Final Thoughts: Kanon
Seven years after his last visit, Yuuichi Aizawa returns to the wintry city where his aunt and cousin live in order to attend high school there whilst his parents are away. With his past memories of the city hazy at best, Yuuichi sets about reacquainting himself with the city, and little by little, he finds himself befriending some of the girls that live there. Yet not of all these girls are what they seem, and as Yuuichi gets to know them and uncover their secrets, he also begins to recall those buried events of seven years ago…
As a big fan of Air (KyoAni’s previous adaptation of a Key eroge), I have to admit that back in October, I was content to go along with the hype and look forward to the Kanon remake as much as anyone. At the time, I had yet to see Toei’s version, and I felt sure that Kanon-new would be as curiously addictive as Air had been before it. Little did I know that things were about to turn out very differently- so much so, in fact, that a mere six weeks into its run, I ended up writing a lengthy appraisal-rant about Kanon’s flaws.
Unfortunately, eighteen episodes later, and Kanon still hadn’t redeemed itself- in fact, aside from a few select scenes, it had all proven to be rather boring. Although he did improve over the course of the series, Yuuichi never really recovered from his poor start, with his sarcastic attitude and sense of superiority over the girls he interacted with making him an extremely dislikeable lead. In comparison, the girls themselves never became more than shallow personalities with pasts so drenched in angst and tragedy that Yuuichi became the only thing worth living for. If they were fortunate enough to have a back story, it would all be revealed at the last minute in an “oh by the way, I have a previously unmentioned brother/mother/tragic secret”, whilst Makoto was lucky enough to get a whole new character introduced just for the sake of explaining her situation. Arc upon arc followed this same formula, until at long last, the whole thing concluded in what could only be called a rather lacklustre ending.
As to be expected, however, when it came to the more visceral aspects of the show, Kyoto Animation proved that they could at least get that much right. The visuals are as sumptuous as we’ve come to expect from the studio, elevating the character designs far beyond their earlier animated forms, and also providing some beautiful settings and backdrops along the way. Background music is taken from the game, and thus fits into the usual visual novel style of predominantly light and forgettable tracks interspersed with a few more emotionally charged pieces that help to enhance the scenes they are used in.
Although it managed to garner much acclaim elsewhere, the relationship between Kanon and I was never a strong one. Thanks to the general disinterest the cast generated, the story never clicked for me in the way that Air did, and ultimately the most enjoyment derived from the series was in constructing the characters’ secret agendas in the Kanon Diaries.