[Ascaloth] Head-To-Head: Toei’s CLANNAD the Movie vs. KyoAni’s CLANNAD (TV)

In recent years, there has been a relative proliferation of anime adaptations of visual novels from the famed VN stable, Key. Not since a certain adaptation in 2002 have the Kagikko ever had it so good, and this is arguably all due to one thing; Kyoto Animation, and how its studio debut of AIR (TV) took the first step of rewriting the rules of what an adaptation of a Visual Novel should look like. Ever since then, Toei Animation and Kyoto Animation have taken turns in giving us their animated adaptations of KEY’s greatest stories, and Fall 2007 marks the third time Toei and KyoAni have locked horns this season, with their respective releases of "CLANNAD: The Motion Picture" and "CLANNAD (TV)" respectively.

At the time of the writing of this article, Toei’s CLANNAD the Motion Picture would have aired approximately a couple of days ago at 15/09/2007, while KyoAni’s CLANNAD (TV) is slated for release within 3 weeks, at 5/10/2007. Not surprisingly, general opinion of the two versions of CLANNAD has been somewhat one-sided; while the Kagikko had a lukewarm reception towards Toei’s movie version, KyoAni’s made-for-TV series have been met with nothing less than a critical amount of hype. As both a KEY and KyoAni fan myself, it goes without saying that I’m following the general trend, and looking forward so much more to the TV series than the motion picture,

Nevertheless, why is there so much hype towards CLANNAD in the 2007 Fall season, and why has the popular view been that KyoAni’s KEY adaptations are infinitely superior to Toei’s? To find the reasons behind the hype for KyoAni’s CLANNAD, and the general disdain that the Kagikko have had towards Toei’s take, one will have to look back at recent anime history, and sift out the factors that led to today’s general consensus amongst the Kagikko that  when it comes to KEY adaptations, KyoAni over Toei is the way to go.

First off, let’s look at the face-off that started it all;

Round 1: Toei’s AIR the Movie vs. KyoAni’s AIR (TV)

6th January, 2005. It was the day that AIR, the second Visual Novel produced by KEY, got its first anime adaptation under the hands of a relatively unknown animation studio in the Kyoto area.  Who could have foreseen that an adaptation of an "eroge", with all of its accompanying stigma, would become the breakout hit of the season? Yet that was exactly what happened with AIR (TV), with fans gushing over the lush animation quality of the up and coming Kyoto Animation, and praising the studio’s dedication to faithfulness in its adaptation of one of their favourite stories of all time. In the midst of AIR (TV)’s run, Toei’s AIR the Movie hit the big screens on the 5th of February, proclaiming itself to be a "re-interpretation" of the original AIR storyline, directed by the famous Dezaki Ozamu.

Top to bottom: AIR the Movie, AIR (TV)

Almost immediately, the comparisons started. And as much praise the Kagikko had for KyoAni’s TV series, the Toei movie drew equally as much vitriol; not without reason, as it goes. The differences in animation quality aside, the Toei movie simply fell short in many respects; to summarize, it was a pretty good movie on its own, with decent animation (though not the equal of KyoAni’s), and a servicable storyline, but the fatal flaw in it was; it simply wasn’t AIR. The storyline, while able to stand on its own, simply wasn’t what AIR was all about, and the characters of the movie bore little resemblance to what fans remembered from the game. Granted, the Toei movie had only 2 hours, compared to 13 episodes for the TV series, in which to tell the same story, and most rational KEY fans would most probably have understood if much of the entire AIR narrative was cut out in order to focus on the main story. However, even the main storyline got shafted so much that at the end, an epic story was turned into a simple romance film, which hardly stood out from any other romance film. All in all, it seemed almost a travesty that the movie retained the AIR label at all; yet, it was not the first time that Toei had butchered a KEY work.

This first face-off of KEY adaptations was what started the slew of KEY adaptations, and brought Toei Animation and Kyoto Animation into their recurring battles of the KEY adaptations.. While AIR (TV) did not become the turning point for Kyoto Animation (that would come later with Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu), it did remind the Kagikko of the Kanon adaptation that was made by Toei back in 2002, and it got them thinking, "what if KyoAni did Kanon? What would it look like?"

Within a year and a half, they got their wish.

