Key has been known to really play with our heart strings with anime adaptations of games such as Kanon and Little Busters!, as well as original anime series like Charlotte and Angel Beats! Let’s not forget that there’s the much anticipated series Rewrite anime adaption of the visual novel coming out in July, which is sure to stir up those feels. However, there is probably no more moving series that is sure to bring you to tears than Clannad. Clannad is a series that has spurned a sequel, a movie, and several OVAs that have all been hits. What makes Clannad such a hit though?
Aside from the amazing flow of the plot that is not marred by viewership opinion, truly the most important aspect of Clannad’s majesty is the characters. There are so many amazing Clannad characters that pull us in and torture us with their stories. In this list, we will take a look at the one element that puts Key’s Clannad at the top. We’re taking a look at the top 10 heartbreaking Clannad characters that just break us each time!
Beware of spoilers. You have been warned!
10. Sakagami Tomoyo
Tomoyo is a transfer student who is known for her rather violent tendencies. She can be seen pummeling Youhei almost on a daily basis. Prior to the events in Clannad, Tomoyo was a delinquent as we can see from her violent behavior. However, at Hikarizaka High School, Tomoyo makes the decision to run for student council president.
Tomoyo is introduced to us as a violent girl who has no qualms about beating Youhei and sometimes, Tomoyo, without warning should they jarr her nerves. Yet, deep inside, Tomoyo has a desire to do good. She goes through the trouble of becoming student council president to save a sakura tree at the expense of her own happiness. Yes, she accomplishes her goal, but at what cost? In the OVA, Tomoyo loses her chance at a relationship with Tomoya for her dream. And while she can be rather cold and harsh, doesn’t she deserve a little happiness too?
9. Sagara Misae
Misae is the manager of the dorm that Youhei lives in. She was the first female student council president of Hikarizaka and was popular with the students. Although Misae is quite friendly, she can also become violent all of a sudden as seen when she interacts with Youhei and Tomoya. Misae is a strict enforcer of the rules.
As a student, Misae had come across a boy who said he would grant her any wish, but Misae didn’t believe him and ignored his continuous pestering. Due to the fact that she would not wish for something, the two spent a great deal of time together, deepening their friendship. It was then, when the boy was dying that Misae made a wish for him to love her forever. The boy, who turned out to be a cat sent by a boy to grant Misae’s wish, returned to Misae’s side after his death to stay with her forever while Misae continues to pine over the love that she lost. Misae continued on like that, pining over one boy without ever knowing the truth, until Tomoya came.
8. Furukawa Sanae
Sanae is the wife of Akio and mother of Nagisa, one of our main characters. Despite having a teenage daughter, Sanae is very young looking and childish in personality causing many to mistaken her for Nagisa’s older sister rather than mother. Together with Akio, Sanae runs the Furukawa Bakery, but she did use to be a middle school teacher. She likes to try to make weird bread flavors, which Akio often mistakenly tries and complains, prompting her to run out crying.
Nagisa’s mother, Sanae, is one of the sweetest moms who opens her home up to Tomoya when he needs it most. For much of the anime, Sanae is very cheerful and kind, even going so far as to pretend to be Youhei’s girlfriend to fool Youhei’s sister into thinking Youhei can get a girlfriend. Despite being all smiles, Sanae hides much of her sadness as shown after Nagisa dies, which earns her a rightful place on this list of heartbreaking Clannad characters! In Clannad: After Story, Sanae must put her mourning on hold for five years to allow Tomoya time to grieve and come back into reality. Sanae holds it all back even though she lost her one and only daughter, who she gave up her livelihood and dreams to take care of because her new dreams were in her daughter, Nagisa.
7. Fujibayashi Kyou
Kyou is the older twin sister of Fujibayashi Ryou. Kyou is the class representative, but has no real consideration for her position. She also has a pet pig that she loves. It has been seen in Clannad that Kyou is very strong, even capable of cracking concrete by throwing a book. In Clannad: After Story, Kyou is a kindergarten teacher and just so happens to be Ushio’s teacher.
Throughout the anime, we get to see Kyou’s feelings for Tomoya grow, despite his own feelings growing for Nagisa, but Kyou swallows her feelings, allowing herself little happiness so that her friend and the boy she likes to be happy. Even in the OVAs, Kyou attempts to match her sister Ryou to Tomoya regardless of her own feelings, keeping her own sadness inside. Kyou has a rough exterior but she is constantly sacrificing her own happiness for the happiness of others. Kyou is a character with a lot of love in her, so much so, she still finds her own heartbreaking when she sees Ushio because she reminds her of Nagisa, rather than attempting to chase after the man of her dreams.
6. Ibuki Fuko
Fuko is a young student who spends her time making starfish out of wood to give to others. She insists that the wood carvings are starfish rather than stars. Fuko is constantly giving Tomoya a hard time despite depending on him. When Fuko meets Ushio, she develops affection for Ushio and declares her intention to steal Ushio away from Tomoya.
When we first meet Fuko, she is carving starfish out of wood to give students so they will go to her sister’s wedding. Fuko may be young, but she put her all into making those gifts to show her sister how beloved she is. All the while as Fuko does this, she doesn’t even realize her own situation: her body is in a coma in the hospital. Fuko is working so hard to achieve her dream of getting her sister’s wedding ready, but has to endure hardships such as being forgotten by all of the students and losing all of her hard work. When Fuko disappears after her sister’s wedding, it is one of the most heartbreaking moments because her dream came true, but she can no longer be with the new friends she made.
