Fa-uchi wheels Ay-ille off-stage.
So I finished Kanon.
I don’t like to begin by emphasising what little I can say, partly because doing so seems a little too introspective for my taste and partly because it could be a trick: practiced orators sometimes claim to be rough-spoken so that the audience will drop their guard (I’ve noticed David Cameron occasionally does this). In this case, however, there’s a fact backing me up: I can’t objectively assess Kanon, as a whole. Or, at least, I can’t say much more than ‘It’s better than Shuffle!‘, for I have a nasty case of genre-blindness.
On the other hand, I can at least note what impressed me, and (perhaps despite myself) I was impressed pretty often. Human movement was well-observed: when battling demons, for example, Lesser-Kyon Yuichi fell down and curled up in pain, and it convincingly looked like pain rather than a set of pain symbols and an excessive exclamation from a voice actor. Speaking of voice actors, Ayako (Lafiel!) Kawasumi‘s voice acting for Kaori at Shiori’s birthday party was understated, with just the right hint of a catch in her voice. In the twenty-first episode, meanwhile, the numerous flashbacks were so well-woven that Kanon may have finally redeemed the device in my eyes after the damage done by SEED Destiny. There was even a fine solo piano piece which shone out amidst the mass of unimpressive (crushingly quotidian) background music.
The small-scale pacing of scenes within each episode was pleasantly transparent: the arrangement and timing fitted so well that (unusually for me) I forgot that they were there. The sixteenth episode, for instance, marked a break between two different stories, but for me it flowed imperceptibly from Mai recovering in hospital all the way to the tearful, snowbound closing scene. (Although this experience may be normal for those who watch fewer series which are built around having a battle in the final third of each episode.)
Unfortunately I felt much less comfortable with the larger-scale organisation of the story. The abrupt progression in the twenty-first episode from confession to disappearance – episode twenty-one might well have been titled ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ – is a case in point, but I’d also point to Mai’s story, which lingered a little too long, and Shiori’s, which should have lingered longer but didn’t, as examples. Though my reaction to Shiori’s story points out how personal this opinion is: it suffered because I played (read?) narcissu a few days before watching it.
[Incidentally, if you haven’t given narcissu a try then I do recommend it. Its rough edges and brevity are more than compensated for by its status as both free and legal, and by the interesting contrast between its two scripts. And its characters claw shreds of humanity back for themselves in the face of a terminal illness, which is why it left me Ruined For Shiori.]
Yet I still don’t like Kanon. Is there something inherently wrong with the genre, or is it just a gap in my taste? I see that this ground has been covered before (hyperbolically so; I am tempted to invoke Godwin), and my instinctive answer is the latter: it’s not Kanon, it’s me. Indeed, I almost regret watching this: the experience has suggested I’m less broad-minded, perhaps less ecumenical, than I had hoped. So, shockingly, examining Kanon was almost as good an exercise in confronting my own inadequacy as something like Kaiji. There’re plenty of rocks one could throw at the show – ‘quotidian’ was a purple, overwrought expression of a real criticism, and legitimate questions can be asked about a certain studio’s envelope – but ultimately its fans would say, with Donne, ‘For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love‘:
[T]o me, all it takes is one turn of the key to convince me that it’s worth mortgaging the house, selling my soul for a sleek machine like Kanon. That roar of the engine, the engine that screams “Uguu~”, is enough to make me and many guys weak in the knees [. . .]
There will be people who don’t understand. Those who can’t see the merit in having a machine that runs off of tears. Maybe they are the ones who are right. But as a visual-novel / harem fan, I live for this, and I can’t imagine seeing otherwise.
Faced with that, how can I write something churlish? I’m unconverted by the show itself, but (to close where we began) impassioned rhetoric is something I live for.
Any Other Business
Grandmother said this, apparently.
I’m pleased, and embarrassed, to have won several of the Blogger’s Choice Anime Blog Awards. So, um, thank you if you voted for me, in either part of the competition.