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Old 2009-03-15, 21:51   Link #1
Kinny Riddle
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Clannad Ending - Discussion and Interpretation Thread [Spoilers Aplenty]

What this thread is not about: Moaning and bitching about how crap the ending is or Raving and rambling about how great the ending is. There are other threads here for that.

What this thread is really about: As the title suggests, this thread will seek to do exactly what it says, that is to interpret and discuss about the surreal events concerning the Illusionary World that leads to the ending we see in episode 22 of After Story.

All speculation, theories and discussion are welcome, and remember to please keep things civil.

Finally: Since this is a discussion of the ending, after all. SPOILERS ARE APLENTY! You have been warned.




Now to get the ball rolling, here's my take on the ending. I'm not really the sort to lump my thinking into long-winded essays as other talented users here are capable of doing at ease, so they'll all be in point form. Please bear with me.

  • It is established that the Illusionary World (from hereon called IW) is a dimension adjacent to the one the characters reside in (from hereon called the ClannadVerse (CV)), as speculated by Kotomi's parents before their untimely demise. It is not bound by time and space, as travellers who come in are able to exit in a different time.
  • This IW can only be accessed when one possess the right conditions.
  • Yukine mentions of the Town legend of light orbs, which only appear when one attains a moment of happiness. Only a select few people are blessed to see and receive such orbs, and Tomoya is one of them (for reasons which will become apparent below).
  • While Yukine makes first mention of the light orbs after Tomoya sees and receives one, they can also be seen during Fuuko's "class" with Sanae-san (series 1, episode 8), Kotomi receiving her teddy bear (series 1, episode 14), and Misae-san spending time with her cat (AS, episode 6), as well as Tomoya reconciling with his father (AS, episode 19).
  • These light orbs then travel beyond the dimensional plane into IW, carrying the thoughts of happiness of these townspeople.
  • The IW is somehow bound to Nagisa, while Yukine makes mention of light orbs existing long before everyone's time, so it can be speculated that this IW existed for time immemorial, granting miracles to other people, and thus is born the legend. (Makes sense as there wouldn't be a legend if no one told the story in the first place, no?)

From here on, I would like to refer to this decent interpretation by this Chinese blogger, I shall attempt to translate to my best into English:


Events not run "chronologically", as IW is not bound by time and space, but run in the order that they occur.
  • 1. Akio runs to the big tree in the mystical open plain and makes a wish to save Nagisa. The Town grants him this miracle by using the light orbs within the IW to save her. But in turn, this binds her life to the town. In a way, the IW now "feeds off" from Nagisa's attachments towards the town, resulting in her fragile health.
  • 2. Tomoya and Nagisa meet and fall in love. This unintentionally causes Nagisa's attachment to shift from the Town towards Tomoya, as a result, the IW would "extract" the lifeforce from Nagisa in order to maintain its existence. (Before Akio made the contract, the IW had always been just a container for the light orbs. )
  • 3. Nagisa dies, and Ushio inherits Nagisa's contract with the Town.
  • 4. Ushio dies.
  • 5. Due to her unique existence with the IW, and her subconscious will to save her mother (this is mostly speculated), Ushio is reborn in the IW and binds her will to it. Though she loses her memories in CV.
  • 6. Tomoya, either through death (from grief, suicide?) or through a very strong will, also arrives in the IW, as a light orb (also losing his memories in CV).
  • 7. Ushio sensed an orb that somehow seems more sentient than the others, and thus creates a body for that orb (Tomoya/the Robot).
  • 8. Both Ushio and the Robot begin their life in IW.
  • 9. The Robot somehow remembers something, but can't exactly place what it is, and is compelled to want to take Ushio out of the IW. As Ushio's will integrates even more with the IW, winter arrives.
  • 10. Ushio now remembers part of her memories in CV and her desire to save her mother.
  • 11. Ushio tells the Robot (Tomoya) about the light orbs, and sends him back in time, back to when Tomoya first met Nagisa, in order to collect as many orbs as possible.
  • 12. Tomoya returns to that point in CV, but loses his memories in IW. Ushio becomes one with the IW, collecting the orbs as Tomoya receives them in various alternate timelines.
  • 13. In the various alternate realities (as seen in the game, and in the DVD special episode 24, where Tomoya ends up with Tomoyo instead), Tomoya collects the various light orbs for every happiness he, or someone else he helps, attains.
  • 14. Ushio in turns receives them, and "resets" the world to that point for every orb collected so that Tomoya may go and collect more. As there are more orbs, the IW regains its ability to sustain itself.
  • (Points 15-17 in the original refers to mechanics more relevant to the game players than the anime watchers, which I feel would be redundant, so I'll skip to point 18)
  • 18. And finally, Tomoya enters the timeline we see in the anime, where he meets and marries Nagisa. Nagisa still dies in this timeline, but he still manages to collect a few more orbs before coming to CV Ushio's death.
  • 19. As Tomoya now collected quite a lot of orbs, IW Ushio is now able to perform the miracle by sending Tomoya back to when CV Ushio is born, and with the power of the orbs, saves Nagisa's life again.
  • 20. As history has been altered, the Ushio born in this CV is considered a different person than IW Ushio (though their souls are linked, think Tsubasa Chronicle for this one, i.e. same soul, different bodies).
  • 21. Due to the family love created by the Okazakis, the IW is able to sustain itself, and CV Ushio no longer falls ill.
  • 22. Her task completed, IW Ushio travels back to CV, where her soul "fuses" with CV Ushio, and she is found sleeping under the tree, where Fuuko (from her residual memory from previous timelines) manages to find and befriend her.

