CLANNAD – 22 (END)
On the day of the festival, Nagisa leaves home quietly with Tomoya without saying anything to her parents. She is still distraught over how her father used to be an actor and had made a name for himself while acting in high school, even to the point of winning some competitions. Nagisa thinks that Akio and Sanae in the pictures were happy because they were realizing their dreams, and that would have continued for a long time if she weren’t around. Tomoya tries to tell her that she’s wrong and that her parents are happy even now, but he has no answer for her when she points out that her parents nevertheless gave up on their dreams. Nagisa feels that she’s an ungrateful child because she’s trying to realize her dreams at the expense of the dreams of both her parents, and she extends this to include how she’s made all of her friends spend so much time helping her realize her dream. In response, Tomoya claims that they’re doing it because they want to, and if she wavers now, then everything they’ve done will go to waste.
At school, the two join the other members of the drama club as they wait for the afternoon performance. Sunohara notices that Nagisa is acting strange and tries to cheer her up with a charm, but he screws it up, and Nagisa goes back to looking depressed. Since they have some free time, Tomoya takes Nagisa around the festival, and she tries to enjoy things because she realizes that she shouldn’t ruin the stage created by everyone. However, the two get separated at one point, and Nagisa finds herself in front of the school’s reference room. After running into Yukine there, Nagisa decides to search for the high school play records that she had heard were there, and she finds one featuring her father in a competition. Tomoya meanwhile runs into Nagisa’s mother before learning from Yukine where Nagisa is. When he arrives at the reference room, Tomoya finds Nagisa staring lifelessly at a television that’s playing the acting competition video of her father, and Nagisa explains how she feels her father is incomparably better than she is. It is especially painful for her to see how her father had exclaimed after winning that he loved plays and how he had planned to continue acting. After a while, Tomoya just turns off the TV and tells Nagisa that she’s her own person and that she has to do what she can.
The afternoon soon rolls around, and the drama club’s turn comes right after the choir club’s. However, when Nagisa gets up on stage and sees the people in the audience, all she can think about is what her father said in the video . She eventually starts crying, and Tomoya comes extremely close to lowering the curtain on her, but before he can do so, Nagisa’s father runs into the gym and yells for Nagisa to realize her dreams. Calling her an idiot, Akio tries to make his daughter understand that the dream of a child is also the dream of the parents. As parents, he and Sanae have been dreaming of the time when Nagisa can realize her own dreams, and Akio asserts that they didn’t give up on their dreams – her dream just became theirs. That’s what it means to be parents and to be family, and Akio explains that ever since that day, they’ve been baking and looking forward to this. Thus, if Nagisa wavers here, then they’ll be depressed, and he calls it a big responsibility for her. Akio also gets Sanae to join in on this, and after seeing both parents cheering on their daughter, Tomoya runs out of the control room and onto the stage. He tells Nagisa that she can do what he can Sunohara could not and that she’s carrying their frustrated feelings now.
Having seen all of the friends and family who are supporting her, Nagisa wipes away her tears, takes a couple of deep breaths, and finally starts performing. The play goes off without a hitch, and the end of the story involves the girl burying the second doll that could not move. The original doll suggests they try building something else, and though he doesn’t know what, he knows that the girl can put together junk and create something new. This is something special that he cannot do. He thinks that they should make something exciting, and he vows to stay by the girl’s side until one day they can leave this world for the warm and busy world where he had once been. Once Nagisa finishes performing, the audience applauds her, and afterwards, she tells Tomoya that she remembered the rest of the story. According to her, the girl and the doll were able to leave that world and had embarked on a long journey that ended with a song. Nagisa uses this to justify her singing at the end of the performance, but Tomoya just teases her about her choice of the dango song. Still, he thought the play was wonderful, and Nagisa is really happy to hear this.
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Tomoya’s father. It turns out that Nagisa had invited him to the festival, and he compliments Nagisa on her play and claims that it reminded him of some stuff from the past. Seeing that Tomoya is still unwilling to speak with him, Tomoya’s father excuses himself, but to his surprise, Tomoya then quietly tells him not to drink too much. After his father leaves, Tomoya pats Nagisa on the head and suggests that they go have fun somewhere tomorrow since it’s a holiday. He wants it to be just the two of them and says that he has something he wants to say to her, but before he can reveal any more, they are interrupted again, this time by Kyou looking for them to join the after-party. The rest of the day is spent having fun with friends, and Nagisa and Tomoya spend the following day together as well, just the two of them. They go to the arcade and go shopping, and at the end of the day, Tomoya brings Nagisa back to the drama clubroom at school where he admits that he recently stopped hating this school. Nagisa then notices that her name is written on the chalk board as being on day duty, and Tomoya admits to having written that there back when she had been absent. After thinking about it for a moment, Nagisa writes Tomoya’s name beside hers as payback, and this causes Tomoya to blush in embarrassment. As for what he wanted to talk to her about, he finally works up the courage to ask her out and confesses that he loves her. Tomoya says that he wants her to always be with him from now on, and hearing this makes Nagisa happy to the point of tears.
Well this was about what I expected. That is to say, there weren’t any big plot twists or anything: Tomoya and Akio helped Nagisa get over her mental hurdle, the performance was problem-free (other than the beginning), and Tomoya finally confessed his feelings to Nagisa. Actually, that confession felt almost like an afterthought to me because it occurs so far after the climax and because we don’t really get to see the results of it. Speaking of the climax, the most emotional moment (and probably my favorite of the episode) goes to Akio when he bursts into the gymnasium to make his speech to Nagisa about her dream being their dream. That was probably the closest I came to feeling my heartstrings getting pulled, and even then it wasn’t as significant as some of the earlier parts of this series or when compared to some parts of Kanon.
This doesn’t mean that I thought this was a bad episode – it was still pretty good. I just don’t think that the overall story with Nagisa has lived up to the emotional standards that Kyoto Animation has set for these kinds of arcs. The reason, of course, is because they haven’t told the entire CLANNAD story yet, and it’s still up in the air if there’s going to be a second series of some sort or not. Next week is the extra summer-themed episode that looks to be comedy driven, but what I’ll be most interested in seeing is if there’s some sort of announcement at the end of it like there was for CLANNAD at the end of Kanon last year.