Before we begin, let me just say that this post is meant to be taken as a companion post to the last one I put out, my review of Clannad Afterstory. I went through the story very thoroughly in that post, so this is basically the spoiler post where I talk more specifically about the stuff I didn’t talk about before. We have to get through that stuff before we get to the changes I’d make to the series, so bear with me.
So the way Afterstory ends: Ushio inherets the town’s curse, and dies at the age that Nagisa was originally supposed to die. Her father, Tomoya, dies alongside her, having stopped taking care of himself properly a while before. Their souls are revealed to be represented respectively by the girl and her robot in the other world. Tomoya is granted a wish thanks to all the happiness he’d spread throughout the town, so he gives himself a happy ending, going back in time to Ushio’s birth. Nagisa survives, and I’m assuming the curse was lifted from Ushio, but I don’t believe it was specified.
So why doesn’t this work? Well, first of all, it basically erases all of the lessons Tomoya learned about overcoming loss and putting his own selfish needs aside for his kid’s sake. Yeah, he’s going to be a good father NOW, because Nagisa’s alive, but what does that say about his kid? He only loves her as an extension of his wife? There are a lot of people who are bothered by that, and think he should have been brought back to right after she died, with the warning that he shouldn’t abandon his daughter this time around… That he should get a second chance at fatherhood, but Nagisa should stay dead so those lessons would mean something, giving the show a sense of genuine depth that it SORELY needed.
Personally? That change would be okay with me, but I’d like to bite off a little more than that. I’d like to give the whole second season an overhaul… And just the second season, because I don’t think there’s much you could reasonably do to save the first season.
First of all, keep the baseball episode. It was awesome. After that, delete the next six or seven episodes, as they’re largely pointless, and jump right into the end of the school year, with Nagisa getting sick and Tomoya graduating. Leave Tomoya’s development as it is, but this time around, use the extra space afforded by the shortened first half to give Nagisa a few solo episodes detailing her life in school without him.
I’m thinking something like this; She learns after a little time that her one-woman performance from the year before has inspired a group of first year students to start up the drama club again, and they somehow rope her into being their club president. now, she finds herself in charge of all the important duties that she took for granted when others did them for her before, showing a more assertive side of her. Hell, you could tie Tomoya’s story into this, and say that the time he showed up late for the founder’s Festival, he wound up missing the play she’d put together.
Also, add Kotomi to the play, to justify her continued existence, and also throw in some more stuff with the choir club, so it’ll make some actual sense when they show up for her graduation. Anyway, she graduates, they get married, she dies in childbirth… And from this point on, we turn Kyou into the major character she deserves to be.
During Ushio’s first year of kindergarden, her teacher, Kyou, exersizes her home visitation rights to enter Tomoya’s apartment and try to get him back into his kid’s life. She takes a soft approach at first, but becomes more aggressive over time, getting to the point of telling him that he’s not the kind, caring boy she once knew… He’s a deadbeat, an absentee father, and that Nagisa would hate him for the way he’s acting. He finally snaps when she says he’s turned into his father… Granted, she hasn’t met his father, but she knows it’s a trigger for him, so she takes a gamble on bringing it up.
They have a war of words, which Kyou utterly destroys him on, and he finally relents… He’ll go on a trip with his kid, specially arranged by Akio and Sanae, if in exchange she’ll leave him the hell alone about it. She goes along with them to observe and mediate, offering advice at times and watching Ushio when Tomoya runs off to meet his grandma. Oh, and also, Ushio needs a hobby. Let’s go with… Soccer. She plays soccer.
Tomoya accepts Ushio back into his life, while also becoming closer to Kyou, eventually developing feelings for her. (I’d just like to pause here and point out that I’m not trying to put out a fan pairing here… If I was, i’d be putting in Tomoyo, who’s least awful girl. I just want Tomoya to remarry, and since Kyou is already involved in the Ushio story arc, she’s the most practical choice.) They begin to date, which embarasses Ushio, and she acts out, because real kids don’t always behave. Hear that, Clannad?
She eventually gets over it, and accepts the idea of her Dad dating her teacher, until Tomoya proposes, at which point Ushio becomes ill soon afterward. Tomoya believes the two events to be connected, and while he denies it for a while because he doesn’t want to lose access to Ryou as a convenient nurse, but as her care yield’s little to no result, he eventually admits his superstition to Kyou, and breaks off the engagement.
Ushio’s condition worsens, and the two of them die in the snow. They go to the dream world, where things play out the way they originally did, except that Tomoya is offered a choice… To save either Ushio or Nagisa, because one of them has to die for the town. He picks Nagisa at first, but after he hugs her out of her shoes, she tells him he has to go back and change his mind. She’s at peace in the afterlife, with no more illness or suffering, and she knows that if he brings her back, she’ll just die anyway if they have a second child. She tells him to go back, be a good father, and patch things up with Kyou so he can remarry for his and Ushio’s sake. She tells him she loves him, that she always will, but it’s time for him to let her go. Tearfully, he accepts, and chooses Ushio.
Tomoya wakes up in a hospital bed, where the attending nurse (Ryou) tells him Ushio’s making a full recovery in the children’s ward. Actually, through some miracle, his body protected hers from the brunt of the cold, meaning he was in far worse condition than she had been. After a time lapse, Kyou enters the room with Ushio, and Tomoya breaks down crying, apologizing to both of them over and over for the kind of person he’s been to them. He can never take back abandoning Ushio or blaming Kyou for her illness, but he wants to spend the rest of his life trying. They’re all reunited, the engagement is back on, and we get a happy ending that doesn’t feel like complete horse shit.
How was that? I’m not a professional writer, but when I start working on ways to fix shows I didn’t like, my fantasies can get alarmingly extensive and specific. Like, seriously, I once had an entire final story arc for the Pokemon anime planned out. Anyway, this is how I wish Afterstory had ended, and I’d love to hear what you think they could have done, so let me know in the comments section.