining, focused, caring, blunt, and completely tactless.  I feel like she's my younger sister, my friend, and a stranger I only half know.  I like her because she is so completely and wholly herself.  When I first began watching Clannad, I was watching anime for the first time, and in all truth, I was completely unsure of what to make of Fuko.  She was just another one of those crazy, somewhat over-done anime characters that left me half entertained and half skeptical.  I couldn't decide if I liked her or if she drove me crazy.  As I kept watching, I realized that the truth was, I liked her because she did drive a part of me crazy.  I liked her stubbornness and her childishness, and I liked them because they strengthened the deeper part of her character, her love and loyalty for those who were dear to her.  She is Fuko.  What more can be said?

A special thanks to those who agreed to work on this ten week long project with me. I'm honored by your love for the show and your willingness to give your time. And many thanks to those of you who continue to read! I'm glad to have people who're willing to read, and I promise that we'll putting up content for as long as it's readable and meaningful.

Oh, and once again, REVEL in Taylor's awesomeness. That video was a complete surprise!

Be ready for next week, as we cover #9: Sanae Furukawa! 

Friday, September 17, 2010


Starting next week, we're going to have one heck of a convening on this blog. Brandon, Carpe, Taylor, Luthien (that's what we'll call her for now, although she may kill me for it), and myself will start posting The School's Trees Top Ten Favorite Clannad Characters! Every week on Friday we'll post a profile about one of our top ten favorite characters and why we like them.

The list, btw, was drawn up by everyone sending me their list, and then me running it through the Borda Count, a voting system that's meant for sorting lists. Based upon the incredibly objective (and sometimes brutal) approach we have a list that all of us can agree with without getting too defensive over our favorite characters not being number one (and sometimes not even making the list).

So, stay tuned next week, as we cover Number 10 on our list...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

古河早苗 (Furukawa Sanae)

“The happiness between you two is our dream. So please seize your happiness.”

Furukawa Sanae is a pretty major member of Clannad’s cast, appearing frequently throughout the show; she is the wife of Furukawa Akio and the mother of Furukawa Nagisa. Her backstory is explained in Episode 21 of Clannad. Like her husband, she appears throughout the series, from the first episode to the last.


Sanae is a very caring, energetic, youthful, often overdramatic mother. Like her husband, she helps provide a good amount of the show’s comedy, with the absolute atrociousness of her pastries (which can at times be so bad as to fell an entire gang). Whenever someone insults her pastries (which is often), she runs out of the bakery crying, and her husband has to follow her, with her pastries stuffed in his mouth, yelling “I love them!” Besides the pastry-based comedy, there are other moments of her overdramatic nature as well; there’s also comedy in the fact that her looks are so youthful that many suspect her of being Nagisa’s sister. But when she’s not involved in comedy, she is incredibly caring, offering her home to whoever needs to stay there and providing support as best she can to anyone; she’s also very good with kids, sometimes running an after school program in her home. She’s also a very strong woman when it comes to true emotions, not overdramatic comedic ones; there’s only one instance (that I can recall) of her truly crying. Overall, then, Sanae is overdramatic and youthful, but caring as well; at least the first two aspects of this can be seen in her first scene:


Like her husband, we first see her in the first episode, when Tomoya visits Nagisa’s house (also a bakery named “Furukawa Pan”: in English, “Furukawa Bread”). Not knowing the “unwritten rule” of not insulting her pastries, Tomoya makes her run out of the store crying. The ensuing dinner scene shows her energetic youthfulness (which at times almost looks like naïveté) and the comedy it can create.

Throughout the first season, then, she is usually a comic character, although she also opens her homes to others. She is the teacher for Fuko’s fake class, and there’s a heart-breaking moment involving her during the time that everyone is forgetting Fuko; she’s been staying at the Furukawas, and one day Sanae is talking with Tomoya and Nagisa, also saying hello to Fuko, but she breaks down. She admits that she went to visit Fuko in the hospital, and now she can’t see her spirit anymore. (The scene is more heart-breaking than how I described it.) Like with Akio, she’s at most major events throughout the season, like the wedding and the festival.

