About Me

Newfoundland, Canada
I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kanon 2006 Review

What Dreams May Come...

Back in 2006, I was not active in the online anime fandom. I was already an anime fan, but I was watching few animes apart from those that were recommended to me by my cousin who had been an anime fan before me. These animes tended to be of an action-packed (i.e. fighting) sort, and not of the romantic tearjerker variety. These animes also spread across several years, if not decades. They were not strictly from 2000 or after.

So it's only been within the last twelve months or so that these slice of life, school life, and harem mixtures have entered into my anime watching world, starting with Clannad. When reading this review, please keep that in mind. I saw Clannad (and Angel Beats! and True Tears and Sola) before I saw Kanon 2006. This means that, for me, Kanon 2006 is inevitably measured against some excellent romantic animes, a couple other prominent Jun Maeda and Key works, and animes of elaborately, exquisitely, excellent production values. Nice visuals are nice, and good audio is good, but I'm not going to spend too much time on them here. Because, I have to admit, I've grown accustomed to high production values in the top romantic comedies of anime.

With all of this in mind, I am not "wowed" by Kanon 2006 as much as many of the people who watched it more or less "live" were. I may very well have been wowed by it if I had watched it back in 2006, but unfortunately I only watched it recently. This is somewhat unfair to Kanon 2006 perhaps, but on the other hand, it could speak to how well (or poorly) it has aged.

Also, I have never played the Kanon games, or watched Kanon 2002. So my review of it here is based purely on how the anime comes across to me.

With all of that out of the way, and before delving into the meat and potatoes of this review (which will be broke up into five chronological sections based on arcs within Kanon 2006), I want to make some general comments on this anime.

The Main Student Uniform is Beautiful

It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas...

The student uniform of the main high school setting in Kanon 2006 is amazingly astutely adorable. The female uniform looks like something that Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus would make. It's sweetly streamlined and convincingly charming. The male uniform looks downright cozy to wear. A simple blue jacket over a turtleneck sweater? How warm and inviting.

Next, I'll say that the idea of memories slowly but surely coming back worked well in this anime. It added to the sense of mystery and intrigue that seemed to be carried upon every snowflake that floated about within this anime.

The OP is friendly and promising, but not overly frenzied, and the ED is one of the best I've ever seen. Very bouncy, catchy, and fun. This is one ED that I usually took the time to watch whenever it came up.

However, the first episode or two really did bore me a bit. It took hefty encouragement from Archon_Wing of Anime Suki to finally watch all of this anime through. And I must say that I'm glad that I did! :)

Those general observations made, I'll now break this anime down into five specific time frames, carefully evaluating each one:

Comedy Central (up through Episode 6, just before Makoto Arc)

Makoto Arc

Mai Arc

Shiori Arc

Ayu Arc (up to the Episode 24 Conclusion)

First, I'll start with Comedy Central

I call this earliest stretch of Kanon 'Comedy Central' since it's not focused on any one female character in particular, its clearly trying mostly to make the audience laugh... and it largely succeeds in this endeavor. While I did find the first episode or two of Kanon 2006 rather boring, I also found that Yuuichi started to really hit his groove very shortly thereafter. His sense of humor, and his personal style, is simply great. In the early going, the guy is as smooth and surefooted as Bruce Wayne, and his wit never fails him. :D

I love the way he makes fun of Ayu's "Uguu~!" verbal tic, of Nayuki's inability to wake up easily or completely in the morning, and of many of the other eccentricities and personality quirks that are all about him. Those are all comedy gold for me, it has to be said. This, for me, is Kanon 2006's main edge over Clannad : The jokes are almost always funny. I generally prefer the witty repertoire of a Yuuichi over the slapstick comedy abuse of a Sunohara. In fairness, though, I get the impression that most anime fans like slapstick comedy more than I do. I sometimes find such slapstick comedy funny, but it can't take the place of actual verbal jests that are delivered with a riotously riveting riposte.

That being said, Yuuichi does cross over the line into outright "mean spirited" territory sometimes, although only with Makoto. I don't think he's ever that mean to the others, but the way he treats Makoto (before her arc actually begins) is often a bit overly rough for my liking. Yes, the girl is a free loader, but it's not like she can really help it (especially given what we find out later). Yuuichi's early feud with Makoto is often very comedic and amusing to watch, but I think an argument could be made that it undermines the actual Makoto arc.

