Title: Kanon 2006 aka Kanon
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 6 Oct 2006 – 16 Mar 2007
Synopsis: Aizawa Yuuichi is returning to the town he left seven years ago to live with his cousin, Minase Nayuki and aunt Akiko. However, his memory of his time there is hazy. While being toured around the town by Nayuki, Yuuichi bumps into an eccentric taiyaki thief by the name of Tsukumiya Ayu. However, it turns out that Ayu has met Yuuichi before and that she holds the key to many of Yuuichi’s lost recollections.
Visuals: Kyoto Animation… need I say more?
Adaptation: Shows more respect to the source material; less plot holes and devices.
Characters: Analysed properly; fleshed out through interactions.
Pacing: Two-paced; greater length allows more time for things to be developed properly.
Drama: Enhanced by treatment of story, characters and pacing.
Ending: A tad anticlimactic, but still just.
When it comes to visual novel-to-anime conversions, there’s an unfortunate dearth of quality titles, but there are a few such as Higurashi and Air that are worthy of acclaim. However, in my eyes, none have compared to the Kanon story and while Toei’s 2002 adaptation has been criticized for cutting the original story and leaving plot holes, it always had a cast of characters and an emotional impact that I couldn’t forget. Kyoto Animation’s 2006-07 adaptation made a number of important changes with regards to its approach to the story, the most important of which was increasing the run to 24 episodes, which allowed it to “fix” many of the flaws of the original conversion and do the original Kanon narration justice. While some of the melodrama and emotional impact is slightly muted when compared to the first series, this is a far more solid example of story-telling, containing a number of profound examples of character development. Add in almost perfect technical execution and we have another offering from Kyoto Animation which further bolsters their position as my current favourite anime production studio.
I wouldn’t say the animation or cinematography in this is quite as consistent or eye-catching as some of KyoAni’s previous works like Suzumiya Haruhi(1,2) or Air… but it’s only slightly behind. But that the visuals are spectacular in a KyoAni series almost goes without saying; the fluidity and range of motion represented in the animation is of a level I wouldn’t have thought possible in a television series not three years ago. The directing is also a highlight… Ishihara Tatsuya’s treatment of the over-arching story, as well as the small details such as seemingly unimportant character interactions displays a clear respect for the source material. Whatever the tone of the scene, in almost all cases the right atmosphere is created, which is further aided by execution which, for the three components of romance, comedy and drama ranges from commendable to brilliant.
As was the case with the first Kanon anime, the plot in this series is very two-paced, with much of its first third dedicated to slice-of-life, character interactions and a general lack of urgency. The benefit of this is that we’re allowed a great amount of time to get to know the characters, which aids the dramatic impact down the road. As the series enters its modular stage, the pace rapidly picks up. Characters are given the analyses they deserve as they are thrown into some really dramatic situations. However, KyoAni’s focus isn’t so much the emotional impact as the story-telling, and each arc ends with only minor – if any – plot holes and devices.
Needless to say it is still a dramatic story, and the tighter plot and properly developed characters leads to drama which is, arguably, more poignant than the first series’. The drama builds into a heart-wrenching climax in its penultimate episode, but the final episode unfortunately fizzes, with many of the loose ends resolved in far too neat a fashion with an insta-fix deus ex machina. While this ending can be defended by the fact that it plays into one of the story’s main themes and manages to resolve pretty much everything, it simply lacks any of the tension of the previous episodes.
Kanon 2006 is inevitably a series with a given audience, but I’d highly recommend it to fans of drama. I’ve always been a fan of the conversion, since it’s been one of the rare proofs that it is possible to have a compelling anime based on a visual novel. This particular adaptation shows that with the right amount of care on the animator’s part, a story like Kanon’s can be very powerful when told in the animated medium.
The Rating: 8
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun