Posted by psgels on 3 March 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews


I originally dropped Kyoani’s version of Kanon after about ten episodes because the characters got on my nerves way too much. Still, after having been completely surprised at how good Air and Clannad’s After Story turned out, so I just had to finish Kanon at one point. This review is going to contain a few spoilers here and there, but in any case, the thing that immediately struck my mind when I picked it back up: those eyes! It feels like they watch right through you!

In all seriousness, though. The reason that Air and Clannad made such a big impression on me was that they started with the biggest heap of cliches imaginable, played a bit with them, and then went into a totally unique and original direction which blew me away in the end. For Kanon I was anticipating something similar. And it indeed started out with a huge amount of cliches: sick girl, tomboy, silent samurai girl, nice girl, energetic male, cute mother, et cetera. However, at the end of the series, I was still waiting for it to turn into something special.

I think that in the end, this series was trying too hard and ended up forced for me. It tries very hard to be cute: there is Ayu with her Uguu~, Makoto with her Au~, Nayuki with her Unyuu~, Mai with her delayed reactions, but all of this feels forced, and even though there’s more comedy in it than any other key adaptation, none of the jokes really live up to the few scenes that Air devoted to it (all the Uguu~s in the world couldn’t even come close to the awesomeness of the Stegosaurus t-shirt). The same goes with the drama: this series aims to be a huge tear-jerker, though I never cried once. It felt like the series kept clinging too much to its harem roots, which resulted in a few very strange plot twists. Twice, we have Yuuichi come very close to a girl, only to dump her in a hospital and move on to the next one.

Parents have always played a very big role in Key adaptations, but the extremely forceful way that Nayuki’s mother inserts herself into the drama didn’t sit well with me either. It felt like the creators were going “we need more drama! Let’s insert a random car crash!”. And there are a few more of these contrived plot twists that only serve to keep the story on the right track, rather than to get the best out of the characters (for example, it was quite convenient for Mai to suddenly lose her powers, otherwise she would have instantly solved nearly all of the problems in this series). The final episodes also included some deus ex machina that didn’t also sit too right with me.

However, do note that this is all compared to Air and Clannad (a very high standard). For me it feels like if you’ve seen both of those, then Kanon doesn’t have anything new or additional to add. However, when you look at the series as a standalone production, then it definitely has some good points. The air of mystery is very good throughout the series, the slice of life moments are also pretty well done, and Yuuichi is actually a pretty good lead for a harem series like this. Not because he’s a continuous sarcastic wise-cracker (that actually was annoying most of the time), but because he’s a seriously flawed character who already made a lot of mistakes in his life. One of the nice things about this series is seeing him realize what an incredible idiot he has been, and learning from his mistakes.

And yeah, this is a Kyoto Animation series, so the animation is very detailed if you can ignore the often very weird eyes. The character-designs definitely aren’t the most appealing ones out there, but the way they are animated makes up for it. There’s one particular aspect of the designs that I did appreciate, though: the architecture of the school that the characters go to. You can see that either the creators spent some time on designing it, or the creators thoroughly searched for some of the best school architecture out there and made an anime version of it.

Overall, Kanon isn’t bad by far. I liked watching it, but it’s just not that good. There’s nothing outstanding, ground-breaking or awesome about it, but it is definitely a good dark mystery romance series. If you like these sorts of very sad romances, then you’ll like this one, but it’s not going to make you see the light if you hate the genre.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 7/10

17 Responses

  1. kuro says:

    Everyone has different tastes.. As for me Kanon is the best kyoani anime so far. I didn’t see there many love poligons except Nayuki, and Ayu. Makoto And Mai’s behavior was explained very well. I mean I really dislike genetic harems(so many elements were in Clannad first season, thats one of the reasons I was dissapointed with it after Kanon and Air). And to begin with Kanon is prototype of this trilogy ^^ At least Yuiichi sin’t such “Dame Ningen” as Okazaki

  2. Lxre says:

    wow… that’s what i call contradicting yourself

  3. midenz says:

    Kanon, imo, was on par with the first Clannad, maybe even better! Though Clannad ~After Story~ totally blew Kanon awayy!! It’s a pretty good anime overall and enjoyable too, some sad moments here and there and like u said, feels a bit forcd but its still pretty good :] !

