Sayuri and Yuuichi sit in the cafe.. The steam from their coffees wafts through the air which is filled with gentle strings of some classical music.
"Do you know this piece?" Asks Sayuri. "It's Canon. Pachelbel's Canon. That central melody repeats itself again and again, as layers are slowly added to the music, making it richer and more beautiful each time." She pauses. "Wouldn't it be lovely if life was the same way? If it changed delicately and softly as we live from day to day?"
If there is a line that more effectively underpins the series, or if there is a clearer example of Kanon's philosophical poetry, then I apologise for leaving that stone unturned but I could think of no better way to begin this review.
As adult visual novel adaptations go, Kanon (2006) is mature, dignified and sensitive, much like the earlier Air and subsequent Clannad. Of course, it has its share of oddball and loud personalities but they serve to amuse rather than to irritate. In fact, such moderation is something of a hallmark of the series, every bit as recurrent as Kanon's principal plot themes of memories, promises and miracles. Although most characters are eye-sparklingly cute, you an still empathise with them as real people. Although the imagery is clever, it is never boastful. Although the show is funny, it's not too funny. In fact, the humour in Kanon is masterful in knowing its role. It doesn't elbow you in the ribs and laugh raucously at its own jokes; instead it lightly strokes your shoulder, reminding you that it's always there and giving you the choice of whether to laugh or not.
This moderation is key because it allows the show to go ahead and tell its story without gargantuan diversions detracting from this primary aim. The structure of Kanon's narrative is typical of the genre. A handful of shorter, character-specific story arcs are played over the main story, which lasts throughout the entire length of the show's 24 episodes. Ideally, such a structure would allow for a variety of tales and a multiplicity of different emotions to be presented as each one unfolds. Dismayingly, Kanon forgoes such a structure, instead preferring to focus on one emotion and one alone - sadness. Every story is sad. Yes, there are moments of joy and even some of triumph, but tragedy in Kanon is all too commonplace. It is the incessant lifeblood that pulses all too visibly beneath the thin membrane of kawaii which initially seems to envelop and identify the show.
The most painful consequence of this omnipresent sorrow is not a continual rending of the heart strings as one might hope. Rather it is the onset of disappointment and despondent indifference on the part of the viewer. In its delivery of tear-jerking moments, Kanon is something of a relentless tease. It threatens time and time again to move you, to break your heart, to give you a story or a moment that you will never forget; and yet it never does. Whether it is because the show saturates itself with sadness or whether it is because the stories refuse to set foot upon the plateau of true poignancy, this series fails to make good on its first avowed intent - to effect the viewer emotionally.
Kanon's animation is simply sumptuous. It is hardly controversial to claim that Kyoto Animation represent the zenith of their particular style. As well as luscious backgrounds, every epsiode boasts the distinctive character design, nigh-on perfect lighting and constant attention to small details which are typical of the studio's releases. Although the term "winter wonderland" has been overused to the point of meaninglessness, I feel that Kanon's whitened landscapes can be described no other way. It is almost as if the snow consciously chooses to fall upon Nayuki's town, because it knows how delightfully it will be animated.
As such, any qualms should be seen as relatively minor. Those that I have are mainly to do with something of a cuteness overdrive which many of the girls seem to possess. Although I maintain that it does not preclude the ability to empathise with them, some of their features and expressions are exaggerated almost to the point of parody, whilst their ridiculous floods of tears occasionally serve to dampen emotionally charged moments with unwitting comedy.
Although I cared little for the songs that play during the opening and ending credits, the soundtrack is, on the whole, marvellous. Seemingly every piece of music does its job with efficiency and panache, as mood is built up through the background music just as much as it is built up through dialogue. Surprisingly, and almost uniquely, some tracks are memorable enough to stay with the viewer long after the series has run its course.
The voice work is also of a high standard. Whilst more sensitive ears may have difficulty tolerating Ayu's frequent use of her "Uguu" catchphrase, this is more a quarrel with the script than the VA, who manages to keep the repetitious utterance from grating. The voices are adaptable enough to maintain strong and distinct characterisation whilst presenting a spectrum of emotions and steering the protagonists away from being two-dimensional stereotypes.
Dramas of Kanon's ilk need to strike a delicate balance in creating their cast. The characters must be sufficiently quirky to be memorable, but must also be human enough to engender sympathy and undergo a true development in personality. This is a lofty goal, but one which Kanon generally attains. I qualify this last statement because the anime errs slightly on the side of caricature on occasion, particularly with the characters of Ayu and Makoto, whose obnoxious immaturity wavers indecisively between the amusing and the overpowering. However, if you are prepared to indulge the pair their foibles and see them as simply being somewhat unorthodox, then there is no reason not to see at least a spark of realism within all of the show's protagonists.
