Manga Review: Tomoyo After: Dear Shining Memories

This has been a slow summer for me anime-wise, with not much new that has kept my attention. So, I’ve been using this chance to catch up on some of my backlog, marathoning older shows and reading lots of manga. If you read our fall preview, you may have noticed that I have recently become a huge, HUGE Clannad fan, and seeing as how I have this new love and lots of free time, I have been working my way through the manga.

As you may well know (I am a bit late to the party ;) ), after Key did the Clannad visual novel and the after story, they let their designers kind of run free with the universe, and one of them created another VN set in an alternate world where Tomoya ends up with Tomoyo, aptly calling this VN “Tomoyo After.” The manga that I want to talk about is a short work based on that VN, called Tomoyo After: Dear Shining Memories.


This manga is only 4 chapters long, and is basically a retelling of the VN, with the 3 major events of the story each getting their own chapter plus a brief intro chapter. The first three are relatively short, and the fourth – the ‘main’ arc – is twice as long as the rest.

The story is told from the perspective of Tomoyo, and it is revealed in the fourth chapter that the first three chapters are glimpses into her memories of the past. The first is more a snapshot of their life together, and the second and third revolve around the two new additions to the cast – a young girl named Kanoko who used to date Tomoyo’s brother, and a small child that has seemingly been abandoned on their doorstep.

The final chapter is where the drama really steps in. Tomoya falls ill with cancer amnesia memento syndrome an unknown rare disease that erases his memories every few days. He gets a really bad headache, and all his recent memories are wiped. So, of course Tomoyo sticks with him, and retells their love story to him every few days, while remembering the good times herself. In the end, they learn about a risky operation that would allow Tomoya to regain his lost memories, but there is a chance he won’t make it through…

First Impression

Who cares? You’re 12!

I get the feeling that the target audience was people who have played the VN, and as someone who has not, I was very lost for the first 3 chapters. The writers really did a poor job of explaining the setting in a way that newcomers from the anime, or simply the first VN, could understand.

It felt very rushed, and it’s glaringly obvious that it was just a retelling of a story with which the reader is expected to be familiar. The fourth chapter is where it gets interesting, but the taste in my mouth was so sour by the time I got there, it ended up being very anti-climactic.

I did go back and re-read, which helped tremendously, but I still think that the story was thrown together for a quick cash-in, missing out on what could have been – and should have been – a moving experience.


An accurate representation of me after reading

Like so many others, I am holding my breath waiting for the Clannad TV After Story, and when I stumbled upon this manga, I could barely contain my elation. I felt it criminal how little time was given to Tomoyo in the main episodes of Clannad TV, and I was fond of the Tomoyo After OVA, if only because we got to see more of Tomoyo and her personality. I was expecting more of that, I suppose, which is why this manga ended up being such a letdown.

Being the huge fan of the source material that I was, I went into the reading of this with some pretty high expectations, and perhaps that is partly why I am so disappointed, but in truth, I am quite forgiving when reading “extra” stories about something I already like; for me to dislike it as much as I do says volumes about the quality of the work.

None of the charm of the series made it to the manga; none of the themes of family were present in any noticeable quantity. The strong focus Clannad put on the notion of what it means to have a family resonated very strongly with me, especially the notion that even if the hand you are dealt by fate is not the best, you still have a deep-seated need for a family – even if it means you have to create one yourself. After all – isn’t the reason people fall in love and get married that they want to have a family of their own choosing?

So, rather than expand on those universal themes – themes that are ripe for the picking by the writers since they were so brilliantly laid out in the first series – the writers of Dear Shining Memories chose to simply thrust new characters on us, and tell us point blank that we need to start caring about them, and about what they have to say about Tomoya and Tomoyo.

The chapters that dealt with Kanako, the girl that used to date Tomoyo’s little brother, were so hurried that I barely had time to piece together what was happening. All of a sudden, she just appears in their lives and goes about telling Tomoyo that her “eternal love” is something that can never last. Is this a Naruto villain? Seriously, why the writers thought they could just thrust this child on me and expect me to care what she has to say is offensive. Furthermore, can I really be expected to believe that the thoughtless words of an insane child have to power to reduce Tomoyo to tears? She may be moe, but there are limits. At the end of her chapter, she is off again, out of their lives with as little explanation as to why she came.