  4. wackedfoo says:

    kanon is my 2nd favorite key adaptation after clannad after story. i just think it had everything and was done well, despite the flaws you mentioned. air was just too condensed and clannad’s drama isn’t quite as strong to me(even if kanon’s drama is pretty forced). i think kanon has the best comedy out of all of them too.

  5. Son Gohan says:

    I think that Kanon’s biggest fault was that they didn’t build the Ayu-Yuuichi relationship very well. When they confessed and kissed, it surprised me because they were acting as siblings until the episode before.
    I cried only once, during Makoto’s arc. Her slow regression to infancy was painful to watch. I didn’t particularly care for the other dramas, though I liked Mai.

  6. Ant says:

    Kanon the OVA, which means the first one the original before the 24 or 26 episode Kanon was made, was the first I saw, where the animation was simple, and not that high, and the main characters voice was less mature, I remember watching it to a certain point where I got bored, and stopped and picked it up again, and found myself crying as I saw the rest of it.

    Then Air was released, I noticed the style of drawing instantly which made me watch it, and this too was a great series, an a tear jerker, especially the end.

    When I heard they were going to remake Kanon, I had mixed feelings on whether or not it would be good. and I was happily suprised, it was good, it had the old music “last regret”, and all the characters sounded the same, the animation being upgrade, was another upside. and overall the reminising and the new comedy parts, was good, and i enjoyed it and still brought a tear to my eye.

    Then Clannad appeared, and I was shocked by Okazaki’s voice, but got over that, and enjoyed it, and it ended quite well, though more could have been done for the twins and tomoyo. As I wanted to know more about them. but still another tear jerker.

    But to judge Kanon, after Clannad, I guess everyone has different views ^_^

  7. Lor says:

    i just finished watching Kanon 2006 for the first time. Mostly because Clannad was so ****ing brilliant. (Air is next on my list).
    And coming straight from Clannad which, like Kanon, I marathoned through, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of similarities… (anyone notice that the giant doll that Sayuri gets for Mai also in Clannad, the first Fuko ninja insert after her arc ends).

    Some of these similarities were a bit disconcerting. The Makoto arc and the Fuko arc were just too similar for me to be able to get into it. Possibly because i kept comparing Makoto to Fuko and found her amusing, butl acking (plus the Fuko arc was quite frankly better). Although I will admit that I found the continued references back to Makoto more involving than the amnesia experience in Clannad (8 episodes of character development gone really peed me off)