5. Ichinose Kotomi
Kotomi is a genius student who achieves top marks for all subjects in the whole country. In spite of this, Kotomi never attends class, preferring to spend all of her time in the library reading. Kotomi can be quite selective in who she converses with. Although she has no idea how untalented she is, Kotomi enjoys playing the violin for others, often deafening those around her with the awful noise that she pulls from the violin.
While Kotomi may seem like a lone student, not keen on interacting with others, she is in fact a forgotten part of Tomoya’s past. Kotomi appears to be cold and reserved, but she has dealt with a lot of loss in her life. She had developed a strong friendship with Tomoya only to be forgotten. Kotomi battled with heartbreak after the death of her parents, unsure if her parents truly loved her, but it was the moment when she received the teddy bear from her parents that truly set it over the top. Kotomi thought she had lost love when in fact it was there all the time; she just didn’t know it.
4. Okazaki Ushio
Ushio is the daughter of Nagisa and Tomoya, as seen in Clannad: After Story. Ushio is an adorable young girl who bears a striking resemblance to Nagisa. After Nagisa’s death, Ushio was left in the care of her grandparents, Akio and Sanae. For five years, Ushio and Tomoya did not interact leading Ushio to become quite hesitant to be with her own father.
Ushio is truly one of the cutest children, but it breaks our heart knowing what happened to her. From her birth, Ushio lost her mom and emotionally, she lost her father too, and was left in the care of grandparents rather than in her father’s care. Ushio grew up not knowing her own parents, but when she finally forms a bond with Tomoya, Ushio is overcome by illness. This father-daughter duo makes an attempt at one last trip together to enjoy their time left, but Ushio dies in Tomoya’s arms. It is only through Ushio, though, that everything is sent back in time because all Ushio wanted was to have a happy family.
3. Okazaki Naoyuki
Naoyuki is Tomoya’s father who raised Tomoya after the death of his wife, Atsuko. Naoyuki is often seen sitting around the house. Tomoya and Naoyuki’s interactions are usually brief if not hostile. Between the two, there is a lot of tension. Naoyuki has many issues involving alcoholism and other troublesome habits that have created tension between Naoyuki and Tomoya.
The story of Naoyuki and Tomoya’s relationship is a great one for all those broken families out there who can relate. Naoyuki and Tomoya have a tumultuous relationship often marred by miscommunication and misunderstandings, but there is no denying how heartbreaking this duo is. While Tomoya only saw the alcoholism and depressive state of his father, he failed to see how much Naoyuki sacrificed to take care of him. Naoyuki was in a depression after the loss of his wife, but he had to continue to take care of Tomoya so he had to put his own feelings aside to be a father. Yes, he made a lot of mistakes along the way, like injuring Tomoya’s shoulder, but Naoyuki tries really hard to make up for it. Since that fight, Naoyuki eased up on Tomoya and distanced himself from his son, which only seemed to make things worse. This is an example of a broken relationship between parent and child due to miscommunication and damn if it isn’t heartbreaking.
2. Okazaki Tomoya
Tomoya is the main protagonist in Clannad. When we first see him, Tomoya is a delinquent whose best friend is Youhei. Together, they ignore all the rules and go to class late, if at all. Tomoya has an estranged relationship with his father, Naoyuki. Tomoya used to play basketball, but after being injured during a confrontation with his father, Tomoya became unable to continue playing basketball, which is one factor influencing his delinquent lifestyle.
Since childhood, Tomoya has dealt with a lot of tragedy from the loss of his mother to the estranged relationship with his father. Tomoya even loses his chance at playing basketball, a sport he loves, because of his father. Tomoya is constantly facing small bouts of happiness followed up with tragic loss, and that includes the loss of Nagisa. Tomoya completely loses himself, forgets Ushio, and cannot function. He loses everything that makes him happy and because of his father’s influence, has no idea of how to cope. Tomoya is a heartbreaking Clannad character because many of us know can relate. Things don’t always seem to go well for us, we may lose things and suffer, but in the end, we all need guidance to show us the way in our deepest time of need.
1. Furukawa Nagisa
Nagisa is the main love interest in the Clannad anime and the wife of Tomoya. Nagisa is first seen alone due to the fact that she had to be held back due to her illness. Tomoya befriends Nagisa and the two revive the drama club. Ever since she was young, Nagisa’s health has been quite bad, once leading to a near death situation when she was a child. Nagisa really admires the Big Dango Family because of how close knit they are despite any circumstances. Nagisa loves to sing the Dango song and has a Dango family of her very own.
There is no denying that Nagisa is one of our favorite heartbreaking Clannad characters. She starts off as an odd character who eats alone and usually, her lunch consists of bread. Nagisa slowly develops into this adorable little girl who just wants to become close friends with everyone, winning all of our hearts with her optimism and bright personality, the same way she did Tomoya’s. It is in those last months of her pregnancy, as she becomes more ill, and suffers through the difficulty that is a sickly pregnancy that it becomes more and more tragic. Then, in that one moment, when the light goes out in her eyes and the rest of the cast crumbles do we truly feel all the heartbreak.
Clannad is rich with plot and dripping with emotion, which is not surprising thanks to its amazing cast of heartbreaking characters. Clannad has really pulled at our heartstrings. The themes of family, friendship, and life are prominent in this anime, which makes it a must watch.
For those of you who are still coherent after checking out this list, put those tissues away and tell us what you think. Is there anyone missing from this list? Who is your favorite heartbreaking Clannad character?