"A decent action-flick filled with hit-and-miss moments”, that’s how I’d describe CANAAN in one sentence. It had some honestly good moments, and lots of “somewhat funny jokes” and “somewhat engaging action”. Naturally, seeing this was being praised as being the action-flick of 2009, I was a bit disappointed, seeing there was only one action scene in this whole series that had me thrilled to the level Black Lagoons action thrilled me.
CANAAN has quite an interesting premise that goes beyond your everyday action-flick. The first episode introduces you to Maria, an aspirant photographer and close friend to Canaan, looking to group up with Minoru, a “veteran” in the craft of photography, although one without extraordinary skills or achievements, and a bad temper. Canaan herself also gets introduced in this episode, coming across as a somewhat stoic, mysterious woman, an impression that sadly didn’t change much over the episodes.
The plot revolves around Canaan, Maria and the friends she meets on her way, a criminal organization and most importantly, the Ua Virus, a biological weapon with a 100% certainty to be fatal for those infected. The mystery around this virus unfolds itself bit by bit, keeping plenty of mystery alive, and we slowly get to know more about Canaan’s and the organization’s past.
Now, on to the most important part of the plot: the action. This is for me, personally, where it lacked a little. Even though I hear everyone else say the exact opposite, I found most of the action scenes lacking in tension. There are two kinds of action-scenes in CANAAN, blockbuster-like scenes were Canaan is making “awesome” movements, dodging bullets and overpowering large numbers of enemies, and more thriller-like action where time or decisions played a large role to the thrill. The blockbuster scenes were mostly lacking in intensity for me. In one of the first episodes, you get to see Canaan do some crazy movements high up on a rooftop while she’s avoiding bullets and gunning down baddies. Sadly, this scene is followed with the camera watching from afar, taking pretty much all the tension away from this scene. Poor usage of the camera is, throughout almost the entire series, the sole reason the action didn’t appeal to me like it did to some. Now on to the thriller/action scenes, maybe it is because Maria’s character didn’t felt remotely real, maybe because I just didn’t care that much about Canaan, but during most of these action scenes that were set up to be intense, I wasn’t thrilled by it at all. Fair enough, these scenes are getting better in later episodes, but it was far from what I expected from CANAAN, and far from thrilling or intense. There is one (or two) big exception(s) on this ranting though. The final two episodes gave the exact thing I was hoping for all along. The pre-last episode had some good, thrilling scenes (albeit a bit watered down due to a certain ridiculous character) and the final episode had the exact intense, thrilling, badass action-scene I was hoping for all along.
That said, there is more to CANAAN than just the action. The crime/mystery plot was interesting enough to keep watching this show in one sitting, and (sadly) not the action, but the ridiculously funny characters are what made it memorable to me. I won’t spoil too much yet, but be expecting some fanservice from a masochistic, psychotic, hilarious murderer.
No complaints about the animation used in this show. While it’s not nearly the best you’ll ever see, it is solid high-end 2009 quality. The characters look good and the dynamics are smooth, the backgrounds look fairly detailed and everything is well drawn. Although the style itself had nothing distinct or special about it, because the overall quality is this high it did add a certain sense of realism. The music was mostly just like the animation, solid. The opening theme is the perfect fit for the anime; it builds up some tension in the right way. The ending theme however felt a bit out of place. It’s a calm, emotional song that would’ve worked better with the show if they made us care about the characters. The music used throughout the show was fitting yet forgettable.
Overall, CANAAN is a good Crime/Mystery/Action show with comic relief aplenty due to fact that the few ridiculous characters this show has get a lot of screen time. Don’t take this review as the only truth, seeing most people I’ve spoken with this anime about seemed to love the “intense” action, but it just didn’t do it for me. Nevertheless an enjoyable view, although not something I’m going to remember for its awesome action or brilliantly executed storyline.
Yes, I'm aware my scores would suggest a higher overall score, but to be honost, there wasn't much wrong with the storyline or characters, but it lacked where it mattered most, intensity. Intensity is created by a cast of characters you can feel for, and while the cast was quite solid and had some hilarious characters, they were anything but relatable. Thus, due to the weaker action and nonrelatable characters, the lower overall score for this anime.