Reviewby Luke Carroll, Dec 27th 2010
Canaan is a war orphan from the Middle East, rescued from the ruins of her war-torn village and raised by an ex-mercenary named Sham. Gifted with synaesthesia (a rare condition in which the bodys senses trigger visual patterns), Canaans life is set for revenge when Sham is murdered by Alphard - the leader of a bio-terrorism organisation known as Snake, who have claimed responsibility for UA attacks on China and Japan. Close to obtaining the only known anti-virus to UA and wishing to profit from its possession, Alphards only obstacle is a woman from her past known as Canaan...
Although you would never know unless you were told, Canaan is a sequel of sorts of to 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de, a visual novel that was releases for a number of consoles back in 2008. Although the anime does follow on from the story told in the game but playing the game isn't a necessity in order to understand the story. However you will be forced to wait quite a while to be filled in on many details as the story doesn't really pick up itself up until halfway through, an issue that does create flaws in an otherwise decent anime.
The story behind Canaan is one woven in personal vendettas and mystery. It is very reminiscent of anime such as Noir and Gunslinger Girl in that it tries to give us a feast of action whilst unraveling the distraught pasts of it's cast. Journalist Minoru Minorikawa and photographer Maria Osawa arrive in Shanghai to cover an international anti-terrorism conference. Minoru is a journalist looking for the scoop that will get him noticed, so when a superhuman girl features in a massive gunfight at the city festival, Minoru gets the urge to find out who it really is. Soon he becomes aware that this girl and Maria are actually friends. Their ties make them a target for a number of mutated humans with special marks on their bodies. As the history behind these mutated humans unravels, the connections to a parallel story about a group called Snake and the sudden disappearance of a town becomes apparent.
The story isn't all action and flashbacks though. Regular cameos of a speed freak taxi driver and a girl who holds down as many jobs as you can poke a stick at provide regular comedic relief. Maria herself is also a very much happy-go-lucky sort of person, providing many fun moments as she seemingly enters a world of her own despite the constant endangerment of her life. However as the story finally picks up, all of this begins to change. Maria becomes much more serious, the great scoop Minoru started chasing becomes one platted in stories of sadness, and the motives behind Snake become a little more apparent. I say a little because Snake is a very confusing group. Their leader Alphard has many ties to Canaan and wishes to kill her, and yet she constantly passes up the chance when it's there. Alphard's sister has a possessive love for her sister that goes beyond sane, and their chief Cummings has a hidden love despite being treated like a punching bag by the very same girl he likes. Snake's reasoning behind their attacks and the use of the UA virus are never fully explained either. If their leader wants Canaan dead, why go to the trouble of trying to destroy a building full of world leaders? It's a rather over sized ploy if the only explanation given is just get Canaan involved in a predicament she couldn't escape.
Despite these many story issues, Canaan at least gets the action spot on. When things hit the fan, they do so in the most vibrant way I have had the pleasure of viewing recently. Actions are fluent, and the detail that goes on behind these actions are just as equally impressing. On top of this, Canaan includes a fundamental gimmick in that its main character has a body abnormality called synaesthesia. This abnormality causes all of her senses to sort of combine differently, allowing her to see the world in a truly unique way. Although it is certainly taken a bit too far into the realm of believability at times, these scenes where we get to see how Canaan perceives the world are a treat for the eyes. If anything, this is certainly one of the best looking series around.
The musical score certainly doesn't disappoint either. Scenes of tension and action are met with scores that wonderfully beset the animation on screen and rarely overstep their marks. The opener "mind as Judgment" creates a wonderful rocking mood to kick start each episode, whilst the closer "My heaven" is a much tamer and soothing affair. Music Director Hikaru Nanase should certainly be proud of his efforts here with Canaan.
Although the series is set in China, you wouldn't know it going by the dub. There appears to be no effort distinguishing nationalities at all oddly. Regardless, the is certainly up to par with the quality shown with everything else in the series. Hilary Haag does a great job as Maria, and Shelley Calene-Black certainly does a convincing performance in her lead role. The Japanese track, like most of the series is also a wonder to listen to. The subtitles do at times seem slightly out of sync and although there is a second subtitle track for signs and writing, it doesn't cover the opening and closing themes, requiring a switch to the Japanese subs to view them. It is also worth noting though that although the US release received a 5.1 English and Japanese track, this release appears to contain instead a 5.1 English and a 2.0 Japanese, despite the box (and Siren's website) containing conflicting listings.
On the extras side of things, we are given the minimal offerings on the third disc of clean opening and closing sequences and a handful of trailers of Siren Visual releases. It is a bit unfortunate that this release doesn't contain the Minorikawa's Report that the US received, however it isn't a full loss since it is merely a 12 minute series recap.
Canaan is a series that starts out with a bang, but struggles to continue keeping itself at the same standard from then on in. There's no denying that the series is a treat for the eyes, but much of the mystery that the series wants to portray gets lost as it pieces itself together and the plot holes start to appear. I'm sure if the director would love to have another go at this (and the opening ending allows for such a thing), because as it stands Canaan is a visually wonderful series that unfortunately fails to deliver on the potential it first started out with. Nevertheless, it still is a good 'girls with guns' anime if you're into that sort of thing.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A-
+ Great action, a visual treat for the eyes, decent music
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