"You wanna repeat that? If you do it, I'll reward you by sticking my hand down your throat and ripping out your vocal cords."
Fujibayashi Kyou is an often-present minor character who has extra prominence in roughly Episodes 15-18 in Clannad. She never has a fully-developed plot arc for herself: the closest would be her relationship with her sister, Ryou.
(I am aware that Kyou has her own Alternate World episode in After Story; however, since I am focused on how these characters relate to the main plot, I will not be incorporating that episode, nor Tomoyo's for her post. These may be discussed in a separate post later on.)
Kyou is a high school senior and a punitive class representative with a quick temper (possible anger issues?), a knack for manipulation, some jealousy, and a feeling of protectiveness over her younger sister. Her temper is often linked with her protectiveness to her sister: whenever anything seems threatening to Ryou, Kyou steps in with a flying side kick or an aerodynamic throw of a textbook. For instance, when Sunohara tries to get Ryou to be his fake girlfriend, she becomes distressed, at which point Kyou appears to deal out some punishment on Sunohara. Her manipulation is usually used on either Tomoya or Ryou, for the purpose of getting them together (at least, that's the overt purpose). Though she usually takes out her anger on Tomoya and Sunohara, she has a little friendly loyalty to them as well: when some basketball players criticize her for being the team leader of "bottom-of-the-barrel guys" like them, she gets loyally angry (although part of it might also be defending her own reputation). Besides protecting friends, her sister, and her reputation, she also gets angry out of jealousy over Tomoya (to be explained more below). Overall, her angry, somewhat manipulative, yet still fraternally protective personality (which all seems a bit of a strange fit with her light, dance-ish theme song, "Like the Wind") is shown well in her first appearance:
On a side note: she's also protective of her and Ryou's pet, a baby boar named Botan (who is tied for the cutest pet in the show...at least while she's young).
In the back story extra episode of After Story, we see that Kyou has always had a pretty violent relationship with Tomoya and Sunohara. Her first onscreen appearance is no different in her throwing a book at Tomoya. As seen in the clip above, we first see Kyou stepping in to defend her sister (although I'm not exactly sure what she's defending her from...). Throughout the first 14 episodes or so of Clannad, she is mostly a humorous background character: she especially likes to beat on Tomoya and Sunohara when they do anything stupid or (intentionally or not) pick on her sister. She's one of the people who receives a starfish from Fuko, she helps out with planning Kotomi's violin recital (using her imposing reputation among students to force them to show up...and buy earplugs from her), she works hard on obtaining the violin and getting it repaired for Kotomi's birthday, she helps in cleaning up Kotomi's yard, and she (at least nominally) joins the drama club. One of her most notable moments during these episodes occurs after running over Tomoya with her bike. There's a humorous exchange about the words "bike" and "bi" (it's easier to watch than explain).
Her first real major moment occurs when the drama club is trying to get an advisor. They cannot become an official club without a faculty advisor, so they try to get Koumura-sensei (who helped a bit with Kouko and Yoshino's wedding) to be their advisor. Unfortunately, the reforming choir club wants him as an advisor as well, and traditionally he's always been the choir club's advisor. So the drama club (mainly Sunohara, through Yukine's suggestion) decides to hold a basketball game against the school's basketball teams to get the choir club to give up Koumura. Kyou, with her assertive personality, becomes the team leader and leads her, Sunohara, and Tomoya to victory.
Even though the choir club agrees to share Koumura, the student council won't allow it, thus stalling the formation of the drama club. At the same time, Nagisa falls sick at school and most rest at home for a few days. Kyou sees this as her chance. Both she and Ryou are attracted to Tomoya, and, being the loving sister she is, she sets up many opportunities for Tomoya to see how great Ryou is while Nagisa is away. This involves many lunch dates and such things. But even though she is working to get Ryou and Tomoya together, she still feels a longing for him.
This is made apparent after Tomoya uses one of Yukine's charms. The charm's effect is to get a someone locked in a gym equipment storage room with the person of his or her choice. He does not realize this until he is in the middle of the charm, and he picks Kyou, thinking she'll be a safe choice. The charm ends up working, leading to a very awkward scene:
Even though Kyou is thinking about Ryou, it is obvious she also has powerful feelings for Tomoya: even more powerful than Ryou!
