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I really don’t know how this post is going to end.  But at the least, I know how it’s going to start.

I had heard of Clannad, but I was avoiding watching it, because something about the title made me think that it was an isekai or something set in medieval times, and I’m really not too keen on those kinds of anime.  But then I found out it’s nothing like that, and I watched it.  Or some of it.  I put it on hold after fifteen episodes because I have to process it even that far.

It’s deep.  Incredibly, amazingly, spectacularly deep.  And even in those fifteen episodes, I came out of it troubled.  And deep in thought.  And profoundly sad, but with a lot of questions.

Here there be spoilers.

So far we’ve met four main characters.  I’m going to be focusing on two – Fuuko and Kotomi.

Fuuko is a girl who was involved in an accident on her way home from the entrance ceremony, and has been in a coma for the past few years.   But somehow, she is also kind of attending school, and seems to while her days away carving little starfish sculptures.  Her entire goal is to get people to come to her sister’s wedding.  She can interact with nearly everyone, but as her story arc progresses, people start to forget about her, until it’s like she (well, the “she” that has been running around school) just stops existing.  “Until her dream ends”.

Kotomi lost her parents, and it broke her.  I’m not sure what else I can say, it’s all I really need to.  In her story arc, her story is explored – how she lost her parents, how she reacted to it, how she withdrew into her own shell, and how her friends eventually pulled her out.  Mostly, anyway.

Clannad is such a schizophrenic anime, but in the way the world itself is kind of schizophrenic, and I think that’s what really got to me, more than anything else.  Its central thesis seems to be “the world is beautiful”, and at the same time it throws this horrible darkness at you, and you have to somehow keep both things in mind at the same time.  The world is beautiful, and the world is completely, utterly, irredeemably broken.

And that is something I struggle with.  A lot.  Deeply.

I struggle with God.  I haven’t made much of a secret of it, but I also don’t talk about it too much, because it tends to turn people off.  People seem to be of two minds when it comes to God.  In one mind, people see God as this benevolent being that wants the best for us, and, darkness?  What darkness?  In the other, people seem to have a mindset that the world is completely broken and there’s no God because what kind of God would create a world like this?  It’s very hard to keep both things in mind at the same time, because they seem so diametrically opposed.  And yet, maybe, they’re both true.  Maybe God loves us, and yet, look at what we have around us?  How can we say God loves us if our ultimate fate is to die?  How can we say God loves anything when everything in this Universe seems to be designed to show fleeting signs of beauty and then be snuffed out?

Fuuko’s story asks the question:  “If everyone forgets, do we exist?”

What a lonely life it would be, really.  To walk around, seeing everyone, having them not see you, not remember you, it’s like you don’t exist.  But do you?  I imagine you’d start to wonder, really.  And, that’s kind of how I feel most of the time.  I blog here.  Almost no one reads, no one comments, no one cares.  Did I actually blog?  Yes, but no.  In a real way, no, it’s like I didn’t do anything at all.  And yet, the blog exists.  Right?  That’s how I feel about almost everything I do, to the point where when I’m walking down the street and someone acknowledges me, it surprises me.  Maybe I exist after all, just for a fleeting moment.

Perhaps the worst thing would be, what if God forgets?  If God forgets about you, doesn’t even remember your name, do you even exist?  Is it’s God’s awareness of you that gives you existence in the first place?

These are, of course, tough questions.  Some of the world’s brainiest philosophers have struggled with these questions, and all the answers tend to bring are more questions, because maybe there aren’t answers.  Or maybe there aren’t good answers.

Kotomi’s story is one that I see all over the place – that of the brokenness of the circumstances of life.  Kotomi was a little girl, with a mostly perfect family, living in a big house, but with very few friends.  Then her parents go off overseas, and their plane crashes, and she loses both of them.  And it breaks her.  I mean, it absolutely, completely, without question, breaks her.  She was learning how to play the violin, and when she picks one up a few years later, she can’t even remember how to play it to the point where it causes earthquakes and people start falling over clutching their ears.  That’s played for laughs, and I did laugh, but i was actually a little sad that I laughed at it, especially after realizing that she actually could play the violin fairly well – at one time.

No one is ever born thinking they want to be broken.  No one.  Not one person.  Being broken is something that happens to you.  For some people, the darkness of life is pushed aside just long enough for them to be able to actually deal with it in an adult way.  For others, the darkness of life hits them like Kyou’s kick from almost the moment they’re born, and all they can do is somehow survive until they can maybe, in the future, find some way to, if not climb out of the brokenness, at least find some way to cope with it.  And sometimes that’s all you can do, is find ways to live with it, to find ways to deal with it, because there’s nothing else for you to do.  Your life has become the brokenness, and you can’t climb out, you can’t pull yourself out.  Someone else has to pull you out, someone, or you’ll spend the rest of your life broken, and wondering, even if fleetingly, what it would feel like to live a life that’s not broken anymore.

That’s the promise of Christianity, and also its greatest broken promise.

There are about 46 episodes, give or take.  I’ve only watched 15.  I know what some of the other plot points are, and I’m dreading finishing it.  Not because it’s awful.  But because it’s too good.  Fifteen episodes and they’ve already tackled some of the worst questions philosophy has to offer, and all that comes out of it is more questions, and a greater awareness of how awful it is to be forgotten.  And the worst part is, that’s the best they could hope do to when exploring it, because there aren’t any answers.  How could I expect an answer to a question that can’t be answered?

Forgotten.  Like I have.  Like I always have been.  Even by God.

This is why I both love and hate anime.  And why I have such little respect for people who think ecchi anime are somehow works of culture.  They don’t see what it’s really about.

And I wish I were like them.  Because, this hurts.

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