Comedy aside, the Comedy Central portion of this anime does a decent job of at least familiarizing us with most of the key characters, including those who would later have arcs dedicated to them.

Next we have the Makoto Arc

The Makoto Arc is genuinely very tender and sweet. I did find it a bit hard to swallow as I watched it, but looking back on it now, it was pretty good. I do like how Amano's character was utilized and fleshed out a bit in this arc. This arc also made some character and story elements much more understandable in retrospect.

Makoto's often reckless playfulness is reminiscent of what a loving pet can be like. And her decision to drop Piro unto the back of a 14-wheeler heading out of town makes a lot more sense once we find out that she was originally a fox. To her lingering fox sensibilities, animals are better off in the wild, and away from untrustworthy humans that will try to domesticate them.

However, it took awhile to buy the extreme switch in the relationship between Yuuichi and Makoto. Also, let's be frank: Makoto Sawatari is something of a buttmonkey character in the Comedy Central portion of this anime. You know this character type - usually (but not always) male, and always the butt of jokes (especially slapstick comedy abuse). It can be hard to take such a character seriously if he or she remains a buttmonkey for long. Thankfully, perhaps, enough time is spent on the Makoto arc that the extreme switch in the relationship between Yuuichi and her begins to settle in. You gradually get a sense that Yuuichi truly does care deeply for her, and that Makoto is very attached to him.

While Makoto has romantic feelings for Yuuichi, I think that for him its mostly a matter of desperately wanting to make up for past mistreatment of Makoto. That, and I think he loves Makoto the way a young boy loves his pet dog (regardless of the dog's gender). This isn't to downplay Yuuichi's sentiments for Makoto, but rather to clarify them. It's notable that Yuuichi is hesitant to agree to Makoto's marriage request at first, but eventually brings it back up given his suspicion that she will not be fully contented until she achieves her marriage dream. In many ways, then, the Yuuichi/Makoto relationship is similar to the Hinata/Yui one in Angel Beats! (and kudos to Archon_Wing for bringing that comparison to the fore).

The arc wasn't perfect for me, but it was very sweet and soundly developed.

Next we have the Mai Arc

For overall entertainment value, this was my favorite arc of the anime. The addition of scintillatingly sharp strokes of action added a lot to this arc. Mai, the silent and deadly, dark and mysterious, sword master that fights demons in the school by night, is a coolly captivating character concept. Combine that with how Yuuichi emulates playboy Bruce Wayne more than ever in this arc, and this arc reminds me a lot of Batman. It was a thoroughly triumphant thrill ride from start to finish, with glorious animation and artwork accentuating the appearance of every movement of Mai's sword.

Another strength of the Mai arc was the neat friendship trio that blossomed between Mai, Yuuichi, and Sayuri. In many ways, Sayuri strikes me as the most well-adjusted of the teenage females of this anime. She has a pleasant and gracious character, and she makes a finely fitting foil for Yuuichi's smooth joking. She never misses a beat, as she ever goes "Ahahaha~!" whenever Yuuichi delivers a joke, or when something comes up that could be taken either in a good way or a bad way. Sayuri's laughter almost always ensures that such questionable sarcasm or revelations are framed in a non-contentious and welcoming way. For her, the glass is always half-full and never half-empty. Sayuri's personal backstory, and how it connected to her friendship with Mai, was also compelling to me.

Mai's own backstory was at least equally compelling, and hence this arc gained high degrees of emotional involvement and investment from me. The highlights would include the buying of the giant anteater doll for Mai's birthday, the whole formal dress dance event, the ensuing chaos at that dance, the conflict with the Student Council President, and all of the sword fights with the demons that involved both Mai and Yuuichi. The conclusion of this arc was particularly dramatic, suspenseful, and impressive in every way.

I really have very little critique whatsoever to make of this arc. Perhaps I could nitpick a bit about the general lack of characters other than Mai, Sayuri, and Yuuichi, and perhaps I could nitpick a bit over how the anime never makes it explicitly clear exactly how the three feel about one another, but these nitpicks have more to do with general issues with the anime as a whole, rather than this one arc in particular. Hence, I have nothing but applause for the work done in this arc. Well done, Key and Kyoto Animation! :)

Next we have the Shiori Arc

While the Mai arc was the one I found the most entertaining overall, it was the Shiori arc which contained the romance of this anime that touched me the most. The picture above featuring the tearful reunion of Shiori and Yuuichi (admittedly from the last episode of the anime) really expresses just why that is, for me.

