Kanon (2006)–Anime Review

4 Stars
It’s not unusual for me to change my mind while watching an anime series. Sometimes a series starts well but falls apart at the end. Sometimes it takes me a while to understand what’s going on. However I don’t think I’ve ever changed changed my mind as often as I did while watching this one.

Partly it’s a matter of expectations. The early episodes look like a light-hearted comedy. Indeed, the distributor is explicitly marketing it as a comedy. But it is not really a comedy at all, and parts of it are emotionally wrenching to watch. Nor is it a realistic drama. I prefer to think of it as a modern fairy tale; a story whose characters wander down strange paths and end up trapped in an abyss of dispair, but are ultimately saved by the purity of their hearts and a bit of supernatural assistance.

Ultimately it’s the ending that makes all the difference. I think it’s a wonderful ending that justifies the whole series (though I had to think about it for a while before I was sure of that.)
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2007: The Anime Year in Review

This is the time of year when anime bloggers are busy posting their “Top 10 Lists” or other listings of the year’s best and worst. I’m not really in a position to do a top 10 list. I don’t watch nearly enough anime to make a meaningful judgment about which of the 120-odd shows broadcast last year were the 10 best or worst. I’ve seen only a minuscule sample, and from that I’d have to exclude any shows that haven’t ended yet, since the ending often makes all the difference.

What I will do is list some shows that made a significant impression on me (not always in a good way.) If your favorite show isn’t listed below and it ended in 2007, it’s quite possible that’s because I haven’t seen it.
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Trying to Make Sense of Kanon

I have spent the last few days trying to figure out the ending of Kanon, which may be a waste of time, but the damned show got stuck in my head like an annoying song.

Anyway I have decided that it does play fair with the audience, and it mostly makes sense. I think I have figured out the major puzzles, though other interpretations are possible. I have collected my notes here: Spoiler Notes for Kanon

WARNING: Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the series. This is not intended to make sense to anyone who is not familiar with the story, and reading it before watching the series will almost certainly ruin it for you.

Kanon (Condensed Version)

“Doctor, Doctor! What’s wrong with Shiori? Will she be all right?”

“I’m sorry Kaori, but your sister is not going to live past her next birthday. More specifically, she’s going to look fine until the exact day of her birthday, then she’s going to drop dead.”

“How awful! How is that possible?”

“Shiori is suffering from Anime Disease. It is similar to Movie Disease, but even worse. Remember she is very weak, so keep her out of school, but let her wander around in the snow and eat all the ice cream she wants.”

Words fail me.