So, we’ve into my top three- the stories that have inspired me the most to write, to talk, to keep experiencing more and more new things.
For the most part, I acknowledge that these stories have their flaws, but for whatever reason, they’ve certainly hit home for me. Of course, there’s DEFINITELY quality behind these works in some way, or else they wouldn’t be up here, but, overall, you guys are getting personal over objective judgment here.
Let get back into it!
3. Katawa Shoujo
The first, and only, visual novel on this list, Katawa Shoujo is perhaps, not the best or most quality set of stories in the world, but damn, they hit so freaking HARD.
Katawa Shoujo, out of all the stories on this list, has emotionally impacted me the most, changed my view on life, and honestly inspired me to live better. It sounds like an overstatement, but man, this VN just somehow had a big impact on me. But enough about that- what is it?
This Visual Novel was born from a small idea on a random doujin somewhere deep on 4chan, of all places. The artist RAITA provided a sketch putting forth an idea for a VN centering around five crippled, physically disabled girls: Katawa Shoujo. What could have been something disgusting and depraved, instead turned into a seven year passion project, that gave birth to a unique Visual Novel that took many, many people by surprise. I mean. Who would think that a story, specifically about a guy dating crippled girls, would be any good?
Well, Four Leaf Studios did something right.
What should have been, by all means, essentially some strange fetish VN from the depths of the internet, was turned into a heartwarming series of stories about how what you’re given in life doesn’t define you, that there’s more to people than what may seem immediately apparent. Stepping into the shoes of Hisao Nakai, diagnosed with the heart condition Arrythmia and stripping him of his regular life, you go along for the ride as he learns to deal with his own problems, and perhaps finds love along the way.
The thing about Katawa Shoujo, is that honestly, it has its flaws. It’s not the most perfect story in the world, but rather, it’s just flat-out genuine. What it lacks in musical complexity and epic storytelling, it makes up in the sincerity of its characters. Instead of death and huge stakes at every turn, you find that many of the characters simply deal with very real problems.
Lilly deals with family issues, Shizune hates her controlling nature, Emi wants to run away from her problems, and you know, these issues aren’t exactly the biggest things in the world. But they’re important to them- and as Hisao, these issues end up becoming important to you too. These struggles are relatable and real, in a way that, honestly, no other story I’ve experienced thus far has been able to accomplish.
Combine that with some romance, and a tinge of idealistic hope, and you’ve got a story that, for all its flaws, managed to teach me a lot. As much as I appreciate drama, powerful narratives, and huge stakes, sometimes it’s worth it to just appreciate…people. Something simple. Simple music, simple conversations, and even simple problems. It’s a great story- and easily has to be included within my top three.
2. Clannad, and Clannad: After Story
The story of Clannad is an interesting beast.
At best, it is described as one of the most emotional anime of all time, and at worst, it is a decent introduction to the emotionally charged stories that anime can provide. But man. I’ll just say it flat out, Clannad fucked me up.
Clannad centers around the delinquent known as Tomoya Okazaki, who lives a colorless, directionless life. He feels that high school, and indeed, the rest of his life may continue this way- until he meets the optimistic young girl known as Nagisa, who fills his life with color. Slowly, surely, Tomoya finds himself living for something more, learning to come to terms with his broken family, and looking forward to being able to create his own, and maybe, just maybe, find a lasting happiness.
The theme of Clannad can be aptly described by a single word: family. Clannad and its sequel, Clannad: After Story is indeed a great romance story, perhaps the most famous in all of anime, but its true colors are in the theme of family, with all its pains, all its sadness, and of course, the meaning it can bring.
It is a series that can be both nonsensical and fun, as well as soul-crushingly sad. Clannad doesn’t pull any punches in detailing the pains of the protagonists, in what is perhaps one of the most realistic general portrayals of life after high school, in any anime. They talk about jobs, lost loves, financial problems, addiction, and honestly, the series is just so, so freaking real. But, throughout it all, it can be said that it is still a hopeful series.
Also, Nagisa and Tomoya are some great protagonists; at least in my eyes. They’re flexible enough to be relatable, yet have their own concrete personalities- personalities that you see develop over the course of the series. You see how Tomoya naturally gets better over the series, and you know why Nagisa is, perhaps naively, idealistic and hopeful, but to contrast this, we also see how Tomoya’s flaws send him crashing back down to Earth, and how Nagisa’s idealism…well. I’m sure many of you guys know how that works out.
Clannad is one of those shows that I can’t love more. It caused me to think long and hard about things in my own life, while simply just being a great, emotional story. Family, personal growth, living in the real life, and being able to finally, FINALLY get that happy ending, Clannad was one of those shows that I just couldn’t, and can’t forget, making it my favorite anime–in terms of storytelling–of all time.
That said, there’s still a story that surpasses it: and you’ll be able to check that out at the links below. If you missed any other part, you can check those out too!