CLANNAD ~AFTER STORY~ – 16
In the illusionary world, the girl who can no longer help build the flying machine wants the robot to stay by her side forever, but the robot knows that he has to go back out for that to happen. In the real world, Nagisa’s pregnancy is progressing through the months, and Sanae and Akio are helping out where they can. Tomoya is wracked with doubt, and he one night talks to Sanae about how Nagisa would be living a different, potentially happier life if she had never met him. Sanae, however, feels that they can’t think about such things. Despite this, Tomoya and Nagisa spend a happy Christmas and birthday together, and he gets her another stuffed dango to go with her collection. Sunohara, Kyou, Ryou, and Kotomi then visit the couple during New Years, and the group gets caught up on how all their other friends are doing. At one point, Sunohara asks Tomoya what it feels like to become a father, and he reveals how he always felt that becoming a parent was something in the future and something that happened like a natural disaster. Tomoya doesn’t have an answer about his feelings, but he does know that this happened because he’s with the person he loves and is living for her sake.
The group then talks about how Tomoya and Nagisa are so far ahead in life compared to everyone else, and the topic of life prompts Kotomi to bring up her research about the hidden world. She tries to explain how their world and the hidden world are deeply connected and have influences on each other, and that leads Nagisa to wonder what the hidden world is like. This triggers a memory in Tomoya of the role Nagisa had played in her high school performance, but he can’t figure out why. In any case, Kotomi also mentions how there might be a number of other worlds, and this reminds Tomoya of how Ryou had once talked about there being many possible futures. Sometime later, Akio finds Tomoya watching the construction of the new hospital, and he observes that the city is ever-changing. People and things cannot help but change – that’s what it means to live. Still having doubts, Tomoya wonders if Nagisa would be well if he hindered the construction, and he feels that he’s going to hate the city. Akio knows that they can’t do anything about it, but he does reveal that he asked that some trees be preserved.
That same day, the city becomes covered in snow, and the trains and cars are unable to operate. It is in this environment that Nagisa gets a fever and goes into labor two weeks early. Yagi, Akio, and Sanae soon arrive to help, and because of the snow, Nagisa is forced to give birth at home after all. Tomoya stays by her side all day and all night, and she loses consciousness a number of times, only to be awakened again by the pain. It feels like an eternity to Tomoya, but as he’s despairing, he suddenly hears the cries of the baby. He gets to be the first one to hold the newly born Ushio, but he then becomes alarmed at how Nagisa is barely conscious. When she does open her eyes, he shows her their baby girl, and Nagisa is glad that she was able to give birth at home. As Nagisa starts to drift out of consciousness again, Tomoya tries to keep her awake by talking about Ushio and how they’ll raise her. Nagisa’s eyes soon close however, and her hand goes limp. Tomoya remembers how she had promised to always be by his side and how he had finally found his dream, but nothing he does now awakens her.
Faced with this, Tomoya remembers all of the time he’s spent with Nagisa, and his memory goes back to when they first met on that spring day. Back then, Nagisa had noted that nothing could stay unchanged, and she had wondered if they could keep loving the school. Tomoya now feels that it would have been better if they had never met and had gone down different paths. He wouldn’t have gone out with Nagisa and married her, and Ushio wouldn’t have been born. If that had happened, then there wouldn’t have been such sadness.
OK, that made me cry. I had an inkling of what was coming thanks to all the foreshadowing, but the latter half of the episode was so emotional that I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. The view from Nagisa’s perspective, Tomoya desperately trying to keep her awake, the music, and the flashbacks – all of it was done so wonderfully, and I still choke up a little every time I rewatch that scene. This would have been an absolutely perfect episode if not for one big snag at the very end: the ED. After such an emotional and depressing episode, such an upbeat ED was completely out of place. You’d think that an event as major as Nagisa dying would warrant a special song and animation sequence, but no, they stuck with the usual, and that was a horrible choice.
That gripe aside, just thinking about Nagisa being dead makes me sad, and it was frustrating hearing Tomoya talk about how it would have been better if he had never met her. It’s an incredibly selfish attitude, and I suspect Nagisa wouldn’t have wanted her life to be any other way. Tomoya needs his friends to slap some sense into him, but if the preview is any indicator, he’ll fall into a bad rut instead. I always thought – aided by how they keep mentioning in the series – that Tomoya was more like Akio, but it occurs to me that his life probably parallels his own father’s more, with him being a single parent (though he’ll probably give Ushio up to Akio and Sanae) and likely depressed all the time. Bad as it may be, perhaps this experience will ultimately lead him to understand and reconcile with his father.
In any case, there are still plenty of episodes left, so the story’s not quite over yet. It’s probably involves life after Nagisa and raising Ushio, and those light orbs also still need to come into play…