Back when I was first getting into visual novels and finishing up CLANNAD I decided to look into more Key stuff and noticed there was a sequel to CLANNAD’s Tomoyo Route in visual novel form and decided to read that next. After getting treated to seemingly non-stop sex scenes right at the start I just dropped it as it felt too much for me (ironically I think I actually quit during the last one). After a couple years of hearing many people place Tomoyo After above CLANNAD in ranking Key stories, some even putting Tomoyo After as their #1 Key story I started wanting to read it again. Key announced they would be localizing the Memorial Edition which basically removes the sex scenes and adds new content and releasing on Steam which got me excited. Did Tomoyo After live up to my expectations?
*note: this review assumes you have completed Tomoyo’s route in CLANNAD (watching the anime’s OVA is fine) or have a significant understanding of her route’s story and characters.
*The Steam overlay was not working correctly at the time of review so all screenshots are taken from the official Steam page.
The story starts off shortly after where Tomoyo’s route in CLANNAD ended. Tomoya has graduated and is working in an appliance parts and repair shop as well as living on his own. Tomoyo frequently drops by in order to help with cooking and other housework and they often end up doing “perverted things” which in the Steam version end up as embarrassing cosplay on Tomoyo’s part. Tomoyo’s little brother Takafumi usually ends up walking in on Tomoyo and causing her embarrassment levels to skyrocket. We continue like this for a few days until suddenly Tomoya has some new housemates. First up is Tomo who is Tomoyo and Takafumi’s father’s illegitimate child that her mother has abandoned and Tomoya takes her in because the Takafumi worries if their mom finds out it will separate their family again. Tomo is a kindergarten-aged child that has the usual “tries acting mature when you know she’s not” personality we often get with young kids in anime. The other is Kanako who is Takafumi’s ex-girlfriend. She’s a foul-mouthed tomboy that enjoys terrible jokes.
The story is split into arcs which focus on Tomoya, Takafumi/Kanako, Tomo/her mother and a final arc titled “After”. Despite there being choices in the visual novel it’s fairly linear which is why I referred to them as “arcs” opposed to “routes” the choices generally lead to different gags or bad ends which sucked a little but I guess it was nice I didn’t need to skip a bunch of text just to get to the next part of the story, especially since it follows Tomoya’s growth as a person so it makes sense as a narrative.
The group of Tomoya, Tomoyo, Takafumi, Tomo and Kanako (one of these things is not like the other) is probably my favourite of all the Key groups over the years. They play so well off each other and really, just work. It’s hard to explain in anymore detail why I like the group so much but if you progress far enough into the story you’ll see why.
Visually the game looks a little aged but still fine. Tomoyo’s sprites (as well as another character that shows up later) were redrawn to fit the new art style Tomoyo After uses although there are some backgrounds taken straight from CLANNAD. These mostly make sense as they’re from around the town or at specific locations but it felt a little weird seeing them. The CG were also pretty nice to look at.
The soundtrack is amazing. One of my favourite (if not my favourite) by Key. The OP song “Light Colors” is beautiful and I never got tired of the soundtrack. I even bought it on Steam as DLC despite it being within the game because I liked it so much. The voice acting was also really good and probably added to my enjoyment of the main group. Tomoyo is voiced by Ryouko Tanaka instead of Houko Kuwashima like in CLANNAD however Tomoya is voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura like the anime so if you didn’t like getting used to his voice in the Side Stories you may be pleased to know.
There is also a side game called “Dungeons & Takafumis” (which you can watch me attempt to play here) which is a strategy-RPG (and also switches Tomoya’s seiyuu to Yuuichi Nitta for some reason) which I generally don’t like or play, as such I was quite bad and didn’t make it very far. From what I could tell don’t come in expecting Fire Emblem but maybe a nice bonus for fans of the genre?