Part of what I like about this arc is that its not centered around Yuuichi reuniting with one of his childhood friends, and making amends for past mistakes and/or fulfilling past promises. Here, it's about him meeting up with somebody entirely new in his life, and helping her cope through a very difficult and trying situation. This is where we see Yuuichi at his best, in my opinion, as his actions are not rooted in a prevailing sense of obligation, but rather out of a simple caring and kindness for a wonderful young woman in need.

However, this arc also leaves a somewhat negative impression of the outwardly beautiful Kaori...

While Kaori is beautiful on the outside, this arc makes me question what she's like on the proverbial inside. That, and her often disgraceful treatment of poor Jun. Jun proved in the Mai arc that he's a really good guy, in how he came to the rescue of Mai and Sayuri, by vouching for Yuuichi's clever excuse given to the Student Council President. He vouched for that excuse in such a way that he put his neck on the line. That earned Jun quite a bit of adoration from Sayuri. Perhaps he would be well served to try to turn that adoration from Sayuri into a relationship with her, as he clearly finds Sayuri beautiful, and his current "girlfriend" doesn't seem to even have the time of day for him. At least 90% of the time she doesn't, anyway.

But while I dislike the way it very much looks like Kaori simply takes advantage of poor Jun's love and affection for her, what is far worse than that is how she treats her sister Shiori in this arc.

Don't get me wrong. I somewhat understand where Kaori is coming from. Her sleep deprivation, and general melancholic attitude throughout the arc, is perfectly understandably. But that's no excuse to treat a close sibling the way that she did.

My own thinking is that if one of my two sisters was ever diagnosed with an incurable disease, and the doctor said she only had a few weeks to live, I'd want to spend as much time as reasonably possible with her. I'd want to make the most of the time that she had left in this life. I'd want to make that remaining time as happy and contented as possible for her. If I felt that I had failed to accomplish this, I'd probably regret it for the rest of my life.

However, in fairness to Kaori, she does eventually come around, and she is driven somewhat by the plot here. Reuniting the siblings gives a cause for Yuuichi to strive for, and adds some needed conflict to this arc. And, Kaori later comments to Jun that he has bad taste in girls, which seems to me to imply that she doesn't think much of herself deep down inside. I think that Kaori becomes aware of how she hasn't been much of a nice person in general, and certainly not a good sister. So, she at least shows that she has a conscience.

Anyway, all of this talk of Kaori is secondary to the real highlight of this arc: The Birthday Party! :D

Look who shows up for the birthday party! ;)
And no, this is totally not photoshopped. :P

Oh, Yuuichi, you incorrigible indiscriminate idolizer of all anime girls!
The girls of your own anime aren't enough for you, are they, you sly dog you?! ;)

In all seriousness, watching Kanon 2006 finally makes this picture above (which I saw ages ago) make sense for me. This trio would indeed be a great dance trio! Maybe Kyoto Animation could do a special for just them. ;)

But... back to Shiori.

Her birthday party was a blast, and lots of fun. It was nice to see Kaori show up. It was great to see Jun and Yuuichi hilariously break the tension, at least for the most part.

All in all, the Shiori arc was a rousing heartwarming success. And how it showcased the relationship between her and Yuuichi was simply stupendously sweet. I have no major criticisms for this arc in and of itself. :)

Finally we have the Ayu Arc

Ayu is the female lead of this show. And her and Yuuichi are the "official" couple of this anime. And Ayu is a very humorous and likable character. I probably received more laughs out of Yuuichi making fun of "uguu~!" than I received out of anything else in this anime, and that is saying something. And it does speak to how amusing and fun Ayu is as a character.

However, what makes her amusing and fun also makes her a little bit hard for me to take seriously as the main romantic interest of Yuuichi. Now, the story of her childhood friendship with Yuuichi is very tranquil and masterfully presented by the anime. However, the problem is that Ayu doesn't really seem to grow much out of her childhood nature. That's to be expected given her true condition, but it still undermines how much her romance with Yuuichi resonates with me.