Mei stays at her home, as does Tomoya near the end of the season. When Tomoya’s there, he returns from school one day to find his room covered in children (some of whom begin to attack him). Sanae explains that it’s an after school program she helps run in her home. When Akio is explaining Nagisa’s past to Tomoya, we learn why Sanae has been doing so many teacher-related activities: she used to be a school teacher until the day when Nagisa collapsed in the snow and almost died, due to her parents’ leaving her alone. After that day, she left her teaching job and became a baker (with no skills; she might even have anti-skills), but she still helps out with teaching sometimes, as if evidenced by the series. She provides support for Akio’s inspirational speech at the festival.

During the second season, she has more importance. For one, she plays a part in Sunohara’s arc. Sunohara decides to find a fake girlfriend to impress Mei, and eventually he ends up having a disguised Sanae be his fake girlfriend. Sanae rebukes him for not helping out some lost children being bullied on a playground, and this instigates the conflict between Mei and her brother in the arc. This only works because Sunohara thinks Sanae is Nagisa’s sister, so he asks for her hand in marriage from Akio, leading to an obvious conflict.

Besides this part, Sanae is a comedy character for a while, but after Nagisa and Tomoya’s marriage, she becomes key. She’s the one that actually breaks the news of Nagisa’s pregnancy, and she introduces the Okazakis to Yagi, a midwife. She suggests the idea that, with Nagisa’s rapidly progressing illness during her pregnancy, an abortion might be an option to consider. Nagisa whole-heartedly rejects this idea.

After Nagisa dies and Ushio is born, Sanae helps take care of the little girl, and she’s the one that gets in contact with Tomoya about going on a trip with them all. Through some craftiness, she gets Tomoya to go on a trip alone with Ushio, and she also gets Shino to meet them on the trip. After this, she is, like Akio, a common sight, though no one extra is living at her house anymore.

During this time period is a very impacting scene. Tomoya is sleeping (I believe at the Furukawas’ house), and Akio and Sanae are talking outside on the porch. Tomoya wakes up and listens in on a little of their conversation. After a little talk, Sanae begins to cry. The talk reveals that, due to taking care of Ushio, Sanae has never really gotten a chance to grieve over her daughter’s death. Since Tomoya is taking Ushio back to his home, now, Sanae finally has that chance to mourn and heal. So she sits out on the porch crying, with Akio supporting her.

Following all this, she does her best to help Ushio during her illness, but it’s ineffective (since it’s most likely the same incurable, mysterious disease Nagisa had). Once the mysterious events of the final episode are over, she’s seen during the montage as she often is: running out of the bakery crying, with Akio sprinting after her to support her.

Effects on Main Plot

One of Sanae’s biggest effects on the plot is just being at her house; her house is a common scene of action in the series, being the home of not only Nagisa, Akio, and herself, but at times the temporary home of Fuko, Mei, and Tomoya. Her caring nature helps her provide for many characters, not just her daughter. She acts as Sunohara’s fake girlfriend and prompts the conflict in his arc. Besides her constant care in many smaller acts, she is included in some very big acts in After Story. She introduces Tomoya and Nagisa to Yagi, the midwife, and she advocates them discussing with their doctor whether to have an abortion or not, due to Nagisa’s condition. After Nagisa’s death, she helps take care of Ushio, and she sets up what may be the most emotionally powerful episodes in the series: Ushio and Tomoya’s reunion trip. Not only does she somewhat trick them into going on the trip, but she gets in contact with Shino and has her there waiting for them. Without her, then, Tomoya and Ushio may have never reunited; thus she is essential to the plot, truly essential. Without her, the show may have just ended hopelessly, with Tomoya and Ushio having a separated relationship for the rest of their lives. I think Sanae is what lets Clannad have a happy ending.


Like every single other character, there’s family. Sanae deeply cares for her daughter and does her best to help her, and she does the same for her granddaughter. She understands the importance of family, which is why she sets up the trip for Tomoya and Ushio, and she gets Tomoya reunited with Shino as well. Without her doing, Tomoya would have been separated from his family, possibly for the rest of his life. Without her, much of the show’s emphasis may have become useless in the light of the ending (that is, if Tomoya never reunited with Ushio, Shino, and Naoyuki).

