a.k.a. Kanon 2006
Seven years after having left the snow-covered city, Aizawa Yuuichi returns to live with his cousin Nayuki and her mother. Strangely, he has forgotten almost everything about the childhood he spent there, and only gradually, his memory returns as he meets the people he once was friends with. But there is apparently no explanation to why Yuuichi forgot almost everything – or could there have been something terrible he wanted to forget?
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Stunningly detailed art and animation; perfect seiyuu; heart-wrenching plot
Lows: Some deus-ex-machina resolutions; lengthy finale lacks impact
Second time’s the charm? With Kanon, the answer to that question is a big “maybe”. The 2002 anime adaption of the 1999 visual novel already set the dramatic standards rather high. So did Kyoto Animation, best known for their surprise hit The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya manage to surpass their predecessors of Toei Douga?
Artistically, the answer is a loud and clear “yes”. The character concepts of the 2006 series alone are a big improvement to those of 2002 (which were severely lacking in noses, for example), and the background art is much more detailed and lively than before. The quality of animation is also terrific; movements are smoother than ever before, and the entire cinematography has been kicked up several notches, especially in scene composition. Kyoto Animation have not only kept their already high standards but even improved then.
The work of the seiyuu is also nothing short of perfect. Again, the entire cast of the original visual novel was used for the series, and they seem to get better with every recording session, bringing forth all kinds of emotion from unbridled joy to deepest, darkest sorrow. With a plot as engaging and heart-wrenching as that of Kanon, that’s a necessity, of course. While the 2006 series follows a slightly different “path” than that of 2002, it still has all the twists, all the emotional impact and all the stunning revelations.
Or rather, almost all the stunning revelations of the original visual novel. While the 2002 anime series softened up a few of the “endings” to make them more suitable for younger viewers, the newer production tries to find a balance between showing the “full story” and still bring everything to a positive conclusion. Unfortunately, it does so by resorting to deus-ex-machina solutions not once but twice, and they both don’t really feel satisfying. Also, the finale of Kanon is drawn out too long – it spans almost an entire episode where it could be resolved much faster and more satisfyingly with an already introduced plot device. I would have wished for an ending that affects me more strongly than that.
On the technical side, the 2006 Kanon easily surpasses that of 2002. The longer series also allows for more character interaction, more story development, more emotional moments and, of course, more funny and light-hearted scenes to contrast the sometimes bitter drama. It doesn’t take full advantage of these improvements, unfortunately, and a few plot resolutions leave a bad taste in your mouth. In my opinion, the 2002 series was a little more concise and had the better ending. But if you prefer your anime crisp and shiny, the new Kanon isn’t far behind.