Phew, now that was long! Now feel free to speculate away, and come up with something better and less long-winded than this.

(The blogger even went so far as to speculate that the second Robot created by IW Ushio is actually Fuuko. But Fuuko's will to help her sister in CV was so strong she rejected Ushio's help. Ditto for Shima the cat. Though I think that's stretching things a bit far, IMHO. )

Another mention must be given to VRMN's excellent post in the episode 22 thread about the ending.

In a way, this is similar to Groundhog Day, or to use a more familiar analogy, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, where the protagonists are given the chance to try and try again before they get things right.

Last edited by Kinny Riddle; 2009-03-16 at 00:42.
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Old 2009-03-15, 22:31   Link #2
Spectacular_Insanity
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Well, #2 and 3 do a good job explaining how Nagisa and Ushio both died, but the entire concept of the IW is still as weird as hell. I thought it was just meant as a parallel or a metaphor for Tomoya and Nagisa. I didn't know that Kotomi's parents' idea was actually fact. I thought it was just an innocent speculation of the nature of the universe. Very, very bizarre.

I can accept the lights of happiness to a certain extent, but different dimensions connecting and what essentially amounts to time travel? I think Einstein just rolled over in his grave.
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Old 2009-03-15, 22:41   Link #3
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Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post

I can accept the lights of happiness to a certain extent, but different dimensions connecting and what essentially amounts to time travel? I think Einstein just rolled over in his grave.
I will just ask you, can Einstein explain ninja techniques that destroy world? Big animals sealed in a being? Or immortality?

And really, you need to rewatch the episodes after reading the explanation to see the details. You just have to connect them to understand.
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Old 2009-03-15, 22:59   Link #4
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You know what, I felt like it was a cop out by-- oops BANHAMMER!


Some random thoughts:

I wrote earlier: "Without the events of 16-21, Tomoya could not have earned Ushio’s love, required for him to have an existence in the illusionary world."
(I was alluding to Ushio's construction of a body for *Tomoya*.)
Amusingly, VRMN's post says exactly the same thing (and no, I hadn't seen the post before I wrote that). Coincidence? Hmm, maybe we're soul mates...
"Without the love of his daughter, without the events of the past arc, Ushio would have never built the robot for her father's soul to occupy."


From the visual novel, given enough light orbs:
…I ought to call out.
// …声をかけなければ。
But…
// でも…
Would it be better not to do so…?
// そうしないほうが良かったんじゃないのか…。
It would be better not to get acquainted with a person like me…
// 俺なんかと出会わなかったほうが…
It would probably be better to part our ways here.
// このまま、別々の道を歩いたほうが、良かったんじゃないのか。
But…
// でも…
I…
// 俺は…
Call out
// 呼ぶ
Don’t call out
//OMG NAGISA DIES –> leads to bad ending
// 呼ばない
“…NAGISA!”
// 「…渚っ!」

Interpretation: (and NOTE THAT I'm referring to the player character as "you"!!)
Okay, so before you get the After Story BAD END, you (Tomoya) actually call out to Nagisa during this "flashback" event. But you doesn't really understand why; you doesn't know that Nagisa’s about to die, and you don't know the hell that your immediate relations (Ushio, Sanae, Akki, Naoyuki) are going to experience after Nagisa's death. However, during the BAD END, you will get the remaining light orbs from Naoyuki and Ushio by bringing them happiness/love. [correct me if I'm wrong here, it's been a while...]

