CLANNAD (Japan, 2007) is a Japanese fantasy-drama anime film directed by Osamu Dezaki and based on the graphic novel of the same title by Key.
It follows the story of Tomoya Okazaki, a third year high school student of Hikarizara, a loner due to a distant father who works at night, a mother who died when he was five, and a love for basketball he couldn’t play any longer because of an injury. These made him lose interest in school activities and rather walk to school alone and spend lunch time at the school’s rooftop with his friend Youhei Sunohara. Tomoya also has a recurring dream ever since he was a child. In his dream, he initially is disembodied in an illusionary world where he is the only thing alive. He finds a discarded human-sized doll and uses it as a body to travel around the world on an old bicycle.
After some searching, he finds a large sakura tree known as the “tree of promise” where he believes he will meet the person he has felt is with him in this illusionary world. While walking alone to school, he meets Nagisa Furukawa, a third year high school repeater who returned after being sick for almost a year. She keeps on following Tomoya up the hill to school saying that she wasn’t sure what to do next after being out of school for a long time. Tomoya suggests finding something new to do thinking that would make her leave him alone. However, this gave Nagisa an idea to revive the drama club she once organized. However, she couldn’t get members to join the club so she asked Tomoya and Youhei to join since it only needs 3 members to be recognized by the school. She promised them that they would not act on the stage as she will do a monologue at the school’s foundation day. She wanted to do drama because her parents who have been professional theater actors had to give up acting after she was born. Nagisa wants to give back to her parents the love and sacrifice they did through her performance as her swan song. Nagisa tried to write a script based on her recurring dreams however she wasn’t able to finish it on time. This made the two panic because they would not know what to do during the performance. Kuoko Ibuki, the drama club adviser, said that she will direct it based on Nagisa’s monologue via headsets. While Nagisa is performing, Tomoya realizes that Nagisa’s dream and his dream are almost one and the same. At the end of the play, Tomoya realizes that they are meant to be and confesses his love to Nagisa. Since then the recurring dreams stopped.
Shortly after the festival, Nagisa’s health falters once again and she has to take another leave of absence from school for a year. So she graduated high school a year after Tomoya. After graduation, Tomoya and Nagisa start living together, Nagisa becomes pregnant and dies after giving birth to Ushio. This causes Tomoya’s depression and his friends’ fear of Tomoya committing the same mistakes of his father sets in.
The film reminds us of three things: (1) finding meaning of our dreams, (2) giving back love to those people who sacrificed for us, and (3) committing the same mistakes of our parents. I viewed this film right after viewing “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” and in terms of fantasy and philosophy, I prefer the “The Place Promised…” but if you’re looking for a romantic drama, “Clannad” is it.