    That said the Mai arc was MUCH better than the Kotomi arc. In Clannad, Kotomi’s story just seemed a bit… well dull after Fuko. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But I just fpund it excessively clichéd. Especially the who teddy bear thing. Or maybe I was just in emotional desensitivity after fuko… Anyway Mai however was defiantly more interesting than Kotomi. Sure some of its scenes seemed a tad bit forced but it stepped up the drama and brought home more of the supernatural parts of the story (which Clannad watered down quite a bit even though it ends up becoming arguably more magical than Kanon). And lets not forget the dance scene which was hands down my favourite in Kanon (doesn’t hold a candle to Clannad’s first scene though).
    The Shiori arc was quite well done but I do have to complain about how Mai was effectively cast off. She didn’t show up much afterwards and after the Shiori doesn’t show up until the final episode after her story ends. Yes both are explained and the plot works but it seemed to deduct from the final result.
    Nayuki wasn’t very well done to say the least. Her story was told but it kept being broken up into small remote pieces. And even though she and Yuichi had some of the largest amounts of screen time together they just never seemed to get beyond the sibling stage (which they reached early on). Every high point of her and Yuichi relationship was almost always overshadowed by one of the other girls. Even the highlight of Nayuki’s story, were her mother gets comatosed (cliché but what the hell) was dulled by Ayo (or lack there of)
    Which brings us to Ayo. Well she can be broken down into two parts. Pre relationship and post relationship. The only problem I have with Ayo, and I do mean the only problem (brilliant character) is that the transition between the two states is almost none existent. She’t undergoes barely any character development during the Mai and Shiori arcs (ok there is some, such as her moving into their house etc etc but then they begin to act like brother and sister) and then suddenly they are kissing. It just doesn’t seem to fit properly. Especially as Yuichi appears to be closer to both Mai and Shiori (and lets not forget Makoto whom he ‘married’) at that point. This is something which Clannad does so MUCH better. It was obvious who would end up with Tomoya in the end and the story used that (especially when Nagisa was absent from the story for a few episodes) to make their bond stronger. Kanon tries to leave you guessing who will end up with Yuichi… ok maybe the fact that two thirds of the opening credits and the entirely of the ending credits are devoted purely to Ayo gives it away but still…

    And the ending. Well you will either find it brilliant or you will rage. Why, well the last episode tries just a tad bit to hard to give a happy ending. I wont go into it but my only critism is that it too many people were miraculously healed. Even those who didn’t need to be, and yet no Makoto (well unless you count that blurry red shape in the final scene). Sigh. Put this way, if you were one of people who had seen Clannad After Story and didn’t (honestly though, how could you NOT get it) then you might find Kanon’s ending more believable thanks to the highert focus on the supernatural compared to Clannad’s vague references to light orbs and imaginary worlds. Or you might find your self pissed at the emotional manipulation that Key is so darn good at.

    Over all a brilliant series. Had I been given a choice between Kanon and Clannad series 1 then I would have to go Kanon. It’s more much dramatic and its plot is much more final and frankly interesting that Clannads. Kanon is not as linear or developed in some aspects and it doesn’t look as good (weird face make up is an understatement) but if your willing to pass those minor laws over then the story and characters more than make up for them.
    Bring in After Story and Kanon goes out the window but to be able to top the first series is a mark of high praise.

    I wonder how Air and Kanon 2002 match up…

  8. Gotank says:

    Kanon has been by far the best Kyoani series for me. The whole fantasy element that slowly gets weaved into the story is fascinating.

    Interestingly, Ayu’s story was actually what impressed me the most. I didn’t care too much for slow drama that typically comes with impending death situations, so Makoto and Shiori’s arcs didn’t make much impact for me. Unfortunately, we never really got to see Nayuki’s full story, due to how much it would conflict with Ayu’s. Mai’s story was also quite unique and well-conceived though.

    While I actually didn’t enjoy it too much on my first run through, Kanon 2006 has, in hindsight, become one of my favorite series of all time. Cheers.

  9. Solaris says:

    Kanon 200X is a remake, and teorethically comes before both Clannad and Air. You’d speak about Kanon as the reference for the other two, and not vice versa. So discovering some unoriginal arcs in Kanon with respect to Clannad (i.e.) makes the latter at fault.
    Kyoani experimented peculiar narration styles from Kanon to Clannad and we also should remember that both Kanon and Air come from erogames (But not Clannad). So the harem format fits Kanon and Air very well. Kanon IS the most “harem” like of the three and each heroine is belonging to a definite arc. The format is just standard.
    But Air is not random harem. Its genre is evolving into something new thatt will take a definitive form in Clannad. Air is divided into three different sections and the main focus is given to one of the main char. That is one heroine gets promoted from the very start and the other girls remain as secondary chars in secondary arcs. This style has been extablished in the final show, clannad. Anyhow the execution in Air is not flawless, so much it seems to watch three different animes at once. I could speak more in the Air section, eventually. Let me say the last arc is way too forced and depressing in comparison to the first two arcs. I thought it ruined the phatos quite a bit, but alas. overall Air was quite good.
    Clannad, in the end may seem an Harem but it’s not. There is only one main lead heroine selected from the very start and all the other girls are secondary. Clannad is just really the story of Nagisa. I felt quite sad when at half the serie it was clear there was no place for them at all. Clannad lacked in the harem field, after all.
    So three series sharing some similar development, but are very different in structure, each with their good and bad points. I don’t know wich one of the three i liked less or more, but i just fell in love with the nice chars and touching stories. Maybe i liked more some side stories like Kanon’s fox girl or Air’s never born daughter with respect to the main lead girls.