With Sanae, we see some of the other themes of the show, but not as much I think. She has much more of a minor role, compared to her husband, in terms of the themes.


Sanae’s an interesting character. Of course, she’s humorous, and she has some dramatic moments, but overall I find her much more minor than her husband. That’s not to say she’s not important; as I mentioned before, I don’t know what the last few episodes of the series would be like without her. For most of the series, though, she feels like much more of a background character, at least to me. I do recognize that she’s necessary, though.

The real thing that bothers me a bit about her is her suggestion of Nagisa’s having an abortion. I understand where she’s trying coming from, with the fact that Nagisa is ill, and she wants her daughter to live. The thing is, you have to put yourself into Nagisa’s shoes as well: wouldn’t she give up anything for her child, even her own life? Sanae shows that she sacrifices for her family, so why wouldn’t Nagisa sacrifice for hers as well? I understand that Sanae is trying to be caring and protect her daughter, but killing her granddaughter is not the way to do that. Thankfully, though, Sanae accepts the fact that Nagisa won’t have an abortion, and she supports her in her pregnancy. That’s definitely a redeeming factor of that part of the story.

I don’t really have to much more to say about Sanae. She’s a humorous character with some dramatic moments, and she orchestrates one of the greatest moments in the series, so I have to give her kudos for that. Besides that, I think I’m out of things to say about her. Thus ends my post.

Thanks 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.

古河秋生 (Furukawa Akio)

"We didn't give up on our dreams! We changed our dreams into your dream! That’s what parents do! That’s what family does!”

Furukawa Akio is a main feature of the cast of Clannad (though, by my previously-stated definition, he’d still be a minor character); he is the wife of Furukawa Sanae and the father of Furukawa Nagisa. His backstory is for the most explained in Episode 21 of Clannad and Episode 15 of After Story. He appears throughout the entire series, though, from the first episode to the last.


Akio is a boisterous, somewhat flamboyant, loud-mouthed, yet caring, father. Comedy is a key part of his makeup, and he enjoys everything from practical jokes to puns and witty comments. His jokes aren’t quiet affairs, either: his excessive volume is part of what makes his comedy so effective. His relationship with his wife is characterized by a recurring joke of her pastries being the most abominable creations on earth and his having to reassure her of their (and thus her) value. His relationship with his daughter is characterized by often strange comments (which have a habit of sometimes becoming a tad perverted…definitely a character flaw on Akio’s part). By the end of the first season, and developing even more so in the second season, his relationship with Tomoya is dynamic, characterized by a loud interplay of extreme reactions and witty statements. Amidst all this boisterous joviality (which also includes frequent baseball playing), though, Akio is also a caring father. He does his best to provide for both his daughter and his wife, working long hours in the bakery and making sure everyone knows not to mess with them. In the end, nothing is more important to him than his daughter: he gladly gives up his long-sought career in order to better be there for her, and he is incredibly tight-fisted about letting her be married (her potential husband definitely has to prove his worth first). All in all, Akio, even though he leans heavily to the comic side of things, has a mix of both humor and deep caring in his personality. His first scene shows the heavy emphasis on humor, with a bit of the caring hidden in there as well:


We first meet Akio when Tomoya decides to randomly stop by Nagisa’s house (which is also a bakery run by her parents) during the first episode. After insulting Sanae’s pastries, Tomoya is accosted by an angry Akio surrounded by flames, who is about to deal a painful blow to him before realizing he’s a friend of Nagisa’s. The first dinner Tomoya has with Nagisa and her parents shows well Akio’s personality: he makes countless jokes, and also throws in some statements about how Tomoya must be adamant in claiming the woman he loves (while Akio dismisses the possibility of Tomoya ever marrying Nagisa). Many of Akio’s scenes are similar to this.

