Happy birthday Oreki Houtarou, and CLANNAD 10th Anniversary

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I had originally not planned on writing anything because lmao blogging and also because I was content to keep my being きもい on twitter. However, I’d learned that not only was it Oreki’s birthday today, but it’s also the release date for the PC version of Clannad, making this some sort of anime holy day for me. Even spookier is that this year marks Clannad’s 10th anniversary, a fact that I only know because I found and bought the 10th anniversary artbook while I was in Tokyo this past summer.

It might seem really trite nowadays (some might argue that it already was when it aired), but Clannad continues to hold a special place in my heart and is still one of my favourite anime and visual novels. Even back then knowing almost nothing about visual novels, it was really easy to see all of the different pieces glued together into a single coherent story.

Where I think Clannad flops is if you think of Clannad as the story of Tomoya and Nagisa getting together in high school. It’s nice, but it’s pretty typical. What I consider Clannad to be and what interested me the most about it is Tomoya’s story beyond his high school life and romance and where he ends up as a person. But maybe this speaks more about my endearment for moe guy characters than how good Clannad is.

I think that’s also why I like Oreki so much (I mean other than being moe). Hyouka is even less about Oreki’s love life and much more about how he changes between episodes 1 and 22. Of course, a lot of that has to do with Chitanda (a lot like how Tomoya changes because of Nagisa). Of course, Oreki’s not done by the time episode 22 rolls around and the way the show ends makes that pretty clear.

Now back to waiting for a new KyoAni show starring moe boy voiced by Nakamura Yuuichi.

12 Days IV: Meta-meta-meta-

「Rewrite攻略記念」/「k3」

「Rewrite攻略記念」/「k3」

It was cool the first few times I saw it, but visual novels are kind of getting out of hand with the whole meta timeline and universe jumping structural shenanigans. Rewrite escalates this situation further than Key had done before with Little Busters or Clannad. Of course, Rewrite offers something very different from its Key and universe-jumping predecessors, which was enough to placate me. At the very least, the side routes aren’t a waste of time like in Little Busters, so that’s already a huge improvement. Also Kotori is the best, thank you Chiwa Saito.

12 Days I: Something stolen

「武御雷Type-00F」/「ひろぽん♪」

Just as we learned in Muv-Luv Alternative, it doesn’t take very long for everything that’s been going so well to just crash and burn. Six years after the promise at the end of Akane Maniax, we finally have ourselves a Muv-Luv anime. So it’s a sidestory, that’s okay, I can’t say no to more Muv-Luv. Oh, but it features a song by Koda Kumi. Also, it looks kind of bad. Also, the BETA look really bad. Also, it’s veering into really dumb territory. And the characters are unlikeable and stupid. Oh no, what does this mean for the future of Muv-Luv in animation? No. Please, no. Make it stop. Cue the piano.

12 Days XI: Death sucks

「セツミ」/「ごとP」

「セツミ」/「ごとP」

Narcissu is about people who are dying.

I read the first Narcissu last year during the summer. That was about a guy and a girl, both terminally ill and pretty much left to die. Faced with the choice of dying in the hospital or dying at home, they reject both and escape. Escape to where? Well, they figure that out along the way while we sit in the backseat and listen in.

Narcissu Side 2nd came out this year to everyone’s surprise and it offers another perspective on someone whose life is slowly draining away. This time, rather than following the journey of two people who are dying, we see how the waiting to die affects the person who’s about to die and everyone around them. Side 2nd takes place years before Narcissu, in which the protagonist, Himeko, meets Setsumi, the girl from the first Narcissu.

Side 2nd is interesting because it illuminates Setsumi’s character and leads into so many of the little details in Narcissu. It’s impressive how Side 2nd adds to the original Narcissu, even though it was already a pretty complete story. And after finishing Side 2nd, reading Narcissu again, and finishing with the new epilogue, I was amazed by how everything fit together.

Narcissu is fascinating because it shows us the end of a life without the usual drama that accompanies it in other fictional works. It’s not about people who are dying and are fighting to live. It’s not about people who are dying and decide to go out in a blaze of glory. It’s not about people who are dying after a life well lived. Narcissu is about people who have barely lived their lives and are resigned to the fact that it’ll be over shortly.

No shouting, no tears, no hope, just silence.

12 Days VII: Gotta save them all

「剣戟の極地」/「Sky」

「剣戟の極地」/「Sky」

It took about a year for me to finally finish this thing. No, it isn’t about the movie.

Something I never get tired of in visual novels is the ways that writers take advantage of the branching and resetting in the overall plot of the game. What’s fascinating about Fate/stay night is that its narrative progresses across all of its different routes. Even though the story begins and ends in each route, the narrative continues and both Shirou and our understanding of the world and the other characters grow from route to route.

In that light, Heaven’s Feel is the perfect end to the entire thing. In each arc, Shirou’s heroic ideals are the thing that is being challenged. In Fate and Unlimited Blade Works, the worst that could happen was that Shirou would lose his life because of it. But if you’re a hero, that’s not such a bad way to go, I guess. Things are not so easy when the thing you would lose is the life of your love.

It’s that classic moral dilemma: would you kill one person to save a hundred? Fate/stay night poses that question a little more specifically. What if that person was yourself? Shirou goes ‘hells yeah’. What if that person wasn’t yourself? Shirou goes, ‘I’ll save everyone’, but he can’t. What if that person was your beloved? ‘…’ What if the one you love is the direct cause of those peoples’ deaths? ‘……….’

It’s not just the difficult part of Shirou’s ideal that’s attacked. He can’t save everyone, but failing at that is understandable and human. But the sense of justice from being a hero is also under assault. All he has to do is kill whoever’s been taking the lives of innocents, what’s so hard about that? Oh, it’s his lover, well, that kinda sucks. What is a hero to do?

I don’t remember where I read it, but each route is supposed to represent a different stage in life. In childhood, we cling on to our ideals at the expense of everything else. In adolescence, we try to reconcile our ideals with everything else. And in adulthood, we recognize what’s really important and we throw away our childish things.

It’s in UBW that a lot of people say that Shirou becomes GAR and mans up. But really, it’s in Heaven’s Feel that Shirou mans up for reals. Fate/stay night is about Shirou growing up and it appropriately ends with him throwing away his childish ideals for the one he loves.