Oosawa Maria is a Japanese photographer currently working in Shanghai, China. Along with her partner Mino, she searches for potential newsworthy stories throughout the city. When strange events occur at a local festival, Maria and Mino immediately investigate. Quickly, the two are immersed in a battle between unknown masked men and a strange, white-haired woman. Just when Maria is about to be caught in the crossfire, an old friend by the name of Canaan appears and helps Maria escape. But a sinister plot over a deadly virus soon develops, and Canaan learns she must confront her past if she wants any chance at stopping the perpetrator and saving her friends.
Believe it or not, the name "Canaan" is actually a reference to the Old Testament of the Bible, describing a land "flowing with milk and honey". Naturally, the name piqued my curiosity when I first saw it. I was quickly surprised when I saw that this anime is set in modern day, with the protagonist of the show bearing the same name as its title. I was left pleasantly surprised in the end, and found myself considering a re-watch of the show at some point.
Canaan is essentially the story of a photographer named Maria, and her friendship with the mysterious girl named “Canaan”. Maria
heads to China to do some investigative work, but quickly finds herself in need of protection from her friend as she winds up getting in way over her head. This anime is an excellent mixture of action, character development, and heartwarming moments. I’ve rarely seen a story told so well in so few episodes.
Here's the breakdown:
Story (7/10): You never know what you're going to get with short animes like Canaan. Much to my glee, this show is a gem among short animes. With a grand total of only 13 episodes, it's easily worth the amount of time spent watching it.
The story itself is rather straightforward, and doesn't go through any exceptionally large twists. However, I found that this added, rather than detracted from the enjoyment value. The story is fairly simple, yet leaves you eager to watch the next episode and discover exactly what sinister force is behind the strange happenings.
I won't spoil anything for you with any further synopsis (this anime is frankly far too short to bother with such things), but all you need to know is that while the story isn't the best I've yet seen, it was entertaining and fun to watch. Once again, you won't feel like you wasted your time. (Seriously, it's only 13 episodes, just give it a shot!) If you enjoy action shows, yet feel the need for good character development along the way, this anime would be an excellent choice for you.
Art: (10/10)- This show stands out to me as one of the finest examples of animation out there. Now, seeing as there were only 13 episodes to animate, the creators were able to pay more attention to each one, giving much more care to detail, and smoothing out places other animes would have been forced to skip over. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the Chinese festival early in the show, where there was some truly beautiful scenery, even mixed with some very believable CGI. The various CGI effects are given just as much attention as the rest of the lush backgrounds, creating a very smooth and coherent mixture which is very pleasing to look at. This is probably one of the best drawn anime that I have yet seen.
Sound: (7/10)- this show is superbly voiced. This isn't the sort of show that demands for many truly brilliant performances, but the actors performed the demands made of them very admirably. The one notable exception to this is the role of “Hakko”. I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but Hakko has very little dialogue until the last few episodes of the show. Remaining mute for most of the show (except for a few groans and sighs), Hakko is later given some dialogue that is both immensely important, and emotionally moving. This was no easy task for any actor, especially given the important nature of her few lines. All in all, excellently done!
The soundtrack was a good deal less memorable than the voice acting. It never stuck out to me as bad or unlikeable, but I never found myself thinking about the quality of music. It never really caught my ear, thus I couldn’t rate it as high as I would have liked. In contrast, the opening song is catchy, and very appropriately themed for the show. Overall, the music was probably the weak point of the show, but that’s hardly an insult in comparison with the quality of its other aspects.
Characters: (10/10)- Here is where the show truly shines. The role of protagonist is essentially shared by Canaan and Maria, as they are given about equal screen time and character development. Canaan is rather quiet, stoic, and rough, while Maria is friendly, outgoing, vivacious and fragile. This makes for an interesting combination, with Canaan being an ex-military, trained assassin, and Maria being an inquisitive photographer with a knack for getting into trouble.
These two share an interesting and unique friendship, which, much to my satisfaction, was devoid of any yuri themes. Their friendship is strong, and remains a driving force throughout the show. These two are supported by a cast of equally interesting supporting characters, each of which has a satisfactory, and interesting back story. Refreshingly, the villain of the show was far more than a mindless murderer, but had a story nearly as interesting as that of Canaan herself.
