I’m going to get a little personal in this post, as the subject at hand impacted me greatly.
As I’ll come to explain in my “The Saddest Anime Death (30 Day Anime Challenge, Day 25)” post, death can be portrayed in multiple ways. These differences made possible my determination regarding which moment I should discuss on which day of the challenge (saddest scene vs saddest death), as both moments do involve death in large ways.
This scene was chosen as my saddest because, aside from mourning a character’s loss of life (and truly, I did), I also–perhaps even more so–found myself mourning for the man left behind. I mourned for he who had lost so much but struggled out of depression, only for life to stab a knife into his gut once again.
I mourned for Tomoya.
*Clannad spoilers are contained throughout; you have been warned.*
I know that everyone mentions Clannad. The tears of Clannad, the “feels” of Clannad. I understand the reasoning. Tomoya looses everything in a way that is so entirely possible that it gives one pause to consider their own relationships and what loosing them might mean.
Tomoya is a boy who grew up alone. His mother has passed on and the relationship between he and his father is…strained. One day on the way to school, he meets Nagisa, and it is through her influence that everything changes for him in ways totally unexpected. She weaves her way into the tapestry of this life so deeply that, when one day her string is cut, Tomoya unravels.
They’ve begun their life together, and received the happy news. Nagisa is so determined to have a healthy baby. More than anything else, this little family of hers is what she wants, and she is willing to give up everything for their time with Ushio–up to and including her own life. She’s worried, but she won’t sacrifice her baby or her dream. She won’t live the rest of her life afraid because she’s sick.
When she dies, I cry, but I understand that she accepted the consequences of bringing Ushio into the world, and I don’t doubt for one second that, if knowing this would be the outcome, she wouldn’t change a single thing. This is the depth of Nagisa’s love.
Tomoya is left behind her, left with this newborn daughter he agreed to conceive because of Nagisa’s desires. He loves Ushio, but if he had known that her birth would result in this outcome, he would never have agreed to start a family. Nagisa was all he ever really wanted, and suddenly she’s gone, giving life to their child. Tomoya is bereft; he can’t function, he can’t think. He can’t raise a daughter. His grief is consuming.
When, after five long years, Tomoya manages to claw his way out of depression–to clearly see the child who needs him and his wife within that beautiful child–he only is given a limited time with her before she develops the same illness that weakened her mother to the point of danger.
This time, it’s Tomoya’s turn to be strong, to hold on when everything is slipping away from him. As Akio says, “You’re the dad this time.” I also think this is a testament to the strength of parents. Nagisa’s parents put aside their overwhelming grief for their daughter to do the only thing they could for her in death–care for Ushio. Tomoya has grown. He is finally a father now. It’s his turn to be the pillar of strength for his own child.
When I was 20, should I have been in love and married, I don’t know that I could have put aside my grief and functioned, even for the sake of my child. I think that I myself was still too much of a child (and I don’t mean that derogatorily at all) to do something like that. I understand Tomoya’s shut down completely. It’s heartbreaking and horrible to witness (especially in the movie, which touches more deeply upon Tomoya’s depression).
Even now, I–myself being very nearly Tomoya’s age as he cares for his daughter–can only hope that I would have the strength to be the pillar my child needed in a situation like that. I hate to even consider the possibility of that necessity. I don’t have a child, but I have a husband who I love very much, and imagining a life without him is so incredibly painful. I can’t consider how strong one must be to loose someone like that.
It all comes to a head when Nagisa’s illness claims the life of one more, Tomoya’s innocent little girl.
I’m right here. What is it?
Did we…make it? Are we on the train yet?
…Yeah, we made it on the train.
It’s dark. Is it night?
It sure is. It’s getting late.
I love you.
Yeah, Daddy loves you too, Ushio, very much.
There is something else about this scene that really gets to me. I’m at the age now where I could easily be Tomoya. If I had met my husband earlier, if we had a child young as they did, I could be in his position, holding my five year old and watching her slip away. The further I venture into adulthood, the more maternal I get. The horror of helplessly loosing my baby like that… It makes my stomach turn and just thinking about it now, I’m honestly crying.
Nagisa died tragically. She made a choice full of love for a family that she’d never fully experience, and yet she was an adult and she understood her decisions.
Ushio was just a small child, a little baby. She had no idea what was happening. She had no choices. You know she must be scared. Tomoya had to hold it all together as he watched her become more and more ill. He held his little daughter as she died.
At this moment, Tomoya lost everyone he held most dear. His wife, and now his child. For this reason, this culmination…
Ushio’s death is the saddest anime scene.
I know there are differences between the TV show and the movie. I liked the execution of one or the other in various respects, but I won’t get into that here. Instead, I’ll leave you with this and hope it finds you well.