CLANNAD - Kotomi Ichinose Route & Character Discussion


I’m late, real late.

Super late.

The Route

So late all I had time for was to shit on Kotomi’s character and the route for being something completely unappealing to me, it was boring.

Then the flashback happened.

THE FUCKING FEELS. That was not being hit by the feels train, that was being hit by the feels train while rocket powered and carrying a shipment of feels trucks. Speaking as someone who still abides by ‘Kotomi isn’t a character that I can enjoy’, the emotional impact of the flashbacks, Tomoya’s working on the garden, and the great teddy bear adventure is astronomical, personally I’d say it blows everything else so far out of the water, from it’s sheer emotional power. And I won’t say the writing doesn’t have a finesse to it too, it’s laced with subtleties and is absolutely fantastic, it’s absolutely impossible to not get extremely invested into the absolute joy that is everything after the bus falls over.


This route is split into two halfs, a part I cannot give a single shit about(THAT I REALLY WANNA SAY IT’S ME, NOT YOU), and a part I can give nothing but the highest praise. The first half seriously drags the second part down and this fills me with sorrow. I give this route a WRITE LESS, ASSHOLE/10


I had a thought while reading Nagisa’s route. It’s revealed there that Nishina used to play the violin but is no longer able to. This would explain why the violin holds such sentimental value for her despite not being able to play it… It was her old violin! I feel like the act of her giving it to Kotomi seems much more heartfelt when you realise this small truth.


Was it really Nishina’s old violin? I was always under the impression that Nishina was the one who found it and played it and restored it then gave it to Kotomi…

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Well, it’s my interpretation. I think she was hiding the truth~

I just finished whole CLANNAD excluding silly Sunohara’s ‘bad end’ or something.

I can definitely say this route is my absolute favorite in CLANNAD before After Story arc. Kotomi holds the third position though, as I love (personal preference) the persona of Tomoyo and Kyou first and second place respectively.

The writing, what can I say, a so so generic old tragic past and reunited old friends that become lovers can be this satisfying. Kudos to the writer of the scenario, art designers and the voice actors. I really really can’t ask for more.

But as perfect as it can be, the first part of the Kotomi Arc is so slow. I wish it could be faster or add some more varieties before the main theme.

Personality wise, I don’t like Kotomi’s too much. She’s just too shy, so shy that she’s even ranked behind Ryou, and given that I prefer more easy going girl this puts her at disadvantage (hence I pick Tomoyo and Kyou ahead of Kotomi). But her situations… make me want to protect her. And this very rarely happens. I am one of those lazy bum who does love to be lazy and play around… Her intelligence and academic prowess will be a handy asset, though, in life.

The ending hit me really hard. I just l… well, the train feels.

Now as for how Tomoya handles this route, I can say I’m quite content. I can’t blame him forgetting his old past, especially when he was but a kid. I probably would have done worse than him and forgetting Kotomi altogether if I were him. Moreso when he pushes so hard by repairing the garden to prove that he’s there for her.

As a whole, I can give Kotomi route score of 9 out of 10. I already explained the flaw of this route above.


Yuuichi Suzumoto is a master storyteller. I know that much from Planetarian, but I never expected so much of the same personality and style of writing to carry over to this route.

I don’t remember much about Kotomi from the anime, save some of the small liberties KyoAni did to make the route less romance-focused. To be frank, if you strip the romance from this route, it bears an almost uncanny resemblance to Little Busters in terms of themes. Kotomi learning how to step outside her comfort zone and learn how to be friends with other people is a major part of the story, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Maeda was so impressed by how it turned out that he made a whole VN like it. :smile:

But Kotomi’s route extends far beyond the themes of friendship and family, stretching into themes that by now exemplify Suzumoto’s work. Religious parallels are all over the place, but their execution is far from haphazard. In actuality, it’s almost perfect, and it contains a lot of what I value a great deal in literature today: truth. Suzumoto teaches us through subtle, natural language that knowledge is a powerful and helpful tool, but sometimes the truth that eludes even the most learned scholars is simpler than we think. In the same vein, there is as much beauty in simplicity as there is in complexity. It’s something that people tend to rediscover as they strive to achieve personal goals, feeling immense pressure to strive for something greater and of higher understanding when the answer was there all along.

