I chose a different approach for this Kanon 2006 review, so instead of mentioning all the ups and down in a unique circle, I preferred to go through a quick journey throughout the whole series. It made it a lot easier even for me, to make my final assesments. I hereby decided to travel through the arcs, and so my analysis is divided between the various parts, delivering there praises and criticisms. All the following contents, naturally, are in my humble opinion.
As all of you already know, on 2002, Toei made the first attempt in animating Kanon. I watched that anime (3-4 years ago), without prior knowing what “Kanon” was, yes at that time it was famous already but I didn’t know what it was about.
The Toei version left me quite cold. Not that it was a bad anime, on the contrary it had a lot of powerful scenes, but the fault probably was that those scene seemed pasted one after another, and at the end, too many questions raised and remained unsolved.
That’s why, when Kyoto Animation announced its Kanon’s remake, I wasn’t particularly excited. Nor the fact that Suzumiya Haruhi aired in the middle raised my interest. Kanon was a remake of an anime I probably wouldn’t have ranked even in my top 50.
Kanon 2006 started airing, and my approach was still cold. “A chance, just because it’s KyoAni”, I said myself.
With the first few episodes, my enthuxiasm certainly didn’t increase. What I could immediately see, was how better the character were drawn in regard of the 2002 version. I simply loved Nayuki’s new look, Yuuichi looked more mature than his “ancestor” (this will be very important for the story) and the same feeling of being better went for the other characters, from Ayu to Kaori, from Mai to Shiori.
At a point, Makoto was introducted. Quite a funny burden in her first appearences to say the truth, but another new thing of this Kanon was the presence of the comedy. I have to say, a brilliant yet very humorous comedy. Delivering a fantastic episode 6, with some of the most entertaining scenes of the whole autumn anime season ("The variations of the uguu"
). It was an anticipation that Kanon 2006 had ended its gestuation phase and it was definitely started.
From now on, I’ll dismiss my 2002’s watcher clothes (it was just to state what my point of view was) and I’ll talk about 2006 only, without comparisons.
And so, one of the girls suddenly began to be under the spotlights.
1 - MAKOTO
"Love is something eternal ... The aspect may change but not the essence."
(Vincent Van Gogh)
Makoto’s arc aka the most emotional of KyoAni’s Kanon. It feels like a lot of efforts were put here, for a 4 episodes long run. Some might say that they were too much, but I don’t particularly agree on the matter. The pace was just fine.
The girl being a fox spirit was hinted slowly but quite well, and the whole process of her “illness” was dealt in the right way. Being a lover of animals, I got really commoted by the whole part of the flashback when they showed Makoto’s true nature, and all that followed. An unbelievably powerful closure episode for this arc gave to most of the attendance teary eyes.
But at the same time it probably sown false expectations about the future of the series. Makoto’s story was sad and depressing, but also tragic, even if withouth catharsis.
Great job from Makoto’s voice actress, Iizuka Mayumi. Her “auu” won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
The animation was on really high levels for the most of the time, the plot development got a bit arrested instead, since basically Yuuichi did spend time only with Makoto and/or Mishio.
A good point though, was raised with the underline of the concept of “family”, near the end of Makoto’s vital power.
2 - MAI
"Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would, I'd never leave."
(Winnie the Pooh)
After a superb “intermezzo” episode, the focus moved on the mysterious girl, Mai. Which is in my opinion, the arc with better single animations of the whole series (meaning particular outstandingly animated scenes. Some others were a bit less on the top).
With a particular glance at the dance sequence, truly and simply spectacular. The shadows of the story got unveiled little by little and another tragic ending seems to approach before our protagonist is able to avoid it (honestly, I think that scene in particular could have been executed a bit better, since we don’t even have time to realize that Mai has attempted sucide, that Yuuici has already “saved” her). That’s a point for the theory that KyoAni’s Kanon is not first-time watchers friendly.
If compared to Makoto’s arc this one is much different for many reasons. First (and this will count for all the other upcoming stories) there has been much time to get a character and his/her indepths inside us, second: not only Mai’s story is brought ahead – excepting – the very end, but also that of the other girls. Third and most important, this arc hasn’t one protagonist but two.
"Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest"
Here it is, the one who probably is the most dramatic heroine of the story. The scene when she was assaulted by a demon made my heart skip a bit. Though, what really steals the spotlight, it’s when Sayuri tells about her past and her background story about the poor Kazuya.