While Canaan can be a bit boring (due largely in part to her stoic nature), Maria easily makes up for this with her lively, innocent, wide-eyed view of the world. Canaan has a darker side to her, dating back to her military training, which Maria is still too naïve to see at the outset of the story. I found Maria to be an extremely lovable, and downright adorable character. While her constant repetition of the word “sugoi!” (amazing) may annoy some viewers, I thought it depicted her innocence and sweet nature very well. Canaan’s darker, quieter side provides an interesting balance to this duo.
These characters are placed into some rather emotionally touching situations, even to the point of bringing me to tears. I cannot say why, for fear of spoilers, but I was highly impressed by the clever use of the characters back stories, and even their unique abilities (which are given to only a select few characters) to provide an emotional charge that many action shows lack entirely. You’ll find a nice blend of action, character development, and even heart-wrenching moments that will bring you to the point of tears.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my points clear. I grew to love each of the cast members, and I’m confident you’ll feel the same way if you give Canaan a chance.
Enjoyment: (9/10)- After all the bragging I’ve done about this show, why only a 9? I had to knock off a point because it felt too short. The show easily could have been extended without dragging, and the ending left me feeling as though a sequel was in store. I have not heard of any plans for a sequel at this point, but the ending certainly left that possibility open. Ultimately, it was an extremely enjoyable anime, but really left me wishing for more.
Overall (9/10)- Certainly not the best anime I’ve ever seen, but an excellent one, nonetheless. I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you end up not liking it, you’ll only have lost 6 ½ hours of your life, so why not? =)
To tell you the truth, I had no interest in CANAAN at all. That all changed when at a local con, they decided to show CANAAN's Opening. Solely from that, my interest in it grew and with it, I set out to find the promised land, CANAAN.
Now let me begin with the story. First of all, it is by no means badly paced. No doubt, it was written in the anime description itself that anime was about all walks of life pulled together by a global conspiracy. A conspiracy in which only start to come together as the story progresses.
You'll not figure out everything from the start and by the end, most if not all your questions will be answered. For some it may start off slow, but to tell you the truth, starting up like a Hong Kong action movie (set in Shanghai) is anything but slow. The progression as the action ramps up and the mysteries answered is just perfect, leaving me quite satisfied with the ending. However, they did slip up a bit. The transition is jarring by segregating the last mini arc with Alphard before the conclusion but after the mystery was solved.
What better way to accompany the story than with well-drawn art? To say that it is well drawn is one thing, but most, if not everything, is recreated in great detail. Even with the more intense action scenes, the quality stays well within the boundaries, never dropping too far below the quality of say, more static talking scenes. I'm a minor gun nut as well so I must laud the military equipment on display. Not just objects but characters too. Liang Qi never would have seemed that 'troubled' without the appropriate art to render her neuroses. There are points however, where the animation or the art could be better but that would just be nitpicking now. I would say that overall, it is a solid showing.
The sound on the other hand is not as spectacular. Sure the adrenaline rush inducing opening was indeed quite a treat, but that's just my bias towards rock music. Conversely, it could be said that the ending is merely okay, but again, that is just musical bias. The background music doesn't stand out particularly, it only acts up subtly and even then you have to actually pay attention to it if you really want to listen. But really, that's not the point of background music anyway. It keeps our attention firmly placed on the action, where its supposed to be. There is also the voice acting, which, were it horrible I would comment more on it. I don't follow any voice actors in particular and I find no fault in their delivery, so I'll have to say your mileage may vary. Sound effects aren't extravagant either. They seem realistic sounding enough to convince me they could be real. Not that I'll be comparing the sound of gun fire to actual real guns. Nope, not at all.
Now we get to the characters. Though it may be usual, the characterisation really shines for the big shots. Canaan's maturation, mentally, is well done, seeing her having to face the consequences of her actions whilst she was more naive. Or Maria's insecurities and little wishes, which by the end she seems to have come to terms with. Or Alphard, in the end, trying to banishing the ghosts of the past. Those who tag along for the ride as well are not given the cold shoulder, being treated with realistic conflicts and their ultimate resolution. Whether it is Cummings' impossible love, Santana's guilt, Yun Yun's personality or Natsume's secrets. Which is sort of a shame that some of the minor characters are still quite one sided, but I guess that's more an issue of not having enough screen time or a deliberate choice to have us focus on the main characters.