After you get the After Story BAD END, you now know the hell that you've lived through. You now have the necessary understanding to make the choice to call out to her, or ignore her. Do you regret meeting Nagisa, because doing so caused Nagisa, Ushio, and many others so much unhappiness?
If so, you don't call out. You decide that meeting Nagisa led to too much pain and suffering for everyone. You doubt that a happy result could actually occur because of what you've seen from your memories from another world. As such, Nagisa dies in childbirth right afterwards--the same as the BAD END.
Or do you realize that regardless of what you know will happen if you meet Nagisa, that Nagisa is the only one who you can be truly happy with? You call out to her, even though you know that meeting Nagisa had led to tragedy before, yet you cling to the hope for a miracle to prevent it. It is then that the miracle occurs, and Nagisa survives Ushio's birth.

Last edited by evilr00t; 2009-03-15 at 23:02. Reason: oops
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Old 2009-03-15, 23:02   Link #5
Spectacular_Insanity
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Originally Posted by rave_master16 View Post
I will just ask you, can Einstein explain ninja techniques that destroy world? Big animals sealed in a being? Or immortality?

And really, you need to rewatch the episodes after reading the explanation to see the details. You just have to connect them to understand.
I was kidding about Einstein.

...and as I've said for what seems like the millionth time, I've watched both series at least twice, though it has been a few months since I've rewatched the first CLANNAD series.

They never explicitly stated that the IW was really real. I mean, to be honest I never took Kotomi seriously. Why would I? Up until now, there was no real evidence of stuff like parallel dimensions. That, and the anime had been thus far extremely realistic. Even taking the parallel world into account, I was under the impression that the girl/robot was just a metaphor for Nagisa and Tomoya, respectively. Frankly speaking, there's no way I could have known it was Ushio. She hadn't even existed at the time... not even in concept.

And even with everyone explaining the ending to me, I still can't see myself sitting down and actually... enjoying... the last episode (22). It's far too disconnected and disjointed to enjoy except as a collection of random abstract concepts that play with time and space like a yo-yo.
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Old 2009-03-15, 23:19   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post
I was kidding about Einstein.

and as I've said for what seems like the millionth time, I've watched both series at least twice, though it has been a few months since I've rewatched the first CLANNAD series.
If you watched the first season twice, you should know the connection of the worlds to the memories of Nagisa and Tomoya. The theater club's play based on Nagisa's subsconsious hinted Tomoya about the illusionary world.
Quote:
They never explicitly stated that the IW was really real. I mean, to be honest I never took Kotomi seriously. Why would I? Up until now, there was no real evidence of stuff like parallel dimensions. That, and the anime had been thus far extremely realistic.
Now this is a problem in your part, the fantasy elements are always there in first season. The illusionary worlds are shown time-to-time in whole Clannad story, to explain what happened to Ushio and Tomoya after episode 22. Parallel to the story, the girl gets weakened like Ushio to make the girl and the robot remember their mission.
Quote:
Even taking the parallel world into account, I was under the impression that the girl/robot was just a metaphor for Nagisa and Tomoya, respectively. Frankly speaking, there's no way I could have known it was Ushio. She hadn't even existed at the time... not even in concept.
That's because the illusionary world existed after the "ENd of The World"
Quote:
And even with everyone explaining the ending to me, I still can't see myself sitting down and actually... enjoying... the last episode (22). It's far too disconnected and disjointed to enjoy except as a collection of random abstract concepts that play with time and space like a yo-yo.
Key or should I say Maeda Jun likes to make stories that are not explained briefly.
He just puts some hints or clues in order to make people to interpret in their own way what he really wants us to know.
It's like he's telling a riddle and he wants us to solve it.
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Old 2009-03-15, 23:40   Link #7
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Well, the framework for Ichinose family's arguments establish the worldview context, but that unfortunately isn't exactly forthcoming without going into some work on the thought experiments in QM. It is of some surprise that Many world under Hawking turns out to simply fit what's been observed in this story flow wise and in Kotomi arc wise. Building this case on 'how can it have happend in the context of the story' took out an entire night of sleep and some cramming though.

