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.
(Spoilers) you have been warned
i finish this a long time ago but i have to just talk about it well let see this is like a soap opera hell this is a soap opera but a soap opera that a guy like me may watch (-U-') but any way this anime is fucked up with it's emotions, almost to the end this anime give me emotional abuse at first the fox girl dies i cryed like a baby then the angel girl disappears out of nowere in the sadist way i've ever seen and then she comes back then nayuki's mother gets hit by a car and then you think that she may commet suicide but she dosn't i keep on thinking that this anime was done by disney because we all know how disney is fucked up with emotions now lets leave the sadness and go to the review i really need to say it i love both sub and dub but i think the sub wins by it's moe in the dub it's ok but as many otaku's we don't watch the dub we just watch the sub anyway the art style is beauitful it very nice no down fall what so ever it's maybe the perfect anime but i can't name it that but to me it is even for a girl name
I hadn't really gotten around to write a proper review yet (I prefer to refer my Sword Art Online review as a rant) so naturally I picked out the newest show I had just finished watching and this is what I ended up with.
Not to be confused with the 2002 version (since I have yet to watch it) and also take note that I have not yet gotten around to play the VN.
(I'm not giving a synopsis, its obvious where to find one.)
Kanon itself is extremely reminiscence of the popular Clannad series and why not? They're both adaptation of key visual novels animated by Kyoto animation although Kanon was actually made and animated before Clannad so it isn't a direct clone. The structure of the story follows that of Clannad and other animated key titles (Little busters) where you have one main character who goes around with an obviously secured girlfriend delving into the pasts of other girls in a dramatic and serious way, only to return to its original comedic format in-between. However the most obvious difference between this and Clannad is that it's less romance orientated which overall highlights one of the main flaws with the plot.
The romance was there right in front of our eyes but it wasn't cooked properly. The relationship build-up, dramatic and 'not-so-cliche' dialogue wasn't made with what ingredients they had. That, to a far extent upset me seeing as that was what I hoped for. Instead the anime kind of just spurted out the romance towards the end as if the production studio realised “oh shit, we're this far in development and we haven't added the romance, ok just shove it in over here so we have time for everything else.” Nevertheless the characters motives and determination during hardship could have proven to have come from emotions which does relate to romance so there is still credit to be awarded.
Romance aside, the drama was definitely there. It may have been smothered by cliché lines but it was definitely emphasised throughout the story and although it seems like hopeless drama on paper, its still plays strongly with the audiences emotion (unless I'm just that emotionally weak) which was further emphasised with the characterisation.
It's a little late now but lets actually look at the plot itself. Anyone whose already watched this or Clannad would tell you that although the plot seems bland when written down, its still somewhat satisfying. I'll admit, the show tends to be pretentious in terms of predictability of the plot and it isn't the most engaging or complex story ever. But this show plays well with your emotion which allows the series to ultimately remain memorable throughout. The pacing throughout is steady and doesn't seem to rush itself. In terms of the actual story itself, its rather situational whether or not you'll enjoy it.
So after your prejudiced 'OMG why is there giant fish eyed people everywhere!' kind of feeling you'll get throughout the first episode and you actually take time to consider that this was made in 2006 you'll realise that this show actually has high production values (its KyoAni, what do you expect?) Alright the environment may seem extremely repetitive with all that snow but you have to admit the scenes locations and character artwork are still beautiful, especially considering the time it was made.
As for the music you get your typical soft tunes that come along with most key VN titles. Again this is entirely up to preference but I actually took favour of the music and ended up not skipping the openings. Maybe its just my love for these soft tunes that make the series a little more special. The osts are reused over and over similar to Clannad, each with there own specific mood to it. Nothing special to mention about it. The voice actors suited the roles perfectly again adding to the already fantastic production values.
I found the characters of the Kanon to be more or less the strongest part of the series. Maybe you find the overall personalities of the characters too generic and to be perfectly honest I can more or less agree with you on that, however it's the way the characters are presented, and how likeable the characters are that appeals greatly to me. Alright, not every character was perfect, they sure could have worked a lot harder on a few of the characters, but with the main cast being wacky, fun, yet serious at times really was enjoyable and of course memorable. Your main cast is somewhat of a typical harem. There isn't really a 'oh she's/he's a dick, I hate that character' and with the fitting voice actors make the characters rather pleasant. (Bonus points for Mai, cute stoics ftw!)
Rather typical, maybe the story is a bit boring and the characters a bit generic, however if you really dig deep you can find that glowing gem inside this show. In terms of recommendation if you enjoyed key visual novel adaptations then I highly recommend you go ahead and give this anime a try, otherwise, I suggest you back away from it or watch Clannad first so you have a little taste of the emotional plays KyoAni and Key can make you feel.
Scores (Thanks to roriconfan for allowing me to use his system)
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2
Character Figures 1/2
Visual Effects 2/2
Very good, considering the time it was made.