Throughout Fuko’s arc, Akio is somewhat present, especially after Fuko begins to stay at the Furukawas’ house. He helps carve starfish (which leads to some physical injury on his part), and even after forgetting Fuko, he attends Kouko’s wedding. Throughout the series, Tomoya frequently visits the Furukawas’ house, leading to encounters with Akio. The dad is also present at Kotomi’s violin recital, where he mourns the “death” of Sanae due to the terrible sounds being passed off as music. Besides all the humor, though, Akio doesn’t really begin to play a major part until the latter part of the first season, when, after realizing yet again how much his father doesn’t seem to care about him, Tomoya takes up Nagisa’s offer to stay at his house. Living in the same house as Akio leads to more humorous scenes (of course), and it also leads to Akio’s truly dramatic moments in the first season.

Since Nagisa is devoted to making the drama club a success, her dad helps her out and supports her. One thing Nagisa wants for her play is an old story she remembers from when she was little; she and Tomoya start looking through a storage shack for the play, and Akio gets worried about it. He jokes that they’re looking for Nagisa’s potty chair, and when he decides to talk to Tomoya about what’s really bothering him, he uses “potty chair” as the code word.

The real thing that’s bothering Akio is his family’s backstory. When Nagisa was young, Akio was on his way to becoming a professional actor, and Sanae was a school teacher. With both of them working, Nagisa was often left at home alone. One day, in the winter, Nagisa was excited for her parents to return home, she decided to wait outside for them to arrive. Unfortunately, that was a day of heavy snow and very low temperatures. When Akio got home, Nagisa was collapsed in the snow. He and Sanae waited by her bedside, just praying she’d wake up from her unconsciousness. Thankfully, she did, and at the same time Akio and Sanae realized that she was so much more important than their careers, so they left their jobs and started a bakery so that they could be there for her.

Nagisa has low self-confidence, and she can often blame things on herself when they aren’t her fault. Akio’s afraid she’ll do that if she finds out that her parents changed careers for her sake; even more, Akio left his theater career, and theater is what Nagisa is focused on. After explaining all this, Akio asks Tomoya to stop looking through the shack (where there are journals and pictures and things from that time of their lives) and to watch out for Nagisa. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, the night before the drama performance, Nagisa stumbles across the pictures and such, and she goes into a self-blaming mood. She becomes obsessed with her parents’ former careers, even going to the point of watching old videos of Akio’s acting that are in the school library.

All this means Nagisa is a mental wreck at the festival, and she just starts crying onstage. When it looks like all her dreams are shattered, Akio bursts in and shouts amazing words of inspiration, pushing Nagisa to seize this opportunity and act.

Following Akio’s dramatic moment, he’s still around, what with Tomoya living at his house. He helps put together a neighborhood baseball team with almost all the characters in the show. He gives Tomoya a job at the bakery after graduation. He supports Tomoya when he goes out to live on his own (even though he uses caustic language, like normal). There’s one instance when he’s not as supportive: when Tomoya asks for Nagisa’s hand in marriage.

Tomoya first asks Akio if he can ask him an important question. Akio says he can…if he can hit one of Akio’s pitches. Tomoya trains an ungodly amount of time and fails time and time and time again, until the pitch Akio says will be the last, when he hits it out of the park, falls on his knees, and asks for Nagisa’s hand in marriage. Earlier, he got Akio to promise to say yes to whatever the question was, so of course Akio says yes, as long as Tomoya takes care of Nagisa. Following the marriage, then, Akio becomes Tomoya’s father-in-law, and they still have a dynamic relationship, which now includes frequent advice-giving on the part of the father-in-law.

Akio is constantly seen, since he’s now an official part of Tomoya’s family. That means there’s plenty more humor, but there’s also more drama. Akio reveals more of his backstory: when Nagisa seemed dead, in his desperation, he took her out to a field and wished (maybe more accurately, prayed) that she’d survive, and thankfully, she did. She woke up right there. Now that field is being developed and turned into a hospital, just another one of the changes in the town; at the same time, Nagisa is now pregnant, and she’s getting sick. These two things may be connected; at the least, Akio seems to imply it, saying how Nagisa has a connection with the town.

