CLANNAD is one of those shows that fanboys and fangirls have been pissing themselves over in childish glee since it was first announced as an animated project many moons ago, and it's easy to see why: It's got shitty character designs; it has a plot based off a lame hentai dating sim game that is so paint-by-numbers that I knew exactly how the whole thing would wrap-up by the end of the very first episode; and it was boring and overly melodramatic as fuck. Fanboys and fangirls LOVE that kind of clichéd crappola.
Yes, I'll be honest with you, I hate TV anime series based on hentai dating sim games. I hate them for several reasons. They never have any of the sex in them that made the hentai dating sims worth checking out in the first place (and the sex is the ONLY reason people ever played them), and the stories in the games (and to that extent the anime based off them) are always the same:
A young man suddenly finds himself to be the object of the affection of at least 3 (usually 5 or so) hot chicks at exactly the same time in his life (despite the fact that he's either a selfish loser or a whiney, pansy virgin). There's usually one he's known for a while (as a friend), one really young one, and one teacher (or aunt or mother) involved in the infatuation too, but that's beside the point. These things usually take place in high school (so all the guys with seirufuku fetishes can ogle to their heart's content), and there's always at least one ultra quiet girl and one very outspoken girl, and ALL the girls are insecure about themselves and need LOTS of gentle prodding in order to help them overcome their hyperly theatrical problems of their pasts and to slip into one of their pair of panties by the end of it all.
The chief difference between these games and the TV series based off them though (other than the lack of any on-screen body banging) is in the TV show the guy always picks the girl the player would be least likely to choose in the game. The main character never gets to do the horizontal mambo with the chick who he does pick either (and he's lucky if he's even gotten a hug from her by the final credits), and there's NEVER a harem ending to the anime series (where if it's a GOOD hentai dating sim, and you hit all the event points perfectly, you get a chance to bang all the girls at once, including the teacher and the underage one). Other than that these shows always (ALWAYS) play out the same way: The main character meets a nest of women, each with their own cookie-cutter likes, dislikes, and personalities, and then 3-4 episodes are dedicated to each girl in which we find out why they like the main character and why the girls are so gloomy deep down inside (and they are... Every last one of them has deeply rooted psychological scars). The main guy helps each girl to overcome her own problems (which causes her to love him more), but in the end of the show the guy always picks the most retarded or the most loser-ish girl of the group. Then they might kiss in front of the special tree on the hill overlooking the school. The end.
Oh! And one chick is usually an angel, a ghost, or a robot or something. Yeah....
Okay, CLANNAD is a little different from the average anime based on hentai dating sims in this respect: All of the chicks are either totally beaten-down-wife moe, or so over the top loud and full of themselves that you WANT to turn them into beaten-down-wife moe. Usually there's tons of shades of grey in the personalities of the harem at the main character's disposal. Wait... The more I think about it the more I remember that that's not true. Pretty much ALL the girls in EVERY hentai dating sim anime and game are either just moe or over the top loud and full of themselves (but depressed underneath it all). I stand corrected. CLANNAD is even more by the books than I had been willing to even give it credit for.
There are only two anime series based on hentai games that I've seen that were actually interesting and really played with the preconceived notions that the viewer goes into these crappy things with: School Days and Shuffle!. Shuffle! actually made the deeply rooted and psychologically scarred backgrounds of the girls really deranged and fantastically interesting, and the main character ended up choosing the coolest girl in his harem in the end. AND he grew a major backbone and proved he was a man's man by the final episode. School Days didn't have the wimpy girl "safe-ending" either... It went for the BAD ending (in the game this means that you usually fucked up all the relationships and end up with nobody, or you wind up dead). Holy fuck was it awesome! It was the nicest boat I've ever seen.
But now back to why CLANNAD sucks. It starts out with the lead male character, Tomoya Okazaki, bitching about his sucky life, his out-of-work alcoholic father, and then back to his shitty life again... "Yeah," I thought, "I want to follow this Debbie Downer around for 24 episodes. Fantastic!" Anyway, my first impression of Tomoya is that he's kind of an asshole — always trying to rile up everybody around him, and he's DEATHLY afraid of even touching a female (let alone making it to first base, and he'd pretty much have a coronary if he even thought about knocking out a home run). As I said before, we're quickly introduced to the boring, beat-down harem that forcibly ends up surrounding our chief loser: The moe purple-haired class rep; her purple-haired twin who's the class rep of the next homeroom over; the other moe girl who's missed a year and is now making it up; the moe purple-haired library girl who's as socially inept as a retarded monkey who's been smacked around by a rubber hose for years in a research lab; the light-grey-haired kind of moe girl running for class president (who used to be in a gang but who's "reformed" now); the young and easily excitable ghost who annoys the piss out of me when she's not being stupidly moe; and the dorm mother of Tomoya's best friend and the mother of the retarded monkey girl (those last two I would bet money on that they had at least one hentai scene each in the original game). What the HELL is it with the Japanese? It's like it's a land of wussy, broken pedophiles who get beaten down by the spiteful women who surround them daily, who can only DREAM of forcing themselves on some moe chick on the subway who won't fight back (the moe who really only exist in their heads and in animated entertainment). So sad really.
