Title: Kanon – The Collection
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: The original Visual Novel series by KEY released in 1999 as a adult version and 2000 as an All-Ages version.
Genre: Drama, Fantasy and Romance
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Runtime: 600 Minutes
Cost: $AUD 59.95
Classification: This title is classified M for Mature Themes
Blurb: “A series focusing on a young man named Yuichi, who has now returned to the city where he spent his holidays many years ago, and during that time, made friends with several of the youth of the area, and in the end, forgot them. The story is a decent adaptation of the visual novel and does a good job of merging the individual character paths of it together. The design is good for a KEY anime series and has some suitable music and solid voice acting. An enjoyable series for fans of the genre.”
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.
The second title in my backtracking anime reviews is Kanon. Kanon was the original Visual Novel released by KEY back in 1999 that was their first building block both into the Visual Novel market and to a much lesser extent, the 18+ Adult game market (Althrough other versions of the series remained All-Ages). This has a number of genres mixed into it, with the primary ones being drama, fantasy and romance, however aspects of action and comedy are also available spread throughout. The original storyline went as most visual novels, namely dating sims do, by having the protagonist go off on a single character path dependent on their choices throughout the game, but of course this is not possible with an anime series, therefore they improvised. What is the series Kanon like? and how does it shape up in comparison to other KEY titles? Read on to find out in my review of Kanon: The Complete Collection.
Yuichi hasn’t seen his cousin Nayuki in years. Now that he’s back, all knowledge of ever visiting has vanished. He tries to adjust to the vaguely familiar surroundings, but the gaps in his memory haunt him as time grows short. The pieces of the puzzle have appeared – an eerily silent beauty with blazing tresses, a mysterious girl with the winged backpack, and the sword-wielding demon slayer – it its up to Yuichi to discover how they fit together.
Whilst watching this series, you will notice two similarities to the anime series Clannad, that some of the characters are either similar in appearance or personality and that the storylines will inevitably focus on one character at a time until the storyline is resolved, then go onto the next. Unlike other KEY works that have been released, there is no After Story component to it, so what you are currently seeing is what you get with no chance of a sequel to it. Over the course of this series, you will be brought into the tales of Yuuichi, a young man who has just returned to his cousins town after years of being away and making friends with different groups of girls in the school and local town. Every girl has a story, every girl has a backstory and most of the girls have some link to their past. Overall, you will be experiencing arcs surrounding each of the five girls on the cover, each with something different for Yuuichi to take part in.
This series is not your normal relationship series where a guy jumps from girl to girl having normal relationships with each. Whilst originally it does look like your normal series, most of the story-lines deal with the supernatural, with three out of the five main female characters having a supernatural power or occurrence happening to them since Yuichi last met them. The storylines are more melancholy focused for the most part, and try to emotionally move the viewer, with varying results. The first arc surrounding Makoto for example, was most probably the most emotional one out of all the characters as it showed a character slowly degrading from a talkative person to someone who could no longer interact with others, one of the consequences of a supernatural occurrence. The story-lines all vary and have different messages associated with them, such as “Do not abandon your pets” to “Do not climb up BIG trees”.
They are enjoyable or interesting depending on the arc, at times I felt this series could have done with an extra 12 or so episodes to really develop the characters more. Whilst characters such as Ayu get focused upon from the first episode all the way to the last episode, other characters, especially minor characters that have shorter roles in the series do not get any background development, which is a shame as they are interesting personalities from the short development they do get, such as Aunt Akiko, Jun Kitagawa and even characters that play more serious roles in the series, such as Sayuri (A key character in Mai’s arc) could have done with a greater character development. Whilst some of the minor characters were there to progress the storyline, it felt disheartening that they would have made them storyless backgroundless characters.
Also in terms of the storyline, I would say almost every tangent they go off on had a solid idea behind it, for example with the character Mishio Amano who appears only in Makoto’s arc and has had an experience with the supernatural occurrence of the arc prior. It would have been nice in her case for example, to actually go into more detail, even an episode or half to detail the history between her and the person it relates to, as it would have both given her some more development and detail more about the legend it relates to.
Focusing my attention onto the six main characters in this series, Yuuichi is definitely an ideal male protagonist for a series. His story at the start is a blank slate, no “I didn’t get into college” or “I am a pervert RAWR!” storyline going on, he just arrives in the town one day to take up education and his past is slowly unveiled to us, about him and the many people he met during his prior stays. With very little to hold him back, he is the generally upbeat protagonist I have long await for in a series, and his practical joke and comical nature also do well to progress the slower plots in the story-line. As Ayu is the only character that appears continuously throughout all the episodes in the series (With an exception of Nayuki), she is the one with the longest spanning arc and the pacing they had with her was suitable, considering in the novel, if you didn’t choose her path she would say goodbye to Yuichi and never be seen again.Whilst you get little glimpses of her past in Yuichi’s dreams, she is the ideal character to keep a light hearted attitude in the series.
