The first ever anime series I ever watched on my own was Clannad and it’s follow up, Clannad: After Story. They are based off of visual novels that were released for the PC (and later other video game systems) in Japan by Key animation. The story follows Tomoya Okazaki, a directionless high school student who is considered to be something of a delinquent and his friendships he develops with five different girls during his last year of high school. There are separate story arcs in which Tomoya helps them with problems in their lives. The “After Story” story (as I understand) was what happens after you have unlocked all the story lines in the original PC game. It follows the 7 years after Tomoya graduates.
I stumbled across this when looking for something to watch on my kindle, for free, and saw this and thought I’d give it a try. My boys were already anime fans (although not as hardcore as they are now) and had watched a lot of the standards: Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Naruto, and One Piece. My biggest impression came from Dragonball Z that anime was largely a lot of yelling and drawn out fight scenes that didn’t go anywhere. I wasn’t a fan. I liked things like the American made “Avatar- The Last Airbender” which I knew from reading about it was heavily influenced by Japanese anime, but I had yet to sit down and find a show that I connected with. Admittedly, this was the first one I gave a chance to do that with.
I didn’t know what to think of it at first. It was slow paced, understated, and there was this weird sequence with a girl and a robot friend she built. What kept me watching was just that. It was unlike anything I had watched prior. I wanted to know what was up with the girl and her robot friend (which seemed to have nothing to do with the main story), I liked the pace, and most of all: it was beautifully animated.
After years, as my children grew up, of watching Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows, this was something different. The animation, pacing, and story was on a whole different level. This is not to say anything bad about American animation (I still love me some Spongebob and Looney Tunes), but this was something new to me. The backgrounds and art direction is quite beautiful. One does have to get used to a few things: Key animation has a thing for huge eyes, and purple hair.
The story is drama and romance. The romance is a lot more understated than American audiences are used to (hand holding is a big deal in this), but that is probably more of a cultural thing than anything. It gets pretty “Hallmarky”. The story goes to make you “have so many feels”, as my 14 year old would say, and it succeeded with me. There is comic relief built in as well so it is not all embarrassed hand holding and tears.
If you’d like a more in depth explanation of the story, here is a link to the Wikipedia page:
Down to the parent portion. There is not a lot objectionable in here. A few mild curse words may be used (ie: Bastard, etc), but not often. There are a few mildly off-color jokes (mostly played on Fuko). Fan service is mild at best. For young viewers there are concepts around death and loss that some may find challenging.
I first watched this show by myself and then with my boys when they were 12 & 9. I loved the show and so did the boys. The boys and I were emotional wrecks with tears streaming down our faces, crying our eyes out. It remains one of my favorites to this day. I hope this helps and that you give Clannad a try. I am not a professional reviewer or writer. I am just a fan and a parent.
This OP still tears me up to this day.