2016 was the year the sakuga cartel enacted their sinister plan of world domination. For years, they had been lying in wait, angrily debating the best Megumi Kouno cut behind closed doors. But now, they have moved out into the open. You can find these diabolical nerds in the streets, dancing around the statues of Naoko Yamada they have erected using Precure and Doremi storyboards and genga sheets. But worst of all, you can find them wherever you can find anime fans, crying over their favourite anime and arguing about pointless shit on twitter.
That’s right, any of us could be an agent for the sakuga cartel… even you or me.
Love it or hate it, here’s one thing Clannad undeniably excels at: character animation. If you observe the visuals closely, much of the characterisation is expressed through body language and subtle visual cues. Even when the anime goes for low-brow, physical humour, the characters’ entire bodies remain quite expressive and dynamic. This is in contrast to the rather “stiff” delivery in most anime comedies.
If you don’t believe me, just observe Nagisa’s drunken scene and Chitoge’s one in Nisekoi. It boils down to the same joke, but there’s a world of difference in the delivery. It’s not so much that Clannad is more skillfully animated (although this is definitely true), but rather the storyboards themselves were conceived with quite different intents in mind; each shot in Clannad draws attention to the movements of all the characters inside and outside the frame, leading to a natural escalation of the situation, whereas Nisekoi’s scene is full of choppy transitions from one key frame into another.
Clannad’s visual strengths were particularly noticeable in the After Story portion of the tale, especially as far as Ushio’s characterisation was concerned. It would have been so easy for her character to become Generic Moeblob #85934, especially given that her role in the overall narrative is mostly one of symbolic importance. Yet Ushio never failed to have presence whenever she was onscreen, and much of this comes down to the way her body movements were animated. It was clear that the key animators put extra care into making her move like a real child.
Planetarian is the first visual novel I played from start to finish in Japanese. I suppose it will always hold a special place in my heart just for that reason alone. It’s short and accessible (only about 3-5 hours long), and also one of the very few Japanese visual novels with an official English release, so I recommend at least giving it a shot if you’re interested in this branch of visual media.
While we’re talking about Planetarian, now is a good time to mention that the game is half price on Steam at the moment. The offer ends on the 22nd of June (or the 21st, depending on your timezone), so snap it up while you still can!
Light novels are becoming more popular among English-speaking readers these days, but many, many LNs remain untranslated. This particular title doesn’t even have a fan translation. But never fear, Doctor Froggy is here to provide you with spoilers for a trashy light novel you’ll probably never read.