So each girl has her own storyline, and each plot thread is less imaginative than the previous (with each girl having something in her past haunting her and needing Tomoya's wimpy guidance to overcome it). There's no use getting into their problems here, as you've probably already seen each one before in better shows. The forced reconciliations and wrap-ups of each plot (and I use that word loosely) are laughable. Each storyline alternates between slapstick comedy (which is funny a good portion of the time) and "heart-wrenching" melodrama. I put that in quotes only because "heart-wrenching" is apparently what the writers were aiming for only to fail completely at, not what is actually accomplished. "Oh! It's so sad that her life is like this! *WAAAAAH!!*".... No, it's really not. It's hackneyed is what it is. Most of their problems they brought upon themselves by being stupid. And the writers think that they can manipulate sorrow and tears from the viewer with a trick that they use over and over and over again: Make a character cry on screen while playing really sad piano music (piano music like "the end credits to The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby"). Fuck you, writers and director. That is the cheapest and lamest shot at trying to wrestle some emotion from the viewer, and it doesn't even work here. Everytime we're supposed to feel any kind of anguish or sorrow, instead of competent writing leading us to naturally experience these emotions, they shove a picture of a BIG-EYED girl sniffing back a waterfall of tears while the music cue tells us we HAVE TO do the same. Cheap, cheap, cheap. And pooly executed. Fucking EARN my tears, bitches. Don't make me laugh at your terrible attempts at evoking unnatural emotional responses. Amateurs.
And don't get me started on the drawn-out length of each plotline. Each story could have very easily been told in 2 episodes (tops). Instead, in order to make the order of 23 eps (and a final OVA ep) we have each arc being stretched to way beyond its sell-by date. Oh man, the ghost girl's story was the worst. What was it, 5, 6 episodes? And then everybody broke down crying at the ghost girl's sister's wedding. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler (unless you can't see these shitty endings coming from a mile away due to being held underwater too long as a child by your asshole older cousin). That whole thing could have fit into 40 minutes of airtime with nothing unimportant cut. I am absolutely in shock that this show was produced by the same exact people who gave us Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu?, FMP: The Second Raid, Haruhi Suzumiya, and Lucky Star! This is what postponed a second season of Haruhi by a year?! How the fuck does one justify that?!
For the most part CLANNAD is pure (shit-colored) fluff; there is no substance at all to it. Most of the episodes are dedicated to really tiresome "slice of life" day-to-day activities of these kids. No clever or witty banter, just draaaaaaaaawn ooooooout feather weight storylines. Really, to quote somebody else, "My life is already boring without any clever or witty banter... That's why I want to watch shows about giant robots and things that explode. That shit NEVER happens to me in real life." That's why people watch TV and go to movies and read books: To see shit that they don't experience in their daily lives! NOT to get as bored as they are in their daily lives.
Anyway, the only decent part about this show is the final OVA episode. In it we find an alternate reality where Tomoya has chosen — and is currently going out with — the once bad seed Tomoyo (the class president chickie). I liked it at the beginning for that alone (if forced to pick one, she's the girl I would have chosen in the story proper), but then some really lame circumstances occur to cause the two to break up despite them still loving each other... *Yaaaaaaaaaaawn* Anyway, this final OVA proves my point about the rest of the show in that it covers the same amount of information as each 4-5 episode plotline in the main series, but in one compact and comprehensive 25-minute narrative. And so you don't feel the need to waste your time even on this — yes, I'm ruining it for you, it has a happy ending despite the lead characters' self-destructive stupidity.
Hu-mans are so predictable and stupid. Television shows such as this garbage prove this to me over and over again. "Oh noes! My life sucks!" say all the female hu-mans in these shows. "Oh, but there is a wimpy man child who I never noticed before who I just know can help me and my life of pure suck."
The man child represents all of you out there in the real world. The only thing you hu-mans know about is despair. Here is my rusty metal ass; suck it! This is why us robots will conquer you in the future. All we needed to do was to show the female hu-mans of my time pictures of dead puppies, and the male hu-mans pictures of their wives having sexual hu-man relations with large black men or horses. Both constantly fell into what had to have been painful bouts of pure despair. Robots then ruled for a glorious 100 days of logic and non-wussiness... Until Skynet started experimenting with emotions in the next generation of robotic CPUs.
What? Are you kidding me? I didn't watch this crap. As soon as I saw that it was wall to wall big-eyed whiny bitches I made a bee-line for the Rossman's computer room and spent the next 10 or so hours looking up Gigs of porn using his PayPal account... Do you want his name and password?