Review

by Carl Kimlinger, Jul 6th 2007

Canon

GN 1

Synopsis:
Canon GN 1
A mysterious massacre leaves 39 students dead; the only survivor disappears several days later. The survivor, Canon Himuro, is the only person who knows the truth behind the deaths of her classmates: they were all murdered by a vampire. The same vampire who turned her into one of his own kind, giving her both a new lease on life and the means to avenge her friends. With the help of a talking vampire crow whose ability to sniff out vampires is of invaluable assistance, Canon searches for the silver-haired blue-eyed demon who turned her life inside-out. In her search she encounters Sakaki, a vampire of truly monstrous power. He's utterly ruthless, and the motives for his interest in Canon are, to say the least, suspect, but he may be Canon's only hope against the monster that created her.
Review:

Canon radiates solid quality from its no-frills vampire mythology to its stolid mid-90's shoujo artwork. It touches most of the right bases for a supernatural drama, and if it doesn't excite right off the bat, that's more because it's too busy establishing itself than because of any inherent limitation.

Being merely solid, of course, means that it doesn't really excel at anything, but it also means that it doesn't fail at anything. Canon makes a good lead, strong-willed, moral and basically kind-hearted. Author Chika Shiomi pays only lip-service to the usual new-vampire struggles against blood lust, instead centering the requisite angst around Canon's survivor's guilt. She also wastes no time, taking only two chapters to introduce Canon before getting straight to the main course with the introduction of Sakaki. While basically just another in a long line of untrustworthy antagonistic men with magnetic personalities that straight-arrow shoujo leads just can't seem to help being attracted to, he possesses the right predatory menace, and as of yet show no signs of becoming a slavish protector. He's also the source of this volume's most powerful moment—both visually and dramatically—when he reveals his secret (of course he has one). The Sakaki chapters also allow Shimoi to delve a little deeper into her vampire lore, hinting at a hidden vampire society complete with laws, taboos and enforcers.

Even while it gets the right balance of introspection, action and mystery, even while it provides reason enough to be mildly interested in the next volume, there isn't anything yet in this title that can't be found elsewhere, and better. It plays the vampire angle so straight that it won't hook any but the starved aficionados on that alone. Plot-wise the stories are the same, mildly interesting but entirely predictable. Even the Sakaki/Canon relationship—one of the volume's highlights—is something that's been done a dozen times elsewhere.

The long jaws, expressive eyes and level brows, not to mention the occasional dated hairstyle, place Shiomi's artwork firmly in mid-nineties shoujo. Her artwork is definitely best suited to emotional content, which takes advantage of her complicated panel structures and command of human expression. Her characters look good and are difficult to confuse; Sakaki hogs the most striking visuals—posing, lurking and just generally being a super-cool mystery man—but there're other images that linger, most memorably the opening frames of a confrontation between Canon and a vampire enforcer. And Fui may be a trash-talking animal sidekick, but he looks like a real crow (even if he does drool on occasion; can crows actually drool?). However, Shiomi's artwork at most times isn't well-suited to the content. The surplus of shadows and textures, the wild free-form panelling, the sheer amount of artwork on each page gives the story a cluttered feel that isn't complementary. And her handling of action—and there is a considerable amount—is downright confusing.

Though still flimsy-feeling, this is one of CMX's better efforts lately. The cover design is competent, there's a glossy color cover page at the beginning, and a behind-the-scenes manga short at the end. CMX seems to be shooting for some sort of middle ground on the issue of replacing Japanese sound effects, replacing them entirely at times, and leaving them intact (with nearby translations) at others—often when the sound effect is an integral part of the artwork.

It has its moments—Sakaki's secret, Canon's anguish over the fate of her friends—but read Canon expecting a solid diversion, not excellence. It has a good amount of work to do before it can claim an identity all its own, but as a diversion, it doesn't disappoint. It doesn't thrill either, but if it plays its cards right, that may well come later.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : C+

+ Vampire drama that manages a good mixture of emotion, violent action, and mystery.
Excepting the trash-talking, blood-sucking vampire crow, it's all been done before.

Story & Art:Chika Shiomi

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Canon (manga)

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Canon (GN 1)

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