Futhermore, due in no small part to the strong personalities exhibited by some individuals, the character interaction is always enjoyable. It not only creates a lot of Kanon's trademark comedy but also ensures that the dialogue contains many lines which are truly priceless.
For my part, I found every character in the show to be likable, and to possess some trait which I was able to identify with, or at least enjoy. This is the main reason why I was so wholly disappointed with the series' failure to grip me on an emotional level. Although I stand by every positive comment I have made in this review, I feel that Kanon falls tantalisingly short of what could have been greatness. Its insistence on telling tales of woe is tempered by an inability or unwillingness to go the proverbial distance and present something truly affecting.
In small doses - as I discovered when re-watching this series - Kanon is a competent emotive drama. The exceptional animation and sound ensure that it is sublime as a passive viewing experience, and there are enough excellent pieces of dialogue to consider it memorable. Taken as whole, however, it is enjoyable but occasionally numbing. I would recommend the series if you have enjoyed similar animes, such as Clannad, Da Capo, and Myself; Yourself. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a truly moving and thoughtful tragedy, then perhaps search elsewhere.
This Kanon is the double-length remake of the rather debatable 2002 supernatural high-school drama anime. Was this remake really necessary? Very slow to start, it does drag out what was previously 13 episodes, but it does give substantial explanations for things. As for romance or harem, those things are barely present. Or perhaps they appear to be done in a different way than usual, cos I barely noticed anything indicating either of those genres. I generally don't like iffy dramas, but this had me in two minds. This anime is capable of invoking emotions in someone as cynical as me, when it really shouldn't be able to and I've got to commend it for that. But it still has a lot I really hate, some contrived plot aspects and many things that don't make sense. Let's get on with it.
The animation of this movie is immaculate for something made in 2006. I watched it in 1080p blu-ray quality and it looked sweet. As for the animation style, it has the characteristic style of the 'Key' animation studio. I can't really say much more. Yes, the large eyes are very creepy and off-putting at times, but they are okay on some character models.
Some of the music of this anime is very suited for the themes and atmosphere of the scenes, especially the most important ones. And it sounded beautiful. Therefore the sound design was appropriate, so well done for that. But damn are some other bits of it cheesy. Those parts really remind me of the 80s/90s but not in the good sort of way. Or more like, they could have done something slightly better. I kinda just don't like it. It reminds me of terrible older anime. Intro and outro aren't particularly amazing IMO, but it's just not my type of music. The anime is available in both English and the usual Japanese. The voice acting cast was pretty impressive however. Ayu's VA Brittney Karbowski also did Yuri from Angel Beats, Ryou from Clannad, Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono and many more. Yuuichi's VA Chris Patton another major VA having many roles including Greed from FMA and Sato from Welcome to the NHK. Other actors include Jessica Boone (Hatsune - Angel Beats), Caitlin Glass (Winry - FMA) and of course, Greg Ayres playing the comic relief dumb guy character (do I have to?). The dub is pretty good, the voices sounded like they carryed emotion when necessary and all the usual stuff you'd expect. The biggest letdown though, was the 'ugu'. Goddamn that...
The male protagonist of this apparent 'Harem' is Yuuichi Aizawa. Boy does he have a shit memory. He can't remember jack about the last time he was in town and if it's something to do with the supernatural iffy plot, damn the plot. He lives with his mmaternal aunt and cousin Nayuki, who's school he goes to. He isn't much of a jerk, though he likes to poke fun at a few characters for a friendly laugh. He seems to have made an absurd amount of female friends when he was younger. But it all doesn't make sense. While he isn't much at all like the average trope harem protagonist, one characteristic he does have is the lack of err romantic drive? To an extent. Which is kind of a redeeming factor. He's just an overall nice guy who gets tormented by some supernatural bullshit.
