It ends up being far more subtle than 'Tomoya solves the problems of possible romantic partners', and Clannad should be commended for that.
Tomoya himself is a genuinely nice guy with a playful sense of humour (as is true of the series as a whole), and that helps the show considerably, not least in providing a fairly convincing reason why all these girls might be interested in him (rather than wish fulfilment of the player/viewer). Ryon wins the Complete Drip award, as Negisa (arguably) manages to grow a spine as the series progresses.
(Unlike many people, I didn’t know about Part 2.) Excellent CGs.
advertising animals anime education ethics fake history fallacies feminism games gender pay gap ignorance intelligent design internet journalism krautrock literature manga movies music nonsense personal philosophy politics rant religion review scam science search results technology the iraq war work I came to Clannad principally because the second season, After Story (reviewed separately), is the highest rated show on the Anime News Network.
In both arcs, the journey is rather better than the destination, and that may be true of the show as a whole.
Special mention should also be made of the haunting 'Girl in the dying world' sections; these are probably my favourite sections of the series.
The understated images, the narration of the little robot, and the tone of loneliness they set are simply another reason why those descents into sentimentality just don't work for me.
Ultimately, Clannad is an often funny, occasionally cute, sometimes sentimental, but always leisurely high-school romance, bolstered by a surprising thematic depth.
While we're counting potential black marks against the show, it should be said that Clannad is also a high-school romance.
It must be a tradition, or an old charter, or something).
That isn't to say that it doesn't delve into melodrama and sentimentality, especially at the climaxes of Fuko's and Kotomi's arcs, launching into Clannad's Sentimental Music Cue™ and Emotional Fireworks Display™.
Visual novels, for those who don't know, are basically role-playing games; they often fall into the dating-sim or erotic territory, though thankfully Clannad doesn't go there.
To summarize the list of preconceptions: Clannad is a visual novel-based moe-style high-school romance.