Now, unlike many viewers of this anime, I had no problems with the sudden kiss between her and Yuuichi. Kisses like that are often accurate displays of childhood crushes. Kids can find it difficult to put romantic feelings that they're unaccustomed to into words, so they may express it with a simple kiss or loving gesture.

I don't doubt that Ayu has romantic feelings for Yuuichi, but they strike me as being at a less mature level than the feelings that Shiori, or even that Nayuki, hold for him.

I feel a bit sorry for Nayuki, as her relationship with Yuuichi gets the least amount of development of all five of the five main potential romance interests for Yuuichi. Of those five girls, she gets by far the least amount of reciprocity from Yuuichi as well. I personally chalk this up to how she's Yuuichi's cousin, and hence he simply doesn't think of her that way. In the anime, at least, I don't think it even once occurs to him to consider Nayuki for a potential girlfriend. And, really, I don't blame him. I personally don't see that much harm in cousins marrying cousins, but it honestly strikes me as something of a last resort too. Most people probably tend to search outside even their extended family when it comes to hoping to find a potential mate.

All of that being said, I also feel a bit sorry for how Nayuki doesn't really have her own character focused arc. What she does have of her own arc is scrunched right in the middle of Ayu's arc. Still, at least Nayuki maintained a fairly constant presence in the anime, which is more than what can be said of some of the other potential girlfriends of Yuuichi.

All in all, the Ayu arc was a good watch, and it definitely sold me on just how important Ayu and Yuuichi are to one another, but I personally felt that it lacked some of the depth and impact of the Shiori arc, and some of the clear drama and suspense of the Mai arc.

I also felt that the supernatural aspect of this anime went a little bit off the rails with the Ayu arc. It sometimes was hard to tell dream sequences from reality sequences. The cameo of fox-girl Makoto, and the appearance of adult Makoto, were nice (especially how seeing Yuuichi next to adult Makoto made me think of Kyon and Mikuru!Big), but it also felt a little bit random to me. The anime seems to lose some focus in this final arc, and it does feel awfully compressed compared to previous arcs. The pacing goes into overdrive, and important events happen with out much in the way of clear explanation.

Yuuichi himself seems to be losing it a bit in this arc. I can't completely blame him, as the steady supernatural stream of almost inexplicable occurrences reaches a fever pitch here in this arc, and it seems to cause Yuuichi to become more than a little unhinged. Ayu's disappearance took Yuuichi by surprise a lot more than Makoto's did.

Nonetheless, much of this arc feels forced, and it leaves the Yuuichi/Ayu romance option seeming somewhat less believable than the Yuuichi/Mai or Yuuichi/Shiori romance options to me.

All of this being said, the very final episode I'm largely fine with. Honestly, it could have easily turned into a trainwreck, but Kyoto Animation managed to keep it comprehensible at least.

The theme of miracles is strong through out the anime, and as somebody who believes in miracles, its certainly a theme that I appreciated. However, I do see the argument that maybe things turn out a bit too happy in the end. Every desired miracle happens, and that makes Yuuichi seem blessed almost beyond compare. But then, he's certainly blessed with the ability to woo the ladies, isn't he? ;)

Yuuichi! Can you tell us just how you manage to win over so many girls?!
You even had Haruhi dancing with you, dude!

Haruhi: Well, in my case, I think he simply has a really hot, sexy voice!

Yuuichi: Bingo! No girl can resist the smooth sauvé sounds of my manly voice!
~Bonus Chance!~

Ah, yes, Yuuichi, you are quite the player, aren't you? ;)

But then... while that can make this anime very funny, that is also where the chief weakness of this anime lies. Particularly in comparison to Clannad.

You see, while Clannad had a Fuko arc, and a Kotomi arc, and even a kind of/sort of abridged arc for Kyou and Ryou, it never really strayed from the Tomoya/Nagisa romance.

In the Fuko arc, Nagisa was a central character. The Fuko arc actually played up the Tomoya/Nagisa romance by making it seem like the two of them were like father and mother to their precious child Fuko. The three were made to seem like a closeknit family during the Fuko arc, with Tomoya in a father figure role to Fuko. In many ways, this foreshadows the arrival of Ushio in After Story.