Enjoyment, well, its hard to say I didn't enjoy this Hong Kong action anime (set in Shanghai). The fight scenes particularly touching me the most, awing me time after time with the fluid animation and choreography. That's the main highlight from me. That is not to say I can't enjoy CANAAN as a whole though. The plot in the end made sense, the characters made sense, and even some things may have made less sense than others, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment at all. In my book, this is what I call a well rounded anime, probably one of the best to watch this season. So to those still on the fence, I heartily recommend you to join me in the promised land, Canaan.
Right from the start, a certain "emptiness" can be felt as the general atmosphere. In a ravishing, but flawed universe set in Shanghai and later the deserts of the Middle East, a puzzling battle between several parties takes place.
Amidst this chaos painted with many sentiments, an impressionistic tale of friendship, unrequited love and subconscious search for one's true nature. This hollow in the heart of each character isn't easily filled and tends to expand to the anime as well, leaving it flawed and to be taken as-is, without any resolve to tie up the loose ends.
Plot itself is original. The "real world"
conflict involving terrorists, secret organizations behind the government of USA and Japan, with a dash of genetic experiments (this is dealt in a realistic fashion) isn't often seen in the ocean of "slices-of-life", stories with supernatural phenomena and fighting animes. Bad thing is - it likes to open a lot of doors to deepen the personalities of characters, but does little to at least hint to a sensible reason behind some actions they take. This spot is usually supplemented with a variety of colors and their associations the main protagonist can see and the ongoing search for the meaning behind the name Canaan and its relation to the actual character of its bearer.
Flashy, fluid, consistent. A select number of eye-pleasing color makes the palette of CANAAN. Action sequences show the character motions in their entirety rather than resorting to "epileptic" lines in the background as the means of portraying speed and resolve (a major plus).
Voicing is good, but I can't really say it's anything more than that; in my opinion, there isn't anything exceptional to it. OP and ED are catchy and fit the anime well, surely worth mentioning.
They are memorable and lively. Their actions are often confusing though, it's as if the makers of the anime wanted to add weight to their personalities by somewhat random and radical behavior but along the way forgot to fit all the reasons to support those.
Here CANAAN fails the most; to put it shortly, although technically you are supposed to be captivated by the bustling plot, action and general turmoil, you simply are not. I found myself often drifting away and forgetting what I was watching, by which time it was difficult to get back and realize what the hell was happening.
Guns, explosions, superpowers, and hot chicks duking it out in fast-paced action. Yeah, if there ever was a reason to watch this show, there you have it. I guess that's legitimate enough. Sorta.
What's good about this show is the action, artwork, and sound/music. So at the very least, the show is aesthetically pleasing.
The problem with this show is pretty much everything else. The plot, whatever it was, was pretty difficult to follow. Maybe it was a combination of this show being hard to take seriously during random hilarity (like the HIGH TENSION taxi chase done CHINA STYLE) that ensued during
the first few episodes, or maybe it was due to people making a lot of metaphoric statements that really don't relate to the viewer very well until the last three episodes. The intentions of the protagonist/antagonist forces are pretty vaguely explained late within the show, and whatever reason Alphard was doing stuff to make Canaan's life miserable, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. And generally, the characters show very little development. The same behavior like Maria constantly idolizing Canaan or YunYun being a noisy flat-chested klutz gets pretty stale.
At any rate though, the plot really doesn't have particularly huge depth, despite being as confusing as it was. There weren't any real plot twists for the most part, nothing that really would blow your mind away as x character did something ridiculously huge that changed the direction the story was headed. Nothing like that ever happened. So really, the plot is ultimately nothing outstanding for all the trouble it goes through to pretend that there is a huge awesome story behind it.
If there is one anime where I would tell you to watch a few specific episodes and ditch the rest of the show, this would be one of such. The first three or so episodes have some of the most epicly random action you will ever find in anime. Although I guess 13 episodes isn't a huge waste of time, watching the last ten episodes I believe is ultimately a disappointment waiting to happen.
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