Following this scene, where Tomoya (implicitly) rejects her feelings for him, Kyou keeps trying to get Ryou and Tomoya together, by taking them out to an arcade with a love fortune-telling machine and by bringing food to his house when he's suspended. All her ploys to try to get Tomoya to focus on her or Ryou fail, though, as is obvious as a tennis match where Nagisa is injured by a stray ball. When someone else tries to help Nagisa up, Tomoya reacts rather violently, and he walks her to help himself. At that point, Kyou and Ryou realize whom he has chosen, and they break into tears.
Following this, Kyou once again becomes a strong background character. She is present as the drama club manages to get everything together and put on their show. She's around during Sunohara's arc in After Story, and she shows up at Nagisa's graduation, and again at the New Year's Party, mentioning how far ahead in life it feels like Nagisa and Tomoya are. After high school, she becomes a kindergarten teacher (which seems at odds with her personality), and she ends up, by a twist of fate, becoming Ushio's teacher (and a kind one at that!). We last see her during the final episode montage, congratulating one of her student's on the paper hat he created...a far cry from her early, angry, book-throwing days.
And a side note on Botan: she's around as comic relief throughout the series, and she's even present when Kyou is a teacher...although she looks a lot scarier!
Effect on Main Plot
Her effect is less blatant than the characters I've previously covered. There is nothing supernatural in Kyou's story: no lights or having a body in a coma. The only slight connection would be her helping out with Nagisa's play (which seems to be a story about the invisible world).
She builds up Tomoya and Nagisa's relationship accidentally. I don't think she ever intentionally tries to get them together (at least, not before her collapse into tears at the tennis match). Instead, she's more of a test for Tomoya. When Nagisa is away, will Tomoya stay loyal to her? Is their relationship even strong enough yet for loyalty, or is it just a friendship? While Tomoya is often asked if he is dating someone and always responds in the negative, in truth he is already committed to Nagisa, covertly. He never made a promise to Nagisa or asked her out, but he still feels a connection to her: when she's resting at home, he can't get her out of his head. Even when Kyou tries to get him together with Ryou, he doesn't even seem to notice her intentions. And even when locked in a gym closet with her, when she is hinting about him having sex with her, he doesn't even fathom it. It seems like a sign of an implicit loyalty to Nagisa to me, and in the end it helps him realize that she, not Kyou or Ryou, is the girl for him. So Kyou helps us realize Tomoya's fidelity. Not only that, but it also shows us his chastity: he doesn't have sex with her, even when she uses her "feminine wiles," to some extent.
The main theme I see with Kyou is family. It's obvious she loves her sister, to the point of being (very) over-protective of her. That can be seen, not only in her frequent physical rebuffs to Sunohara's actions (and less frequent rebuffs to Tomoya's), but also in the fact that she works to get her sister together with Tomoya. Her sisterly love isn't perfect, though: when she's locked in the closet with Tomoya, she thinks about Ryou, but she doesn't reject the possibility of sex with him for her sake. I've heard some say that this shows Kyou's attempts to get Ryou and Tomoya together were really just a way to let out her personal desires for Tomoya. While there might be some truth to that, I still feel that there's some sisterly love in Kyou, however imperfect.
Besides that, I don't see many themes involved with her. There's not really too much self-sacrifice, besides helping out with Kotomi's party and the drama club. There's some perseverance involved with the Ryou and Tomoya ordeal, though, and some signs of mature perseverance as well: even though it is obvious that Tomoya has rejected Kyou's feelings for him (though not in a very harsh way), she doesn't avoid him, but is still able to be his friend.
Though Kyou is the favorite character of some of my friends, I've never felt too connected to her. She just seemed like a loud, angry, and manipulative girl that I'd be a little wary to be friends with. I've heard she's more likable in her alternate world episode, which, I must admit, I've never gotten the motivation to watch. She's been described as a tsundere character: someone who starts off hot-headed and angry but turns out to be (at least to an extent) gentle and caring underneath. I can see that a bit in her main plot (after all, her kindergarten teacher self doesn't resemble her high school self too much), but overall I just never really connected with her. Although I still think the awkwardness of the locker room scene is hilarious, I saw her more as a comic relief character that tried to get in the way of Nagisa and Tomoya's relationship. Some people see her as more than that, but to each his or her own; at least she turned out alright as a kindergarten teacher.
Thank you for reading. God Bless, and peace.
Nota Bene: All clips are from the Clannad Central YouTube channel run by the Clannad (クラナド/Kuranado) fan page on Facebook. All character themes and other music from the show can also be found on said fan page, in the music player. My gratitude to them and all the work they do.