Clannad Movie (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Young love is discovered in the most unexpected of places and leaves a profound impact on many people.

What They Say
SYNOPSIS: Plagued by a seemingly endless stream of haunting dreams, Tomoya drifts through life with an almost overwhelming sense of anger and emptiness. Then, one fateful day, he meets the mysterious and beautiful Nagisa, and his world begins to change. While helping Nagisa revive the defunct Drama Club at their high school, Tomoya discovers that she has the same dreams. Their story starts beneath the cherry blossoms, but where will fate lead them? Discover a stunning new vision of one of anime's classic love stories in Clannad Theatrical.

The Review!

Audio:
The bilingual presentation for this release has the Japanese and English tracks presented in stereo encoded at 224kbps. Similar to the TV series, the bulk of the feature is all about the dialogue driven material with some nice music that helps to accent it all. The dialogue is largely center channel based and the music has a nice full feeling to it when it reaches its larger moments. This film doesn't have a lot of stretching to do when it comes to the dialogue though so the stereo track is decent if fairly unexceptional. The English track comes across as slightly louder but not by a significant amount. Both tracks have a clean and clear feeling to them with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally released in 2007, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Clannad has a good look to it, especially with the backgrounds where there's a lot of detail to it, while the character animation has a good smooth flow to it. The transfer captures the look of the show very well and the detail with very little in the way of issues outside of some noise in a few backgrounds and some minor moments of line noise during panning sequences. Colors have a good feel to them with some very warm layers to it which is very important since it atmosphere is key here. While I don't care for the character designs for this version, the film definitely has a distinct look to it and the transfer captures it pretty well.
 
Packaging:
The design for Clannad manages to differentiate itself from the TV series releases yet have similar enough elements that you won't mind keeping them close to each other. With a simple and relatively small logo, the cover is given over to Nagisa as she wears her school uniform and winter coat with a really long scarf as snow falls around her. Having her look over her shoulder as she moves up the hill where you see the trees covered in white looks good and her design in particular is very appealing. The back cover has a cool and somber feel to it with a mixture of blues and whites making up most of the background while along the bottom is a silhouette of a couple of the characters together. The summary is kept very minimal overall, which is for the best, and there are a few shots from the feature along the right. The rest of the cover is given over to the brief listing of the discs extras and a solid and accurate technical grid that lays it all out clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
 
Menu:
The menus for this release are kept pretty simple as the top level menu is a static image of Nagisa, similar to how we see her on the cover, but in just her school uniform with pretty cherry blossom trees in the background that has light streaming through them. The design for Nagisa doesn't have a lot of detail and the blossoms themselves are very indistinct overall but it all feels right with a small bit of instrumental music looping to it. There's little here besides the feature so submenu navigation is easy and everything loads quickly and without a problem. Surprisingly, the languages menu defaults to English with sign/song subtitles rather than reading the players' language presets, something Sentai's discs usually do.
 
Extras:
The only extras included here is a series of production sketches from the film.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the same source material as the TV series of the same name, the Clannad movie is an interpretation of it done by Toei Animation with Osamu Dezaki handling the direction duties. I'm a big fan of a lot of what Dezaki has done over the years and the importance of his works, but I have not cared for what he's been doing with features like this. His movie here feels very similar to the way he adapted the Air movie based on the visual novel after the TV series had been done as well. This movie has the same kind of issues in that compressing it down to a single storyline and largely eliminating the supporting cast weakens it overall. The love story here is a powerful one that's weakened by removing these elements.
 
The story of Clannad focuses on the story between Tomoya and Nagisa. Tomoya is an average high school student who has had a number of problems during his life that have put him in this very bland attitude towards everything which puts him as something of a loner. The death of his mother at a young age, his father becoming isolated because of it which has him neglecting his son and then an act of anger that causes his father to hurt him physically, which in turn shatters the one thing he's seemingly good at. All these combine together to make Tomoya the type that few hang out with. His only friend in fact is another student named Sunohara who himself has anger issues that got him kicked off the soccer team, which makes problems for him since he was there on a sports scholarship.
 
Into Tomoya's life enters Nagisa, a student who is the same age as him but a year behind because of medical issues she has. She's sickly at times and misses school which makes things difficult for her, but she has a very earnest approach to life and lives it as much as she can. She ends up latching onto Tomoya as he sort of helps her early on and then keeps showing up at the same time each day to be with him, which in turn brings her into the group a little bit more each time. Sunohara likes her well enough so they all get along. Her main dream is to revive the drama club in school, a club which had been defunct for a bit and one she had a hard time reviving before because of her long absence, but she faces the same troubles this time around as well because nobody wants to join and she needs three members total. Obviously it goes in a direction that makes sense, not that Tomoya or Sunohara really want to be in it, but her dream of a one woman play to tell the story that's been in her dreams for years is important enough to sway them to be stagehands at the least.
 
The story of how Tomoya and Nagisa grow to become a couple and go through a few stages of life is told mostly through flashbacks and narration from the older Tomoya. This allows the time flow to be adjusted as it moves past the first meetings and the culture festival that brings the two of them together in a serious way. There's a lot of ground to cover with their lives but the bulk of it is really for these early parts in the film. When it moves forward and focuses more on Tomoya, it doesn't have the same impact as we saw in the TV series because of the compression that's used in the storyline and because the supporting cast isn't fleshed out nearly enough. While relationships are definitely forged primarily through the two people directly involved, there are so many outside influences to it that to lose them here leaves a pretty gaping hole.
 
Similar to how Dezaki operated with the Air movie, Clannad has some really striking backgrounds and takes some minor adjustments to the look of the characters from what we've seen in the visual novel and the TV series. The early part of the feature looks particularly striking as it showcases the cherry blossom trees and all the colors of spring but it's nicely balanced in the thid act when the show turns darker and more depressing by using the right kind of colors to bring all the emotions out. With the character designs, they have more shadows placed on them at times and there's more of a rounded effect to the faces which differentiates them enough from the TV production but gives them a look that doesn't seem like it fits with the story. Some of it just feels a little too wooden, unable to convey the emotions that the characters are expressing vocally.
 
In Summary:
The Clannad film has left me feeling largely the same way I did after the Air film as it went through a similar process. The compression of a story that involves many people to focusing on just a single romantic storyline is something that we often say we want to see, but losing a lot of them here makes a difference in a negative way. Not only that, but taking a storyline that essentially ran across nearly fifty episodes and focusing on only one romantic storyline and all it entails means there's going to be a significant amount of loss. Even if you don't make comparisons, Clannad suffers from being a ninety minute feature that has a whole lot more that it needs to deal with in order to be convincing with the romance, the emotions and the deep love that they're trying to present. You can fill in the blanks easily if you've seen the series and you'll likely spend a lot of time looking at the differences, but if you're fresh to it, it's hard to believe it would come across well.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Sketches

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
 



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 95
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Clannad