The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Kanon
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Toei Animation/Key
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 30 Jan 2002 – 27 Mar 2002

Synopsis: Due to employment circumstances, Yuuichi’s parents have entrusted their son to a close relative. Living in a town he hasn’t visited for seven years, Yuuichi is trying his best to integrate with his new circumstances. His cousin, Natsuki, does her best to guide him around, but he is still stuck in a nostalgic glut. Dream after dream haunt his memories, but Yuuichi has yet to decipher the meaning. Then one day, he meets a friend from seven years ago and his memory starts jogging…

The Highlights
Characters: One dimensional.
Character designs: Eye stabbingly painful.
Music: Soft, ambient and effective.
Final quarter: Poignant, powerful, unforgettable.

Innovation can come from the unlikeliest of places. As technology evolves, new outlets are created allowing even more artistic freedom. Made before the solidification of the game to anime conversion niche, Kanon proves that a good story will shine no matter what medium is used.

What starts out as a typical harem anime full of chance encounters evolves into something truly special. The show walks on a thin line between reality and fantasy. Everything occurs in a dreamlike haze where suspension of disbelief is required, but it is a minor toll to pay for what is ahead. While few subplots are intertwined, each has its own unique strengths. Sadly, the creators go and ruin this ephemeral ambience with sloppy animation. The music does enhance the mood, but it’s like a powerful spice covering the taste of some very, very old meat.

It takes a several episodes to become accustomed to the character designs, but that is not the only snag the show hits. The characters themselves are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts endowed with some eye rolling idiosyncrasies. Yet, despite their flaws, the characters slowly grow on the audience. Their childlike personalities and idiosyncrasies make them likeable simply because they are so adorable, and this attachment results in a sledgehammer effect when the end comes.

During the final quarter, the show suddenly comes to life and kicks from “loaf” to “high gear” leaving dropped jaws and shocked faces in its wake. Genuinely poignant and powerful, the final few episodes take all the emotional bonds made and rip them to shreds. One by one, the characters go through a rollercoaster of emotions, and the audience gets to take the plunge right next to them.

In retrospect, this show isn’t an anime driven by its characters or its story. It is an anime driven purely by emotions. There may be a superior recreation, Kanon 2006, but this show still is a memorable piece of melodrama. You may hate the deformed character designs or the convenient plot elements, but Kanon will touch your heart in a way few anime can.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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