Round 2: Toei’s Kanon vs. KyoAni’s Kanon (2006)

With Kyoto Animation receiving numerous calls from viewers to remake Kanon after the cameo of the Kanon girls in AIR (TV) Episode 2, the studio finally relented, and on October 5, 2006, the first episode of Kanon (2006) aired.

From top to bottom: Ayu in Toei’s Kanon, and Ayu in KyoAni’s Kanon (2006)

The original Kanon adaptation, produced by Toei back in 2002, was the butt of many jokes back when it was first released; eyes that would freak a Martian out, and the infamous CHIN OF DOOM sported by Toei’s version of Yuuichi, just to name a few. Even so, despite its lackluster animation, enormous plot holes, and dead ends that led nowhere, it was considered a fairly good adaptation in its time; quite a few converts to the VN adaptation pointed to Toei’s Kanon as the reason for their conversion, citing amongst other things, "being the first anime ever to induce pathos" for anime viewers erstwhile convinced that shounen was all that there was to anime. Besides, it was all the Kagikko had back then, and despite the liberties it took with the original Kanon narrative, most fans accepted that Toei’s versions defined the limits of how far a bishoujo adaptation could go.

From top to bottom: Nayuki in Toei’s Kanon, and Nayuki in KyoAni’s Kanon (2006)

That is, until KyoAni delivered their second sucker punch at Toei, by unveiling Kanon (2006). While Kanon (2006) did not match the achievements of the wildly successful Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, it was a redefiner of its genre in its own right. Along with the luscious animation quality that fans have come to expect from the studio, KyoAni pretty much showed everyone how a bishoujo adaptation should be done; with faithfulness to the source material, meticulous care to detail, and a storyline that interwove the five different stories of the Kanon Girls into a largely (though not perfectly) consistent narrative, Kanon (2006) broke many long-held beliefs about the limitations of a bishoujo adaptation,

From top to bottom: Aizawa Yuuichi in Toei’s Kanon, and Aizawa Yuuichi in KyoAni’s Kanon (2006)

one of which was the stereotype that "harem male leads are a bland, wimpy lot". Even though that particular stereotype was not without justification, KyoAni’s Aizawa Yuuichi was a breath of fresh air in a sea of lackluster male leads, and was considered by many to be in a class all of his own, being a so-called "harem male lead" who was actually manly enough to take control of the situation, instead of waiting for things to happen just like so many other male leads in his position. Thus was solidified the notion that whatever adaptation of a KEY work that Toei could do, KyoAni could do better, with better animation, more faithful treatment of the source material, and a better male lead to boot.

All in all, this is all of the summary of the recent history between Toei Animation and Kyoto Animation, and their battle of the KEY adaptations resumes, once again, for Fall 2007

 Round 3: Toei’s CLANNAD the Motion Picture vs. KyoAni’s CLANNAD (TV)

So, with so much recent history going into this third round of the Toei-KyoAni head-to-head, what can we expect to see from both camps?

From top to bottom: Furukawa Nagisa in Toei’s CLANNAD the Motion Picture, and Furukawa Nagisa in KyoAni’s CLANNAD (TV)

If we are to judge by recent history alone, we can reasonably deduce what Toei and KyoAni would do respectively for their adaptations of CLANNAD, KEY’s third visual novel and their longest one to date. From previous experience, one might reasonably predict that "Toei + CLANNAD" = shaft; with them producing a 2-hour movie out of source material that’s said to exceed Kanon’s and AIR’s combined, it is almost a given that the movie will exclusively focus on Tomoya and Nagisa, the two main leads of CLANNAD, to the exclusion of almost everything else. From the trailers, one might also see that the animation style from AIR the Movie is more or less carried over to CLANNAD the Motion Picture; in other words, a snowball’s chance in hell of matching KyoAni’s kami-sakuga quality. From all previous indications, I would automatically give CLANNAD the Motion Picture a miss; however, I will be inclined to be more open-minded about Toei’s third chance, if word reaches me that it’s not as shafted as I expect it to be. We’ll see.