Soon, though, Nagisa’s condition takes a turn for the worse: she’s dying as she’s giving birth. There’s a heavy snow, and Akio tries to get a doctor, but it’s too late: Nagisa gives birth and then dies. Tomoya becomes a wreck, and Akio and Sanae take care of his new-born daughter, Ushio, for the first five years of her life. Thanks to Sanae’s working, though, Tomoya and Ushio are reunited and become a family. Akio (affectionately dubbed “Akki” by Ushio) sticks around, helping out as much as possible. There’s also a painfully touching scene involving him and Sanae, when she finally cries for the first time after Nagisa’s death.

His last real appearance is when a field day competition is approaching at Ushio’s school. Akio ends up being on a different team from Tomoya, and they start training up to play each other. Suddenly, though, Ushio becomes ill, most likely with the same mysterious disease Nagisa had, and the disease progresses rapidly, until she and Tomoya both collapse in the snow.

After the mysterious events that unfold thereafter, Akio is seen in the final montage in a common scene: chasing after a crying Sanae with her bread in his mouth yelling “I love them!”

Effects on Main Plot

Being Nagisa’s father, Akio is very influential to the plot. Obviously, he provides a place for Nagisa to stay, and at other times Fuko, Mei, and Tomoya as well. I don’t have a clue what Nagisa’s personality would be like without him as a father, so he’s key to her character. He provides the inspiration that allows Nagisa to finally fulfill her dream of performing a play with the drama club. He gives Tomoya his first job (along with letting him live at his house for a while), and he (eventually) gives Tomoya Nagisa’s hand in marriage. He also takes care of Ushio until Tomoya becomes a true father again.

I don’t think it’s possible to imagine the plot of Clannad playing out in anywhere close to the same way without Akio. Not only that, but he’s integral for forming Nagisa’s character, and I think Tomoya’s as well; at the very least, he helps with Tomoya’s character development as the show progresses.

Really, I could probably go into infinite ways Akio affects the show, but I think it’s just sufficient to say that Clannad could not exist in the same form without Akio present. He’s essential to the show (as are all the characters, of course).


Again, there’s family. Akio’s speech at Nagisa’s play reveals this blatantly: family is important. Also, family’s about sacrifice: Akio and Sanae give up their careers in order to support their daughter better. Family’s also not always a fun and happy thing. In allowing yourself to become so close to certain people, it hurts that much more when bad things happen to them. So in a way, family can amplify suffering, such as Akio experiences when Nagisa almost dies in the snow, and when she later does die during a snowstorm. But family can provide a way to get through suffering as well. Akio and Sanae take care of Nagisa’s daughter, and I think that helps them deal with Nagisa’s death; they found a goal, something worth living for, in their granddaughter. Overall, Akio is just an extremely family-centric character, whose words and deeds show forth the importance of family.

Besides that, he’s also involved in sacrifice, as mentioned above. Not only does he sacrifice his career to help Nagisa, but he sacrifices his taste buds to make his wife feel better. He also pounds this lesson into Tomoya, telling him again and again how difficult it is to be a father and how he’ll have to give up to make it happen.

He’s also got a bit of breaking out of conventions: at first, he seems like a purely comic relief character, but he ends up being involved in some of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the series (and his speech at Nagisa’s play is still one of my favorite speeches ever).


I have to admit before I start reflecting: Akio is my absolute favorite character in Clannad. The fact that he can both be hilarious and touching is amazing. That’s actually one of the things I love about Clannad in general: it combines both comedy and drama into one astounding series, and I think Akio is a good one-character representation of that.

How do I reflect on my favorite character? First off, he’s just absolutely, 100% hilarious. Who doesn’t laugh when he first appears onscreen holding a baseball bat and surrounded by flames? His over-expressiveness and exaggerated actions add to his comedy (which has a bit of a slapstick feel at times), and one of the biggest aspects is his overly-violent reaction to many events. Who else would get mad at his son-in-law when he learns his daughter is pregnant? It’s Akio’s at times unrealistic (or maybe just impractical) reactions that make him endearing, I think. There’s so much more about his humor that I could mention, but I don’t feel like portraying myself as a fanboy too much.

