With all the Stars in the Sky, I found  You

Clannad is, ostensibly, a video game centered around Tomoya Okazaki’s Senior year, with a focus on becoming the boyfriend of one of several girls. Counter to this vapid description, it’s brilliant on several levels. (If you know what visual novels or choose-your-own-adventure books are, you can safely skip the rest of this paragraph. The rest of you (ha!) follow me.) Visual novels, the genre in which this game exists, are books pretending to be video games; they present walls of text, an occasional choice which typically have a large bearing on the way the story unravels, and  supplemented by a small set of recycled pictures-further supplemented by the occasional graphic which floored me as much as the action these accompany. Of course, each visual Novel will usually have a small added feature which is outside of the norm, Clannad being an exception. Clannad simply does what the genre entails with near perfection, enough so, that a user with a negative predispositions will bawl at regular intervals.

The choices allowed are very impactful, but they’re also very… conformed. They only pop up occasionally, sometimes after an hour’s worth of reading,’ and the choices are scripted and simple, usually being as restricting as two options, and occasionally being as extravagant as three.

However, there’s actually quite a bit to the choices given to players. In judging them, there’s all the basic standards to consider: the ability to change the story in a meaningful way ; the intricacy found in interaction between choices (one choice may be minor, but effect a later dialogue in a major way, another may cause the protagonist to hint at a confession which can completely change a relationship. It’s all very abstract, and a bit like a puzzle); etc. I don’t intend to base their impact on normal methodology, instead I mean to illustrate how the agency produces a beautiful subtext reinforces the work’s value.

Each choice serves as a gate; they screen different realities. In one existence, Tomoya makes a slight bumble and he and his dear friend part ways uncomfortably. In an identical universe, he gives a momentary slip and lets his feelings bleed into the open air. When considered, the sheer scope of possibility begins to dawn: a dozen critical decisions bridge the opening and ultimate resolution of every reality. At each of these points, fate parts, and Tomoya’s life inverts permanently. This makes every ‘playthrough’ unique and rare, a single point in the sky- especially since the events usually only last an in-game month, a tiny segment through the course of most human life.

Serving as a counter-point, a very specific series of occurrences is considered ‘right’. Nagisa Furukawa, the girl featured before any other, is the one displayed the most-twice any other. She is also the one through which the ending is wired through. To reach her, Tomoya climbs against his regular nature, through difficult surroundings, and even across the boundaries of this dimension to produce the miracle of a life with his destined. The game never says it, but Nagisa is clearly the one and only.

Now, I come to the work as a whole. What is it? I see it as the answer to a very specific question that could only be answered in the halls of heaven. “How would things have turned out if I did this differently, and then this, and what about that…?”It is Tomoya spending days with the fabled tablet-in-heaven, seeing how small changes would have changed the way life unwound.

So, as I see it, the work, besides being a reflection of life as a whole- it takes a very balanced, if non-chalant, world-view- is a celebration of life, fate, and simple existence. At several points, it’s pointed out that the character is changing his outcome, and is fighting destiny. So, the story doesn’t imply that fate is as unyielding as stone before the rubber chisels of man. Rather, it’s stating that we each choose our own fate, but, we only choose one. That out of the millions and millions of little opportunities we each receive, we picked exactly the ones we picked. That out of the trillions and trillions of fates we could have hmm’d near the orifice of existence beyond our existence, we lived ours. That, of the hundreds of partners who could have made us content, we only found the love that we did.

Edit: Clannad later prompted the production of 50 some episode anime series. It is easily viewed from youtube, is dubbed, and is a very high quality production.

With all the stars in the sky, I found you

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7 thoughts on “With all the stars in the sky, I found you

  1. mwm474 says:

    I intend for my next post to be a page or two of my itsy-bitsy writing project. It will involve the 7th cavalry, Indians, Americans, Zemlya, and a multi-dimensional fight for the survival of mankind. Should be fun.

  2. Peteys93 says:

    Ah, so this is what you were talking about writing the other day? I’ve enjoyed reading something, about which I previously had no experience, or knowledge of at all. The last paragraph, in particular, is quite thought provoking. I’m more cynical than most people, so I don’t usually bother myself thinking about the meaning of life, but applying these messages to the real world is quite interesting for a shift in world view (or at the very least, the possibility of a different way of thinking). To realize, that every step you take, and every word you speak has the potential to irreversibly alter your fate gives true meaning and purpose to every day and every hour of the 70 or so years we have on this planet. That thought is truly quite daunting, even overwhelming, but my eyes have certainly been opened a bit wider to the possibilities that there are in life. Even if my life doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme (which only exists outside of me, in theory, and therefore, to me, not at all), my choices will affect my life and that is what really matters, to me.