Yuuichi's cousin is the athletic, blue-haired Nayuki Minase. This girl obviously has a crush on her cousin (get that shit outta here) and is a major sleepyhead, requiring several alarms to even get her out of bed. She'd then continue on through the day being very sleepy through breakfast, walking to school and class. It doesn't always happen though. Since Yuuichi had previously stayed with her, she is featured significantly in flashbacks. She depends on her single mother, which FFS is the biggest anime cliche trope. What is with all the damn single mothers and their bastardised kids? Give some fucking explanation or better, have a goddamn proper family there! At least this character has a parent, unlike other anime where parents are non-existent. Enough of the rant, Nayuki is a decent character and does little to annoy me or the other characters. She tries her best to help those around her, including Yuuichi. One funny thing is her allergy to cats, she'll always swoon at them and run up to cuddle and hug them, despit the consequences. Speaking of her mother, she makes a terrible jam that she likes to give to visitors, who are frustratingly too nice to tell her it tastes terrible.
Ayu Tsukimiya is the first of the annoying characters. Yes the backstory is not a bad thing (rather the opposite), but after it's all revealed, her presence makes no damn sense. This is where the supernatural waffle starts to come in. I'll say no more, for fear of spoilers. Yuuichi met her when he last visited and he has forgotten everything about her of course. This character has a bullshit speech impediment where she says 'ugu.' She also has a very childish personality and steals food. Speaking of which, Tayaki is her favourite. She treasures a headband given to her by Yuuichi. All that said, the conclusion for this character's story is rather good.
Mai Kawasumi is a sword-wielding girl with supernatural powers. She fights demons in the school. Sounds like a load of waffle right? Surprisingly she is one of the more pleasant characters. Her backstory could almost make you cry. Mai is another one of Yuuichi's childhood friends so expect flashbacks. She generally doesn't display her feelings very well (stoic), seems unsociable, unable to make friends and is somewhat quiet. I don't want to say too much, but this character is just trying to do her best for people she cares about. By extension, her best friend Sayuri Kurata is that girl who has it all. Wealthy, smart and popular, yet she isn't the trope character who is a bitch about it. Thank goodness. However this character has a serious issue in that she refers to herself in third person. While it is explained, it can't helo but realy get on my nerves. She also has some dead serious backstory, again one which could make one cry.
Shiori (Mi... SPOILERS) is a sickly and frail girl who hasn't been been able to go to school due to her incurable disease. She is often found wandering in the school grounds, since she longs to go to school and lead a normal life. Another great character, just because of how realistic and pleasant she is and she is also very caring for others especially her sister. Who is this sister? My lips are sealed. Watch it to find out. Of course this being a anime with light aspects of the supernatural, a certain 'event' is bound to occur...
The other very annoying main character is Makoto Sawatari. She first appears to assualt Yuuichi, claiming that he had previously wronged her. She also has lost her memory, including her name (sorry for the minor spoiler), yet the only thing she remembers is that she knows Yuuichi and hates him. This character reminded me a bit of Asuka from NGE. Her favourite food is pork buns and she is often found annoying Yuuichi and playing pranks on him, which aren't exactly funny and could get her in serious trouble. She especially tries to pull these pranks on him during the night when he's in bed and Yuuichi often gets her back for her childish behaviour. One example is that she fills the bathtub with Miso soup, just before it's Yuuichi's turn to bathe. She is very immature and thoughtless, at one point she lets go of a cat she's holding over the edge of a bridge. Her backstory is kinda bullshit, she is someone who Yuuichi used to know when he was younger, of course he can't remember the details. Yuuichi also remembers the fact that he had a crush on an older girl with the same name as her. Character progression for Makoto is good however, due to certain plot elements, her personality completely changes and she becomes more childlike and dependant on Yuuichi.
The only other character worth mentioning is Jun Kitagawa. He is the only other male character in the entire anime. He fulfills the role of the idiot comedy-relief friend. Being a mix of character tropes, he is jealous of how popular with thegirls Yuuichi is and I think he's a bit of a pervert perhaps? He is infatuated with Kaori Misaka who is constantly rejecting his advances of course. Bit of a generic anime bullshit character really.
