It’s CLANNAD: After Story episode 17, and I have only one word: Ushio!
This episode jumps ahead 5 years after Nagisa’s death. Tomoya, by his own admission, is only living because he’s alive. He views his entire life after meeting Nagisa as a “mistake” and tries to hide from it by absorbing himself in work, drinking, smoking, and gambling. Meanwhile, Sanae and Akio have taken care of Ushio ever since her birth.
One day, Sanae stops by and asks Tomoya if he’ll go out with her to the town that day. While out, she invites Tomoya to go on a trip over a long weekend with “everybody,” something which Tomoya is reluctant to do because he knows that means going with Ushio too. However, Sanae’s insistence finally gets him to agree.
However, once Tomoya arrives to Sanae and Akio’s house to go on the trip, he finds that they are no where to be found, having left behind a note saying they had to run out to do something urgently, leaving 2 tickets and a trip plan behind for him. Tomoya spends the day hanging out there, waiting for Sanae and Akio to come back, while Ushio run around, slowly but surely warming up to his presence. By the next day, it’s clear that Sanae and Akio have set the two of them up, so Tomoya decides to go on the trip alone wit Ushio.
Well, my “immediate aftermath” episode didn’t occur, so I guess we’re an episode ahead of where I thought we would be at this point after watching the last episode. However, Ushio, after only one episode, has shown herself to be the new star of the show. She’s cut and innocent, yet reserved, a combination which seems to make her irresistible.
Of course, there are the sort-of-subtle-but-not-really hints that Ushio is the key to Tomoya’s recovery. The episode starts with grey, dull pallets like what we say at the very beginning of the first season, showing that the “light” that entered Tomoya’s world when he met Nagisa is gone, and otherwise things get dark when anything dealing with Nagisa is brought to his attention. However, whenever he deals with Sanae and especially Ushio, the world around Tomoya literally gets brighter. I’m sure it will take time, and I’m not really sure what, exactly, the show is going to spend it’s last 6 episodes or so on, but I’m interested to see where things end up.