CLANNAD ~AFTER STORY~ – 21
The doctor informs Tomoya, Sanae, and Akio that Ushio’s illness is the same as Nagisa’s, and he still doesn’t know the cause. Seeing Tomoya depressed, Akio reminds him that he’s Ushio’s father, so he has to stay level-headed. On the day of the kindergarten’s field day, Ushio remains bedridden, but she still tries to tell her father to go beat Akio. Tomoya stays by her side though, promising to protect her. Over a month passes like this with Ushio being forced to stay at home, and in order to be with her, Tomoya decides to quit his job. Yuusuke, however, wants Tomoya to come back when Ushio gets better, and he trades personal screwdrivers with Tomoya on the deal that they’ll eventually return them when they work together again. As time goes on, Tomoya finds that Ushio is unable to change clothes or go to the bathroom on her own, and she can only eat soft foods. When he asks her one day if there’s anything she wants, she tells him that she wants to go on a trip with him again. Tomoya promises that they’ll do it once she gets better, but internally, he is torn over how he can’t grant his daughter’s only wish. He himself wishes that Nagisa were around in such a time, and he’s starting to feel that he and his family are being toyed with by this town. Despite this, he vows to save Ushio.
At one point, Akio offers Tomoya some money, but Tomoya refuses to take it and claims that he still has some savings in the bank. The two go shopping together, and afterward they stop near the hospital. When Tomoya reflects on how nature got sacrificed to build this hospital, Akio reports that a shopping mall is being built nearby as well. This leads to Tomoya wondering if Akio bringing Nagisa here when she was about to die connected her to the town, if Ushio inherited that, and if all the change is painful for the town. Akio, however, thinks that it has nothing to do with pain. Tomoya then questions if they have to accept that dying is one part of the changing, and Akio’s answer is that the hospital was built because people don’t want that. Sometime later, as Christmas draws near, Tomoya is watching over Ushio again and finds himself feeling disoriented. Looking out the window, he sees a vision of a snowy landscape for a moment before things return to normal. The refrigerator is empty, but Tomoya is at least able to give Ushio some water. Ushio still wants to go on a trip to the field of flowers, and although he resists at first, Tomoya eventually gives in to her wishes.
The two set out after bundling up, and Tomoya brings along his picture of Nagisa. Ushio insists on walking on her own strength, but after a little while, it’s clear that she’s struggling to continue on. It soon starts snowing, and since she likes snow, Ushio asks her father if he likes it as well. Despite remembering how Nagisa died on a snowy day, Tomoya claims that he does. Ushio’s legs give out after struggling forward a bit longer, and when Tomoya catches her, she asks him where they are. Since she thinks that they’re already on the train, Tomoya tells her that they are, and he also claims that it’s night because all she can see is darkness. Ushio then tells him that she loves him, and Tomoya says the same to her. Moments later, Ushio closes her eyes and her arm falls limp. Grief-striken, Tomoya cries out for his daughter and wishes that Nagisa or someone would save her. He himself then collapses in the snow.
Over in the illusionary world, the girl and the robot are on their journey through the snowy landscape, but the girl has collapsed, and the robot has to wake her. The robot wonders how many more steps it will take to reach where they’re going and if they have to continue walking endlessly. Although she gets back up, the girl soon collapses again. Tomoya meanwhile remembers again how he and Nagisa first met, and he thinks about if it would have been better if he hadn’t talked to her and they hadn’t met.
It feels a bit weird to say this, but I didn’t think that Ushio’s death had as much impact as Nagisa’s. It was certainly sad and got me teary-eyed, but we didn’t get to know Ushio as well as we did her mother, and at points I felt like they were trying to rehash/repeat all that made Nagisa’s death emotional. The main difference I saw was that Tomoya was powerless when Nagisa died because the snow forced her to give birth at home, and but his deciding to take Ushio out probably contributed to her dying. That’s not to say that I blame him entirely for Ushio’s death since it was clear that things weren’t getting any better, and they probably couldn’t continue on like they had been, but it didn’t seem unavoidable like Nagisa’s death did and hence it was less tragic/sad. Having said all that, Ushio’s death still succeeded in getting me more worked up than any other show I watched this past week except maybe Gundam 00 (and that’s a different kind of worked up), so I can’t really complain.
I’m also fully expecting some sort of miracle at this point because it looked like the light orbs flashed right after Tomoya collapsed in the snow. Plus, there’s still an episode to go, and that’s probably just enough time for a miracle to produce some sort of happy ending (bittersweet or not). Speaking of which, I hadn’t been paying attention to episode titles/spoilers or episode counts, so I didn’t find out until earlier this week that AFTER STORY is only going to be 22 episodes long, plus an extra episode like we had for the first series. That means that next week is already going to be the finale, and the week after that (March 19th) is a Nagisa-back-during-high-school episode.