To anyone who knows me well, they know damn well that this review was eventually going to come. I don't exactly know what Me from the past was thinking when he decided to put this off like putting doing his taxes, but he must have been on the purest meth ever if he thought this anime was gonna be a bigger letdown than Karin.
So if that preface wasn't enough to tell you how much I hold this series in regard, then keep on reading. If not, what're you still doing here? Go somewhere else.
Also, before I start, I'm only going to be reviewing the main two series and not the OVAs or the movie by Toei Animation.
The story for Clannad is, at first, a bit generic. Boy has fateful encounter with girl, girl spends time with him, both characters begin to acrew a number of friends to accompany them through the journey, and the rest I'll let you figure out without having to spoil anything. However, because Clannad is coming from the developer of the original visual novel by Key, you can expect your emotions to become a bit of a mess when it's all over. The only thing I can really say as a negative towards the story is the ending, which if you've watched related series like Little Busters! and Air, shows that Key doesn't really have much of a strong suit for wrapping things up. Don't get me wrong, the ending wasn't godawful; rather lackluster and having you ask questions that will most likely never be answered.
In the characters department you have a pretty wide and colorful variety to choose from in the series. The sarcastic, the caring, the tsundere, the quiet, the mature, and the childish, and, for lack of a better term, the butt monkey. Most of the characters I found were genuinely likable to an extent with the exception of a few of which I couldn't really make much of an emotional connection to (yes, I guess I'm a heartless bastard). But regardless, you'll most likely be choosing your favorites by the end of the series (and maybe some not so favorites).
It seems like Key and Kyoto Animation are best buddies when it comes to producing anime. Not once, not twice, but thrice times Kyoto Animation and Key have come together in order to produce a wonderful piece of art. I suppose one thing that people are a bit off-put with by Clannad's art are the size the animators make for the eyes which some people deem a fair bit large. I won't argue that the eyes for the characters are quite big, but I guess I'm one of the people who are willing to look past the flaws.
Once again, seems like Kyoto Animation likes to bring the same individuals from the original visual novel to help with the process. Once again, definitely not a bad thing to bring Jun Maeda on board to help with the process; I'm just simply pointing it out. The majority of the music tracks of the series are either pullovers from the visual novels with no change or pullovers with a bit of remastering. No actual complaints about the music in general as most of the music is extremely fitting in nearly every scene in the series.
As for the English dub of the series? Well, it's a bit of hot and cold. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved Luci Christian's and David Matranga's performances as Nagisa and Tomoya respectively, but it seems like the ADR director over at Sentai Filmworks has never heard of double-checking your work. With synchronization issues and pronunciation of names that annoy the hell out of me, it makes me want to drive to Houston, find the individual who thought this was a good idea, and smack him/her with a comically-sized mallet. Another complaint that I can say for the dub is by discussing the elephant in the room: Kyou. Honestly, I don't know what the people at Sentai Filmworks were thinking by casting Shelley Calene-Black as her. Don't get me wrong, Shelley is a good voice actress if she's cast as the RIGHT character, such as a middle age woman. But as for a high school girl? It's like mixing my stomach with two helpings of Taco Bell; it doesn't work out and it never will.
So would I recommend you watch the dub? If you're willing to look past Kyou being mis-cast and a few minor issues, then I definitely would. If you CAN look past those flaws, there's definitely a lot of memorable quotes and performances.
I don't know what much else to say. Would I recommend this to you if you're a fan of romance? Absolutely. Hell, even if you're not a fan of the genre I'd still recommend watching it. Honestly, this series helped me change my view of how I see and treat my friends and family and how I want to do as much as I can to keep those relationships as close as I can. So go and watch it, but don't be surprised if even if you're a gym-enthusiast individual who deadlifts 450lbs each visit that you start crying like you just saw a puppy get hit by a car.