Yuuichi wakes up one morning to the sound of alarm clocks and goes next door to wake up Nayuki too. It is February now, and Akiko has already recovered from her injuries. She has a new jam ready for breakfast, and after eating, Nayuki runs with Yuuichi to school. They manage to arrive in time for class, but Yuuichi tells Nayuki to control herself a bit more when they’re running late because she can eat her mother’s jam whenever she wants now. As he then jokingly suggests Akiko’s special jam, Kaori and Kitagawa join the conversation. Kaori also knows about the jam, but she has something more important to tell Yuuichi. Because of what she says, Yuuichi heads outside and Shiori appears behind him. When he says that it would have been better for her to stay home since she’s a first-year all over again, Shiori uses her trademark phrase that she hates people who say things like that. Yuuichi expresses his happiness that she came to school and suggests another party for her, but Shiori just wonders if it’s okay for her to cry in times like this. In tears, Shiori then rushes into Yuuichi’s arms and says that she really didn’t want to die, to say goodbye, or to be alone. Knowing that she’s been enduring it for a long time, Yuuichi tells Shiori that it’s okay to cry when she wants to cry.
At lunchtime, Yuuichi dines in his normal spot with Mai and Sayuri. Both of them were released from the hospital before graduation, and the doctor even said that it was a miracle they healed so fast. However, they didn’t get out in time for college entrance examinations, so they’re ronin for now. Yuuichi is a little surprised that Mai is planning on college too, and she answer him by putting on some glasses and holding up a children’s book. She explains that she’s going to the same school as Sayuri so that she can study to be a doctor who looks after animals. Yuuichi knows that she’s not very good at studying and questions if she’ll be okay, but this comment causes Mai to hit him on the head with her book. Sayuri then changes the subject to if Yuuichi has found the friend he was searching for, Tsukimiya Ayu. Yuuichi reveals that Ayu said they won’t be able to see each other again, and he feels that she probably moved away somewhere. Ayu remains on his mind after school as he’s walking through town, and when someone calls out to him, he at first thinks it’s her.
The person turns out to be Akiko, and she joins Yuuichi for a drink at a cafe. When he expresses how glad he is that she doesn’t have any after-effects from the accident, Akiko reveals that the doctors were surprised a how fast she recovered – like a miracle. She then mentions how she and Nayuki are worried about Ayu, and Yuuichi reveals that he remembers seven years ago. He recounts how his friend had fallen off a tree and got taken to the hospital. At the time, Yuuichi had been dazed in front of the station when Nayuki came, and although she didn’t know about the accident, he had taken his anger out on her before boarding the train with his parents. He knows now that Akiko hadn’t told him about the accident when they met again out of consideration for him. Her asking him about the tree getting cut down was to confirm whether he remembered or not. The tree had been cut down to prevent the same accident from happening again, and the girl who had fallen from that tree was Tsukimiya Ayu. Yuuichi doesn’t think that Ayu is in this world anymore, but to his surprise, Akiko disputes that. She explains that the girl hadn’t die, but had rather been kept in the hospital. Hearing this, Yuuichi rushes there and finds a sleeping, long-haired Ayu in one of the rooms.
A little while later, spring is in full swing and it’s graduation time. Yuuichi brings both Sayuri and Mai flowers, but he doesn’t join them for the party afterwards because he’s going to see Ayu. Watching Yuuichi walk off, Sayuri comments on how Ayu’s been sleeping for seven years and how they should visit her. At the hospital, as Yuuichi talks to the sleeping Ayu about what happened today, Ayu thinks that she seeing a dream of the person she loves being next to her. He tells her various stories including how he met his cousin after seven years, how a young kitsune became a human, how a strange girl comes to the school courtyard every day, how a girl fights apparitions, and how he was reunited with his childhood friend in the evening town. She’s seeing a dream of being close to the person she loves and repeating every day. Fragments of this dream come and fill her heart, just like how the fragments of snow fall from the sky and dye the town white.
On one particular occasion, Shiori asks Yuuichi if he’s ever thought about being in someone’s dream right now. She thinks that the person seeing the dream can grant only one wish, and when this person first started living the dream world, this person could only cry. This person kept waiting and waiting inside the dream, and then there was a small chance. The wish was given like a present for continuing to wait a long time. Any wish was able to be granted, from curing a sick girl to saving a person who got in an accident to healing injured friends. Shiori doesn’t know what this person wished for and suggests that this person may have wanted her beloved to always be smiling. For something like that, everyone around this person would have to be happy too. When Yuuichi asks, Shiori explains that she doesn’t know why she’s thinking about it, just that she’s had that feeling since she got better. Yuuichi then wanders around a church thinking about this and returns back to Ayu’s hospital room sometime later with Nayuki. After combing Ayu’s long hair, Nayuki comments on the lack of the red hair band. As she leaves, Nayuki tells Yuuichi that she believes that there are miracles.
