Type-Moon’s CANAAN does what every good action story does – it starts off with a premise, stabs the premise in the back, drags the premise to a dumpster, pretends nothing ever happened and acts surprised when it comes back to bite it in the ass.
We are introduced to the situation first through the eyes of Osawa Maria, a fledgling photjournalist and her competent, irritable mentor, Minorikawa Minoru. Arrived in Shanghai on the night of a festival, they expect to be covering a conference of world leaders on combatting terrorism. They don’t expect to be running through streets of Shanghai being chased by people with guns. They also don’t expect the terrorists to be the hosts of the conference.
Maria is saved by an assassin-for-hire by the name of Canaan who, we learn, is a friend of hers. Canaan has synaesthesia which manifests in her perception of people and their emotions as distinct, traceable colors. Maria and Canaan are chased and chase others along the surface and through the tunnels of Shanghai as the conference looms. But when the conference opens and the terrorists take over by poisoning the world leaders with the deadly UA virus, everything shifts.
Leader of the terrorists, Alphard, has a specific grudge against Canaan and, it turns out, that they have a shared origin and a shared mentor. A mentor that Alphard killed. The story revolves around the three foci of Canaan, Alphard and Maria and the people that move around them.
The first disk takes us from Shanghai to the high desert where the UA virus was visited upon a small, unimportant village by an uncaring CIA as an experiment. The lives of everyone in the series is tied to that horrible experiment and many of them are still living with the effects.
Government conspiracy, assassins, knife fights, gun fights, chases through streets, helicopters and in cars, CANAAN provides action fans with just about one of everything – and does it well.
For Yuri fans, there is just about no way in this volume to avoid the obvious attraction between Canaan and Maria. I would say it’s mostly on Canaan’s side. Even Canaan’s handler, Natsume comments that she seems to have finally hit puberty. Which is about right. Canaan may not yet – or ever – feel desire for Maria, but she clearly loves her deeply.
This is my first-ever Blu-Ray purchase. Because I knew that the backgrounds would hold up to it, and I thought the visuals associated with Canaan’s synaesthesia would look cool. I started watching this on a projector onto a large projection screen, so it was about 45″ of viewable screen – the visuals did, indeed hold up. They look fantastic. What didn’t hold up were the subtitles. I hadn’t considered that…obviously, neither had Sentai Filmworks. At 45″, the subtitles looked broken and pixelated. It got better by episode 5, but the first two episodes, it was downright distracting.
I shifted to a 15″ screen where the subtitles once again looked tight, but the visuals were constrained by the small screen. I’d split the difference on my TV, but it’s a old TV and I can’t connect my computer to it and I’m not running out to get a BD player or a new TV just for you. ^_^
This led to a question by someone on Twitter about which company had the best subtitles. I took examples from every current company I could find in the house and played them one after another on the 45″ screen. Here are final scores:
Media Blasters – 6 out of 10
Funimation – 8
RightStuf – 7
Sentai – 6
Bandai – 6
I liked Funi’s subtitles best because at that size, they stayed crisp, and because they were not yellow. I know it’s so personal, but I cannot stand yellow.
Back to CANAAN, Disk 1, Episodes 1-9 are a shockingly huge shift, from what appears to be a silly, slightly predictable action story to a vast government conspiracy, tragic personal revelations, angst and love, in many and various forms – even the kinds that are toxic.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 2
Series – 4
Overall – 8
Overall, I consider this a totally worthy purchase. I like the action, the characters and the plot keeps shifting and swerving, like Canaan in the middle of battle. Alphard vs Canaan makes for a great anime. Now I’m motivated to get back to that second light novel in the series and give it a go.