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3
Music Themes 3/4
Sound Effects 2/3
Not perfect, but very fitting for the emotional feel of the show.
STORY SECTION: 4/10
It may seem boring to most and the conclusion is there but rather cheesey.
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Strong personalities but little development throughout the series.
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 0/3
Nothing to say.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
VERDICT: 6/10 - GOOD
If you got this far, thank you for reading my review. I'm not a huge fan of reading or writing so this is rather new for me. Thanks again to roriconfan for allowing me to use his scoring system and be sure to check out his reviews.
For consistency it must be noted that this review pertains to the English dubbed, standard video resolution (480p) version of the entire 26 episode series.
Although subdued, Kanon is of the Harem anime genre and follows the character Yuuichi Aizawa as he becomes involved in the lives of various girls eventually leading to a romantic relationship with one of them. This may sound displeasing to some but unlike other harem animes this series truly has emotionally touching, romantic, moments. It in no way should be compared to various other harem animes and falls more in line with its cousin Air, also by Kyoto Animation. I cannot comment on it's relationship with the previous incarnation Kanon (2002), nor it's Visual Novel counterpart by the same name, since I have not viewed them. The series may appeal most to fans of melodramatic, romantic, slow-paced, and/or slice-of-life styled anime. There is very little in the way of comedic relief as the plot phases from the resolution of one tragic story to the next. As compared with something like Fruits Basket, where the viewer is left with feel-good emotions after each episode, Kanon tends more to generate melancholic tears sometimes coupled with grandiose joys. It really pushes the boundaries on how serious Moe themes can actually be when in the hands of skilled artisans rather than perverts and comedians.
Story - 9/10
Perhaps the most notable part of the series is it's story, which redefines genre lines through it's very serious approach. The English script is fairly well written, as it is convincing enough, but does not redefine normal standards. The viewer is still blatantly reminded on occasion by stylized writing that it is a animated series and not based on a true story. This is also apparent in the limited interaction of characters with supernatural story arcs which, rather than drawing you out of the story, are well placed and very entertainingly unique.
Curiously the writers also chose to add a personality element to the main character, Yuuichi, which makes him appear like a huge prick every few episodes. Considering the possible viewer base, this does not seem to be a wise choice however it does make things more human and interesting. The largest downfall, however, appears to be his random loss of memory. This at first glance appears to be an overused scenario, but as the story progresses into his traumatic past it makes sense and becomes an engrossing plot element.
Animation - 8/10
Animation in Kanon is not something that will go down in the anime history books, however it is very attractive and does its job very well. The Intro sequence is moving, skillfully planned, and artistically well executed; furthermore that description usually applies to the show in general. Rarely do the artists slip-up, and the correct pace made all the difference when conveying the story. Backdrops were implemented nearly perfectly, as the character interactions and effects appear natural. Effects are used frequently with the occasional slip; most commonly smoke effects may seem slightly to well defined, but not enough to alienate the viewer. The closing sequence, like many animes, is fairly forgettable although done at par with the rest of the animation.
Overall the style may be best described as a cute, Moe style of art; however it might be best compared to that of the first season of Haruhi Suzumiya. Artistic trends are very consistent throughout the entire series. The use, and occasional tasteful overuse, of light sources adds a fuzzy mid-winter-thaw feel to the series; perhaps better described as a melancholic-smile feeling.
Sound - 8/10
What is lost in voice acting is for the most part reclaimed by the story and soundtrack of Kanon. Sometimes the main characters, when alone, can sound insincere; but during interaction do their jobs very well. Most notably important is the actor's abilities to voice emotionally filled potions of the story with success. However the use of Ayu's trademark blurb, “uguu”, seems to have lost its effect in translation and usually just sounds dumb coming from the English voice cast.
As for the Soundtrack, only good things can be said about it. The music throughout the show is very well cued, timed, and transitioned. The theme/opening track is amazing. Although, it may not be necessary to rush out and buy the OST since this is not a series comparable to K-on where music is a main focus.
Characters - 8/10
Characters, with the exception of Yuuichi's mean-streak, are extremely likable and for some viewers possibly relate-able. Yet they all exist on what might be considered the brim of fiction, so their elements are not perfectly human but convincing enough for the sake of the story. A multitude of Moe character themes are present but in a very limited fashion. However there are points where the female characters can feel defined by their Moe archetypes; thus preventing this from being a pure drama/romance. There are no ecchi elements, thankfully, nor does there even appear to be a place where they would fit.
Overall - 9/10
If your an emotional male this series may do the job perfectly for you. If your a female looking for the next romance novel, maybe not so much; but it still comes highly recommended and is worth a try. If you fall strictly into the categories of action, hentai, horror, etc. then this show is more than likely not for you.
With a very well designed and executed story there is enough depth here to seat Kanon as a high-level anime series. This is accompanied by an enjoyable soundtrack and beautiful animation style. Yet its main draw remains the melancholic mood that pulls the viewer through each episode.
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.