Spoiler Warning for anyone who wants to watch Clannad without plot details being revealed.
I’m not finished yet with After Story, so I’m not going to do a proper review until I have finished it, but I’m about halfway through now, and something has been really bothering me about this series. See, up until this point, the story has been driven largely by the interesting character conflicts. Tomoya meets Girl-C, Tomoya discovers crippling flaw with Girl-C, Tomoya helps Girl-C overcome her issues with the help of Girl-D, Girl-7T, and Boy-&*. Then he meets Girl E, yadda yadda, all the while he grows continually closer to Nagisa.
Kind of repetitive, and rife with cliche, but that’s alright. Cliche is perfectly acceptable if you execute it with enough sincerity (See Cameron’s Avatar). So eventually Tomoya and Nagisa actually got together, and, *surprise*… got married. That’s great. Their personalities are well suited to each other, and they have good chemistry.
But there’s one problem.
Neither of them have acted realistically once, since their relationship became “official”. Or, to put it in more specific terms, there hasn’t been a single moment where the two have interacted with each other in a way that screams to me “I passionately love this person”, and the message that I keep reading into their interactions is “this person is important to me.” Certainly a strong feeling, but definitely NOT what the story is intending, or so I’m led to believe.
I first noticed it early on, when they were just boyfriend/girlfriend, where the most they can seem to muster is to hold hands every other episode. But that’s okay, right? We learn that Tomoya seems to have some form of commitment issues— or at least some kind of mental block acknowledging that he and Nagisa really are dating. But then it just keeps happening. Tomoya gets a job, and all he says to Nagisa is something along the lines of “Thank you for supporting me. I will continue to support you.” That’s it. I mean, for god’s sake, where’s the bloody hug?!
I don’t think I’ve even seen the two of them kiss once since this series began, and by this point, they’re actually married and we’ve just found out that Nagisa’s pregnant! So wait Clannad, they’ve been having sex off camera, and you’re afraid to show the two of them kissing?!
And that’s another thing: Why is it that we’re learning just now that they’re having sex, and why is it being treated like some kind of surprise? Is the institution of marriage so dead that it’s inconceivable that two adults, recently married, are having sex? I mean, you don’t have to SHOW them going at it, just show them cuddled up in bed, you know? I mean, Shinji Ikari has had a more interesting (and believable!) love life, and he kills one of his love interests! (Well, in the original series anyways)
I guess what my frustration boils down to is that this “love story” has almost no passion in it. The entire story seems to be boiling down to a melancholic montage of events, some happy, some sad, but almost all of which feel detached. And yeah, it’s touching to see how Nagisa and Tomoya have matured over the course of the series. It really is. And seeing how the other characters have changed is also impacting.
I’m not saying that this hasn’t been a good story, or that Nagisa and Tomoya are unlikable characters, or even that the thought of them being together feels weird. Because none of that is true. And maybe the remaining 10 episodes of After Story will completely blow away everything that’s happened thus far (And based on what I’ve heard, that’s probably the case).
But why is the central relationship being left so empty? I mean, does the story end with them getting divorced or something? I guess this would make sense if that’s the direction the show is going, but… Ugh. This show has been so good in every other area, that it feels weird to be so off-put by this.