Kotomi’s personal dilemma lies in her conflicting goals; she desires to achieve the same lofty academic understanding and reputation her parents had, while at the same time striving to do what she really wants to do. We see that her desire to atone for destroying her parents’ legacy is a far stronger motive, but over the course of the story she grows attached to the friends she made and the talents she built. It’s real character development, something quite difficult to come across in a lot of Key routes.

If anything, though, the biggest reason I like this route is how TomoyaYou develops as a character. As he grows closer to Kotomi, he starts to value school, the Drama Club, and of course, the town just a little bit more. He starts coming to school on time and paying attention a bit in classes, even if it’s just to meet Kotomi in the library at lunchtime. He grows attached to the Drama Club and its antics, even if it’s just to help Kotomi make friends and flex her creative muscles. He throws away his savings to fix her yard up, just to get Kotomi to come back to school. The amount of dedication he places in her welfare is both staggering and admirable, even if it won’t carry into the other routes. :unamused:

Since I am technically going by the Kaza-sanctioned route order, this route introduces the piece ‘To the Same Heights’, a somber piano piece composed by Jun Maeda. Like a good deal of Maeda’s pieces, the emotions it carries are complex, but not in the same way a piece like Natsukage or Nagisa is. On the surface, it conveys a feeling of warmth, perhaps from the embrace of a loved one. But given the context of Kotomi’s route, I feel it conveys a feeling of warmth from knowing that even if a loved one has passed on, their warmth and presence can still be felt. It’s a beautiful piece, up there with the aforementioned pieces Maeda composed.

I’m glad I spent so much time reading this route. I don’t think it’s perfect (Kotomi’s voice actress bothers me a bit, there’s a small problem with how the ending handles the religious themes, etc.) but I still give it a five because it’s still exceptionally well-written. Granted, Yukine set the bar pretty high already, so maybe the next few routes will be going a bit downhill? Who can tell, save I seek out the truth for myself?

Now, who’s next?

…K-Kyou~?! :frowning:

EDIT (07/07/16): For the K.E.Y.:

CLANNAD had many amazing routes in it, but the one that stuck with me the most was Kotomi. It feels like the prototype of Little Busters in terms of how memorable the characters are and how entertaining yet thought-provoking the story is. Even Tomoya experiences a small bit of character development in this route, something other routes wish they could have. Themes of family, friendship and the development of oneself help carry the route, but it does something only Planetarian would ever try to accomplish. That is, it tries to answer questions that go beyond our understanding.

The inspired truth this route carries is one of the strongest points of Kotomi’s route to me. Holding on to the hope that someone benevolent as well as omnipotent is watching over us is not an easy task. Kotomi’s faith is constantly tested, and there are times when circumstances cause her faith to waver, and she becomes lost trying to redeem her mistakes. The last part of the story is magical to me because despite all that’s happened to her, someone who loves her always watched over her. It makes me sad that Yuuichi Suzumoto is no longer with Key, because I would love to see an after story for Kotomi.


What I’d like to do here is look at some of the characters as they are represented through their themes. So for Kotomi, that theme would be “Étude Pour les Petites Supercordes”. Sadly I don’t speak french, so I have no idea what that means translated.
So first of, this piece of music is written in a major scale, I can’t say which, since I don’t have sheets available, but major scale in general gives a more positive impression. This track is played by a string quartett, which already hints at Kotomi having played the violin at some point. Furthermore is string music something that is often associated with the higher classes of society, as is the case with many classical pieces of music. Kotomi herself is the daughter of scientists, lives in a mansion and is always encountered in the library, so that high position in society is indeed the case. Back to the point that Kotomi played the violin, the melody is something, that I think a beginner could actually play, and during the recital in the story I kind of imagined that she played that track at some point, even though the text mainly said that she was bad.
Now we get to the interesting parts, namely the repetitions of the track. The second time through, the melody is accompanied by a flute, and as percussive instruments triangle and castagnettes are added. Here is another nice touch that she mentions her friends playing these percussive instruments, which illustrates even stronger what the added instruments are probably supposed to represent: namely, new friends. You could say that this track also represents her growing social life, as the track itself grows while staying the same, thanks to the added instruments.
This also shows the third time through, as here there are not only added instruments, timpani and glockenspiel in this case, but the percussive instruments also play a bit more, especially the triangle.
So all in all, both Kotomi’s character and character growth are represented in her theme, and that is just great. Especially the growth is rarely represented in character themes.