In the Kotomi arc, the relationship between Tomoya and Kotomi never really goes beyond the level of close platonic friends. It was a beautiful and touching arc, but at no point did it really feel like Tomoya would leave Nagisa for Kotomi. Kotomi was simply his dear childhood friend, and he wanted to help her out.

The abridged Kyou/Ryou arcs served to further solidify Tomoya and Nagisa, by how it ended in tragically tormented tears of sadness coming forth from the eyes of Kyou and Ryou. The two sisters saw how Tomoya treated the injured Nagisa, and that put the final exclamation mark on the Tomoya/Nagisa romance. So, by the time the focus came back to Nagisa, her romance with Tomoya was already established. Tomoya was really an one-woman man through it all. It was just time for Tomoya to put his obvious feelings for her into words.

Kanon 2006 is very different. It does not build up Yuuichi/Ayu with the same care that Clannad built up Tomoya/Nagisa.

Clannad, you see, made a choice. It made a clear-cut choice of one of the girls coming out on top. And the overall narrative was far better for it. This adds a lot to the sense of cohesion and character consistency within Clannad.

While Yuuichi/Ayu may be the "official" pairing of the Kanon 2006 anime, I don't really get the sense that Kanon 2006 made a choice.

Consider Yuuichi's last onscreen appearance with Shiori, for example. It's very romantic. The two are hugging each other tightly, and he rests his head on hers like he was a lover in bliss.

For all intents and purposes, Shiori could reasonably expect to be Yuuichi's girlfriend... at the very end of Kanon 2006. She doesn't go through that tearful realization scene that Kyou and Ryou did in Clannad, and that makes a big difference, imo. Kanon 2006 doesn't really make a choice.

Yuuichi marries Makoto.

Yuuichi tells Mai that he loves her.

Yuuichi dates Shiori and never really breaks up with her, per se.

While Tomoya is the one-woman man, Yuuichi is the classic harem lead that can't choose.

In fairness, I think that Yuuichi's feelings for Makoto and Mai are largely, if not entirely, platonic. The love he expresses for Mai could conceivably be a platonic love. Nonetheless, I'm being generous even here. Where I can't be so generous is with Yuuichi and Shiori.

I get real strong romantic vibes in almost every scene that Yuuichi is in with Shiori. The two have awesome chemistry, it has to be said. I like how Shiori is the one girl that can really rise to Yuuichi's conversational level, and talk on completely equal terms with him. When the two talk with each other, you feel like its two adults talking. When Yuuichi talks to most of the other girls, there's always this slight sense of condescension in his voice. Like he's talking to immature girls that need to get with it. This is actually especially true for how he talks to ~Uguu!~ ;)

So, I personally think that Kanon 2006 ends without Yuuichi having made a solid choice between Shiori and Ayu. I really do interpret the anime that way. I know that this may be unpopular, but that is how the final episode comes across to me. Yuuichi romantically loves Shiori and Ayu, and is putting off making a choice. Kanon 2006 could easily have a sequel resolving just this issue. But... I doubt it will now, unless it already has.

Kanon 2006 highlights well the real problem with adapting eroges into animes. Eroges are meant to give you the choice of one romantic story out of a few different options. It gives you different "routes" to choose from, and you aim for the girl that you like the best.

What Kyoto Animation did with Kanon 2006 is that it didn't really make a choice. Each arc hence feels almost like a separate romance narrative unto itself, and the transition from one arc to the next can feel very clunky. The viewer is left wondering why, for example, Yuuichi isn't visiting Mai or Shiori in the hospital any more once their respective arcs ends. There's been no formal falling out between him and either of them. As far as they both know, Yuuichi still loves them.

In episode 24, Yuuichi has separate scenes with Mai (and Sayuri), and with Shiori. I don't recall him plainly telling either of them that his girlfriend Ayu is in the hospital, and that he hence needs to be by his girlfriend's side. They're aware that he's caring for Ayu, but Yuuichi caring for a girl in need is nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever.

The anime eliminates Makoto (her disappearance) and Nayuki (focus on how she's his cousin) as potential long-term mates for Yuuichi, but it doesn't really rule out Mai or Shiori. And in Shiori's case, at least, I think she really thinks that this guy could be her boyfriend going forward.

This, of course, leaves Yuuichi looking a bit indecisive and very flighty.

