Friday, 24 October 2008

Clannad ~After Story~ - Episode 4

After Story's Sunohara and Mei-centric story arc hits its third instalment in episode four... Although dare I suggest that this was an episode too far for this particular plot line?

Perhaps that's a little unfair, as spending three episodes on Sunohara and Mei isn't the problem in itself (and indeed the arc started really well as far as I'm concerned) - This episode somehow fell a bit flat by developing a case of Clannad's intermittant yet virulent disease, what I call resolve-a-problem-in-the-most-illogical-way-possiblitus. The major symptom of this particular disease is that any Clannad character facing a personal issue looks to resolve it in arguably the most bizarre way possible, and it seems that Mei has a particularly bad case of it here. Given the problems with her brother, you'd think there would be myriad ways of trying to get him to see the light, but for some reason Mei decides that the only way to "get him back" is to somehow get him to rejoin the soccer club he left some time ago on account of being bullied. Not only does this not seem particularly sensible, it didn't really feel like it tied in with Mei's complaints about her brother's behaviour in the last episode either, which left me with an odd "well what's the point then?" feeling floating around in my head throughout the episode.

Regardless of that, we're then treated to Mei, Nagisa and Tomoya chasing after footballs (sorry, I just can't use the word 'soccer' one more time without feeling nauseous), and then still having their request to allow Sunohara to rejoin the club turned down, before everything turns into a full-on fist fight first between the football team and Sunohara and Tomoya, before the latter pairing turn on each other. Thankfully, it appears that the cure for resolve-a-problem-in-the-most-illogical-way-possiblitus is a hefty dose of fisticuffs, to be taken with a small dase of weak ending, and so everything ends up coming up roses.

I should probably point out at this juncture that I didn't really dislike this episode of After Story, I simply felt that it didn't live up to what had come before, nor did it really feel natural from either an emotional or logical perspective. I still enjoy the characters and animation enough to be able to somewhat brush off this kind of stuff, but perhaps I simply prefer it when Clannad is being light-hearted to when it tries to get a bit more serious - That's not to say that it can't do the latter (the original series frequently succeeded along those lines too), but it always seems to be a little more hit and miss, and personally I think that this episode is Exhibit A for the prosecution in terms of placing this accusation against After Story.

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