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Old 2010-02-04, 19:31   Link #275
Archon_Wing
Underwhelmed
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Age: 34
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Well, it's been 6 months since I've started watching this anime, and I'm finally done. It's been both frustrating and rewarding to watch this show.

If the 3 KyoAni-Key adaptations were desserts, Kanon is the super-rich and sweet cake. Too much can make one sick, but it doesn't really stop me from trying. Kanon 2006, despite being the second adaptation is actually the first of the three to be written. I've only seen the 2006 version, so I have no idea what the Toei 2002 version is like. In any case, the standard tendencies of a Key story are out in full force and Kanon embraces them to excess for better or for worse.

My first impression of the show wasn't a very good one. When it first aired, I was expecting some epic tragedy like Air, but the harem-like atmosphere quickly turned me off. The first few episodes are still pretty boring to me, as it consists mainly of Yuuichi walking around and randomly bumping into each of the girls. It was very routine, no doubt to get across the point of daily life is indeed very boring. But there was really just too much to be going on, and I was wondering what the point of anything was.

I'm pretty mixed on the character designs. Ayu and Shiori seem way too short (Or Yuuichi is a giant) Yes, there are reasons why they are short, but it just looks kinda funny. Mai and Nayuki look the best. However, Ayu does look better when not wearing that big fluffy jacket. *cough* (Did I really just say that?)

The show gradually got better as it progressed. Most of the Makoto and Nayuki moments are funny, and we have a nice scene between Yuuichi and Ayu in the movie theater which is very cute. I'm not too into this "moe" thing, but I would admit it was very effective. Unfortunately, they don't really do too much with Ayu at this point and she gets extremely sidetracked for someone so important in the story. I do understand that merging mutually exclusive paths is going to be very difficult, but I think they could have done more.

The other problem is that I found it extremely hard to believe that so many people are suicidal or dying. They seem to be everywhere and it makes Yuuichi come off more of an asshole. Though, he was only a little boy when all the trouble started, so it's not right to blame him. The universe sure hates him! But this is of course another result of the many paths that had to be fit in the story. And Key needed to have more variation in writing.

The stories themselves are predictable, but effective nonetheless. Makoto's story is simplistic which is both a strength and a weakness. It's effective in the way it manages to create a pure tragedy. It is indeed very sad and heartbreaking, with no chance of deus ex machina.
At the same time, we really don't get much from Makoto's character besides what's given to us on the surface. And Yuuichi's kinda just there. But that doesn't really matter. The story of a spirit that gave up its own life to temporarily take the form of someone the target loves is something that never really gets old. Makoto's gradual loss of motor skills is extremely hard to watch as we are left helpless and must accept her fate. Props to the exceptional directing in the final scenes of episode 10.

I would be lying if I said I didn't watch the show because of Mai, as I have an extreme bias towards that type of character; she almost feels like a combination of several of my favorite ones. She's also voiced by the talented Yukari Tamura, and the extreme emotional outburts she makes in episodes 14-15 are reminiscent of her performance in Higurashi. Mai's character development is slightl and subtle, but definitely makes enough of an impact to encourage Yuuichi and the audience. The utterly random sentences she utters and that ridiculous chops she gives Sayuri and Yuuichi are scenes that I'll never get tired of.

Mai is constantly in conflict, fighting an unknown enemy that she can't understand. She must also deal with everyone hating her for what she does and has become extremely apathetic. She's also actively fighting herself, making this a great struggle both externally and internally. But it is through Sayuri's and Yuuichi's attempts to get to her that she can finally break out of her isolation and continue on. Sayuri's own flashback was extremely sad, but also extremely beautiful in that it captured every emotion very well, resulting in this quote:

"The same melody repeats itself as the song grows richer and more beautiful. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live seemingly constant lives while experiencing little changes bit by bit?"

Never before have I seen an anime drop its name and use it to convey such a deep meaning. I would go ahead and say that episode 14 is not only my favorite episode of Kanon, but one of my favorite anime episodes. The whole thing is just an emotional rollercoaster from the backstories to Mai seeing Sayuri getting attacked again and Yuuichi trying to stop Mai from taking her own life, making it an extremely captivating 20 minutes.

I can't say the conclusion to Mai's arc was that great considering the buildup before. Mai killing herself for sure this time just makes me feel that all they have been through was just completely nullified. Then about 5 seconds later, Yuuichi pulls the sword out of her (So easily?) and Mai gets resurrected. Not that I have a problem with a miracle, but it did make me go WTF? and felt like a cheap shot. Still, I liked the closing moments of that part enough to feel happy that Mai has eventually found peace with herself. Well, that and Mai is easily the most overpowered character of the story. Reviving the dead and also herself?

