Clannad – Hikari Mimamoru Sakamichi de
What every collection of side stories should be.
Clannad – Hikari Mimamoru Sakamichi de is a 2010 game by Key (published in two discs), a PSP version of a collection of short stories for Clannad, first published as novels (which also have a drama CD version).
This is a collection of 16 short stories for the Clannad characters (main and side), divided between the First and Second Volumes. The First Volume has prequel stories, for Nagisa, Fuuko, Kyou, Ryou, Tomoyo, Mei, Botan and Akio; and the Second Volume has, besides a prequel for Misae, after stories; for Kotomi, Yukine, Kappei, Toshio, the baseball end, and After Story (an After After Story?).
First, let’s talk about the game system: it’s not very good. With a forced auto read and no way to configure the speed, there’s no way to proceed faster, or to go back; only thing you can do is jump between chapters, or pause to check the CGs. Of which are not many; they’re the pictures that had already been published with the original novels. No sprites either; with a heavy-narration style, it’s basically the original text made into a game, or a subtitled version of the drama CDs. Other conceivable configuration options are also nonexistent.
However, even if the system is so lacking, the stories are so short (around the 20-25 min mark) that it doesn’t manage to be terrible annoying.
But the stories themselves are very good. Unlike many fandiscs, it’s not just a collection of fun but mostly irrelevant side stories for the characters; these stories are definite additions to the characters’ backgrounds and the overall worldview. At times fun, at times poignant, they shed light on interesting aspects of the past and future of the Clannad characters: how Kyou and Ryou fell for Tomoya, how Akio and Sanae met, or the secret behind Yukine’s charm, to mention a few stories. With little pictures but much narration (100% voiced, even Tomoya), is more of a sound novel than a visual novel (it’s publicized as a visual sound novel). The music is the same as Clannad, so it’s pretty good; there’s even Chiisana Tenohira as the ending theme for the last story. The content volume is very low, though; both discs can be finished in about 6 hours. And that’s given the forced auto read; if read at one’s speed, it could be maybe finished in half of that. It does mean however that the stories don’t drag, which may be another of their strengths.
In short: a truly worthwhile addition to the Clannad world; other fandiscs could learn from this (except maybe from the length). Clannad fans should definitely check these stories, in any of their incarnations.