OWLS Topics

OWLS: Family Representation in Clannad

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Clannad (クラナド)

(Anime 2007-2009)

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Developed By Key

Warning Spoilers!

The OWLS’ topic for August is “Bloodlines.” Here is the prompt:

Family means everything (or does it?) This month, we will be discussing the importance of family relationships in anime and pop culture. Family relationships include a child and his/her parents, sibling rivalries, adoptions, and etc. Some questions about family that we will be contemplating on include how one’s family shapes his or her identity? How do we define family? How does a broken household influence a person’s view on family? We will be exploring these questions and types of relationships in this blog tour—so enjoy!

Prior to my post, Matt discussed “Bloodlines” in FFVII Advent Children. You can check it out here.

For “Bloodlines”, I picked the anime series, Clannad—one of the most tear-jerking anime series of all time. In fact, I cried in almost every episode of the second season, After Story. For this post, I’m discussing the different representations and meanings of ‘family’ within Clannad.

Also, if you haven’t watched Clannad, I strongly recommend that you don’t read this post because there are spoilers!

1. There is no such thing as the perfect family. There are skeletons in the closet of every household.

Clannad debunks the picturesque family that we hold dear to our hearts. In the first episode, we are first introduced to a delinquent named Tomoya Okazaki, who has an estranged relationship with his father. Tomoya’s father became an alcoholic and gambling addict after Tomoya’s mother passed away. One night, Tomoya injured his arm while he and his father were in a physical argument which led to his inability to lift his right shoulder, forcing him to quit basketball. Tomoya avoids coming home and stays out late at night so that he doesn’t have to see his father.

© Kyoto Animation

Just from Tomoya’s situation, one can see that not every family is picture-perfect. Tomoya has gone through some tough family drama which resulted in him running away from home and avoiding his problems.

2. Just because you are born into a rotten family, it doesn’t mean you have to act like them.

In Clannad: After Story, Tomoya acts like his father after the death of his wife, Nagisa. He neglects their newborn daughter, Ushio. Soon after, he comes to terms with the death of Nagisa and his estranged relationship with his own father by becoming a real dad to Ushio.

© Kyoto Animation

Tomoya’s upbringing is an example of how “one’s origin doesn’t determine one’s future.” Tomoya had a tough life and losing Nagisa was the icing on the cake—she was the only person that he truly loves and cares about. He realizes that he’s becoming his father when he neglects Ushio and so rather than having Ushio resent him in the future like he did to his own dad, he changes his ways and becomes the father Ushio needs.

3. A child’s dream is a parent’s dream.

The main girl in this series, Nagisa Furukawa, was born with a weak body. Every time she was sick when she was little, her parents would leave her in the house because they were both busy working and full-filling their career dreams. It wasn’t until she became very sick and on the brink of death that her parents sacrifice their dream jobs in order to take care of her.

© Kyoto Animation

A parent makes sacrifices for their child as their child is a parent’s number one priority. A parent’s dream is their child’s happiness and if their child has a dream, a parent would do anything to help them succeed like when Nagisa wants to put on a school play.

© Kyoto Animation

4. A parent’s love is forever.

The next character I’m going to discuss is Kotomi Ichinose. After her parents died from a plane crash on her birthday, Kotomi refuses to discuss her parents to others. She tends to be distant towards people as she is afraid that she will lose them if she gets too close to them. Yet in the end of her story arc, she receives a teddy bear and a loving letter from her parents prior to their death. The contents of the letter consist of her parents saying that they love her and that they wish she lives a happy and healthy life.

© Kyoto Animation

When a family member passes away, we may be filled with guilt for arguments we had or not doing something that we wished we should have done when that particular person was alive. We also may feel like we weren’t showing enough love to that person. In Kotomi’s story, she felt guilty that she caused her parents’ death, but the gift from them is a reminder of their love.

5. A sibling bond is strong.

© Kyoto Animation

Fuko Ibuki is an ikiryō that visits Nagisa and Tomoya’s school. She is making and giving wooden starfishes to every student in the school so that they attend her sister, Kouko’s, wedding. Kouko stopped teaching at the school and was reluctant to have a wedding ceremony after her sister’s accident. Even though she is in a coma, her spirit enters the real world because she is determined to give the best wedding for her sister. This shows Fuko’s unconditional love for her sister and that no matter what happens, she will always be there for her. From Fuko’s story arc, I think it shows that distance does not break a sibling bond and love for each other and like a parent’s love, a sibling’s love is eternal.


There are many other family aspects that I could discuss with the anime, Clannad, but rather than making this a long post, I just gave a few prime examples of family representations that this show conveys to its audience.

Thank you for reading and I hope you check out the next post by Moonid.

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25 comments

  1. There really are some interesting representations of family in Clannad and it is part of what makes it such an interesting show even though there may not be a lot happening at times. The complex relationships are really what sell the story and make it feel real.
    Thanks for sharing a thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aargh: I knew i should have bought this one at animecon. I left it to buy something else but really regret this now. Oh well, nothing to be done about it now, but will hopefully see it at sone point in the future. Another awesome post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this anime and your post. I actually have the DVDS for the anime and movie but I am afriad to watch it because this anime hit my heart multiple times and made me cry. Still, you made some excellent points in regards to Tomoya and Nagisa. Just to say something random, I like the English Dub lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Only getting around to August posts
    But I knew you’d pick clannad and it’s a perfect series to pick for family topic. Fantastic posts I always love your posts lyn most of how I do my post
    Now. Approaching them anyway it’s because of
    You a bit but pretty much what I feel
    About the representations you mentioned are the ones I noticed while watching this series. Many others who ready
    This post will
    Enjoy what I read and again way to go !!

    Liked by 1 person

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