The Chinese site has worked out a chronology, but this would apply to the visual novels which is in my argument a bit closer to the Dewitt/Everett variation on Many Worlds.
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Old 2009-03-15, 23:57   Link #8
Spectacular_Insanity
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Originally Posted by rave_master16 View Post
If you watched the first season twice, you should know the connection of the worlds to the memories of Nagisa and Tomoya. The theater club's play based on Nagisa's subsconsious hinted Tomoya about the illusionary world.
This also may just be my opinion, but last time I checked, "hinted" isn't good enough to establish fact. It could just as easily been a metaphor, as I had previously thought. I always just figured Nagisa's play was about how she felt about her own seemingly ephemeral existence. I didn't know she LITERALLY meant another world. If I had thought she was being literal, it would simply be an assumption. As it was, my assumption just happened to be on the wrong side. So I chose to assume it was based in reality. I might have been wrong, but that doesn't mean my "decision" was wrong.

Quote:
Now this is a problem in your part, the fantasy elements are always there in first season. The illusionary worlds are shown time-to-time in whole Clannad story, to explain what happened to Ushio and Tomoya after episode 22. Parallel to the story, the girl gets weakened like Ushio to make the girl and the robot remember their mission.
I'll give you that one.

Quote:
That's because the illusionary world existed after the "ENd of The World"
...What? Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about... at all. That's completely out of left field to me.
Is this is CV... or what?

Quote:
Key or should I say Maeda Jun likes to make stories that are not explained briefly.
He just puts some hints or clues in order to make people to interpret in their own way what he really wants us to know.
It's like he's telling a riddle and he wants us to solve it.
Well, that's just annoying! I mean, I both like and appreciate exposition. Typically. In fact, I'd rather be bored for five minutes than be confused for two episodes.

I think I should go to bed now. I have class in the morning.
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:04   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post
Quote:
That's because the illusionary world existed after the "ENd of The World"
...What? Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about... at all. That's completely out of left field to me.
Is this is CV... or what?
The exposition of the play. Nagisa talks about how the play is set in a world that has already ended. (at first I didn't care much about the play, but it's actually important.)
First season, episode 22. (20-21 possibly)
Second season, ep16[11:51]

Last edited by evilr00t; 2009-03-16 at 01:00. Reason: add after story reference
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:08   Link #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post
Even taking the parallel world into account, I was under the impression that the girl/robot was just a metaphor for Nagisa and Tomoya, respectively. Frankly speaking, there's no way I could have known it was Ushio. She hadn't even existed at the time... not even in concept.
That is if you still cling to the rigid three-dimensional chronology, then yes, she hasn't existed. But bear in mind that the existence of IW is not bound by time and space. The moment Ushio first enters IW, she can reset the world over and over again, back to a time before she even existed in CV, but it does not affect her existence in IW.
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:10   Link #11
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You need Quantum Mechanics-fu, Spectacular_Insanity.

Spoiler for excerpt of AS ep 16:

Existance of IW is not bound by the time and space of the clannad normal universe as it is a localized system which stands on its own, although connected to the original clannadverse. I tried to explain why that is so in a few posts over the episode 22 discussion thread. (although it seems now that it's mostly a 'wha...?' response)
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:21   Link #12
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Originally Posted by panzerfan View Post
You need Quantum Mechanics-fu, Spectacular_Insanity.

Spoiler for excerpt of AS ep 16:

Existance of IW is not bound by the time and space of the clannad normal universe as it is a localized system which stands on its own, although connected to the original clannadverse. I tried to explain why that is so in a few threads over the episode 22 discussion thread. (although it seems now that it's mostly a 'wha...?' response)
I wanted to point this portion of the series for all the time but because it's' connected with Episode 16, Nagisa's unlucky delivery, I just couldn't
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:32   Link #13
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Originally Posted by panzerfan View Post
You need Quantum Mechanics-fu, Spectacular_Insanity.

Spoiler for excerpt of AS ep 16:

Existance of IW is not bound by the time and space of the clannad normal universe as it is a localized system which stands on its own, although connected to the original clannadverse. I tried to explain why that is so in a few posts over the episode 22 discussion thread. (although it seems now that it's mostly a 'wha...?' response)
Oh yeah, I didn't really understand what they were talking about then. Partly because I kind of glossed over it, partly because I didn't care, and partly because their conversation induced brain meltdown.

Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. At least I know NOW, if that even means anything anymore.
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Old 2009-03-16, 00:50   Link #14
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Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. At least I know NOW, if that even means anything anymore.
And THAT is precisely how Tomoya makes the "right" choice in episode 22!