From top to bottom: Sakagami Tomoyo, and Fujibayashi Kyou, both from CLANNAD (TV)

On the other hand, we can expect a return to normal duty for Kyoto Animation after their "working break" of Lucky Star, along with the kami-sakuga we’ve all come to love and associate with KyoAni. We can also come to expect them trying their darndest to treat the source material with as much faithfulness as they can afford; wherein lies the great problem that Toei has evaded by opting to shaft their adaptation; how do you adapt a KEY work that has more material than the previous couple of KEY works combined? There is as yet no info available on how many episodes CLANNAD (TV) will consist of, and however many episodes it turns out to be in the end, it cannot be denied that this time, KyoAni would be handling a monster that would make the Kanon (2006) elephant a midget, by comparison. So just like they did for Kanon (2006), the Kagikko will be waiting for CLANNAD (TV) with bated breath, watching carefully to see if this would be another feather in KyoAni’s cap….or their downfall.

How would it turn out? Only time will tell. And is this the last battle of the KEY adaptations? I cannot look into the future, but I can predict. And before I sign off, let me offer you my prediction in a thousand words, for that is what a picture is worth:

The great prize: Who will get to animate the Planetarian movie?

Ascaloth, out.

56 Responses to “[Ascaloth] Head-To-Head: Toei’s CLANNAD the Movie vs. KyoAni’s CLANNAD (TV)”

  • Sorry, Kaioshin-chan. I have no intention of “putting the bad blood behind us”. I have yet to forget either the condescending tone you used in the email you sent me, nor have I yet to forget the asshole attitude you gave me in that negative rep.

    Of course, part of it is just practicality’s sake. I put you on the Ignore List despite my views on using it, simply because I haven’t any intention of leaving an opening for your sugar daddy to ban me for. I still like the AS community a lot to let one old paranoid do me in for debating for his young charge.

  • You mean the negative rep that said, “Generally In Poor Taste” in reference to your post where you claimed to be deliberately trying to bait me. You were breaking the rules and thus I responded with that, because I felt it was applicable. Come on man, you are making me out to be some sort of monster that I am not, you aren’t even representing the things that have happened over the last year accurately. And e-mail? You mean when you sent me this one:

    I have just received a week-long ban from xris, due to a line in my post which xris claims is a bait for you to make an off-topic reply;


    You remind me of Tsukasa when she got her mobile phone back; spamming cute little icons like no tomorrow. :naughty:[/quote]

    I would like to ask you; which part of that line is an attempt at baiting you, exactly? I’ve been used to receiving infractions by now, but I really am confounded by this one. Would you think that this line of mine towards you is a bait to get you riled, rather than an innocent observation of your post’s similarity to a Lucky Star scene?

    Therefore, if I may ask a favour. Would you contact xris and clear things up with him on my behalf? I’m not someone who would protest a ban if it is given fairly, but in this case I don’t believe I was treated fairly. I await your reply.


    You contacted me first and I merely replied that I did not want to help you because I didn’t want to risk my own head for somebody who had been very rude to me over the past couple of months, nor did I think it would help. I took every step to be as polite and accomadating as possible, even offering to bury the hatchet as I have done so many times. I have no idea how you got a condescending attitude out of that message as I made every step not to sound rude or condescending and to explain why I was not going to intervene on your behalf.

    I also have absolutely no idea who this Sugar Daddy you are talking about is. If you could tell me who that is maybe I could address the issue.

    I honestly don’t get where much of what you are saying is coming from, but apparently you really and honestly hate me for some reason and have built up this image of me like I am out to get you and that I am a horrible spiteful, rude and mean spirited, so I’ll stop trying to settle this and just let you be to pursue your own course. I guess you’ll never be convinced otherwise no matter how many times I try to show you that I don’t bear any grudges.

  • “Generally In Poor Taste And The Type Of Post That Only Draws Flames And Arguments. You Know There Is No Anti-KyoAni Faction As Well And That The Studio Is Well Liked By Almost All. Why Are You Trying To Divide Everybody Into Factions – Kaioshin Sama”

    Yup, this is the one I’m talking about. And from what I can tell, you were taking offense at my stating a generally known fact that has been stated by others, while at the same time making me out to be the monster.

    And apparently, you feel that it is your right to dish out the most negative and sarcastic comments you can think up (mostly at KyoAni, from what I can see), but when people start debating them (and I’m hardly the only one to do so), they’re being “derisive and disrespectful of your right of speech”, and you’re “just being the moderate point of view” whose views should be “respected”. I’ve got a number of testimonies to back that up, and I’m certain I can obtain a few more if I’m of a mind to. Of course, since I was merely the most active of those who disagreed with you, of course you did the crybaby routine to manipulate the admins against me, like you’ve done for several others before me.