I suspect that Kyoto Animation probably had these same thoughts after the fact... and fixed things up with Clannad.

One thing that my recent anime watching has given me is a brand new appreciation for Clannad. Clannad is actually better than I had thought. It's more solid than I thought. It handles the very tricky romance game to anime adaptation with even greater aplomb than I had first thought.

Kanon 2006 is an excellent anime. A solid 8.5/10 for me, same as what Archon_Wing gave it.

But what watching Kanon 2006 has done is make me realize just how great Clannad was. Nothing could have hammered that home more perfectly than how an ad for Clannad came on right after the end of episode 24 of Kanon 2006. It was such a swift and timely reminder saying "Hey, Triple_R, what do you think of Clannad now, eh? ;) "

After watching True Tears, Sola, and Kanon 2006, I think that Clannad is the best romance anime out there. Period.

The faults of other animes shows just how great and tight Clannad really was, and is.


  1. Loved the Batman and Haruhi references =p Because Batman is awesome. Though Mai, seems to have taken the Batman role too, (the whole night protector yet everyone hates her thing)

    Also, I can't help but draw parallels between Mai and Rika (voice acting probably). But of course, Mai's is inverted compared to Rika. Rika has the innocent child facade hiding a solemn and depressed mind, while Mai might be the opposite. That voice is cool!

    But yea, watching this backwards (Clannad---> Kanon) results in us having a pretty different perspective on things. In some cases, it felt like taking a history lesson and it also puts some perspective into some of the ideas behind Angel Beats! Yes, I do clobber that anime a lot, but I do that to all of 4 of the Key animes out of love. =p

    And yea, I felt the romance element between Shiori and Yuuichi seemed a lot stronger than Y1 and everyone else and her disappearing off the face of the earth til the end did annoy the heck out of me. Then again, given the similarity between her and Nagisa, it's almost like Clannad is an alternate universe apology. ;) In many ways Shiori's arc is the most meaningful.

    I see you've also posted the link on AS, so I'll post a longer response there. :D

  2. I also thought when I watched Kanon 2006 a couple of months ago again, that Yuuichi changed too quickly between the arcs, but I think Clannad was a little bit easier to adapt with some arcs that don't need the romance to work. Clannad always used Nagisa to make the relationship with the other girls more platonic, but Ayu wouldn't work in the Mai or Shiori arc to have the same role. I also think that Clannad is the better adaption but it also has the better original work. From a technical standpoint Kanon 2006 has often some more eye candy than Clannad because of the many snowing scenes and looks slightly better in my opionion.

  3. I don't get the last episodes (19-24). Ayu was in the anime since episode 1, but then suddenly she has been lying in bed for 7 years!?? I'm so confused. I don't know what to think about this anime, because I don't even know what's Yuuichi's illusions and what's real.

  4. Wow, you’ve been ploughing through shows I like a lot recently.

    Anyway, this isn’t the easiest show for me to talk about because, well… I watched it when it aired and it ended more than three years ago. I do remember it had a pretty strong impact on me at the time. I hadn’t really developed my taste for emotionally involving romance shows yet – I had seen Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu and loved it, but for the most part I was mainly seeking out more action oriented shows and the occasional harem comedy like Love Hina or Shuffle. In fact, it was those two shows I remember measuring Kanon against, not the significantly closer in tone Iriya no Sora, just because it met the criteria for a “harem show”.

    Furthermore, I had absolutely no expectations for this show going in, actually, I initially had not plans to watch it. The general attitude towards it in my anime club prior to it airing was “Why is this show getting remade already?” Being one of those people with a bit of an aversion to remakes, this of course put me off. However, it got subbed before the shows I was actually waiting for in fall 2006 got subbed, so I decided I might as well give it a shot. Basically, I kept watching for a few episodes because the animation was beautiful and I liked the winter atmosphere, long enough for the Yuuichi-Makoto rivalry to get going, which I found fairly entertaining so I decided to keep watching.

    Back when I watched the show, I loved the beautiful animation, liked the Yuuichi-Makoto rivalry, loved Mai and her story arc, and… was pretty “meh” about the rest of the show. I have similar attitudes to most Key shows, actually… in general, I love some of the smaller stories (Mai in Kanon, the “past” segments in Air, most of the light, comedic episodes in Clannad) but end up feeling really “meh” towards the “main path” storyline (Ayu in Kanon, Misuzu in Air, and the whole After Story in Clannad AS… I think a few of the Key fans I know think I have no soul or something, despite my attitudes towards stuff like EF and Sola.). Probably explains why I tend to think of Key as being overrated compared to other creators of this sort of show.