The story of Kanon is where the biggest flaws lie. Other anime have taken the light supernatural aspects and utilised them well, including Air and Clannad, other animes made by the same studio that did this one. Yet I felt that here it depended on the supernatural a bit too much? Certain plot points depend on it and therefore feel too contrived. All that said, the large amount of unnecessary filler is also an issue. Within the first ten or so episodes, the only major plot events that occur are the introductions to the characters. That's almost half an anime wasted on that and the original 2002 Kanon is a reminder of how much better this could have been done. After that, there are multiple story arcs that do not overlap and each focuses on one girl. After each arc finishes, the main female character doesn't really appear for the rest of the anime. Despite the fact that they is explained and have reasons, I can't help but feel something is off. One particular arc is severely dependent on the waffley supernatural, revealing that the existence of a character depends on supernatural elements (I've left it vague) attempts to tug at heart strings and I honestly got a lump in my throat for a half hour. But it could have been better and all the more emotional if it was more drenched in reality. The apparent romance is almost non-existent as I mentioned before. Better not to bother than to do it terribly. But there are a few scenes which one could argue being romantic, I only remember one and it's never followed through. If this is supposed to be a harem, then well done for not seeming to be a normal harem anime, cos this didn't really feel like that to me at all. The relations between the characters could only be labelled as 'close friends' and not a thing more. The supernatural elements could have been integrated better. This anime also does contain a few stereotype events and tropes like a guy walking in on a girl bathing or being late to meet a girl, because of another girl.
Kanon (2006) is not exactly a terrible anime and I can understand why people like it. But there were annoying characters, a janky narrative and contrived supernatural elements to put people off. It's not an anime for everyone. It is relaxed and somewhat realistic (except for all of the bullshit) and is nothing like the typical harem anime. People who like slice-of-life anime would likely enjoy this the most.
Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 Guy walks in on girl taking bath, nuff said (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 (higher is better)
Not for the Jaded.
Kanon centers around a young man named Yuichi, who is moving in with his Aunt Akiko and cousin Nayuri. But the thing is, he doesn't remember anything about those past seven years he had been gone. Memories of people are vacant from his mind. So when he begins to meet others, people who he had known in the past, everything begins to piece together slowly. And that is the main plot of Kanon.
Story - 5/10
One thing people should know when they get into Kanon is that its a harem show. The main protagonist, Yuichi, will be surrounded by girls and these girls will more than likely like and/or love him. So the harem part of the show is something to expect. Harems are predictable nowadays to the point that they are boing, so the story hurt very much with the harem aspect for me. However, what saves it from being a total failure is the fact that the show deals with tragedy. The only sad part of it all is the fact that it is too melodramatic.
Animation - 4/10
Okay, I'm being a little critical here. The animation, for 2006, was pretty good. Heck, given the time and if I would have watched it when it came out, I'd probably give it a 7/10... but given the time now, I felt like I couldn't. But the biggest downfall with animation to me, doesn't lie with animation itself, but the style of the art. Moe art has never appealed to me, unless used comically. This show is a serious show, or at least it tries to be, the cutesy, moe art... big eyed girls with tiny mouths, made me cringe. It's just not my thing.
Sound - 6/10
Ah, the most redeeming thing to me, was the music. Though I felt the show over all was melodramatic, the music was trying to do it's job. And the music was nice. I wouldn't go off to buy the soundtrack or download anything, but it was still a nice sound and the background music appropriate.
Characters - 3/10
Now the worst part for me. As I've once said, I don't get moe. I will probably never get moe. So the characters were the most painful part of the series to me. Yuichi started out cool, but when he turned woobie, I felt deceived. I liked the prick-like character he had started out to be. Nayuki's obsession with her allergy and her sleepiness became old during the first time, Aiyu's 'ugu' grew annoying and overplayed... "Aunt" Akiko was barely an aunt and looked more like a sister! Even Toradora did better than this, and that's saying something. The only character I somewhat liked was Makoto, but even that was short-lived.
Overall - 4.5/10
If you like moe, are new to anime, and like tragic love stories... Kanon is for you. However, if you have been in the anime scene long enough to have seen the ugliest of shows to the most brilliant, you may not appreciate Kanon.
Kanon has a good setup really. I think it had potential in my mind. But moe screwed it up. And other things kept popping up that made my eyes roll rather than wanting to cry. The show ended up trying too hard to be a serious, sad story that it kind of killed itself.
All in all, Kanon is a show a lot of people should watch, just because it is one of those shows most anime enthusiasts have watched. But as if you'll like it or not... is debatable. Not the best anime out there, not even a great anime... but it's not the worst.
Good story, though Key uses the same characters in every series they've ever made. If you can get past the art style it's pretty alright
I honestly do not know why this anime is rated ths high. I love these type of anime but I ust felt that Kanon was not very good. The first 10 episodes or so are way too slowed paced, nothing really happens and is still a bit confusing. I made myself continue watching because of its popularity At some point the story line gets a bit better but not much. Some of the characters are fun to watch while other are just annoying.
In summary, given the poor story line (in my opinion) and the issues with some of the characters, I think a 5/10 is fair. I did like the animation for this version and the sound was alright.