Besides his hilarity, there’s his emotional side. Like I said before, his speech at Nagisa’s play is just astounding (I’d encourage you to scroll back up and watch it, if you didn’t before; or maybe re-watch it: it’s just that great!). It really showcases his character: even though he has all this comedy on the outside, on the inside he truly, deeply cares for his family, and he’ll do anything to help them, even give up his dream of being an actor. Even though it’s difficult, he even suppresses the memory of himself even being an actor, because he knows it’s better for Nagisa’s emotional well-being. Then he’s forceful and assertive when Tomoya wants to marry Nagisa: she’s his daughter, and he won’t let just anyone take her from him. Her husband has to prove his worth. I just love the thought of a father having that much pride in his daughter, that he’d go that far to protect her, and I love the thought of a man having to show the father that he is trust-worthy enough to be with the daughter. It’s just an amazingly romantic idea (and yes, I am a bit of a romantic). Then there’s the fact that after his daughter dies, he stays strong in order to care for his granddaughter. Really, Akio is an example of true strength and caring, in my eyes.

I don’t think Clannad would be what it is without Akio. He’s really a big part of what makes the show balance both comedy and heart-touching drama. There’s just no way Clannad would exist in the same form without Akio; I believe he really is that important.

Thanks 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.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Story (The End, Part 2)

Y'know... I've been dreading this ever since I woke up. I'm nervous because I'm about to reveal the core philosophy that makes me get up in the morning, that gives me comfort when things are going wrong, and makes me happy to just think about. What makes reality....real. What makes life worth it for me. It's something that I've been thinking about for awhile, and have always wanted to talk about, but now that I"m here, about to do this, I realize that it's possibly the most nerve-wracking thing someone can do. But I want to anyway.

So here we go, kiddies. I can't guarantee that my philosophy is complete, mature, or even right, but it is mine. It is my truth. And I think that's what you guys are here for, so you're gonna get it.

I've been Catholic for most of my life, some might say for all my life. Unlike a lot of people my age I never didn't believe in a personal God. It wasn't that I didn't think about it or question it. It's that, from the time I was little, I knew that God existed, and that He had a very direct hand in my life. I'm not going to say that I don't have my doubts about God being loving, because I do. Terrible things happen in this world every second to strangers and loved ones alike. But I push through it anyway, confident somewhere deep down that free will was given to us because God decided to err on the side of trusting us, so that way the beautiful things that make us live and grow can happen in a way we'd understand better. Good by an invisible being is no good at all, and I think God knows that. Which is why I think we have free will. So that way God can have good things happen that we can understand as being what they are: gifts.

Despite my faith, however, there is one thing that has always disturbed me to my core, which never seems to disturb anyone else in the same way. Sometimes it just irks me, but there are times when I really do get depressed about it.

We die. All things fade.

I guess why this disturbed me so much was the loss of a body. Everything that I loved to do (painting, writing, music, role-playing, etc.) had a physical element that was irreplaceable. That it seemed to not bug anyone else angered me. What's the point of life if we lose our bodies? I concluded that, even though God existed, He must not be very loving, because we were in a trap that gave us the joy of bodily things for only a short amount of time, only to snatch it away. Reading my Bible (at least at the time) didn't help me at all, especially in the Old Testament, where you find the author of Ecclesiastes wailing that all things are vanity because we die. This didn't help, and while I had been taught about a resurrection it had never gotten through the horror, anger, and despair that I felt about death. Just as I started to actively ask myself about these questions, I started going out with Jamie, and struggled with these questions throughout (and past) our relationship. So when she suddenly broke up with me all I had were my questions, and no answer that had actually satiated me. My icons (one of which you can see up above) grew darker and sadder, and I knew I needed to do something. While I had stopped believing in goodness I hadn't stopped believing in God, which was terrifying. I needed to feel something positive again, to see something that would let me know that everything was OK, that I was wrong. That life had purpose and meaning.

Enter Clannad.

It took me watching the show six times to realize it, but that really was the answer that I was looking for.