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Old 2009-03-16, 03:24   Link #15
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I think the proper term for that find is, BINGO.
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Old 2009-03-16, 03:33   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinny Riddle View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post
Even taking the parallel world into account, I was under the impression that the girl/robot was just a metaphor for Nagisa and Tomoya, respectively. Frankly speaking, there's no way I could have known it was Ushio. She hadn't even existed at the time... not even in concept.
That is if you still cling to the rigid three-dimensional chronology, then yes, she hasn't existed. But bear in mind that the existence of IW is not bound by time and space. The moment Ushio first enters IW, she can reset the world over and over again, back to a time before she even existed in CV, but it does not affect her existence in IW.
I will also add that the anime series implied PLENTY that the story we got from season 1 and AS is NOT the first loop!
As implied in lots instances, Tomoya KNEW already about the illusionary world when Nagisa mentions about her tale, it even creeped him out as he seriously has a "deja vu" feeling, though Sanae and Akio fail to see what he is talking about.
Furthermore, Tomoya also had a chilling flashback of the IW in the snow, implying more and more about his "previous life".

Since the Illusionary World was created by Ushio, there is no way this story could be the first loop, as Ushio had to die first. Ergo, she already existed, but be it anime or game wise, we don't know "when", and using Kotomi's explanation, there is no way to tell how many loops it has happened.

All of these facts are taken from the ANIME and interpreted like this, thanks to Tomoya and Akio comments. There is no need for game knowledge here, but it certainly needed a second watching.

Ergo, Tomoya had fun time with hellish misfortune until he got these light orbs.
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Old 2009-03-16, 04:07   Link #17
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I think that just the fact that we all have to be here rationalizing and interpreting what happened with regard to Tomoya's journeys through alternate dimensions means that it probably could have been brought across a whole lot better in the anime.

Spoiler for Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni:


And even setting all of the above aside, it still doesn't alleviate the fact that the mysticism involved in the story and the themes of family ties don't exactly merge together to form a complete whole like they could have and that the idea that one can find a new way to honour the memory of a loved one, right their downward spiral, and start a new life competes with the idea that ones fate is semi-predetermined because of a pact made with a town carrying over to a new host.

In fact I'd continue to argue that they clash with one another to a point where the shows themes ultimately end up becoming less then sum of it's parts.
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Old 2009-03-16, 06:05   Link #18
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I think that just the fact that we all have to be here rationalizing and interpreting what happened with regard to Tomoya's journeys through alternate dimensions means that it probably could have been brought across a whole lot better in the anime.


In fact I'd continue to argue that they clash with one another to a point where the shows themes ultimately end up becoming less then sum of it's parts.
Can you elaborate more? I'm interested. What do you mean they clash?
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Old 2009-03-16, 08:04   Link #19
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In fact I'd continue to argue that they clash with one another to a point where the shows themes ultimately end up becoming less then sum of it's parts.
Please elaborate, if this is for discussion of the sometimes confusing ending, fine, but if this is another one of your thinly veiled attacks on the show for which I have no time for, I am going to have to ask you to stop and take it somewhere else. I did not open this thread just so you could have another excuse to attack the show.
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Old 2009-03-16, 11:38   Link #20
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I will also add that the anime series implied PLENTY that the story we got from season 1 and AS is NOT the first loop!
As implied in lots instances, Tomoya KNEW already about the illusionary world when Nagisa mentions about her tale, it even creeped him out as he seriously has a "deja vu" feeling, though Sanae and Akio fail to see what he is talking about.
Furthermore, Tomoya also had a chilling flashback of the IW in the snow, implying more and more about his "previous life".

Since the Illusionary World was created by Ushio, there is no way this story could be the first loop, as Ushio had to die first. Ergo, she already existed, but be it anime or game wise, we don't know "when", and using Kotomi's explanation, there is no way to tell how many loops it has happened.

All of these facts are taken from the ANIME and interpreted like this, thanks to Tomoya and Akio comments. There is no need for game knowledge here, but it certainly needed a second watching.

Ergo, Tomoya had fun time with hellish misfortune until he got these light orbs.
Yeah, it makes sense now, but I thought the girl in the Imaginary World had been a metaphor for Nagisa... the fact that it was actually Ushio completely escaped me. it doesn't help any that Ushio and Nagisa look really similar.

I swear that this series has become work just to understand.
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