For this August, we decided to do a dedication to Kyoto Animation.
Kyoto Animation. We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honoring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favorite Kyoto Animation series. We will discuss what we love about these series and what they taught us.
The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. We pray for the lives that were lost in this tragedy and the families that are suffering at this time. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.
Personally, the best Kyoto Animation work I have seen is Clannad and it’s still my number one favorite. For this post, I am going to focus on the miracles that occur in Tomoya Okazaki’s life.
The Dark Side of Life
The male protagonist, Tomoya, hates his life and doesn’t have any passion for living. He just goes about his days, lethargically. In fact, he was labeled a delinquent for coming in late to school and skipping classes, but he does not resort to bullying and fighting amongst his peers. It may seem that Tomoya lives a carefree lifestyle, but Tomoya is actually struggling. He cannot lift his right shoulder anymore, which was caused by a fight with his father. His father became a violent alcoholic after his wife died in a car crash. Tomoya has an estranged relationship with him and remains distant; in fact, Tomoya lingers around the city before going home because he can’t stand being in the same room with his father. Yet, despite having a difficult family life, Tomoya is a kind and selfless guy and he shows this caring side towards his friends. He tries to always give a helping hand towards them.
The Light Side of Life
In fact, throughout Clannad and Clannad: After Story, Tomoya is seen helping his friends get through some difficult situations and through this, he learns what it means to be happy and blessed. The first story arc focuses on Fuko Ibuki, a first-year student at Hikarizaka High School. She creates wooden starfish and gives it to each student so that they can attend her sister’s wedding. It just so happens that Fuko is actually in a coma and she is an ikiryo, a spirit that leaves the body of a living person and haunts people and environments across great distances. Even though she’s a spirit, Tomoyo and Nagisa try their best in helping Fuko make her wish come true. Fuko wants to bring happiness to her sister and will do anything she can to make it happen. Fuko’s desire is so strong that it allows her to astral project. In this arc, Tomoya sees that happiness comes from selfless acts of kindness to other people.
After Fuko, Tomoya and Nagisa help Kotomi Ichinose, a genius student who is horrible at playing the violin. Kotomi is quiet and has a difficult time communicating with other people. Kotomi lost her parents when she was young and so she resorted in pushing people away because she doesn’t want to feel the loss of losing someone again. Tomoya and Nagisa renovate Kotomi’s garden and she receives a teddy bear with a message inside from her parents wishing her happiness and to live the life she wants. Kotomi realizes that her parents still love her even though they are gone. For Tomoya, he learns that love crosses all boundaries and we shouldn’t live in regret or fear from what the past has done to us.
The last major arc that I want to focus on is Nagisa Furukawa. Nagisa has been gravely ill throughout her whole life. She almost died as a child when her parents neglected her illness to focus on their occupations. Since then, Nagisa’s health has been a top priority for her parents. She dreams of restarting the drama club at her high school and to perform on stage. With Tomoya’s encouragement, she reaches her goal and even has her parents there at her performance cheering her on. Through Nagisa, Tomoya learns that you can find happiness even through the struggles.
Finding The Light in The Darkest Moments
It is these lessons and life experiences he has with his friends that Tomoya can grow into a mature adult and realize what brings meaning into his life. In Clannad: After Story, Tomoya and Nagisa get married. Soon after, Nagisa dies after giving birth to Ushio. This leads to a five-year depression for Tomoya and he leaves Ushio under the care and supervision of Nagisa’s parents. Tomoya and Ushio reunite after Nagisa’s mother, Sanae, arranged for them to visit the flower fields. Tomoya meets his grandmother and learns about all the sacrifices his father made for him. Tomoya accepts his father and he starts to become a father figure towards Ushio. However, their happiness is short-lived when Ushio has the same illness as her mother, Nagisa, and she dies.
After her death, it was later revealed that Ushio was the girl in the “Illusionary World” within Tomoya’s mind. It is said that if enough miracles happen and/or light orbs filled with happiness is received, a miracle can happen. For Tomoya, throughout his life, he collected these happy moments which led him to make a wish. He turns back time to the first time he met Nagisa and he embraces her. Both Nagisa and Tomoya reunite and get the happy ending they deserve.
If there’s one thing that I took from Clannad is that these even in a world of despair and suffering, it’s these little moments of happiness and joy with others that can bring in blessings and miracles. Kyoto Animation has been struck with tragedy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of everything. Though Kyoto Animation has suffered a great loss, we will remember those lives that were lost and let their stories and art continue to live on and touch our hearts. Kyoto Animation will rebuild and that’s the miracle that we believe in.
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