The return of the soul to the body that it couldn't go without.


That God was so merciful as to give back that which we can't go without, by virtue of being human. That God was so good and loving as to realize that there were some things we couldn't negotiate on, so He made the single most important concession in the history of humanity, and gave us the thing that would make us happy forever: our own bodies. And all we have to do is ask and believe that it'll happen, and it will. How can that not be the most kind and merciful thing you've ever heard of? We get them back! We don't have to try to "get along" without what was once the most familiar part of our existence. We don't have to move past it, or find a new meaning that we can't find because our bodily memories will always be a part of us. We get them back. And all we have to do is ask.

In this way Clannad is the most realistic show I've ever seen, because it captures the simple reality of it all. There is no great price we have to pay, we just have to believe that God will do it for us and be ready for something completely unexpected. Clannad is truly art, because it actually represents life in a way that we can understand and grow from.

Now what shocked me was that what I'd realized by watching this show had been with me all along, in the form of Christianity. Say what you will about the abuses of Christianity in its 2,000 year long existence. Say what you will about the incredibly dense teachers, lecherous priests, and scandalous nuns of the Church. They're called "failures" for a reason, because they failed the great reality: that we're saved from death and meaninglessness. Everything that we are can go on, because we'll never actually fade. Granted, it'll take some time, but isn't that the case with anything that's truly worth it?

After a year of thinking, questioning, and screaming at the heavens I have my answer from God. It took 22 years to get here, but I have it now. There is a happy ending that we can know and understand. The God that I always knew was there but doubted has been shown to be both existent and loving. And because of this, I can move on to live and give everything that is inside of me. Life, while not perfect, is wonderful. And whether I see it or not, there is a happy end.

For everyone who wants it.

This is the story that I'd wanted to share with you from the beginning of the blog. I hope you enjoyed it, because it was one of the most rewarding things that I've done. I greatly enjoyed writing out my thoughts and watching this amazing show again, for the sixth time. 

I would like to thank all the people who have made this blog what it is. To Brandon and Sean, my co-posters, who have each added their own to something that belongs to all of us. Especially to Taylor, who made this blog what it is with his constant work splicing and uploading videos for all of the posters on this blog. All without a complaint, and overwhelmingly on time. But I'd especially like to thank God, who put this show in my life and used it to get me into a place I can live happily. This is all thanks to Him, and for that my gratitude cannot be adequately expressed.

And so silence is the proper response.

I do have one request for the ending of this blog post

If you disagree please state it rationally and clearly. I understand that I probably hit quite a few buttons, but if you must disagree with me do so in a way that won't force me to delete your comment because of it's...unsavoriness. I welcome a good discussion, and always have. But a quarrel is nothing I'm interested in, and those wishing to pick a fight will find themselves ignored and deleted.

I would like to thank all of you who have read this blog, be it from the beginning or just this, my last post as main writer of The School's Trees. 

Yes, that's right, I'm stepping down. My reasons are simple: I'm done. 

While I will still be on The School's Trees, it will be more of an administrative role, finding other people who want to tell their story about Clannad. These people will fill in the holes of the narrative that I intentionally never filled in, will bring their philosophies to the tapestry that is this blog. While this is the end of one era, try to think of it as the beginning of a new time for this blog. And every once in a while I'll put up a post about a topic Clannad-related that's on my mind, as the muses take me. In the next few weeks expect the next main writer, CarpeGuittarem, to start up his blog posts on the alternate world arcs. I'm really excited to see what Carpe has in store for us, so please!  

Stick around.

It's been an honor and a joy writing for you.

-Liam Francis Traveller

Friday, September 3, 2010

Explanations (The End Part 1)

Honestly, by this point I had given up. Even the knowledge that Tomoya might be able to bring Nagisa back really didn't move me at this point. Really, why would he? She was dead...

He did it? Wait, what? Tomoya had let it go? Ushio was the kid that the robot was with? What's up with the strange conversation? And the lights? And the...and the....

What the hell was going on?

