The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Canaan

Title: Canaan aka 428 the Animation
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: P.A. Works
Format: 13 episodes
Date: 4 Jul 2009 – 26 Sep 2009

Synopsis: It has been two years since Shibuya suffered a biological terrorist attack from the Ua virus. Oosawa Maria, a victim in the attack, was saved by an antidote created by her father, but it erased some of her memories in the process. Now as an aspiring photographer, Maria reunites with her friend Canaan in Shanghai, China. Canaan is no ordinary human being; she is a trained assassin with synesthesia, an ability where she can manipulate and combine her senses. Their friendship is not the only thing they have in common; Canaan’s nemesis turns out to be a leader of a terrorist group responsible for the creation of the Ua virus.

The Highlights
Action: Fast, furious and fantastic.
Story: Just another action series at first; develops into something deeper.
Characters: Secondary characters become more complex towards the end.
Oosawa Maria and Yun-Yun: One should have taken a more proactive role, the other is simply annoying.
Plot: Some events left unexplored and unexplained.
Sakamoto Maaya: Casting her was not a bad idea after all.

From the onset, CANAAN spells a negative impression – it comes across as a poor man’s Madhouse series that is only concerned with sleek and stylish action sequences and minimal emphasis on character development and coherent storytelling. Well, it is actually produced by P.A. Works and directed by Masahiro Ando, of Sword of the Stranger fame. It seems to be that way at least for the first half of the series, but things take a turn for the better as unforeseen circumstances throw the characters into riveting moments and in the process, render them more credible and complex than they originally were.

The series starts right off the bat with some deliciously violent gunfights reminiscent of Black Lagoon. Furthermore, the female lead, Canaan is akin to Black Lagoon‘s Revy – both are apathetic protagonist who prefers to let their guns do most of the talking and neither gives a second thought before pulling the trigger. At first, the former seems to be just a hollow shell of the latter, and her character is thoroughly explored only a few episodes into the series. Her character then gets viewed under the magnifying glass; her close relationship with Maria being one of the subplots of her development. Character development is an important aspect of a series but so is the origin of the subplots contributing to it. Maria and Canaan have a strong bond between them but how this bond originally came about isn’t fully explained, leaving it incomplete. Furthermore, some of the intriguing characters such as Liang Qi and Siam seem to be included in the story just to accommodate the main stars, even though they have great potential for some engrossing subplots. Also, for a character of such importance to the development of Canaan, Maria should have taken a more active role instead of just being the one that Canaan has to come to the rescue for.

Speaking of characters, while there are some that are left in the dust – one of which I found plain annoying – there are a handful who get shown under the spotlight. The mysterious pair Santana and Hakko take important roles by showing how the outcome of a deadly virus brings them closer to each other while the psychotic Liang Qi ironically illustrates how obsession can drive people to go to great lengths, the same idea that antagonist Alphard embodies for Canaan. Speaking about Alphard, having Sakamoto Maaya as the seiyuu was a big surprise to me, raising my curiosity as to how she would embody a resentful antagonist. I was delighted to see how her versatile voicing aptly embodies her character, giving the air of nonchalance and sense of no remorse, and leaving no trace of the same person who has worked on more feminine characters such as Ouran High School Host Club‘s Haruhi and Gundam SEED Destiny‘s Lunamaria Hawke. Apart from the great character development, another positive aspect of the series is its original adaptation of a visual novel. The adaptation from a video game to animation is something some viewers may write off from the start as disaster-prone, with Gungrave being one of few outstanding exception. Canaan has done well to prove the stereotypical thinking wrong. The characters and plot-lines make the series different from other all-out action series with shallow characters and half-baked plots.

Canaan is not just another eye candy series that pulls no punches with its delivery of adrenaline-rushed action scenes; it is one where a handful of the characters get the limelight, where each tells their individual stories of how a dreadful virus has affected their lives and how their fates are entangled for better or worse. Despite the lack of development for a few characters, minor plot holes and a run-of-the-mill start, Canaan is nonetheless a series that is worth watching for the action, storytelling and characters and the progression of the story.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: AC

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