    Honestly, I don’t have to try to make you out to be a monster, even if I could be bothered to. You’re already doing that to yourself quite adequately. It’s hardly my one-man campaign against you, you know.

    But well. I’m in the midst of my first semester in university now, and I hardly have the time or energy to deal with an emotional vampire like you. Of course, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that I’ve also better things to do now than argue with you further.

  • “Well I’m glad to see you’ve at least stopped freaking out on people who don’t agree with your hardline view that Kyoani is the best thing since sliced bread. That’s a good start to a more neutral point of view.”

    Your first post on this article sounded like a mean remark to me (from how I have interpreted it). My suggestions to you:

    1. Change your style of writing.
    2. Work on the way you speak.

    Yeah I get what you mean.

    I’ll catch those animes that you have lent me (Air TV included) maybe next week. :)

  • Wow, I heard from LianYL there were many many comments. Turns out it was just 2 MOTHER LONG COMMENTS SPREAD OUT OVER MOTHER MANY POSTS.

    Nice try at pimping your post Ascaloth.

    @LianYL I’ll troll your future posts, in parts, and you do so for mine.

    Speaking of which, I found Kaioshin-whatever-sama’s tone rather okay, compared to the tone I take against exaltdragon, which is far more condescending. So much so that I feel a little (Okay I’m feeling charitable today) pity for him sometimes. But it’s okay, all in the name of internet fun, something which exaltdragon agrees on, right?

    Speaking of which, this seems like a good social experiment.

  • Ahh… the good old days of Animesuki forums and thesis-like arguments over KGNE with an ass named wingdarkness.

    A pity the site got hacked and my posts deleted.

  • Riuva seems to be inviting a lot of level up trolls lately.

  • @Tsubaki More like noob trolls.

  • So despite everything I’ve shown, the folks at Riuva still appear to see me like I’m sort sort of troll. That’s really unfortunate. I understand about sticking by your fellow blogger and I would do the same thing, but I’m not that guy. I suppose I can’t convince you and should stop trying, but I would hope somehow that people understand this and at the very least wouldn’t tell their friends in the community things about me that just aren’t true.

  • *looks around*

    Yep – Ascaloth and Kaio still clashing heads … all must be well in the world :)

    As for on-topic, i actually find Toei’s version of Air a much more satisfying watch than the KyoAni adaption. The series had a good number of flaws, raging from pacing issues to very poorly handled side characters to the point i wished they rather not included them at all. Which is where the movie succeeds – instead of involving (and mishandling) the side characters it chose to focus on the main pair, and did a very good job at it. True, they changed the original story quite a bit, but then again i have never given a flying rats arse about things like ‘faithfulness to the source material’ as long as the story is good. Faithfulness only gets you so far if you don’t handle it properly.

    The spirit and the gist of the story was still there, and the emotions were certainly as well. (Unlike the series it had actual romance, which is another plus in my books, though this is a personal preference and does not change anything on the grand scale). The animation quality is good in both, even though i think the movie overused the lens flare effect…. which we will be getting in Clannad movie as well it seems. That said, while i do prefer the movie, i am not the one who normally compares them – i can do so if required, but i rather think of them as two sides of one coin that complement each other. But if asked, i will definitely stand by the movie.

    I am not going to dwell on Kanon much, aside from saying this – KyoAni version is much more superior to Toei. The animation in Toei version is simply bad, no ways around it. It doesn’t look anything like 2002 standards at all. It is safe to say i find KyoAni version superior for all intents and purposes.

    What will come of Clannad remains to be seen, so i am withholding my comments on that. One thing to note though – the animation in Toei version looks like an ‘upgraded’ version of Kanon 2002, which does not exactly translate to good in my books. Why they couldn’t go with the character designs they used in Air Movie is beyond me, and i am afraid i will not enjoy the movie as much as i should because of the animation.

    Unlike most, i have some respect for Toei which i consider to be well earned … i don’t like most of their work, but sometimes they manage to pull something that ranks highly on my list. Air Movie and Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu are the prime examples. Another title i found quite enjoyable is Binbou Shimai Monogatari.