"But I'd rather be known as hope" [/tear] The BGM (I think it's called Afterglow) is pretty awesome. Speaking of the music for the series; it's adequate for the most part. "Last Regrets" is an ok calm song, but I like Kaze no Tadori Tsuku Basho better. Well, except after certain episodes. Wtf KyoAni, please learn to not do that! The rest of the BGM reminds me of elevator music.

Shiori's arc was another excellent follow up. I would say that she is indeed the most moe of them all. Cute, but not enough to be obnoxious. Her odd mannerism and randomly carrying a med kit was pretty funny, but I was always wondering what the point of her was. Well, unfortunately for her, she suffers from Key-itis, meaning she has a vaguely defined disease and will die very soon. She shows a very strong sense of self-determination; just happening to run into Yuuichi and Ayu was enough to have her keep going. That doesn't seem like much until you realize that she's about to die and seemingly nobody cares about her. This probably makes Kanon being the only show where the wrist slitter is probably the most strong willed. (Down with stereotypes!) Or it just makes the whole thing more depressing.

Anyhow, Kaori decides that being a bitch won't solve issues and finally accepts her sister. Indeed, I would understand that having a dying sister would cause some denial, but Kaori's denial runs into borderline hilarity. The birthday party scene was great, with everyone but Kaori going all out to give Shiori a good time. And finally Kaori does a gruff acknowledgment which makes for another heartwarming scene. Kinda weird how something so trivial and simple like a birthday party could mean so much. But then again, if something simple can make someone happy for once, then why not try to do more good? This kind of pure idealism seems rare these days in contrast to the rampant cynicism that runs around, making Kanon hit 3 for 3 when it started getting serious.

The water fountain scene was great, as it seems after Kanon, KyoAni forgot how to animate kisses. It's not til now that I bring up the visuals, but it should be pretty obvious. It's rather sad how Shiori just ran off. Unfortunately, she drops off the face of the earth for the next few episodes which seriously annoys me. But at least we get one more scene at the end.

The last arc, the Ayu/Nayuki/OMG WE RAN OUT OF EPISODES arc, doesn't really have that much impact on me. It's not bad, though I found myself taking a long time to finish these last episodes. Besides the sudden increase in pacing and the extremely jarring episode 19 kiss which really does not go well after episode 18, I felt that combining both threads just ended up diluting both. They did drop hints about Ayu's character around the series, so none of this is coming out of nowhere, but it just feels utterly disjointed. The result is having events such as Akiko being hit by a car (OMGWTF), Ayu disappearing, and Nayuki becoming basically catatonic still being potent but having a much weaker impact than they should have. It does have a "shit hits the fan" feel to it, but there's just way too much going on. The main thing that dampened the emotional impact of these tragic events is that the resolution is so rushed that I was wondering WTFFFFFF. I don't really think deus ex machina is a bad thing, but maybe they could have used 2 extra episodes to explore the concept of miracles-- it'd help more.

Ayu herself isn't too bad. I actually wished she would have done more earlier. Episode 20 to me is the standout episode for her; especially when Yuuichi taunts her about not being able to do math problems and reveals he can't either. Also, Yuuichi finally gets a personality and distinguishes himself from Kyon here.

Which kind of brings up a problem about Yuuichi. I really haven't much to write about him specifically, except that he's kinda funny sometimes, occasionally a jackass and helpful other times. Not too bad, but nothing to write home about. Sometimes he feels too much like a player that gets dragged along by the story (sometimes literally) So seeing him change a bit more when he's with Ayu is a good thing.

Though it seems at face value that all this crap happening just because young Yuuichi didn't give/accept some seemingly random items seems a bit silly, they are effective symbols of a greater problem. Every character in this story has been carrying a great burden of pain for a long time, and every time they tried to hide it, it wouldn't go away and triggers just make it worse. Denying yourself and others is only a temporary measure.

As for the ending itself, despite it being so fluffy, it did have everyone get together which I really can't say about the other 2 KyoAni-Key adaptations. That's always great and helps end the series more smoothly. So in that case, the series ends on a high note despite all the craziness.

Rating: 8.5/10 (I rarely use decimals but I think 8 is a bit too low) Kanon is a flawed but beautiful show; it feels more like a collection of heartwarming stories rather than a long epic one. That doesn't change the fact that many of the scenes are masterfully done or that it's put forth some of the best of anime that I've ever seen.

Uguu~ I want to see mature Ayu.
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Last edited by Archon_Wing; 2010-07-09 at 20:32.
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