I'm a diehard fan of Lost, but screw that show, it didn't do this. At least there's a basic system that I'd noticed that made that show make sense. But this? What the hell is this? I thought.  Where's the explanation? Where's the closure? Where's......


How did this answer my question? How did this answer the question of death?

To be honest, I didn't get it the first time. It actually pissed me off. The writers had cheated me. All that build up, all that catharsis, all the heartbreak, and HE JUST GOT HER BACK?

I walked away in anger.

But it stuck with me.

That damn happy face. Tomoya was happy.

And I was angry.

I almost didn't want to watch Clannad again. But I couldn't help thinking about it. The show was a masterpiece, almost perfect (gang arc being the only speck in my humble opinion). They couldn't have just screwed it up. They couldn't. They couldn't be wrong. It had to be me that was wrong.

So I watched it again. Just to see. And to facilitate that I've made a new page on this website. You can find it here. It has all the videos that I think are essential to understanding Clannad's plot. I'll update it as I feel the need. I suggest going to that page and watching all of them, in order. But there one's set of videos that you need to watch.

That's right. Taylor spliced together all the robot clips. ALL. OF. THEM. Marvel at Taylor's awesomeness!

I watched all of these things. Over. And over. And over. All to see what I'd missed. Each time I watched Clannad I felt that I'd gotten another piece of the puzzle. I wanted to know what these guys were thinking when they made the most realistic anime I'd ever seen tell us all we had to do was wish and we could come back to life. Even starting this blog I had no idea what the answer was, still. I didn't know why the ending jived at all with me when I started. I didn't know where I got this feeling of familiarity from, or why I liked the ending more every time I watched it. But I started the blog anyway, reasoning that writing out my obsessive thoughts on Clannad would help me process what was going on.

But I figured out something that I think is true. So here goes.

Each alternate world is someone's mind, which interfaces through our body. Tomoya, for whatever reason, wasn't firmly "interfaced" into his own body, and so therefore could wander around his own mindscape during dreams. Ushio was the same, being related to Tomoya, and so the two of them could share their mind and dreamscapes. Their worlds could mesh. Tomoya isn't really a robot, but that is how he sees himself, which is why he appears as such. The same goes for Ushio, who just sees herself as a girl.

The two of them share dreams for years, because minds are not restricted by time. Only the body is restricted by time, so Tomoya and Ushio could have been talking since the start of the show without any trouble.

During Tomoya's time on earth he had unleashed certain lights, which were stored inside of him. These lights ARE Ushio. Ushio is the combined total of the happiness of Tomoya and Nagisa. She is Tomoya and Nagisa's wish. 

Well, eventually Ushio and Tomoya actually meet and things start to change. The two of them don't want to just share dreams (remembered or not) anymore, they want Nagisa. They want family, like all of us do. But the two of them alone are not enough. So Ushio decides to make her wish, using herself as the "barter", so things can be made right. She gives up the limited time she had with her father so that way all of them can be together. She's the only one who can do it because if the others did something like this they'd have to give up themselves to do it, which is something that they can't do and be with Nagisa. Like it or not, but God has rules to this thing, as evidenced by Shima. It only makes sense then to assume that Ushio really is the only one who can make this wish. What's her wish?

Give Mamma back to Papa and me. 

But the trouble is not with Ushio. It's with Tomoya. Will Tomoya be able to let go of his bitterness over meeting Nagisa to be with her again? Thankfully, Tomoya finally comes through! In total faith (and blindness to Ushio's plan) he lets go of his bitterness, which allows God to finally give him the happy ending that he'd wanted all this time. Things resume as they should have, and the Okazaki family finally defeats the tragedy that had plagued it for so long.

This, in my opinion, is what happened. Keep in mind that I haven't beaten the Visual Novel, so I don't have a complete view of what's going on. But this is the closest that I can get.

HUGE kudos to Taylor. He made those videos in two weeks, flat. I can't believe the amount of work and energy that he puts in to making this little blog so awesome. 

Taylor, you are the reason why this blog works. Thank you so much.

Part 1 is over, but Part 2 (My Personal Ending) will be covered tomorrow. Check back tomorrow!