I admit, Fuko probably wasn’t the best way to start reading CLANNAD.
I imagine Maeda was sitting in his dark corner of the office while penning the first draft, and was like, (slight Kanon and AIR spoilers) “Hm…Hisaya-san really had something going with Ayu. Michiru didn’t work, but I guess second time’s the charm, huh?”
And that will be the extent of my Kanon and AIR references for this post. (Please read Kanon, by the way…we have a bookclub going on…)
Anyway, my exposure to the anime has made me rather partial to Fuko. She was my favorite character in the anime, although I wasn’t quite sure why. I guessed she had a charm to her that the other characters (save TomoyaGalaxy and Sunohara) seemed to lack. My love for Fuko drove me to attempt to join the CLANNAD Bookclub, but alas, I was too broke at the time. My love for Fuko had to be locked away, and she faded into obscurity while the Ayus and the Kuds and the Shizurus filled the gap left behind in my loli closet.
But I never forgot Fuko. Now, as I stand here, having read her route, I can finally stand here to say, it was everything - and yet nothing - like I expected.
Fuko’s character maintains a focus on distributing her wooden carved starfish to her fellow students in the hopes of promoting her sister’s wedding. Although her devotion to this task proves that she’s a modestly strong character, it doesn’t mean that she is unmalleable. She eventually comes to recognize when her efforts aren’t doing much good, and she comes to appreciate the people closest to her even if she never asked for them to be her friends. The route is equal parts about Fuko’s efforts towards learning how to be friends with others and Kouko’s movement towards a life independent of her younger sister’s influence.
If I had to point out any flaws with these developments, there’s little opposition to them. Sure, Fuko does get turned down a few times, both Galaxy and Sunohara have to find their own reasons to help Fuko, Kouko is restricted by her own feelings on the issue, and Nagisa…just does Nagisa things. There’s not much opposition to anything, so there’s not a whole lot of conflict beyond the inevitable (which just gets conveniently overturned by Key Magic anyway) or the petty.
And then there’s the romance scene, which is…kind of weird. I mean, it’s not out-of-character for Nagisa to push herself away from Galaxy or others out of false modesty, but pairing people together? The way she words it sounds like a death flag or something…and should the reader choose to kiss Fuko, Fuko’s reaction sounds out-of-character, kind of a “let’s be lovers just because we can” sort of deal. It’s kind of forced, to be honest. No wonder they kept that part out for the anime.
Still, I can get behind this route for being both enjoyable and heartwarming when it needs to be. I like the character interactions even though almost none of the characters significantly change over the course of the route. I feel that Maeda had something of value to say in this route, a message of putting faith in others, even when all seems hopeless, which speaks volumes to me. I can’t really judge this route fairly in comparison to the others (seeing as I haven’t read them yet), but I still hold this route in high regard nonetheless.
It’s time for Galaxy to make a name for himself…through baseball!