Saturday, 16 April 2011
カノン / Kanon (2002)
Kyoto Animation, the up-and-coming animation company behind Haruhi Suzumiya, are about to start their remake of Kanon, so I decided it was high time to finish watching the original adaptation.
First, a bit of background information for the uninitiated. Japan’s anime otaku tend to have a great fondness for erogames, computer games that tell a story almost invariably about one guy who knows a lot of girls, all of whom fall for him. You can pursue different girls, with the aim of getting to a stage where the character gets to sleep with them. Emotional attachment to a character + pornographic scene = happy otaku. As these games got more sophisticated, so too did their plotlines. I’ve never played an actual erogame (they’re mostly fully Japanese, and they sound a bit boring really) but most of the anime I’ve seen that has been adapted from them has been middle-tier but cute, the best of them being Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Many of them contain an element of goofy supernaturalism, like Da Capo, which was almost unwatchable in places, and, of course, AIR.
AIR was one of Kyoto Animation’s previous projects. It’s also the reason they’re remaking Kanon, because they both come from the same game company, Key. I think that Kanon and AIR are the only erogames Key have made (and one non-erotic dating sim), and both have been hit anime. When adapting to animation, the writers have to take away the pornographic content of the film and choose which girl to focus upon for the main plotline, squeezing in the rest along the sides.
That’s the problem with most of the anime adaptations, including AIR, Da Capo and, yes, Kanon. One guy meanders around talking to different girls, hearing their (usually totally ridiculous) stories, getting lusted after by all of them while usually remaining comically oblivious, and then the others have to be disposed of in usually even more ridiculous ways so that he can have a monogamous relationship. In Kanon, for example, two girls moved abroad and another one turned out to be...well, not human. Yes, I did mention the goofy supernatural elements, didn’t I?
I just find this kind of anime annoying. Unfocused, unrealistic, full of lifeless characters and stupid pretentious speeches, I just can’t get into them. And I don’t like Key’s daring art style – huge eyes, tiny squashed-up noses and mouths but huge cheeks. It sort of worked in AIR with the powerhouse of Kyoto Animation behind it, but here, the animation and art only really looks good in the intro – the rest of the time it’s very ugly. The voices are also just that little bit too childish and grating for my tastes, apart from the aunt character, who was perfect.
The story, despite ending with a bit of a surprise, was really a huge mess. I’ll watch the new version out of curiosity and respect for Kyoto Animation, but I really can’t expect much.
(originally written 24.9.06)