KyoAni dedicated a good amount of time to it, with amazing results. It’s useless to exaggerate with superlatives, but that part was probably , along with the Makoto ending, the most sad of the series. I kept wondering why her laugh (“ahaha”) was so dry, and the explanation made me shiver.
Said of the animations, this arc was slightly better than Makoto’s in convenient regard of the whole story. One of the best scenes is the one where Mai lets go out her rage and destroys all of the surroundings with her sword, very impactful. The whole flashbacks puzzle worked well too.
I’m not totally fond of the ending here, a bit abrupt (as the pacing of Mai's past story. It seemed all too much standalone, like: "ok, this is the way this went, so what?". I've to put a small minus for this part.)
Thanks to Tamura Yukari, one of the most versatile seiyuus we have, for Mai, and to Kawakami Tomoko for voicing all the pains of such an unfortunate character as Sayuri.
After having conveniently set Mai’s healing power out (an acceptable idea executed with questionable manner. Too direct), it’s time for the story to move ahead.
3 - SHIORI
"In the end, it doesn't matter how many breaths you take, but how many moments took your breath away."
Despite Shiori being my favourite Kanon 2006’s character, this is not my favourite arc. I feel to say it is the one arc with the best animations on the whole (from the beginning to the end). As far as I’m concerned, I doubt I have ever seen something that good as the river animation on the beginning of episode 17, that sequence alone seemed to be screaming “Hey! This is art!” from every point of view.
While this arc could seem totally Shiori-centered, that is not true, as we have a key bond.
"The only thing grief has taught me is to know how shallow it is."
In all honesty, I don’t share the reasonings who brought Kaori to alienate her sister, but I can understand what her feelings might have been.
Back to Shiori, she’s wonderful. Beautiful and classy, with some unforgettable quotes (“I don’t like people who say such things!”) and a flawless, admirable behaviour. I mean, she’s facing death everyday. Yuuichi is particular good here in enlighten Shiori’s weights, and the birthday party is a colorful feast for the eyes. It’s good to see Kaori redeeming too.
A major flaw of this arc though, it’s the ending, which is abrupt and cruel at the same time. Also, a 3 episodes span didn’t seem allright to me. I’d given at least one episode more, so to have care of making spend to the two a bit more time together and to give a less rushed cut to the story.
If the writers thought that for Shiori’s arc 3 episodes would suffice, I think they were wrong. I think this objectively, as Shiori is the girl who has had less time among the main protagonists (bringing her back in episode 24 won’t make up for this).
Kudos here go to Satou Akemi (Shiori) and Kawasumi Ayako (Kaori).
As for the remaining girls in this part of the story, it’s to note down a certain reaction of Ayu to a "simple" cold of Akiko. As for Nayuki, well, whichever of her long sad expressions tells long about her feelings.
4 – NAYUKI, AYU & YUUICHI
When thinking to Kanon, and to these characters, it’s difficult to separate them. I consider this arc as one and unique, I’d say going from episode 19 to 23. (with episode 24 being sort of a “standalone”, a wrap-up of all events).
Along with the last episode, the 19th must have been the most discussed one. After a seemingly normal encounter near the end of the episode... suddenly something epic occurs.
It’s to say that yes, the kiss between Ayu and Yuuichi felt rushed and coming out of nowhere. Another point for the unfriendliness of Kanon 2006. I for one, felt that a bit unexpected.
In defence of the show, I can say that the number of hints placed previously is countless, through flashbacks and everyday happenings. Certainly, nothing really romantic seemed to be popping out.
I can understand from when the kiss came from, but again, something seemed to be missing, because half of the episode was dedicated to Nayuki, and only the last part to Ayu.
Standing ovation, however, for the kiss scene execution, the camera movements, the clody sky at the sunset, the details. It makes for an unforgettable moment.
The following narration, up to dramatic Ayu’s farewell, is very well built, and quite redeeming for the previous “flaw”. The final revelation has yet to come, but the climax brought to the screen has a big impact already.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
If they ask me, “who’s your favourite Kanon character?” probably I’m going to say Shiori. But if they change the question to “who’s the one you admire the most” my answer would be different.
Nayuki suffered the pains of an unrequited love for years. She always kept a determined temper and tried to show no weakness. In the second part of the show, she has really become a silently shining star to my eyes (I have to say that Mariko Kouda as her seiyuu has a consistent part in this bunch of merits, and she would win an ideal “best Kanon seiyuu” prize from me, if there was one). Now it’s time for her story to reach the peak.