Mai and Sayuri most probably have my favorite arc, as it mixes in both action and the storyline that has a tragic, but not tear-jerking storyline associated to it. However, Mai’s development is most probably the least out of all characters, with only small parts of her experiences with Yuichi in the past being exposed, however who can pass on a demon fighting girl right? Shiori and Nayuki both have storylines that drag on, and I wouldn’t say they are interesting. Neither of these arcs deal in the supernatural and are generally about normal life. Shiori, like Ayu, recieves slow development until her arc and even then, it is more about reconciling a relationship with her sister then what could have had more of a focus on other aspects of her personality, whilst Nayuki’s clashes with Ayu’s, and loses most of her arc to that storyline, however with the benefit of continuous development.
To conclude on the storyline and character development elements of this series, these are both solid in the storyline and you would without a doubt in my mind, enjoy them. However this series struggles where I feel many VN anime adaptations fail, and that is in the number of episodes available to them in relation to the source material which was rectified in the Clannad anime with an After Story season. Whilst this series does focus on issues such as abandonment, cruelty of public perception, death and other similar issues, there is also a focus on the beauty of life, friendship and kindness that is performed very well.
The design is pleasant to look at, with most of the environments in the town, such as the sugar cane fields pictured above are what I would consider picturesque. The character design of all the female characters, especially those who had younger appearances were evidently designed to be ultra-cute and whilst this may be a detraction for some, I actually think they add to the character design and effectiveness of the plot, as with the exception of Ayu (Who I would consider the main romantic interest of Yuichi and when she looks so young, it is a bit off-putting), characters like Makoto who maintain a more brother/sister relationship, it works well, whilst it is also effective with characters like Mai, who whilst having a cold exterior during the series, has a cute design in her youth, adding to the change in personality being respective with a change in design. As I stated above, the environments are picturesque, but as the series takes place in a town that is in the middle of Winter, they have designed the town to be a classic town in the middle of snow-season, and it looks very well, aided more by the use of colour and sunlight / lighting effects then the design of buildings and such alone.
Last regrets by Ayana
The Opening Theme for Kanon is an enjoyable, softer-tuned theme that goes well with the theme of the series. As with nearly all anime series by KEY, the purpose of the opening theme is to display the female characters rather then the males, and does this well, and also does a good job at setting the Winter environment, with a heavy focus on snow-filled environments. This song is the same as the original Visual Novel theme, which can be seen HERE if you want to make a comparison – Do note that this video is from the official visualarts Youtube Page.
Kaze no Tadori Tsuku Basho by Ayana
I didn’t actually watch this sequence until about half way through watching the series, as I had the feeling that it would just be Ayu running across a snow-filled plain for two minutes. Essentially, I was right about it, but does show a few other brief scenes with the winter motif on it. The song is enjoyable enough, faster paced then the opening but not as enjoyable.
The music in this series is overall a pleasure to listen to. Some of it is taken from the Visual Novel series, although seemingly remastered whilst other tracks are unique to this series. Whilst the music varies, more of the songs are simpler songs consisting of one or two instruments at maximum, instead of the full scale orchestral tracks. In terms of voice acting, the cast is solid and consists of primarily veterans to the voice acting scene such as Brittney Karbowski (Ayu) and Christopher Patton (Yuuichi) and with some cast being recurring from other KEY anime series from past and present, such as Brittney as Ryou (Clannad) and Greg Ayres (Who voiced both Youhei in Clannad and Jun in Kanon, in which both characters have near identical appearances). Either way, no complaints from me in either area.
The packaging included with the Kanon Collection is overall rather good. As it is a collection of more then one DVD, it is a little bit bigger then your normal DVD case however nothing that would make it look weird among other perfectly sized DVD covers or require modification to most DVD racks. The cover art as you can see to the right is cute and features all five female protagonists from the series with the forest background which holds importance in the series. Inside the case, there are a total of 4 DVD discs and unlike the Figure 17 DVD set I recently reviewed, there is no issues with removing them from the holders. Each of the DVD’s have the same design, devoid of characters, it features a pale white backdrop with snowflakes on it, adorned with the usual title, disc number and companies responsible for the production scrawled along the side. The inner cover holds the same design of the back cover, however is a full landscape image of Ayu running around the snowfilled forest, which is pretty and overall, well designed. Finally, the back cover has no mistakes in the text of the synopsis or the information provided on it, and holds a quote which is very appropriate for this series: “Is this all just a dream?”.
In terms of extra content you would expect a lot right? Well sadly, this series should bow its head in embarrassment as whilst there are four DVD’s in this set, the only form of “extra” content is some trailers for anime series, which at the time of release, were upcoming. I would have expected at least a clean OP/ED sequence or some art or interviews, but nope, just the trailers. Included with my copy of the DVD was the July/August 2010 version of Anime Update as well, if you consider that an extra.
Finally, in terms of my personal opinion, I may have been a little bit strict on this series but I do love it to bits. It is how I like series that have a romantic element to be…. having other genres in it to make it less lovey-dovey and more worthwhile my time watching. The series does fall a little bit in time management and really needed more time to build the secondary characters more, however what was presented was inline with what was in the Visual Novel and sported interesting character development and great design.
Is it worthwhile getting it? YES!
Will this series have a place in my top anime series list? YES!