The next chapter’s addition is even worse. Some toddler wanders into their house, and rather than try to find where she was lost, Tomoyo and Tomoya just kind of adopt her:

How is this even legal?

After trying halfheartedly to find this abandoned child’s parents, the mom comes around looking for her, apologizing for leaving her and asking for her back. For some unknown reason, Tomoyo tells her no, and then changes her mind and has to race to the train station to give this kid back. Oh no! The train station is 30 minutes away and they only have 20 minutes! Will Tomoyo’s power of the ninja love be strong enough to see them through this tragedy?? I guess you’ll have to suffer through 2 panels of intense running to find out.

The last chapter, where Tomoyo reveals that the first three chapters were her memories of her past life with Tomoya, before the accident/illness, was by far the most compelling; If I had known that these were snapshots of memories to begin with, I might have been a little more lenient of the story, but it did make a terrible first impression. I know that the chapters were called “memory 1″ and such, but that was hardly clear enough to help. Since chapter four ended up being something besides just a mish mash of “memories” from Tomoyo’s life with Tomoya, it was actually interesting, but the emotional finale the writers were hoping for fell flat, due mostly to the horrible lead-up.

There was more than enough happening in the last chapter to expand upon and create a believable, interesting story, perhaps even taking things in a direction the VN did not. Unfortunately, the laziness of the writers won in the end, and we are left with half-baked plots and characters, as well as the the knowledge that this could have been so much more. In the end, this was really written for those that have played the VN. If you are like me and simply loved the anime series and wanted more, you should avoid this like the plague. I suggest spending the time we have left until October trying to find a copy of the VN and experiencing the story first hand, which is what I am going to do, rather than waste any more time with these terrible mangas.

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  1. strichone
    Posted August 23, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I was also disappointed in reading this even though my expectations weren’t too high to begin with (having read the underwhelming Kanon manga).

    I’d love to know whether the Tomoyo After VN has a set ending as per the manga or whether there are a mix of bad, good and true endings as per Clannad.

    I liked both (yes both!) Kanon animes and found the Clannad anime to be even better. I have also played the (pre-beta) release of the translated Clannad VN. I have looked at some of the Clannad manga and they seem to be trying harder with that.

    I can’t wait for October and the After Story. I’m just praying that they can somehow give us the ‘true end’ rather than the halfway house I believe they used for the movie (still unwatched).

    An OVA series for the full Kyou route would also be great (think ‘Kimi ga Nozomu Eien’ without the car crash and 3 year coma and you get the picture). However, I’m not going to lose any sleep waiting…

  2. Vin-nii
    Posted August 23, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Well… I really enjoyed Tomoyo After. I mean, this is the reason I love tomoyo these days (back then, it was all Nagisa Clannad OVA + Tomoyo After

  3. Posted August 24, 2008 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I was planning to read this.
    Actually, I did read a few pages.
    But it failed to impress me, hence I dropped it.

    Currently waiting for the kind souls out there to translate the VN..^_^

  4. Posted August 24, 2008 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    @ Setsukyie

    if u mean the game, it’s been translated already

  5. Posted August 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh god, I seriously hate myself for reading this and ending up spoiling myself on the general Tomoyo After story.

  6. Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:24 am | Permalink


    I’m not sure about the multiple endings for Tomoyo After, but I did hear that the PC and PS2 versions had slightly different endings. Also, I would have loved for the whole Clannad series to be a set of like 5 OVAs for each route – I think that could have been done well, and it would have been an interesting take on the source too!


    I was upset about how little attention was given to Tomoyo in the Clannad anime, so I was ready to enjoy this, but now I find myself yearning for more Kyou…Tomoyo had her chance >:|


    Don’t you hate being disappointed like that? Perhaps I shouldn’t have suffered through it and spoiled the ending for myself as well, if I ever decide to play the after story. Working my way through the first VN right now, we’ll see how that goes – it’s my first one : )

  7. hyabuto
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    you are very good at this stuff wow lolz

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