The trigger is a tragic event that I deem as a badly executed scene by KyoAni’s part. I have already explained this in long terms in the episode 21 discussion thread, but in two, I didn’t like the accident’s depiction, since I have preferred more subtleness.
At this point, Nayuki’s strenght collapses. If there’s a pillar in her life, outside Yuuichi, it’s her mother. Withouth Akiko, Nayuki’s world would probably mean nearly nothing.
The anime portrayed this situation just perfectly, in a depressing yet unstoppable run of events with a common key: pain and sorrow.
Yuuichi himself is lost because other than Ayu (and partially Nayuki) there’s something other missing: a part of his memory. When he realizes, there’s the most noticeable interpretation of Sugita Tomokazu for the character: in episode 22, when Yuuichi remembers what really happened to Ayu, the “uh!” he breathlessly shouts while quickly waking up is worthy one million praises.
It was a nice touch by KyoAni to put the real Sawatari Makoto, and the ending of episode 23 is also heartwarming, great work of the flashbacks and finally Yuuichi and Nayuki can reunite, in another epically animated and rendered scene.
Basically all the pieces of puzzle are together now, a small percentage is left with just one episode to go. The longer awaited Kanon finale will also become the longer discussed, since certainly the key of lecture provided was... surprising ?
5 - KANON AT THE END OF A DREAM
"When the world says, << Give up >> , Hope whispers: << Try it one more time >>
A direct approach is chosen to show the solution of the problems: skip and show them all resolved.
It was hazarded, yes. But I for one, liked it. Because it wasn’t easy to put together all of the pieces for Kanon, but it was done well and withouth blatant plotholes. Somehow, they managed to untie all the bonds and answer to all the questions. It wasn’t easy, in an episode time.
Remarkable things: Shiori outburst (finally, poor thing), Mai helpfulness and Nayuki’s strenght through resignation. The continuosly hinted “miracle (kiseki)” was the only explanation one could provide, and it worked. If I put myself on that point of view, I can accept everything, even Shiori’s healing.
Qualm: not showing Ayu’s awakening from coma was not nice. It would have been a magnific anime moment.
The sequence when Ayu walks through the seasons is simply delightful, and feels like KyoAni put there its last effort in terms of great animation quality. Horie Yui’s voice then, here, always and forever, sublime.
Finally, goose pimples for fox-Makoto apparition at the very end. Wih this, all of the girls were basically gathered together, and all is well that ends well.
"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
Yuuichi, my sir, you did very well in this series. Heh, oughta give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
Having shown my point of views on the whole coverage of the series, it is much easier for me now to explain in a few words my thoughts.
First of all, let me say that I don’t care about whatever resolution the screenwiters may have chosen. They were all believable paths, so I’d have been ok with any of them. Certainly, I felt really bad for Nayuki near the end, so I’d have hoped for her share of happiness.
It didn’t happen, but it’s ok. It makes sense that Yuuichi ended with Ayu, as it would have made sense if he ended with Shiori, or Mai, or even Sayuri.
So my opinion won’t really be changed from this or that happening. Also because romance is not what Kanon is mainly made of.
As abundantly explained, the storyline has some weak points, costing some points in my judgement.
For a dramatic series, it may be anti-climatic to see all finishing well, and probably this choice has detract something to Kanon 2006 in terms of unforgivability: it’s a common thought that you’ll remember more a tragic epilogue rather than a positive one. At the end, we may count 2 dead peoples (Makoto and Kazuya – Sayuri’s brother - , but I’m tempted not to count Makoto as really dead, since she’s always wandering around, either in spiritual form, either in her animal form).
This aspect can really divide people’s opinions.
As for me, I like drama but I also like fairy tales with their magic when they occur. I’m a dreamer. A dream is the key of Kanon 2006. It’s not difficult if I can sort it all out saying that I liked the ending in its whole.
I think I've really said all that I had to say. Oh, and I chose a friday to say it: for one reason: it's the first "Kanon-less" friday. Just wanted to make it "Kanonly
" special in some other way.
All in all, I don’t think this series would be deserving a ten. It is plenty of merits, really. It’s near to be a masterpiece, really. But for a reason or another, there’s something missing. I don’t know if 26 episodes could have solved the deal (by adding the point I mentioned as probably lacking), but as a matter of things, I can call this series “excellent”, without going further.
With a brief summing up of all the ratings I’ve given around the way, I ended up giving:
Overall Rating: 94%
But all considered, I have to round down that total, and so my final rating for Kanon 2006, as it will appear in this poll, is a solid 9