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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Kanon: The Complete Series
Kanon: The Complete Series
FUNimation // Unrated // April 28, 2009
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted May 3, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

Jot another title down on the list of former ADV titles being released by FUNimation. Joining the ranks of so many others, Kanon is the latest such endeavor with a complete collection presented as a thin-pack with four DVDs. All 24 episodes are assembled here and if you missed the show the first time around, this is probably your best, most affordable chance. Unless you scour the bargain bins for random individual volumes of ADV's prior release.

Kanon has something of an interesting past and it shares many similarities with several other shows. You see, this series in particular has its roots from the adult PC game genre in Japan. As you may or may not be aware that's a rather large industry and many publishers have made a name for themselves. One in particular is Key, who also worked on games such as Air and Clannad which have also been turned into anime. Of the two, I'd say that Kanon is more similar to Air with its approach to atmosphere and storytelling. It's slower, more purposeful, and tends to be about the mood more than anything else. It's also interesting to note that Kanon has had other animated releases prior to this one, though this particular adaptation is considered to be the most popular.

For all intents and purposes Kanon is a harem show and there's very little to differentiate it from others in the genre. It features a male protagonist in fantastical situations surrounded by a bevy of girls who all vie for his attention. While there are many charming and cute moments throughout the 24 episodes here, I must say that compared to other harem shows Kanon is relatively dry. The focus on atmosphere over substance, like Air, gives it a unique charm that is great for setting a mood, but not necessarily so for carrying a whole series. Because of that fact the show gets off to a seriously slow start and it takes some time before it really gets going and is fun to watch.

The whole thing starts when Yuichi Aizawa is looking for a new place to live and a new school to go to. It's decided that he'll move to a city called Kanon to live with his cousin, Nayuki Minase, who he hasn't seen in seven years. Yuichi's last trip to Kanon is shrouded in mystery and in all practicality he seems to have developed amnesia about it, only remembering minute details. As a main character Yuichi is very unremarkable and he doesn't stand out in the least. His past is even virtually non-existent and the show doesn't really explore who he is, where he comes from, or what his motives are. It basically just drops him off in Kanon with the fact that he doesn't remember much and takes it from there.

From the opening point where Yuichi is brought back to Kanon the show gets underway with slowly introducing the leading ladies. Of course we've already met Nayuki, but soon enough we have a young girl named Ayu, a violent girl named Makoto, another named Shiori, and a demon-slayer known as Mai. As the show progresses each episode gets a little story revolving around girl and how they relate to Yuichi's visit to Kanon years ago. Some of them are quite interesting in all honesty and there are many supernatural elements within each.

Kanon is the kind of show that certainly takes quite a while to get going, but once it finds its pace the story gets much more interesting. There's definitely more to Kanon than meets the eye and each of the girls represents an interesting memory for Yuichi. This is a series that proves to be its strongest during its midpoint while you're still trying to figure out what's going on and discovering things about the girls. Towards the beginning it's just too slow and the ending is kind of too disjointed for my taste.

If you missed Kanon when it was released by ADV and were interested, then FUNimation's boxed set is a viable alternative. Unfortunately I just don't feel that the show is solid enough all around to be worth buying. There are plenty of moments where the material is elevated, some of the characters are memorable, and the story as a whole it mildly interesting, but ultimately I was disappointed with this one. It's too dry and awkward for a harem show and it's not exactly cohesive enough to be a romance. I'd say this one is a rental at best.

The DVD:

Video:

Kanon was produced roughly three years ago and as such the video quality looks pretty decent. The 1.78:1 image is presented with anamorphic widescreen enhancement and maintains a modest presentation overall. Like the series itself, there's really nothing outstanding about the video quality here, though it's not exactly the worst either. There is quite a bit of grain and some blocking throughout the show, but neither is bad enough to warrant a failing grade. They just serve as blemishes on an otherwise fine production with all around solid character design and animation.

Audio:

Considering this is a harem show with little with regards to action and a larger focus on dialogue, the 2.0 stereo presentation suits it just fine. There's no sense of immersion at all, but it's nice to know that the sound isn't exactly flat either. It's contained nicely within the front channels and in all honesty the show didn't need anything more than a stereo presentation. Both the English and Japanese languages handle the material well enough, and I personally didn't find that one dub was better than the other.

Extras:

No bonus features have been included on this re-release of Kanon. Sure there are some FUNimation trailers, but that's about it.

Final Thoughts:

Kanon is a sometimes haunting show with plenty of memorable moments within it, but ultimately it's a disjointed effort that never quite feels right. From beginning to end the quality waivers constantly and there are far too few instances that stand out enough to make this series universally entertaining. It's slow and plodding, the plot is full of holes, and towards the end things become something of a mess. I'd say this one is a solid rental though your mileage may vary depending on what you expect from a harem series. If you enjoyed Air you may find something to appreciate about Kanon, though I felt that former was a more cohesive effort.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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