Daydreaming about riding on a train and walking through a field of flowers, Tomoya nearly gets hit by a baseball while watching Akio play with some kids. There’s a baseball game coming up against the team of a rival shopping district that has recently gotten a former Koushien player, and Akio really wants to win against them, so he makes Tomoya recruit his friends. When they hear about it, Kyou and Kotomi are immediately willing to participate, and Sunohara signs on after some flattery. Tomoyo agrees to do it if Misae does as well, so the group goes to ask her, and along the way, they see Yoshino Yuusuke working on an electric pole. Yuusuke initially tells them that he can’t help because of his job, but Tomoya convinces him by pretending to make a plea about how Sunohara wants one last memory with him before graduating and leaving the town. As for Misae, she agrees to participate after Tomoyo explains how she wants to be Misae’s rival and learn from her through sports. Misae plus Mei rounds out the nine people for the team, so Tomoya is done recruiting. Nagisa later suggests that Tomoya’s father should come as well and notes that she wants to properly meet him, but Tomoya puts off the idea until next time.
When the day of the game arrives, everyone gathers at the baseball field, and it turns out that Misae, Yuusuke, and Fuuko’s sister Kouko knew each other previously. The game starts with Akio pitching a one-two-three top half of the inning, and despite Sunohara bunting out, Kyou, Misae, and Akio all get on base in successive at-bats. That brings up Tomoyo with the bases full, and she ends up hitting the ball out of the park even though this is the first time she’s been a batter. The inning ends with them up 4-0, but during the next inning, one of the opposing team’s batters accidentally lets go of the bat while swinging, and it flies into Akio’s leg. The injury prevents Akio from pitching any further, and since the team now needs a replacement, he chooses his own daughter. With Nagisa pitching, they manage to get out of the inning thanks to some good defensive plays. Unfortunately, Tomoya strikes out during their half of the inning, and Sunohara hits into a double play when Kotomi is on base. The rest of the game progresses with the opposing team scoring a run or two at a time while their team squanders opportunities thanks to Tomoyo deciding that she wants to get small hits like a girl, thanks to Tomoya not being able to get a hit because of his shoulder, and thanks to Yuusuke going overboard with a grandiose speech after he gets a hit.
At the bottom of the final inning, the group finds themselves losing 5-4. After Misae flies out, Nagisa gets a hit, but Tomoyo then lines out. That brings up Yuusuke again, and this time, he gets a hit, takes a time-out, and then gives his speech about how he’s giving them a memory as a gift. Mei ends up getting a hit as well, and so that loads the bases with two outs for Tomoya. With everyone cheering him on, he manages to get a hit and win the game. They all celebrate afterwards at the Furukawa Bakery.
I’m not used to hearing CLANNAD with different opening and ending songs other than Megumeru and Dango Daikazoku, but these didn’t turn out so bad. I really like the way the OP starts and ends (and the song in general), though I’m a bit more ambivalent about the new ED. Animation-wise, the new OP is reminiscent of the old one with updated scenes and plus/minus a few characters, and the ED has some throwbacks to the Dango Daikazoku as well.
Well they started out with a pretty lighthearted (and very funny at times) episode about pretty much the entire cast playing baseball. It’s a nice way to get us reintroduced to everyone and to get a bunch of laughs, but not a whole lot happens storywise. The closest thing to that is probably the idea that Tomoya still has yet to come to terms with his father and choose a path/career for the future. I assume AFTER STORY doesn’t quite break down into story-arcs-by-girl like the first series did, and so it’s probably too early to say that they’re wasting time or anything. Plus, like I said, it was pretty funny. The stuff hinted at in the OP has me excited as well, so the outlook seems good.
Production-wise, I have no complaints about Kyoto Animation’s work here, however what irks me still is that TBS continues to air this in the 4:3 ratio. For those of you willing to wait three weeks, BS-i will be showing it in 16:9 again, but since I can’t wait that long, I’ll stick with blogging the TBS version. Fortunately, if this series turns out anything like the first one, that kind of issue will fade into the background once we start really getting into the story. Speaking of which, after seeing this, I think Yuusuke deserves to get more screentime – his moments were some of the funniest this week. He was featured prominently on some of the promotional material for this, so I assume he’ll have a role to play.