    • mwm474 says:

      I can see how looking at if from that point of view can be very thrilling and inspiring, however, I’ve always seen it as decidedly crushing. If causality is perfect, and every action in this world leads to a new circumstance without any sort of deviation, then the only logical outcome is that we have no fate, and no meaning. If Napolean becomes emperor and men penalized for hunger, that’s simply the way things turned out, an endless stream of 1’s and 0’s manipulated the celestial pinball machine to flash an eternal tilt, a game that can never be won. Of course, there’s a lot of ways to think about it, divine intervention in miracles for instance, and it’s really just up to an individual’s preference.

      As a result of thinking like this, people usually turn to hedonism or drugs or whatever. So, it can be said that human nature tends to turns to god or things. Of course, I’m a non-hedonistic deist, so there’s always exceptions. There’s a brilliant conversation from Les Miserables, happening in the first couple dozen pages too, which highlights this really well. No, I’m not going to reference it, this is just my way of telling you to read Les Miserables unabridged.

      This is likely going to be a big theme in my work, the question of fate that is. I might just ignore commenting on it with my characters and allow my universe to imply the central theme, which is pretty attractive when I think consider it.

  3. Peteys93 says:

    Yes, I’ve also always thought of the world and life, as essentially without meaning, and fate as something that was created by man to make himself feel better about making mistakes (the whole, ‘everything happens for a reason’ maxim), but being able to look at it from a different perspective is refreshing. I will probably never actually change my mind on the lack of meaning in life, but being able to create something in there (i.e. realizing that your actions can change your world) perhaps does give life a meaning on an individual basis. As an atheist, I’m not one who needs life to have a meaning or a purpose, but being able to see different perspectives is quite interesting and worthwhile.

    P.S. Les Miserables is now on my shortlist of novels to read, which is getting rather long.

  4. mwm474 says:

    I feel I need to clarify my position some. My personal religious outlook is essentially anti-church. I’m spiritual, and I feel as though there’s something on a higher plane, but I can’t quantify what that is, and it’s not my place to say what exists beyond.

    Beyond that, I’m a stubborn guy with a moral code. I’ll do what I can for those around me, simply because I think that’s right, and not because I think doing so will make a significant impact, or please god or anyone else. Not that I always stand to such harsh demands on myself, but it’s what I strive for.

    Les Mis can be thought of as a book of everything. Hugo didn’t settle for a few themes, he wrote a book about every one of his beliefs that didn’t conflict. That’s why it’s about 1400 some pages (small print). It is also the finest book I ever did read.

    • Peteys93 says:

      Our religious position, is incredibly similar, for seeming so different. It would seem to me that we are both agnostic to a point (i feel the same way about not being able to understand, or pretend to understand what is out there, if there is anything.) Being a cynic, and a human myself, (damn) i do not believe that anyone has the right, or indeed the knowledge enough to truly say what happens after death and see the church as cashing in on the fact that they can provide the answers that people want to hear. The only difference i believe, is that you lean deist, while I lean atheist (each to differing degrees of course).

      As far as your second paragraph, you couldnt have described me better. Haha

      P.S. I apologize for any typo’s, as my power is out and i am typing this on my phone, er, i mean, doing math homework.

  5. mwm474 says:

    I’m late in my posting schedule. Tomorrow, I’ll post the first part of my story. I worked things around, and decided to give a lot more initial character development, so Morai won’t even be in America in the first installment. Probably another two (thousand or so words each) posts, and I’ll get to the first fight (I’ll probably gloss over Antietam until later). I’ll spend a couple weeks doing that, and then I get to the real plot.

    When I hear you call me deist, I start to wonder. I guess, part of the reason why I’m spiritual is because I worship people a little. Religion, I suppose, is a way of giving thanks and praise, as well as explaining the world around us (and, to a lesser extent, utilizing that understanding, though I can only think of voodoo and Taoism when I say that.), so with minimal expectations, I worship the human spirit diggymajig.

    Edit: Mentioned how Clannad is actually the most brilliant show in existence, besides being a game. Really though, the show is just brilliant, though I do have a list of complaints (particularly how the brilliant scene coordination [or whatever the technical term is] in the first episode only plays Groundhog day through the rest of the series).

    If you do watch the series though, I can honestly say that the very strongest scene takes place in a sunflower field.

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