    This being said, I often find myself changing my attitudes towards Key shows over time (usually for the better, in fact), and especially towards particular characters or arcs. For example, I now consider Makoto my second favourite Key character after Kotomi, whereas when I watched Kanon, it was all about Mai – although I still like Mai’s arc a lot more than Makoto’s, which I remember finding a bit painful to watch. And Kotomi herself actually never had much of an impact on me when I watched Clannad the first time – I was more interested in Tomoyo and then Kyou. But I know I was calling Kotomi my favourite within a few months of the show ending, which is especially weird because I can’t really remember why I changed my mind about her. The most plausible theory to me is that I started thinking about her again after noticing that she was played by Noto Mamiko (my favourite voice actress, who also plays Matsuri in Sola). I guess the net lesson here is that my attitude towards Key shows clearly changes over time and I probably need to rewatch them at some point.

    Now, in regards to the arcs:

    Makoto’s arc:
    -I know at least one person has described this arc as having the most ridiculous plot twist ever (Makoto being a fox). I don’t see it that way: there are quite a few tales in Japanese mythology where a fox spirit will return to a man who helped her, although the details (whether the man knows who she is and whether the develop a relationship or not) is not consistent. Heck, there’s even a least one erogame based on the premise, and I don’t mind the “mostly plot with some porn” kind of game Kanon is. I did find the fact she got sick kind of strange though, since I don’t believe that’s common in the stories that Maeda probably based this on.

  5. -Speaking of erogames… while I didn’t really think about it until well after the show aired, I do have to admit I find it a bit squicky that Yuuichi and Makoto get it on in the original version of Kanon. Granted, I’ve been told that part happens before she starts to regress mentally.
    -While I like Makoto, if I were to make one major criticism of this arc, it would be that her demise is awfully drawn out, to the point where it can be a bit hard to watch. Especially noticeable given that I felt some of the other arcs got heavily compressed.

    BTW, I think part of the reason why I’m not much of a Fuko fan is that to me, she came across as a cross between Makoto, who I liked, and Ayu, who I was always pretty “meh” towards – in other words, she never compared well to Makoto for me.

    Mai’s arc:
    -As I mentioned earlier: easily my favourite arc of this show (as it appears to be for you). I’ve also wondered if this arc didn’t serve as a bit of a prototype for Sola’s more action-oriented approach to the Key formula, although Mai’s arc is one of the two (the other being Makoto) that was written by Maeda rather than the guy who went on to write Sola (who was Kanon’s head writer).

    -Your comments here were one of the most interesting parts of this review for me. I don’t think I paid much attention to the romantic chemistry between the characters when I watched the show (although I think I did notice it subconsciously), so the idea that Shiori is the best match for Yuuichi really made me sit up and take notice, and I suspect your right. I remember being kind of disappointed with this arc when I watched it because it seemed like a letdown after Mai’s arc, but I suspect that this is an arc I’d enjoy a lot more if I were to rewatch the show today.

    -To be honest, I remember feeling that Kanon “went out with a whimper”, and I’m not necessarily sure that would change if I were to rewatch the show. Ayu is probably my least favourite of the Kanon girls.

    General observations:
    -Yuuichi is indeed a great male lead, at least in the 2006 version – given that he had a different voice actor in the 2002 one, I suspect that Kyoto actually did a bit of character interpretation with him. Just one problem, which you also caught on to: he’s a really poor match for Ayu. That’s not really a fault of either character, but the combination of the two just does not work for me. To me, pairings with emotionally immature girls work better when the guy also has some issues in that department, and I’m not saying that because it’s more politically correct. I’m saying it because in my experience, such pairings tend to work better – contrast Yuuichi/Ayu with Renji/Chihiro from EF and the latter comes across as a much better match, at least to me. And to someone like me who didn’t care much for After Story, that’s actually the big reason I consider Kanon inferior to Clannad. Tomoya and Nagisa are obviously well matched, but I would also say that Tomoya would be well matched with Kotomi, Kyou, or Tomoyo with no difficulties. In Kanon… well, I guess in terms of sheer numbers it’s not far behind, with Nayuki, Mai, and Shiori all being pretty good matches, but they don’t get the sort of focus Yuuichi/Ayu does.
    (In fact, Clannad is the first Key anime to really get this right… Air is actually worse than Kanon in terms of romantic chemistry IMO, to the point where KyoAni’s decision to largely ignore the romantic subplots comes across as possibly being a good call.)

