Clannad (Switch) Review

Platforms: Switch (port only)
Developer: Visual Arts/Key, Prototype
Publisher: Prototype
Release: 4th July 2019
Price: 44.99

If there´s one title that influenced both the visual novel and anime medium in many ways, it´s probably not Clannad. However, Clannad is one of the big titles that surely played their part in growing these mediums, so it´s not surprising to see how it gets released on almost any platform and now finally the Switch too. So, it was time to give the original one a go myself.

In its core, Clannad is probably one of the most classic approaches to the slice of life genre that you could encounter. After more than a decade after its original release, it´s obvious how much the landscape both in visual novels and anime has changed and how uninteresting the premise of Tomoya Okazaki, his mysterious encounter with Nagisa and his daily fights with his friend(s) sound at first. Yet, that´s also part of its charme I adored it for during those years.

Clannad manages an almost perfect balance between being an entertaining but unsurprising slice of life romance story and a full-blown character drama with hidden emotions, twists, lies and corruptions. During its 50 hours for a proper playthrough of the basic routes, it offers a seemless variety of all those themes. On the one hand we got the typical lone student who´s scarred by his past and doesn´t manage to connect to anyone anymore, or so it seems. Mixed up with the proper comedy and slice of life care, it evolves into a well working and oiled tale around learning to trust yourself and others in a time where it seems impossible. It´s an honestly well written approach to a theme I´ve seen countless times already.

Why? Because of the characters. A drama thrives because of them and Clannad isn´t an exception offering intriguing personalities suffering from equally bad scars of their past, all trying to connect again. Often they tend to be a bit too dramatic for my taste and too hard of a tear jerker but at the same time, isn´t this also part of its kinda childish charme? It may not be the most objectively well done execution but it doesn’t want to be one. It doesn´t want to deliver a purely adult tale, it wants to deliver a little, childish, fairy tale drama like experience that doesn´t shy away from tackling hard themes in the process but in a manner one can often smile and laugh about in a way.

This is enforced by the honestly quite unique artstyle, offering designs stuck somewhere between the old anime style and interesting proportions in general. Be it the wide apart eyes, childish proportions or the sometimes amateurishly drawn characters in general. Still, all this comes together to form a style that may take some time to get used to but enhances the often cute, heartwarming atmosphere a whole lot. Combine it with the cute soundtrack and you got one comfy story for dozens of nights.

Conclusion

Clannad isn´t a deep story but certainly one that encapsules many facettes of both teenager life, school and connecting to others. It´s an extremely thorough tale about your typical problems everyone kinda faced in this time shown through a sometimes naive but always loveable lense I couldnt resist loving.

[A Review Code was provided by Prototype]