  10. Nalyd says:

    Since Kanon came before Air and Clannad, comparing them and then saying that kanon was the unoriginal factor sounds off a bit. Hmm I thought that Air was the worst out of the three though, I mean it had some good parts to it, but definitely I would personally never rate it over Kanon or Clannad. Kanon and Clannad are pretty tied up for me though, I loved them both! Kanon is near the top of my list for sure. Clannad after story was great till the end, the ending of it left me with such a horrible taste in my mouth though that I couldn’t rate that above Kanon.

  11. Dm says:

    The first Kanon (Toei version) was much better, even though I didn’t watch the whole show! The remake version had too much unecessary drama, while the original kept it more subtle, IMO.

  12. Ferdinand says:

    I watched air, and in my opinion its not that good like people talking about, the story so confusing, I found the dialogue between characters are boring, I never cried at air. however kanon 2006 gets me cried a lot, i like all of the arc especially shiori arc and also i found all of the humour is funnier than air, heck i even choose kanon 2006 over clannad, but clannad after story is different though.

  13. BeeTee says:

    Your review is perfect. Kanon really is a big disappointment after AIR’s tight story and Clannad’s sentimental factor. Although, personally, I loved Nayuki’s Unyuu~ all through the story, the moe factor barely lived up to AIR’s piko piko~ and Fuko in Clannad. There are many implausible bits in Kanon, and IMHO, Clannad’s ONE BIG IMPLAUSIBLE THING AT THE END FOR THE BETTERMENT OF ALL is a far better option.

  14. BeeTee says:

    And, even though Kanon did come out before AIR or Clannad, somehow it felt less original than the other two, and gave an impression like it was made of bits and pieces and residues of the Clannad, AIR

  15. BeeTee says:

    One last thing >

  16. Me says:

    For me, Kanon is an extremely good series. From the first episode they’re pointing towards the last. You wonder who that is, dreaming… You see how Ayu and Yuuichi met when they were young, and they’re not rushing it. They give the correct amount of hints through the series and at the end, I found myself crying while all the threads connected. The athmosphere with this anime- I love it! They’re in a snowy town, they focus on the big tree beside the two young kids, and the lovely hill~ And that cute shopping district. What I think Kanon has, which not many other series have are the symbols- we’ve got the angel which has three wishes- which he goes looking for for a long while, and finally the last wish unfolds and ye.. And then we have Makoto’s bells which she heard from when she was a fox years earlier. And the red hairband, which he never gave to her, but she still wore it, I just think all those symbols is very well executed and makes the series spectacular. The tayaki is also mentioned a lot of times. Everything just claffed in the end. The only thing I didn’t like was the small add at the end where she cut her hair and stuff- cute it was, but it was unncessesary. That will not ruin my impression of this series though, absolutely one of my faves.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:26 AM)
    What do you think?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:25 AM)
    I met a French art student in a bar tonight, and after getting into Hugo and Notre-Dame de Paris, he suggested a more faithful French theater production of it. He believed that this is a much better portrayal of the conflicted priestly character of Frollo, and specifically offered this Hellfire-esque song sang by the talented Daniel Lavoie as evidence:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5St9zF849o
  • SuperMario
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 08:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: haha. If this film indeed was made I’ll be the first one on the line to watch it.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:32 AM)
    @Mario: This made me laugh far more than it should have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kno3xDw27bY
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:30 AM)
    Anybody else seen Jungle Book yet?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:25 AM)
    @Kaiser: I see. Look retro, so I might actually enjoy.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:24 AM)
    I don’t wanna hyperbolize, so I admit that some of the Disney/Marvel stuff has ingenuity to it. Guardians and even Antman had their moments of disarming charm, and genuine sentiment from the cast and crew, that made it special and not just another superhero flick.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:22 AM)
    @Aidan: Marvel movies feel like a very nice amusement park ride- they are always fun, but the return diminishes after successive exposure. Everything in the movies, from the fights, to the dialogue, and plot is incredibly formulatic. You just don’t get the same effect when you know what’s coming.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:05 PM)
    @Bam: Actually let me rephrase
    I meant that you will like: http://letterboxd.com/film/the-company-of-wolves/
    Because it is fairyrale inspired
    Because you liked brotherhood of the wolf and tale of tales.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:02 PM)
    @Bam: I meant tale of tales =)
    @Mario: My usual ratings are ***/***1/2 rating and ****
    Generally that indicates a film is kind good/good or great.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 05