As winter comes around again, Yuuichi tells Ayu that Nayuki got a recommendation for a college with a strong track team. He thinks that Kaori will get into her school of choice and Mai is reaching that exam passing point too. Shiori has also received a prize for her art. As he approaches her bedside and starts to cry, Yuuichi wonders if Ayu can actually hear his voice. Mai then comes by for a visit and tells Yuuichi that Ayu is still waiting for him even now. She thinks that he should go find Ayu just like he did for her. Only he can do it because only the person who can keep the promise is the person who made the promise. After he wonders where Ayu is waiting for him, Yuuichi sets out in the cold weather. During this, Ayu explains that she likes the scenery that flows by. In the winter and the town of fluttering snow, she likes running through the shopping district and leaving behind new footprints in the snow. In the spring and the town of melting snow, she likes scooping up the snow by the tree trunks with her bare hands. In the summer and the town where the coldness of snow is forgotten, she likes looking at the misty town through the cracks of her umbrella. In the autumn and the town where the coming of snow has been signaled, she likes catching the small snowflakes with her hands.
And then the season returns to winter where the town is covered in white. Ayu likes the scenery that flows by, however, like the frozen puddle, her time has stopped. Inside this square room, inside this time without seasons, she was always alone – over and over again, while seeing the same scene in her dream. However, her endless night is slowly becoming white. By now, Yuuichi has returned to the spot with the tree stump and finds a dirty blue bag hidden in some tall grass. It is the present he was going to give Ayu: the hair band. Even though he remembers all the times Ayu had said she got the hair band as a present, Yuuichi knows that he never gave it to her. He had chosen an illusion over reality and had shut that sad reality deep in his heart. He had accepted the illusion that made him feel at ease so that his weak heart wouldn’t get crushed and so that he didn’t hurt his memories. As he cries, Yuuichi envisions a young form of himself walking towards Ayu and apologizing for being really late. He gives Ayu the hair band and then the two walk off together.
In the springtime sometime later when the sakura trees are in full bloom, Yuuichi is late for a meeting with Ayu. When he arrives, he teases her for being a suspicious character and then asks her about the hat she’s wearing. She makes him promise not to laugh, but when she reveals that she got her hair cut really short, Yuuichi can’t help but laugh at her because she looks like a boy now. He then helps her into her wheelchair so that they can go to a gathering where Akiko is making taiyaki and Shiori, Mai, Kaori, and Sayuri are coming. As he wheels her off, Ayu thinks to herself that the stopped memories have slowly begun to flow while she tightly holds onto one fragment of a miracle. When she then asks Yuuichi if she’ll be able to run again, he tells her that she will be able to on the dirt, on the grass, and on the snow. Ayu doesn’t know how long it will take, but she does know that there’s plenty of time. As Yuuichi wheels Ayu off, in the forest a small plant has sprouted from the tree stump, and in the background walks a young kitsune.
I came into this final episode hoping and expecting it to cause plenty of tears, so I was a little surprised with how relatively happy it was. Mai, Sayuri, and Nayuki are going off to college while Shiori is winning prizes for her artwork. Ayu and Yuuichi end up together and even Makoto appears to be shown at the very end in the forest. In a way, I’m a bit disappointed that the ending wasn’t a tearjerker, but it was still an enjoyable finale. After all that pain, angst, and uncertainty, maybe some happiness isn’t such a bad thing. I thought Ayu’s monologues did a good job of tying the show together, and I’m willing to accept a certain degree of miracles happening to explain what happened, especially given that they’ve been talking about wishes and miracles all series. The inclusion of Canon in D one more time during the cafe scene was also a nice touch.
Final Thoughts: If it weren’t for CODE GEASS, Kanon would be by far my favorite show this past season. And even with GEASS, Kanon still placed such a close second that I often found myself questioning which show was better. I find it rare for a series to live up to all the hype, but I thought that Kanon did exactly that. I’m really glad that I hadn’t seen the previous Kanon show or been familiar with the game beforehand because I think it made everything all that more enjoyable. Heck, I really can’t remember the last time a series has consistently tugged at so many emotional strings. For me, that’s a testament to how engaging the story was and how well it was produced by Kyoto Animation. Plus, with Kanon, Sugita Tomokazu further solidified his standing as one of my favorite (if not favorite) voice actors for male leads.
Overall, I’d say that Kanon is a must-see show even if you don’t like these types of games->anime shows. Kyoto Animation just did that good a job with it.
Of course, while it’s sad to see Kanon end, it was also exciting to see the announcement that Kyoto Animation is going to be producing the anime version of CLANNAD!