Tomoya and Tomoyo have been dating for a month, and today happens to be the day of the student council elections. When Tomoyo gets elected to be student council president, the two are very happy, and Tomoya reminds her that her goal is to preserve the row of sakura trees that line the way to school. It quickly becomes clear to him though that his girlfriend is quite popular amongst the student body, yet everyone sees him as a delinquent and questions what relationship he has with her. To make matters worse, Tomoyo becomes incredibly busy in her new role, and she creates a minor incident when she uses the school’s PA system to tell Tomoya not to wait for her after school one day. This gets the two in trouble, and in light of it, the faculty raise concerns about her past and about her relationship with Tomoya. Tomoyo doesn’t let it get to her, but it bothers Tomoya, and as the school festival rolls around, the two spend less and less time together. On the day of the festival, he finally gets some alone time with her, and the two nearly kiss, but they’re interrupted by the vice-president who’s here to force Tomoyo to go take care of more duties that require her attention.
Tomoyo has no choice but to go, and after she leaves, the vice-president warns Tomoya not to continue hanging around her. Tomoya thinks that the vice-president is jealous, but the vice-president claims that he merely thinks that Tomoyo is someone who can reach high places and that Tomoya is dragging her down. He also points out that Tomoya should know that he can’t do anything for Tomoyo, and Tomoya doesn’t have an answer for that. The teachers also put pressure on Tomoya, and the final straw comes after the vice-president informs Tomoya that one of the alumni supporting them for preserving the sakura trees had heard a bad rumor about Tomoyo leaving Tomoya’s house in the morning. Tomoyo herself tells Tomoya that it’s not a big deal, but Tomoya decides that they should break up, citing how she has a goal and how she probably won’t reach it if she stays with him. Tomoyo attempts to argue that Tomoya would be lost in his life without her, however Tomoya feels that he’ll do fine and notes how he’d rely on her for everything if she was around. Even when Tomoyo confesses that she loves him, Tomoya claims that he hadn’t felt love for her, and she finally accepts the break-up. Shortly after Tomoyo walks away, Tomoya starts crying.
In the aftermath, Tomoya begins applying himself to school and righting his life, and every now and then, he hears of how Tomoyo is excelling. As winter arrives and graduation time nears, he and Sunohara both apply for jobs, and he finally finds one inside the city. It’s not until graduation day when he goes home early that he runs into Tomoyo again on the path lined by the snow-covered sakura trees. She had been waiting for him because she wanted to tell him that it had finally been decided that the sakura trees wouldn’t be cut down. Tomoya thinks that her dream was fulfilled, but Tomoyo notes that she lost something in exchange for it: she hadn’t been able to spend time with the one she loved. Upon hearing that she loves him even more than before and that she had been watching as he worked hard through the months without her, Tomoya tells her about the job he got at a thrift shop inside the city. He then explains that the two of them can’t move forward together because she will definitely go far after she graduates whereas he’ll still be in that city. To Tomoya’s surprise, Tomoyo vows to be at his side, and when he tries to tell her that she has higher places she can reach, she reveals that being with him is worth more than any such place. These words make Tomoya feel that an obstruction in his path has finally been lifted, and he promises that he’ll go to where Tomoyo is too. Both crying now, the two embrace.
Sometime later in the springtime, Tomoya heads off to work and is met by Tomoyo carrying a bento for him.
Seeing how this was an alternate world, I was rather tempted to title this “CLANNAD PARALLEL WORKS.” In all seriousness though, I think I prefer this world to that of the main story. For whatever reason, TomoyaXTomoyo feels much more natural to me than TomoyaXNagisa. Maybe it’s the fact that the two are already so far in their relationship here (helped along by how they started the episode already together and then by the quick passage of time) whereas Nagisa and Tomoya just don’t feel like they’re quite at that point yet. After Story may very well change my mind about that, but I’m sure it could change right back if Kyoto Animation ever animates Tomoyo After.
Overall, I found this episode good, if a tiny bit predictable – i.e. it was fairly obvious that the two weren’t going to stay separated by the end. I attribute that less to bad writing and more to just the constraints of trying to fit everything into a single half-hour. Regardless, I definitely still enjoyed watching it and am glad this got animated. It would have been nice for this to be stretched out over two or three episodes, but beggars can’t be choosers. I might even go as far as to say that this makes up for how abbreviated Tomoyo’s part ended up being in the main story (though not Kyou and Ryou’s). Just as importantly, this also got me interested in CLANNAD again with only a few months until After Story airs (this Fall according to MOON PHASE’s list), so I’m looking forward to seeing more.