It’s rare in this challenge that I’ve been able to decide on an article without having to think about it for a while. When I first saw this scene I remember feeling entirely broken, devastated, ruined (do you need more negative superlatives?), so it was an easy choice.
As with many sad things in anime, this article includes a huge spoiler, so if you haven’t finished Clannad: After Story, I’ll forgive you entirely for clicking out of this post now (no, really, leave now).
Supposing you either have seen the show or have for some reason decided to drop it, I’ll get on with things.
Clannad’s two seasons contain a copious amount of touching and heart string-tugging moments, but for me Ushio’s death in Tomoya’s arms in the snow at the end of episode 21 is far and away the most emotional of them all.
As the snow starts falling while Ushio’s fever worsens, images of Nagisa’s death come back to haunt us. The snow starts to settle and the lighting sharpens as Ushio passes away and the supernatural element of the show takes over for us in the next episode.
Of course, there’s a whole lot more to this scene that the way it is shot and the event of a child’s death. The way in which the show builds up Tomoya’s suffering through a frankly ridiculous emotional journey that makes you want to bawl for six solid episodes up to this point.
Travelling to and from the fields with and without Ushio is just as emotional as the culmination of it all. It’s one of the few emotional sequences I can think of in anime where you’re not shouting at a particular character to do something differently to prevent a forthcoming disaster. Instead, you know that Tomoya is headed for disaster regardless of anything that he does.
The whole thing is awful and beautiful – and certainly the saddest scene in anime.
And if you read this article not having watched the show first – shame for you.
What do you think of my choice for the saddest scene in anime? Do you have any scenes that really affected you or that you found to be especially sad? And most importantly, is there anything sadder than episode 21 of Clannad: After Story?