    All that said, the title i look towards the most this fall is ef ~a tale of memories~, not Clannad, which comes in second. I suppose that ends my rant here ;)


  • Guys, let me introduce Skyfall; currently a mod on Animesuki, and a friend I value very highly. This would not be the first time we’ve disagreed on the merits of the two AIR adaptations, but unlike Kaioshin, Skyfall actually understands the meaning of courtesy, and makes good points for his arguments to boot; that is why I’m far more amenable to debating with him. ^_^

    And yup yup, Skyfall, it seems to be business as usual, although of course, it’s Kaioshin-chan who’s taking the initiative this time round. ;)

    Personally, I’ve already made my bias against Toei’s CLANNAD quite clear. :p
    But the way I see it, if Toei lets Tomoya and Nagisa remain what they are and not turn into something else altogether, and if the story doesn’t turn into something else altogether, I’ll actually rate it as a worthwhile watch.

    Skyfall, it’s interesting that you mentioned “ef ~ a tale of memories ~”, because that’s actually the other of my two Fall must-watches, and I’m actually considering doing my next Head-to-Head RIUVA post using it and CLANNAD next. Of course, ever since I got matriculated, I haven’t really had much time to do much of anything. :(

    So, if you don’t mind, perhaps you can point me to some ef pre-promotional resources, like trailers, for example?

  • @Kaioshin_Sama Open your eyes, look at the list of RIUVA writers, look at the comments, before wallowing in self-pity about the perceived bias against you.

  • Well let’s try talk then, apparently though according to Ascaloth, nothing I say can ever be a good point. That’s not a shot, that’s just as statement of what I’m starting to gather.

    Firstly, Looking at the picture for the Toei Clannad Movie and the Kyoto Animation TV Series, I must say the Toei stuff actually doesn’t look half bad, when you compare the glaring differences between Kanon TV 1 and Kanon TV 2, although this could partially be do to the lense flare and Nagisa face could be really messed up. Secondly, I personally don’t think it’s really fair or even really possible to compare a Movie to a TV Series, but I’ll try.

    Let me start by saying that the only time I have ever seen a Movie exceed a TV Series in terms of storytelling and character development is with the Mobile Suit Gundam Movie Triliogy (This was do to with the careful reediting of some of the poorer moments in the series, as well as the introduction of new footage and plot elements to improve the pacing). This transitions into another point I want to address and that is this. Of course the TV Series will have more content, and of course it will cover more ground, but will it necessarily be as enjoyable to a mainstream audience, keeping in mind how Gundam couldn’t get an audience, because nothing like it had ever been seen before .

    Next, in terms of audience, when viewing an animation that is availabe in multitple formats, it all depends on what type of exposure you want. Do you want it loud and in your face in a movie theatre as a mainstream feature, usually as a quick thrill that will hit you instantly, or do you want it in the comfort of your home at a slower pace where dedicated viewership will eventually payoff? Something tells me people are going to go for both.

    Let me use the example of Kanon TV Series 2 (and yes I did ultimately finish it). One of the main things I noticed about it is how plodding it’s pace could be (It almost felt like the traditional Toei series and the first one something else entirely), to be honest it was really boring for me, a casual fan of Key works, to come into early on. That is why I think Toei is onto to something with the Movie feature format, if you want a faster and more to the point telling of the story, then a Movie will usually do that. Now, obviously if you are a fan of Key and you want the maximum exposure to the characters and all, the TV Series will be the way to go. I don’t think either of them have an especially wrong approach to adaptating Clannad to an animation, though I’m sure the Key fans would probably want to lynch Toei for trimming things down, but hey, they still have the game so let it be I say, or just don’t watch. That pretty much summarizes my view on the whole Toei/Kyoani faceoff.

  • Yes Kaioshin, we get your point.


  • @LianYL: You just answered that question yourself.

  • Yes, and? None of what you say isn’t anything we haven’t heard from (and agreed with, BTW) Skyfall already.

  • Well, that’s my point, take it or leave it. We don’t all hold unique views from the rest of the world, many people hold shared ideas on a number of things. I don’t see the problem with that. You look across the board on blogs and a lot of people make the same points about posts. The only reason it seems to be a problem here is because it’s me making it.

