Never underestimate the otaku market, and I say that as an active consumer of the Japanese arts; Sekai Project launched a Kickstarter for an official English translation of Key’s popular all-ages visual novel Clannad yesterday, and has already passed its goal of $140,000 despite a lack of any stretch goals and the relatively high entry point to receive a digital copy of the game ($40 for a digital release).
Clannad follows one Tomoya Okazaki, a delinquent following a turbulent and troubled childhood, who in the last years high school encounters and befriends five girls whom he then helps through a branching storyline with multiple endings. Anyone familiar with visual novels will be aware that this largely involves clicking through a pre-defined story where the sole level of player agency is the occasional multiple choice decision (if you thought Gone Home wasn’t a game, then hooh-boy are you in for a treat.).
That said, Clannad is renowned as a well-written and emotional tale; the theme revolves around growing out of childhood, the importance of social connections, and family; something the title was supposed to represent when the game’s writer, Jun Maeda, mistakenly took Clannad to mean “clan” or “family” from the Irish band of the same name.
No doubt people will rage at how such anime dreck can succeed when projects like The Black Hand — staffed by ex-Irrational Games members — fail to reach their target, but personally I’m glad these titles are getting some attention. Visual novels have been dealing with a huge range of varied and sometimes mature topics for years now, the lack thereof which is continuously lamented by the industry at large.