  6. While I’m not a big fan of After Story, I will admit that Clannad also has a bit more of a message to it: not sure if you know this, but the miracle that brings Nagisa back at the end is supposed to have been enabled only by the relationships that Tomoya had built with others through his life – in fact, in the original game, the “lights” that were used to bring her back have to be collected by the player – you get them by completing the other routes, which are presented as parallel universes.

    (I suspect that the whole thing comes across as less of a Deus Ex Machina in the game simply because you have to earn it. Ever 17’s ending is similar in some ways, although the Deus Ex Machina there is less severe in my opinion.)

    Basically, the message behind Clannad is pretty much to value the people around you – which, to me, is something a lot of otaku could do well to be reminded on occasion.

    Does that make Clannad better? Not in and of itself – I don’t tend to weight “message” heavily in my evaluations, but Clannad is, in my opinion the better show despite the fact I found After Story to be too slow paced. It simply comes across as more polished to me (particularly in terms of believable romantic chemistry), which may be due in part to the fact that more time passed between the release of Air and Clannad than passed between the releases of .Moon, One, Kanon, and Air combined. Key took their time with Clannad.

    (.Moon and One are games that many Key staff worked on at Tactics before leaving that company to form Key. .Moon is supposed to be quite different from Key’s stuff, but One is often described as “proto-Kanon” and is classified as the first of four Key utsuge (“crying games”) that use seasons in their motifs (One-fall, Kanon-winter, Air-summer, Clannad-spring). One does have an anime adaptation in the form of several OVAs (both H and non-H), but they’re generally considered terrible.)

    Finally, since you seem to like Shiori, I must point out that cosplay legend Kipi used to cosplay her back when she was like 18-19. Even accounting for fact that all of these photos set off my “Photoshop alarm” (I’ve seen some photos of Kipi that look vastly less shopped), she did a really good job of it:


    (Also, I agree with the TMSIDR that the winter scenes made for great eye candy - it was part of the initial attraction.)

  7. Thanks for sharing your good knowledge with us. I'm very happy with your good post.

  8. The first ever key's Visual Novel I played is Clannad
    and after 100% finieshed the visual novel, I watched the anime (clannad and clannad after story)
    I totally left out dumbstrucked for a while after finishing both the visual novel and the anime
    and then I started to collect key's works
    including Angel beats anime, little buster VN, kanon VN, kanon anime, Air.. etc
    but I played kanon VN last before Air and watched the anime after I finieshed the VN.
    When I played kanon's VN, I realized that Clannad VN is totally far beyond Godlike compared to Kanon's VN.
    And when I watch the anime, I realized again that "maybe", Clannad is key's best romance story ever... not only from the story, but from How perfect the anime adapt from the VN.

    Then I watched clannad anime again~
    and, right...the difference is "Huge".
    For me, kanon's story is excellent
    but clannad is more of "perfection" than excellent, so...for me again, clannad is the best romance story ever! (not only from key's work, but from all romance story I ever know)
    the 5 years gap between kanon and clannad is surely fit the difference between them.

  9. My favorite arc was definatly the Mai arc, I loved the excitement and drama. It also made me cry the most out of any arc (spoilers) especially when Mai kills herself! I cried a bit in the Makoto arc, it was sad that she was the only character to officially "die" and stay dead. The Shiori arc was good as well, it showed that Yuuichi was truley a nice guy. The Ayu arc was my second favorite, it really made me cry when Ayu asks for Yuuichi to forget her.
    I don't get what all the fuss about Clannad is for, I watched it and was kind of bored throught. It didn't have as much feeling as Kanon and it never will. I only cried once for it.

  10. ^ ^ honestly i thought that aya arc would be finished at ep 23 and yuuichi and nayuki will live happily ever after :3

    i still love the shiori arc i just hope it was given a closure

    ahhh gotta play the novel