Azure Flame is now over three years old! Wish us luck as we become older and ever more behind the pulse of current anime.
Nagisa and Tomoya are finally together, but there are still many more obstacles for them to face. Whilst Nagisa continues to battle with her illness, Tomoya must grow up fast as he takes responsibility for supporting himself and his partner. Will they be able to overcome everything and live happily ever after, or is this one tale that must inevitably end in tragedy?
Since I spent the entirety of Clannad waiting for Tomoya and Nagisa to get together, I was optimistic that After Story would be more my cup of tea. Unfortunately, even though it was a solid enough series overall, it still had its ups and downs.
After some customary faffing around with baseball and the like, After Story seemed happy to get on with the process of furthering the story of Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship- all to the good, you might think, except that it’s hard to really get ‘comfortable’ with the story. You know that Tomoya and Nagisa are supposed to have a deep and caring relationship, but it’s hard to see evidence of anything more than a superficial connection. Maybe it’s just a failing on my part, but I just couldn’t see it- especially as they both still looked about fifteen despite having graduated from high school.
Of course, even my hardened and cynical heart couldn’t help but be moved by the events of episode 17; thanks to spoilers, I had long known of these events, but somehow the emotion that was lacking from the earlier episodes was all packed into here, making for a genuinely touching and poignant moment.
With this turning point, the series jumps ahead several years, and, understandable as it is, we have to deal with Tomoya’s angst arc before he finally gets his act together. Although they never hit the heights of that fateful episode, the closing chapters of After Story are at least an improvement of the faltering start, despite a somewhat dubious ending.
Given that this series is basically “Tomoya and Nagisa: What Happened Next”, it should come as little surprise that the supporting characters now have more minor roles- naturally, for the sake of all the fanboys, everyone makes at least a token appearance, but overall the series is much more focused.
Visually, the series brings us more of the usual KyoAni eye candy- by now, we would be disappointed with anything less. Background music is of similar quality to the first series, mostly ‘visual novel’ easy listening with a couple of standout tracks and a somewhat catchy OP.
Although it has its own flaws to bring to the playing field, overall After Story proves to be an improvement over the first series, bringing us a more focused and driven narrative. Those who didn’t support the Tomoya X Nagisa path will no doubt be disappointed at the reduced role played by their favourite girl, but overall this is a second season that surpasses its predecessor.