The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Canvas 2

Title: Canvas 2 aka Canvas2 ~Niji-iro no Sketch~
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: F&C/ZEXCS/Canvas2 Production Team
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2005 – 27 Mar 2006

Synopsis: Kamikura Hiroki and Housen Elis are cousins that live together – he’s a college student that acts as an adviser to the art club of the local high school and she’s a student who’s just started there with the new semester. While both are extremely talented artists, both are shackled by tragic events in their pasts: Elis adamantly refuses to use the colour red in her drawings, and Hiroki hasn’t taken up the brush since high school. Elis also harbours a secret crush for Hiroki.

The Highlights
The usual harem suspects: Refreshingly absent.
Pacing: Dull, repetitive middle section.
Characters: Complex enough to be interesting.
Finale: Dramatic; one side-story resolution tacked on.

When discussing the harem genre among those indifferent to it, the procedure generally involves promptly establishing that the vast, vast majority of harem anime are terrible, and then talking in terms of relatives. While Canvas 2 is a relatively good entry into the harem genre, like so many others within the genre, it’s a largely underwhelming experience. However, its flaws are very different from the regulars of harem anime, choosing instead to go with its own set of sources of mundanity.

Canvas 2’s most prominent flaw is its uneven pacing, caused in part by an identity crisis. The problem is that Canvas 2 doesn’t know whether it wants to be a character-focused slice-of-life or a romantic love-triangle story, and meanders between the two. The result is a middle section that can only be described as “dull”; the plot oscillates with low amplitude and large wavelength about the same equilibrium and the characters, though significantly deeper than the standard harem crew, lack that extra bit required to make a slice-of-life compelling, such as the realism of Honey and Clover’s cast or the charm of ARIA’s.

Elis and Hiroki are initially given enough complexity to be intriguing, but their inability to deal with their respective issues soon becomes a recurring and repetitive theme. Inextricably coupled, the resolution of their dilemmas as artists and the progression of the love story alternate back and forth through the spotlight, but essentially achieve nothing noteworthy for a very long time. The side characters each carry their own burdens, and, in relatively standard harem form, are “fixed” by one of the two main protagonists and relegated to the sidelines. These characters are about as remarkable as the ones one would find in To Heart or similar series, but are certainly not interesting enough to carry the story, acting only as waypoints of support for the main characters after their initial appearances.

Canvas 2 does feature a rewardingly dramatic final few episodes, but whether it offsets the tedious route it takes to get there is arguable. Even the finale can be criticized, with one particular character resolution being merely tacked on, as if they’d almost forgotten there was an incomplete side-story and they needed to quickly wrap it up before the final credits rolled. It very much seemed like an afterthought.

While Canvas 2 forgoes much of the inanity infamous of most harem anime, such as the over-the-top fanservice and lackluster attempts at humour, its pacing can make it, at times, excruciatingly tedious. However, with a cast of troubled characters, and a commendable beginning and fitting finale, there’s enough to make for a compelling story, with a focus on a reasonably unique love triangle. If only they didn’t potter about so much while telling it.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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