So, unlike the previous routes I read where I end up liking the heroine to best gril candidate levels, Kotomi route didn’t really made me like her any much more. Granted, I already like her before. However, there are a lot to appreciate to a route apart from that.

The humor is great. Kotomi is so bad at joking, it gets funny (I laughed at the elbow joke). Kyou is really weird. Dismembered corpse scene was just savage. Finally, Nagisa’s bread soup was a freaking highlight. I laughed so hard in that scene. I wished the SoL didn’t drag the storytelling too much though.

In any case, I really admire how well-written the story is. There’s so much attention to detail in storytelling that I just. can’t. handle. ;-;

The suitcase scene was a touching piece of VN literature, but not everyone understands English, Suzumoto. ^^;

Also, TOE is just gorgeous 4.5/5 spiked up to 5 just for that track alone.

Edit: also best use of Shionari so far, so yah


I agree that (along with Yukine’s route), the narrative of this one is hurt somewhat by the lack of romance in the anime. The emotional height when Kotomi finally comes out to meet Tomoya just isn’t as strong when the close bond between the two is harder to feel.

As for this route, however, I really enjoyed it. Kotomi is excessively moe, and her girl genius traits felt less like a core part of her personality and more like an accessory (Yuichi Suzimoto even admitted in the Guidebook he felt like Kotomi went from an intellectual in concept to the type of girl he’d like to date, due to the difficulty he had writing a character that was supposed to be smarter than him). Nonetheless, her development is handled in a very deliberate, very subtle manner. As she transitions from a reclusive girl to on one who’s willing to have friends and bond with people, I came to respect Suzimoto’s skill with gradually developing characters. It helped make the otherwise uninteresting Junker compelling, and it works even better for Kotomi here. Her attempts to branch out are endearing to say the least. Little touches like her gradually improving with the violin are also surprisingly impactful. The decision to have her join the Drama Club as a way of extending her reach turned out to be a very good move. She bonds naturally with the shy Nagisa and the meek Ryou in a way that fits Kotomi’s introverted personality.

As for my comment about her being excessively moe, this would bother me more were it not her reason for acting the way she does is directly linked to her backstory. The isolation she’s felt for so many years, and her failure to find any new friends has left her cold and broken. She’s failed to develop socially after all these years, and although it might be a bit of a stretch to agree with Suzimoto’s logic, I actually find myself buying it. Kudos to him for making me suspend my oft excessive disbelief.

Her breakdown is extremely intense. I was legitimately horrified by that scene. Not only was it well-written, but Mamiko Noto’s performance is pitch-perfect. I can’t help but give her the highest praise, because in spite of how difficult her character is to perform, she gets so many things right. I might even argue she has some of the highest quality acting in the game, quality which reaches her peak in the extensive, first-person flashback we receive later on. Speaking of, although we don’t get a solid idea of her parents’ personality, we get just enough to feel the sting of her words to her parents when they leave without warning. Her descent from denial into devastation when the world tries to force her to believe her parents are dead is heart-wrenching. It’s also eerily accurate to the way a child would react in such a situation.

It’s no wonder she’s so utterly broken and wants nothing to do with an life apart from her obsessive ambition.

But Tomoya doesn’t give up.

This has to be one of his most endearing traits. Although lacking in self-worth or any kind of ambition, Tomoya would climb mountains to make someone in need happy, especially if it was one of his friends. The meticulously-detailed lengths he goes to help Kotomi are very in-character for him. Realistically, he has moments of doubt, wondering not only if he will ever finish, but if Kotomi will care if he does. Nonetheless, he stands firm, and finishes the job. It’s a powerful moment that perfectly segues into their heartwarming embrace. In my mind, this story is about self-worth. Kotomi completely lacks it. She fears the only way her parents could possibly be proud of her now is for her to become a mindless drone who does nothing but dedicated herself to completing their research. Seeing people throw their lives away for well-intentioned yet self-destructive goals is horrifying, and it’s why Tomoya has no compelling answer for her once she finishes her story. He couldn’t possibly. Tomoya has never found a way to deal with the baggage in his past. He’s solved all of those problems by simply running away from them, indulging in other people’s dilemmas. So for Kotomi, he has no answer he could consider true to himself. Instead, he tries to reassert their friendship, but Kotomi finds herself too far gone. Through his actions, Tomoya opens Kotomi’s eyes to how much her friends care for her. She does have worth just for being her, and the fact she’s befriended so many people is proof of that.

