Ok. I got this. I understand everything now.
Clannad tells the story of Okazaki Tomoya, a dead high school student whose soul is put into a robot and sent out to a distant planet in an alternate, high frame rate reality to comfort a young, lonely girl, who is forever trapped in a gigantic field of light bulbs. These light bulbs represent happy memories of the past, and these memories are what make up the story of Clannad.
The first of these light bulb memories recounts the story of Fuko, an emo loli in a mental institution. One day, the doctors find her cutting her wrists while she is making thousands upon thousands of wooden carvings of starfish as a sacrifice to her imaginary god, the Great Starfish Heat. She looses an immense amount of blood and enters into a coma. Her spirit lingers around the school that our protagonist, Okazaki, and his friends attend. The only way that her spirit can pass out of the spirit realm is for Fuko to collect all 120 Starfish, defeat Bowser, and save Princess Peach. With the help of Okazaki and his pals Nagisa, Sunohara, Ryou, and generic tsundere girl, she is able to accomplish this task, see her sister find happiness by marrying a depressed, anti-social, former musician-turned-electrician, and move on to the depths of Hell. Uh, I mean Loli Heaven.
Moving right along, the second light bulb tells the story of Kotomi, an autistic, avant-garde violinist with dead parents, no relatives, and no friends. Her hobby is reading books. She lives in the school library all alone, with the exception of the voices she sometimes talks to in her head. Okazaki rightly decides that the only way to help this poor, pitiful young woman is to do her house’s landscaping. Once again, with the aid of his friends, the landscaping is completed and Kotomi is reunited with her long lost teddy bear.
Light bulb #3 recounts the daring adventures of Tomoyo, a tree hugging, vegan hipster and Taekwondo master. She dreams of becoming the god of the universe, I mean the student council president, so that she can kill anyone who chops down sakura trees, I mean protect the sakura trees around the school campus. In order to accomplish this goal, she becomes an alarm clock, maid, and chef for Okazaki and Sunohara. The idea is that she will get their asses to school which somehow makes her look like a reliable and strong candidate for the student council president position. Needless to say, this does not work out as expected. She ends up falling in love with Okazaki, only to find out that he likes Nagisa more. Fortunately for her, in an alternate timeline, she is able to able to become god of the universe, save the sakura trees, and get Okazaki all in the same episode, but unfortunately, that is not the main timeline, so this bitch just got PWNED.
The next bulb of omnipresent light tells the story of Nagisa, an aspiring actress. Technically, she is already an actress, at least a voice actress, because she is in this anime, but that would be way to meta for this show, so suffice to say that she wants to be an actress. After murdering everyone in the Choir Club with Kotomi’s violin, the Theater Club begins preparing for Nagisa’s debut performance. Some of her friends do the music, some handle the stage and lighting, Okazaki screws around with Sunohara, and so on and so forth. After Nagisa inadvertently discovers that her father used to be a great actress himself, she heads to the school resource center and finds some recordings of his old pornos on 1980s VHS tapes. She studies them thoroughly, and at last, the night of the performance arrives! However, it does not really matter, because all of the work that everyone put into these last few weeks or months goes to waste. The music is not even used, nor is the script, as Nagisa just stands up on the stage and cries for three-and-a-half minutes. Her father eventually barges in and tells her to man up, then she falls in love with Okazaki and we move on to the next season.
Season Two of Clannad, known as Clannad: After Story, contains a bunch more light bulbs and, conveniently, an electrician to make sure that they are all functioning properly.
This next light bulb, number five I think, but honestly I have lost count at this point, tells the story of the one character that no one in the entire world wanted to know more about: Sunohara. Sunohara is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, British transfer student who was formerly a famous football player. After transferring to this school in Japan, he gets pissed that everyone on the football team calls football soccer instead of football, so he attacks them and subsequently gets kicked off the team, sending him spiraling into a fit of depression and alcoholism. He tries to relieve some of this stress by attempting to bang Nagisa’s mom, but fails. That was the last straw for Okazaki. In order to try and snap Sunohara out of this depression, Okazaki tries to molest Sunohara’s Imouto-chan, Mei. Shockingly, this has no effect on Sunohara. In the end, Okazaki and Sunohara beat the living shit out of each other and then all of the drama of the preceding four episodes is immediately resolved.
Light bulb six decides to be all cool and shit and go back like ten years so we can see the story of Misae, the random woman who runs the male dormitories at the school because hell, everyone in this show has to have their own arc apparently. Basically, Misae becomes depressed because the man she is in love with, Mr. Buff Glasses Dude Man Guy rejects her and she ends up with the only other male in the universe that could actually love this woman, an effeminate, crippled, cry baby confined to a wheel chair. His body heals, and due to the fact that Misae spoke to him when he was in the hospital, he is now under the delusion that he is a genie that can grant a single wish for her, although it is not made clear if she can wish for more wishes. Anyways, she eventually falls in love with the guy, but this is hard to believe due to how many times she slams his head into the hard concrete, risking putting him back into a wheel chair, but I digress. However, he ends up changing his mind about the whole thing and dumps her at the Autumn Festival. Misae, now utterly distraught and alone, decides instead to have sex with her cat.