  • Information about ef ? Sure, why not …
    some spoilers ahead.

    Originally a visual novel by minori consisting of two parts – the early tale and the later tale. The later tale of the game has yet to be released, and as such it seems we won’t be getting all of the characters to play a part of the story, but thats reasonable. One thing to note about the game – it consists of CG scenes only, which is HUGE. It cost insane amounts of money to make the game. While a visual novel usually has around 100 CG scenes (a very rough estimate), first tale of ef sports 1800 CG scenes. The game is a huge eye candy. As for the actual story, i have yet to see a negative comment on it ;)

    Game preview video (droolworthy scenery incoming):

    The anime is scheduled for 12 episodes and is produced by SHAFT. First episode airs on 7th October. An anime prologue has been released as well:
    Subbed version is available as well by Conclave, you will have to find that on your own ^^

    The interesting thing about ef is – there as many main male characters as there are female, meaning this is not going to be a ‘harem’ show. Actually, the pairings in the game are preset and you can’t change who ends up with whom. (From the anime prologue i gather we are going to focus on 3 pairs of people mostly. One girl and one guy are not present in the anime promo at all, but their story was not told in the early tale either, so…)

    Needless to say this is very good as far as anime adoption is concerned, as there is not going to be any trouble with ‘shafting someones favorite girl’ or ‘they should have chosen to go with girl X route’ or anything of the usual problems with adopting these stories. Without giving away any names i can say this – yes, there is a love triangle going on (pretty much self evident by the anime promo), but the resolution is going to be ‘everyone wins’ in the end. Which is a concept i have yet to see in anime, and as such i am looking towards to it greatly. The animation looks to be of very good quality as well, even if the shading looks a bit ‘different’ than we are used to … not saying it is bad though, and it looks like it is going to be visually impressive overall.

    Fall is going to be a very busy season for me ^^
    And this concludes my rant because i need to get to uni in time.


  • @Kaioshin,

    The only reason it’s a problem with you is because you couldn’t leave this kind of relatively civilized discourse on the main topic at hand, as your first comment. You could have, but no…you had to “compliment” me like you think you were on the bloody moral high ground, as if you were in a position to do so. Like I said earlier, I don’t really have to trash your image; with your regularly making comments like that, you’re already trashing your own image quite adequately.

    …yup, so that’s how it is. If you would continue to leave your comments here, people are going to continue to judge you based on the first impression you have left here, and treat you accordingly. Oh, right…and I didn’t bait you into coming here either, if you recall. You came here out of your own will. ;)

    That’s all. Owarimasu.

  • The first comment was probably a mistake. I apologize for the off-topic entrance.

  • @Kaioshin_Sama Unfortunately there’s nothing to talk about, because I’m not into such debates, and Clannad just doesn’t appeal to me. And mind you, Ascaloth is just a co-writer here, and whatever his views are, it’s limited to he himself, and does not extend to riuva as a whole.

    And unfortunately it doesn’t mean that just because alot of people share similar views with you means it must be accepted to be true here too, or at least Ascaloth has to accept it as true.

    We can always agree to disagree.

  • @Kokanaden: Well if he doesn’t accept mine as true, then the same would ultimately go for Skyfall’s, since they are very similar, so he just contradicted himself. Will he do it again…..I agree though that it’s alright to disagree, but when you just go “I disagree with you because you are you”…..I guess that’s alright to, but it’s a bit odd. I never asked him to agree with me, but holding two contradicting opinions on somethign based on who said it is just silly, that would be doublethink. I mean this isn’t Ingsoc from 1984.

  • @Kaioshin,

    Apology accepted.

  • @Kaioshin_Sama Stop whining. I’ve already mentioned it in my first comment that your tone was okay, what more do you want?

    So what if he wants to disagree with you because of you? If you feel uncomfortable then don’t bother commenting when he’s posting, that’s all. You knew from the moment you commented that you would be confronted with an argument with Ascaloth, so just face up to it. Whether the argument is rational or not would be an entirely different point altogether. You commented, you asked for this argument, so stop whining about whether his argument is fair or not.

    Meanwhile, have a nice time commenting on the other posts.

  • And this carries on as a load of crap.

  • *psst* Ascaloth. Dont forget Little Busters. *wink*

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