So Subaru has started his first repeat of this arc and at least this time he’s quick to come to terms with it. Though it is nice to see that he hasn’t shrugged off the progress he made getting wiped out without warning. But this time at least he’s at least making a plan and […]

Kiznaiver – 04

There are certain advantages to keeping your plot in the dark when storytelling. In the beginning stages when your audience is most attentive, if you manage to present questions they are interested in seeing answered then it provides a reason for the viewer to keep watching. However this tactic only continues to work as long […]

Flying witch – 04

Flying witch again delivers strong material this week and I actually think this is their best episode so far. Mostly because the 2 parts are well connected this week, and our new character Inuka is so natural and fit in like a glove, in addition they have an absurd and whimsical story to boost. I […]

Mayoiga – 05

We now back to the status quo on Mayoiga this week, as the group who left the village decided to come back, and the cliffhanger happened last week was never explained probably. I will say this upfront: this is not a good episode. We don’t learn much after it ends. We have even longer conversations […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 03

                There are no brakes on the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress train even when it goes for a pit stop to pick up some water and say a prayer for the dead. While my fellow writers firmly believe that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri will disintegrate into a trainwreck […]

Bungou Stray Dogs – 04

Bungou Stray Dogs sure never get tired to showcase more new characters every week, and judging from the OP I’m certain that there are more to come. This week there are 3 more new faces and each of them is over the top in their own ways, but that turns out to be for good […]

Joker Game – 04

I am starting to get a little worried about Joker Game. After a very strong start it’s gone down in quality once it revealed it’s episodic format. This episode marks the lowest point of the series so far though I still don’t think of it as bad. Rather than focus on a member of the […]

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 04

Despite nearly dying our protagonist wakes up out of the loop and now in the mansion of a strange clown like fellow with twin maids. The mansion looks to be Emilia’s home and we not look to be in a new time loop as evidenced by the last scene where it appears that Subaru was […]

Kiznaiver – 03

So this episode was an introduction to our new seventh Kiznaiver who looks to be a roguish shut in with a pendent for self harm. Adding a masochist to a group that shares pain is certainly a dilemma but I wonder just how they plan to make use of him in the plot. Considering that […]

Latest Reviews

Schwarzesmarken – 65/100

Schwarzesmarken is a strange title in that it has a setting with fantastic potential yet the story is dampened by a rushed pacing and Missing characterisation. Despite this there are signs of a greater story under the hood and at times that story can shine despite haphazard adaption. The Stasi make for a great villain […]

Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 85/100

In the large reservoir of anime it is surprising just how few titles focus on the concept of time travel. There are of course titles which feature time travel but few that make it the core focus. So here we have Boku Machi or ERASED, a tale about a mangaka time traveling to his childhood […]

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]