The seventh fluorescent light bulb is about Yukine, a student at the school who is also the school psychiatrist, cook, and astrologer. She is barely in the entire damn show, but somehow she is involved with the two largest gangs in the city. To be completely honest, I was really confused and only somewhat sober while watching these few episodes, so all I really remember of them is Yukine sleeping on Okazaki’s crotch while Nagisa films her and something to do with rice pilaf. Similar to Sunohara’s arc, Okazaki gets beat up and then everything is happy. Violence solves everything!
The remaining episodes become super slice-of-life in the most literal sense humanly imaginable. Witness the gripping drama of:
OKAZAKI SWEEPING FLOORS!
OKAZAKI FIXING ELECTRICAL POLES!
OKAZAKI RIDING IN A CAR!
NAGISA COOKING FOOD!
OKAZAKI EATING FOOD!
OKAZAKI TALKING TO NAGISA!
NAGISA TALKING TO OKAZAKI!
AND SO MUCH MORE!
It is during one of these edge-of-your-seat moments of Okazaki riding in a van with Yoshino, the electrician, when we get to hear the story of Yoshino, the electrician. Evidently, he wanted to be a professional musician, but no one liked his Nine Inch Nails covers so he had to come back to his home, marry the woman of his dreams, and become an electrician. For reasons unknown, Okazaki finds this story really inspiring. Subsequently, Okazaki’s dad gets busted for dealing meth, Okazaki punches a wall, and then proposes. Not to the wall, but to Nagisa.
Next is a Rocky training montage where Okazaki practices his baseball skillz in an effort to beat the final boss, Nagisa’s dad, so that he will agree to hand off his daughter. Then Nagisa gets drunk and her dad takes pictures of her in a maid outfit. Don’t worry, this is completely legal in Japan. The next few episodes consist primarily of Okazaki and Nagisa having massive amounts of passionate, off-screen sex, eventually resulting in Nagisa getting pregnant. Apparently condoms are hard to come by these days.
Okazaki decides to throw a party. He calls up the old gang, including some strange guy claiming to be Sunohara when obviously he is not because he does not have blonde hair. Even Kotomi flies in from America, one hundred and sixty pounds fatter and completely stoned. She smuggled in some weed, but they decide that would probably be bad for the baby, so they sell it to Nagisa’s mom for profit. They tell her that it will be a good addition for her bread recipes.
At this point everything starts getting really philosophical. Okazaki has some seizure inducing flashes and everyone starts talking about how life changes over time, what it is like to become a father, how there are alternate realities in another dimension where Okazaki ends up with a different girl. What is this, a visual novel?
Then Nagisa dies.
Oh wait, I forgot something.
It starts snowing.
Then Nagisa dies.
No one really knows what happens in the remaining episodes of Clannad because the average individual watching the show at this point becomes so emotionally instable that he smashes his TV and computer with a cardboard cutout of Nagisa and begins to run around the house screaming “DANGO! DANGO! DANGOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” These people end up in asylums and never get to finish the series. However, since I am a cold-hearted person with no feelings who totally did not cry himself to sleep for a week after this episode, I was able to actually finish the show.
After Nagisa died during childbirth, several years pass as Okazaki begins following in the steps of his father. He starts drinking and smoking, and spends very little time with his daughter, who he left in the care of Nagisa’s parents. At this point, Nagisa’s mom basically saves Okazaki’s life by tricking him into taking his daughter, Ushio, on a trip. This trip helps him realize that he needs to protect his daughter. He also finally gets some closure with his insane father and absorbs one of the memory light bulbs into his liver, or maybe it was his heart, hell if I know.
This leads into the next series of episodes, which contain lots of epic father daughter shenanigans. He even starts taking her to kindergarten, where he learns that generic tsundere girl from season one is the teacher. Now, in retrospect, it probably is not a good idea to have a tsundere as a kindergarten teacher. I can imagine some little five-year-old boy struggling to write his name in Kanji, and she comes up to him and is all like “ANTA BAKA!?” and then kicks him across the room. I personally would not feel safe taking my daughter to this kindergarten, but evidently Okazaki does not care much about Ushio’s safety because he pretty much lets her wander around all of Japan when he is not home. What a great father.
Right before the sports day at Ushio’s school, in which she and her father were going to participate in, she falls ill. Unfortunately, it seems that she inherited the mysterious disease that killed her mom, Nagisa. In the 21st century, you would think that if a girl had an unidentifiable, incurable disease that she would be quarantined and studied until a cure was found. Just think for a moment. If this turned into an epidemic, this disease could feasibly destroy all mankind as we know it. How can the Japanese government ignore this?
Then Ushio dies.
Oh wait, I forgot something.
It starts snowing again.
Then Ushio dies. And Nagisa does the Shaft head tilt.
After this, as if the show is pissed off at itself, we enter into another dimension where Nagisa does not die, basically destroying all of the drama in the entire series. For some reason, the creators of Clannad thought that this was a good idea. They were like “Yeah, who cares about all that time and money we put into these fifty episodes. Screw it! Nagisa lives!”
To muddle things up even further, the next episode takes place in yet another alternate dimension where Nagisa never hangs out with Okazaki and instead becomes a boring schoolgirl. Finally, there is one last episode, an epic fail arc for generic tsundere girl. Even though Ryou falls madly in love with Okazaki, he is just like LOL and then bangs her sister. Okazaki is an asshole.
All in all, I would say that this is one of the best shounen’s I have ever seen. The fight scenes were awesome. I especially liked the part when the mech flew into that portal while cutting that guy’s head off. It was pretty cool.
In conclusion: Tomoyo. Best girl.