Sunday, 17 February 2008

So far in... CLANNAD

"Et tu, Kotomi?"

I'll just state this right off the bat... The CLANNAD so far *and ohbtw spoilers for the first 18episodes coming up* have left me mostly... underwhelmed. And by the looks of it, I seriously doubt the final 6 episodes will do much in changing my opinion on the series. Not to say it's a bad series mind you, many fans out there will be telling you otherwise - but their reasons will range from just Kyou to... Kyou's thighs. Oh, I kid. There's also dangos to consider! Besides that, there are KEY's trademark tearjerker moments and the recurring theme of family to appreciate - unless of course, you're like grumpy old me who's got not a funny bone in his body and cannot stand KyoAni injecting its attempts at high humour into the story. Then we've got a problem.

So it looks like I'm one of the few who doesn't think CLANNAD's brand of 'bully the ridiculously retarded characters' brand of humour as absolutely brilliant... Don't get me wrong, humour's a big part that drives my enjoyment of many shows... unfortunately CLANNAD is not one of them. Oh sure, characters such as Sunohara and Fuko act so retarded they're just asking to be made fun of over and over again, but come on, not only does it get old, but is it even necessary to the story??? Yet, I'm pretty sure there've been many series before this where I actually laugh everytime they use an old rehashed gag irrelevant to the central plotline, but the 'problem' here for me is how KyoAni seems to be force-feeding us the laughs before choking us with tears... (IT'S A GIRL WHO LOVES STARFISH, LAUGH LAUGH!!! ... STARFISH GIRL IS BEING FORGOTTEN BY EVERYONE, CRY CRY!!!) Only the end result feels utterly forced and contrived (and for a lack of better word, you'll be seeing this one a lot in the rest of the post) so I do neither.

Still, the show has its moments. Oddly enough, this particular scene of particular contrivance in the recent episode 18 is probably one of the few scenes which I found to be naturally amusing... Mostly because the scriptwriters seemed to be having fun by poking fun at the whole harem aspect of the show and actually pitting some of the girls against one another (despite the clear winner practically announced since the start of the show. Ironically said winner was not present during this current proceeding). And speaking of this scene...

Fuko appears (again?)!! Why? Why not, seems to be KyoAni's answer. Yes, Fuko can be annoyingly retarded and her continued presence in the show serves no purpose except as a further contrivance to get you to laugh. To me, it doesn't matter anymore since I've accepted her character as such. My main gripe with Fuko's arc really was how there was next to no subtlety in the way they employed the "everyone forgets about the starfish-girl" plot device. Honestly would've preferred it if everyone did just that - forget about Fuko, and move on! But instead every single character introduced at that point had to go through the moment where they figure out loud "HMM, WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE I'VE FORGOTTEN SOMETHING????" Yes, yes, we get it already, doesn't change the fact that you'll miraculously remember to come to the wedding later anyways. And how exactly does giving out wooden starfish equal "DOZO, Please come to my sister's wedding!" again?

While I'm at it, let's mention the other girl who got a full arc to herself to develop in, Kotomi, the the resident genius girl who is severely challenged in the human interaction department... Oh, and she also has a tragic past concerning the death of her genius parents which results in her not being able to play the violin on a humanly acceptable frequency... Or perhaps that last bit was just added in to be funny... Gripe for the girl: If the travelling suitcase montage was supposed to make the story extra touching... it failed, bad. Also unbelievable is how Tomoya spent days nonchalantly weeding her garden, while the then emotionally unstable Kotomi cooped herself up in her house alone, with hardly a sign of life to be seen from within said house the entire time... What if she got Myself;Yourself inspired ideas??
Still Kotomi is many tiers higher than Fuuko, no less for her cooking ability and how well she uses Botan as a 'lovely item' (Thumbs up for the Ouran tip!). It's funny that I'm only now appreciating her character when she no longer has an actual bearing to the story.

For a while the only girl I found to be actually tolerable and mostly contrivance-free was Kyou. The classic authorative tsundere archetype, her character was both familiar and thankfully intelligent enough not to need Tomoya's intervention in improving the state of her life. Doesn't stop her from ending up in some unnecesarily contrived moments though (Ironically, both her basketball and by now infamous sports shed moments have garnered her much fame). Then again, KyoAni's forte seems to be doing Kyous/Haruhis/Kagamis anyways, so here was a field there were bound to score with. Too bad her part in the story was to tag team with her sister in a losing battle against just about everyone else.

Ryou... you never stood a chance. Having no segment devoted solely to her in the OP should've been a hint. Be happy you had the chance to give Tomoya that fortune spew and contributing to the show's supposed depth before you crashed and burned with your sister.

Tomoyo... thanks for being a good sport that you were. Despite the utter contrivances of your scenes with Sunohara for the pure sake of humour, you played your part well, had your go at Tomoya, held your ground against the twins, scored student council presidency (through the contrivance of playing every sport in school and amassing fangirl supporters, but that's beside the point) and still managed to spill your sappy touching tale of family all (I almost forgot you had one by obligation), all in less time than it took Tomoya to weed the garden! Bravo! Compare this to the 5 episodes apiece that Fuko and Kotomi got, and you have here an underused haremette. A pity really.

Last, but definitely not(?) least... Nagisa, she's special because she's not really... special in any sort of way. Hmm. Wish here was more to say about her. Perhaps there's something to being equal parts passive and equal parts determined and having parents who could easily be hired actors to make your life seem that much more interesting? Well whatever the reason, good game to the rest of the girls, but looks like we have a winner here!

So I just spent a posts worth ranting girl by girl and coming to the conclusion that, really there's not one of the main girls that endeared to me, which would probably account for part of the reason why CLANNAD is getting just a 'nyeh' from me even this far in the series. Unlike in Kanon where Nayuki made all the difference :P I would like to say I tried to like CLANNAD, but for a show that turns me cynical at just about every scene, not hating it is all I'll give it for now.

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