Episode 11 – “The End of the World”
So when people said that ~Refrain~ is sadder than Clannad: After Story, I eagerly waited around to see what they were talking about. Well, it took 11 episodes but I finally see what they were saying. And yes, I think I would have to agree because at least After Story has a happy ending thanks to a twist of fate and act of kindness by the very town itself. I suppose ~Refrain~ might have a deus ex machina moment too (I would love one), but it would be much more unexpected here.
In After Story, the entire two series builds up to a point where Tomoya is allowed to essentially rebuild the world and have a second chance. This is all foreshadowed by the scenes in the other world as well as other moments, so it’s not really that out of the blue. However, in ~Refrain~ it’s kind of the opposite. The entire two series builds up to destroying the world, along with the characters and memories, you’ve come to know and love. I know that wasn’t exactly Kyousuke’s intention, but man, just thinking about it pains me.
Basically, we finally learn the entire truth and the secret to the world. Kyousuke and the others were killed in a bus accident, and Riki and Rin were the only survivors. By uniting their spirits, they’re able to create this eternal world where they would help Riki and Rin become stronger people. Otherwise, they would fall into despair after waking to see everyone else dead. Of course, this eternal world can’t last forever and with the last of his strength, Kyousuke sends them off into the real world.
It’s definitely a remarkable story, and the setup is powerful (spanning over 30 episodes in anime form). It’s certainly powerful enough to have me here, staring blankly at my computer screen trying to think of something meaningful to say. I was actually worried that I wouldn’t be impressed by the story’s big climax. But for all of the shortcomings that may have existed with J.C. Staff’s adaptation, the source material was strong enough to carry through, along with all of its heart and emotion.
Just thinking about how Masato knew the secret of the world, yet put on the act of being stupid for the sake of everyone’s happiness, and seeing Kengo and Kyousuke, the normal pillars of strength, reduced to tears was enough to do the same to me. But, there are two more episodes. Where will Riki and Rin end up in the real world? Will it start from the bus wreck or maybe they’ll wake up in hospital beds? Regardless, I’m curious (i.e. dying to know) what kind of events will happen now that it’s just the two of them…
“And remember no matter what, you must not cry.” ~ Kyousuke Natsume