When I got the raw for this, I was thoroughly confused. I haven’t seen a show broadcast in 4:3 in a while, so it was kind of a shock. Heck, I even updated to the new CCCP just to see if MPC wasn’t clipping the edges off or something. Sadly, we must wait until BS-i reairs these episodes three weeks later to see the episode without clipping the sides off (or so I’ve read on the ‘Net, haven’t really looked myself).
Clannad was a decent anime a few seasons ago, so I’m going to give After Story a try as well. Looking at the first episode, it seems like the story is going to drag out a little bit, as we get a slow introduction to all of the major characters again (with exception of DOZO…I mean, Fuko). I’m going to assume that since Nagisa and Tomoya are already going out, this isn’t going to go in little arcs like the previous series, either. This probably won’t be my favorite anime of the season, but I’m probably going to stick with it for a while. It’s KyoAni, go figure.
Watching Akio play baseball with some neighborhood kids, Tomoya is lost in his own little world, where he’s walking through flower fields and riding trains. As a result, he almost gets whacked in the head with a baseball, with Nagisa’s slight shove the only thing saving him from a concussion. Later, the family + Tomoya returns to the Furukawa residence, where Akio explains that he wants to play baseball against a rival shopping district that has acquired a player who has played at Koushien (read: this means the guy’s good). Akio’s fighting spirit is all fired up, so he sends Nagisa and Tomoya off to school with the task of recruiting their friends to play baseball with him.
Back at school, everybody has begun thinking about what to do for their future, but Tomoya hasn’t put much thought into it himself. Instead, he and Nagisa busy themselves recruiting for the baseball team. Kyou and Kotomi quickly agree, with Sunohara after some prodding following suit. Yoshino Yuusuke, now an electrician, gets conned by Tomoya into joining. Tomoyo joins with Misae’s agreement to play, and Mei finishes the team. Nagisa proposes getting Tomoya’s father, but Tomoya refuses, leaving it for another day.
In comparison to the opposing team, the Furukawa Bakers are a rather ragged looking bunch; however, everybody is relaxed and eager for the game (except for Akio, who promises to make them eat Sanae’s bread if they lose). Turns out, Akio is quite the pitcher, pitching a one-two-three top half of the first inning. At bat, Sunohara fails miserably by bunting, and is quickly shown up by Kyou, Misae, and Akio. Tomoyo, after a brief coaching session with Tomoya, knocks the ball out of the park, and the Bakers lead is 4-0.
Next inning, Akio continues his streak until a batter loses control of his bat, sending it flying into Akio’s leg. Unable to continue, he appoints Nagisa the replacement pitcher. Although her pitching is weak at best, the outfield and some good defensive plays end the inning without issue. At bat, the Bakers still have issues with Sunohara; after Tomoya’s strikeout, Sunohara hits one shallow, resulting in a double play.
The rest of the game finds the Bakers’ lead slowly dwindling away, and the final inning has them down 4-5. Although Sunohara continues to fail miserably, Tomoyo’s sudden impulse to hit “more like a girl” has drastically reduced her strength, and Yuusuke has an odd penchant to go into a speech without rounding the bases, resulting in easy outs. Nagisa finally gets a base hit, but Tomoyo fails to get on base herself. Yuusuke again makes good contact, and after reaching a base, decides to give another speech on how this memory is his gift to the others. At least this time he got on base first. Mei also miraculously gets on base, leaving the bases loaded with Tomoya at bat. With everybody cheering him on, Tomoya hits a good one, and the Bakers (presumably) win the game.
Back at the bakery, nobody is eating Sanae’s cookies, so they did win the game. The celebration continues around the table, and then a vast expanse of flowers is shown. The little robot looks on…
Well, it doesn’t do a lot to advance any storyline. The first episode is probably serving as a reminder to many of who these characters are, and what their personalities are like. This probably was a good idea, as the casual watcher might not remember what the characters were like. After all, there are so many of them! Still, this was a rather comedic piece that seems more ‘slice-of-life’ than normal, so I don’t expect the entire series to be like this. Still, the episode itself was enjoyable. I’m not a big fan of baseball, but I couldn’t help but laugh through it all. Akio’s face after getting hit in the leg was absolutely priceless, and Yuusuke’s speech getting mercifully cut short was also amusing in its own right.
I may be in the minority here, but the lack of DOZO was not a problem for me. By the end of the first season I was completely fed up with her.
I’m still annoyed that it’s all being shown in 4:3 ratio. It’s a shame because the series looks like it has the same animation quality as the first season…that is, it’s really good. Oh well, I guess we have to put up with it.
Sunohara needs some life counseling.