Kanon (2006) adheres to visual novel structure
Kanon is a pretty important piece of work. It’s one of the quintessential visual novels of the past two decades and generally considered an essential among VN fans. Not having played it myself, I can’t really comment on how closely the 2006 Kanon Anime follows specific storylines of the visual novel, but I can say with utmost certainty that watching this series feels like playing through a visual novel. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
In the Kanon visual novel, you have the five main heroines. This aspect remains the same in the anime. The thing is, all of the characters get their screen time, so the series is split into extremely defined arcs with very little overlap. Considering that my favorite character of the series, Makoto, ‘completed’ her arc within the first few episodes and then was summarily dismissed throughout the rest of the series, I didn’t take to that very well.
The same could be said for the successive girls and their arcs. The series is only 24 episodes and chooses to expand upon all 5 heroines within that timeframe, after losing an initial 4 episodes for introduction of characters. So the pacing felt extremely jarring and some characters that are mains for a substantial portion of the overall story will just disappear until the very end, which is irksome.
Fortunately, the primary Yuichi / Ayu friendship is definitely an interesting one. The story revolves itself around the fact that the protagonist, Yuichi, has difficulty remembering events that happened in his past seven years ago. He is somehow linked to all 5 of the main heroines and starts remembering trace memories as he interacts with them, but none of the girls evoke as strong nostalgia as Ayu. The big mystery is definitely something that sees growth throughout the story and comes to an agreeable, if farfetched conclusion.
I expected more from the series in terms of music, especially since the title is Kanon. Canon in D is used a few times to strengthen the mood at times, but the rest of the music is pretty dull and uninspiring.
All that remains in the inevitable comparison to Clannad and After Story. Simply put, Kanon 2006 is inferior overall, but mostly due to the jarring pace that the series trucks along at. It really does feel too much like a visual novel, which doesn’t seem to translate very well to a drama anime series. The final arc of Kanon definitely stands on its own, though it does benefit from 20ish episodes of very minor and transient exposition, similar to Clannad’s Illusionary World.
Kanon (2006 Remake):
- Sawatari Makoto
- Minase Nayuki
- Misaka Shiori
- Aizawa Yuichi
- Kawasumi Mai
- Tsukimiya Ayu
- Kurata Sayuri
- Minase Akiko