I do have my beefs in this route, though. There are OTHER leaps in logic that are much harder for me to swallow. When could her parents possibly have written that letter? Why do we need to the additional sappiness of her suitcase circumnavigating the globe? How would Tomoya forget such a harrowing experience? Why would Kotomi’s caretaker stay so far away and act suspicious when she shouldn’t be living alone? Why did we need a Kyou molests Kotomi joke?

Still, the core parts of this route are executed brilliantly. 4/5?


Kotomi is my favourite route of all the Clannad stories, yes it can be argued that it’s not especially groundbreaking and has flaws but I give it 5/5. Kotomi herself would be a little way down the list of my favourite characters. This arc really sold me on CLANNAD as a whole ( I played it after Sunohara before Fuko, so further into the story than in the Bookclub walkthrough).

I was really drawn into wanting to know more about her back story; what had made her so withdrawn and reticent, why she asked everyone if they are a bully, and why she seemed to make a connection with Tomoya. All the first half scenes as she tries hard to integrate socially with the mismatched group dominated by Kyou were both funny and touching. I can empathise with this as i find it difficult to make new friend and I have a no doubt irritating habit of spouting useless facts, textbook style as a conversation stopper…

Like most I suspect I was expecting Kotomi to be a prodigy violin player and enjoyed the overturning of expectations in that mini-arc and her total lack of awareness of the effect on others.

From the shock of (major second act spoiler) her sudden breakdown right to the end I was fighting off tears and not very successfully! I loved how Tomoya went 100% into trying to make things better, and depleting his savings, even though he had no way of knowing that it would make the slightest difference The (apparently) trauma related memory loss is a bit of a stretch but it serves well as a plot device.

The 5 episodes of the anime that covered this I arc were a total delight for me although the VN of course is more definitive.

BTW “Étude Pour les Petites Supercordes” means in music terms “musical composition for the little Superstrings” which neatly relates with both the violin and theoretical physics.


I haven’t finished her route yet, but I wanna know what the “joke” she’s trying to tell is.

On April 28, she says,

“Nagisa-chan ja aaaaaarimasen ga”

Translated version: “Well if it isn’t Nagiiiisa-chan”

What’s the joke there? I assume it’s lost in the translation which is why I don’t understand.

It’s a reference to a Japanese comedian, but the main joke is that Kotomi is shit at telling jokes.

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I just finished the route but I have this feeling that I missing something now that I’m analyzing the route. Tell me if there’s anything wrong with what I’m saying:

Basically, there are three big things that stood out for me at the end of her route:

1.) Her last words to her parents, “I hate you.” I guess that’s one thing that’s hard to live with. But was there anything…more to this? She talked to God saying how she regrets saying that and that she actually loved them. After that, iirc the route shifted its focus to…

2.) Her parents’ research papers. So I noticed that the papers show two things:

  • Her regret burning her parents’ “research papers” because it was an irreplaceable work that would’ve benefited the world.

  • The papers being her link to her parents, which is why she gathers any info from articles about her parents, and why she also keeps on studying to finally be able to understand her parents’ work.
    *Actually, now that I’m writing this and rereading her climax, I just realized something. There was a part where she said that studying would let her understand her parents’ study, thus hearing their voice. But at the end of the route, she talked to the teddy bear. Is this where she realizes the connection through her parents isn’t only(?) through their research but also through the gift?

So, my question is, is the reason why she’s studying so hard is because of the first or second bullet point?

3.) So when she was a kid, she was already “different” from other kids which led her to being secluded in her own home, having only Tomoya as her friend. I guess that explains why she liked him very much. I guess this is why it was easier for her to become friends with him the first time they met, which also explains why it’s much “smoother” than her interactions with the other heroines.

Her being alone was further amplified when the tragedy happened: when the adults showed that the papers were more important than the lives of her parents, as well as, her being truly alone for the next few days (damn you Tomoya for now showing on her birthday and not even bothering to visit her). I guess this is why the outside world is “scary” for her.


