Yuuichi’s parents have relocated all over Japan through the years because of their jobs. This time they get reassigned outside the country, and decide to leave their son Yuuichi with his cousin Nayuki and her mother. Yuuichi used to live here seven years ago, but he doesn’t have any recollection of his experiences as a youth. He has visions in his dreams, however; visions of a childhood that could not possibly be his own… until he meets the people of his dreams in real life!
summary by Kain
Highs: The second half is powerful and gut-wrenchingly emotional
Lows: Character designs don’t work with story; first half is dating simlicious
Kanon is two anime. The first anime occupies the first seven episodes and relies so heavily on a dating sim premise that it puts even the vaunted To Heart to shame. The second anime is the reason why I love anime so much; the last six episodes are probably the biggest emotional roller coaster I’ve ever experienced in the romance genre. It’s a shame that I must grade both halves as one whole, otherwise the latter portion of Kanon would have gone down as one of the best anime in recent memory.
As with any dating sim, the world of Kanon resides entirely in Nayuki’s home, a high school and a market square. It’s a very self-contained story, not wasting time on a lot of inconsequential characters and concentrating on those that matter; on the same note, there are too many episodes dedicated to sub-stories that have little relevance to the main plot, so it’s a toss-up. But that is the basis for this type of romance, having the male character spend time with numerous female leads and hearing out their problems. It makes for weak entertainment, in my opinion, and I was pretty put-off by the time all of Yuuichi’s potential “mates” were introduced.
And then Kanon does a complete turnaround. Characters start to show some serious depth, and the story becomes very intense and involving. Suddenly, I found myself so emotionally attached to what I was seeing that by the time it was all over, I needed a couple of hours alone to let it all sink in. My only problem at this point was the art is still as kawaii as ever which works for the first few episodes but not when the themes become more adult-oriented.
For any fan of romantic anime, this one is for you. So immense was my enjoyment that I know this one will stay with me for a very long time.
Highs: Engaging, unpredictable story
Lows: Characters dropped after resolution; animation style doesn’t fit
Kanon is the first anime in a long time to take me by surprise. The twists and turns in what, at first glance, seems to be the typical dating-sim story will keep you engaged during the course of the series. Even with the small clues provided (there are a couple that really impressed me, but I won’t spoil those here), the story is never too predictable, and the characters are far from the transparent stereotypes that plague most anime of this genre.
However, it does suffer from one drawback inherent in this type of story: once a potential girlfriend’s plot is resolved, that character usually does not make much of an appearance again. If they are seen again, their later appearances seem more like cameos. Once the lead character helps solve the girl’s problem, that’s the end of that character’s development. Mind you, the character development is well fleshed out in this series, but it ends abruptly for the majority of the characters.
Along the same lines, the character design seems like an odd fit. Very cute and making the characters seem more childish than their age, the style doesn’t suit the serious storylines of the series.
But the intriguing story (with a shocker of an ending) helps you look past the design to enjoy the characters and their lives. Kanon is much more than a “who will he date” story, focusing on the feelings and thoughts of its characters rather than meaningless or starry-eyed infatuation. Be prepared for an emotional and heart-wrenching story that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Kanon can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.