1.) Is the reason why she’s so scared of bullies because she’s scared of the “outside world”?

2.) Why did she break down? Did she bury the incident deep in her heart? If she broke down, does that mean she never got over it? <- Not exactly what I want to say but, if you recall a sad event in your life (I haven’t so I’m just guessing this is what would happen) you would be sad (of course) but not break down like that. Because I kinda find it hard to imagine her being able to live all this time while not being able to come into some accord with that incident, unless her way of coping is really just forgetting about it and hope she doesn’t remember it.

I’m sorry if some things aren’t clear. I’ll clear the things you find vague if you point them out.

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I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, and largely this corresponds to my own feelings so I’m not sure that you’re missing much.

Now this is why I would have liked the Kotomi based side story to have at least given us some snapshots from her past. As it is it just seems a bit of an irrational trait as I can’t recall that it was ever addressed. Was she warned about bullying and took it too much to heart? Or was she a victim before being given license to pretty much take care of her own education outside class? Or was it simply such a lack of social skills and friendship that everyone came across as a potential threat? Probably the way she was treated almost as an afterthought by adults when needing counselling directly after her loss contributed - but without seeing more than we were shown we are left guessing really.

I haven’t played AIR but I did read that one character in that VN also went through similar? Maybe this is just a cool dramatic device, but…

[Long sentence alert!] While I’m no psychologist, if Kotomi didn’t really complete the full process of grieving, with loss of both parents at a young age being a major trauma, and we assume she simply diverted her grief into a drive for finishing her parents work; then faced with the sudden (possible) unexpected loss of someone she had grown close to then maybe this triggered the anxiety attack. She has after all been fairly sheltered from the “real world” for a long time and likely not close to anyone so maybe it is not a delayed reaction to the past but the coming to terms with the present which manifests as PTSD?

I hope this makes some kind of sense!

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Kotomi is now one of my favorite routes, it especially made it more lovable and heart wrenching when Tomoya and Kotomi were actually childhood friends.

I just remembered wanting to talk about Kotomi Ichinose’s theme, Étude Pour les Petites Supercordes, which Clannad Wiki translates to “Etude for Small Superstring.” I’m not going to dabble too deep on the Superstring Theory because that’s some high-level Physics shit and high-level Physics shit gives me headache every time. Rather, there’s some double-meaning behind the title that I find amusing (though someone here seems to have figured it already).

For non-French speakers like me, “etude” is a word that is quite familiar to those who listen to Chopin’s music, but it literally just means “study.” That’s why we can sometimes find in the names of universities/colleges in France. In that sense, the title of the song is just literally talking about a scientific study on small superstring, whatever a small superstring mean in Physics – though I’m guessing it’s related to the Theory of Everything stuff that Kotomi’s parents were studying.

Meanwhile, in music, they’re (typically) solo pieces meant for performers to learn a particular skill or set of skills. For example, Chopin’s Winter Wind Etude (mild Shigatsu spoilers) is apparently intended to be a study for “stamina, dexterity, and technique.” (I’m taking Wikipedia’s word on this.) In that sense, the soundtrack is treated like a study on whatever violin skill it wants to impart… maybe double stops? Idk I don’t violin…

…I said they’re typically solo pieces? Idk, I guess it’s like how @VyseGolbez explained in this thread before about being a symbol of Kotomi’s growing circle of friends. I’ll also add that musical etudes are traditionally boring pieces not really meant for concert performance. So we can interpret the piece as something Kotomi initially have for violin solo, something to learn in private, until other people, say Tomoya and co., started adding other parts into it.


Hmm, if we take it from the solo aspect and originally meant to learn something, my best bet would be that this teaches both legato and staccato, as this piece has two distinct parts, one with short notes played in staccato, and one with a more flowing melody where the notes are played in legato. Both of these things are very basic, which fits the whole “Kotomi really is a beginner in terms of playing the violin”, so that’s even more attention to detail there.


Actually the intro is also played “Spiccato” where the bow is allowed to bounce off the strings. I’m not sure if we are supposed to read that as Kotomi-chan being a bouncy character though! “Releasing and adding tension…”?



It has probably already been done, but could someone please explain to me Kotomi’s “amazing joke”? The one where she pokes her elbow and then tries to pull her head off.