Let's Talk About: Kanon (2006) Memories

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers!

Despite the weather being blistering hot in the UK this summer, I just thought I'd write about a little anime series based in a snowy town. It's called Kanon, and it is without a doubt my favourite anime series of all time. For something as simple as an anime, I sure do have a lot of happy memories of it, and it has been this way since I discovered it back around 2006/2007.
I remember finding out about Kanon around the time I was first getting a taste for everything anime, and I'm not talking about the shows I watched as a kid. I'm talking about when I full on discovered the media for real when I was a teenager and really learnt to understand it. The first shows I watched in my teenage years were Tenchi Universe (which was an anime from my childhood) and Sailor Moon, but it wasn't until a random MSN friend sent me a link to an AMV (anime music video) on YouTube of Jimmy Eat World's 'Hear You Me' (a fantastic song by a fantastic band, by the way) that I discovered Kanon for the first time.

I watched this AMV (see above), and I found myself wrapped up in the events of the moving images that accompanied the music. There was a boy and a girl who made some sort of promise to each other and over the course of the video, fell in love, until the boy remembered as a child she fell from a tree. The girl he fell in love with leaves the world and is later found sleeping in a hospital ward. I thought for ages that the girl died, and it upset me a lot (the sad song didn't really help). I couldn't deal with this, so I set out to watch the anime in the video. It didn't take me long to find it. It was a series I had never heard of before called Kanon, an adaptation of a fantastic visual novel by Key of the same name. I watched the first two or three episodes of Kanon, left it for a while, and came back to it, however I started watching the wrong series, and in fact started watching the 2006 remake without realising that I had previously watched episodes from the original 2002 series, which is the series featured in the AMV. It didn't matter though (the 2002 series hasn't got a spot on 2006), because I became hooked, and watched the whole 24 episodes in about two to three days. I don't think I have watched an anime since where I was so hooked I literally took no pauses in between episodes. The whole experience was exhilarating and when it ended, I felt sad. I felt sad that it had ended. Nothing in life had ever done that for me before, and only one anime has done that to me since, Welcome To The N.H.K. (although that was more themed around disappointment that Misaki and Tatsuhiro never properly fell in love). The music of Kanon was encapsulating, the animation was gorgeous, the characters were memorable and loveable, and most importantly, the story was incredibly well written and developed flawlessly over the course of 24 episodes. I always felt that when I watched Kanon (2006), I was there with the characters, watching their lives and familiarising myself with the surroundings of the city they lived in. It was really a one of a kind experience, and probably something that all anime fans feel about their all-time favourite anime. I'm so familiar with this anime, I could probably map out the house that the main character, Yuichi Aizawa lives in during the course of the 24 episodes, hell, I could probably do a pretty decent job of mapping out the entire city.

Let's discuss the plot. Kanon sees Aizawa Yuichi return to the city where he once spent his childhood. For some reason, he can barely remember a thing from back then. However, the girls he meets seem to have something to do with his past and his memories.
It may sound simple, but the execution of its story is where Kanon (2006) shines. There is a constant air of mystery behind everything. What always amazed me about Kanon was that it managed to capture a tonne of different emotions in its story and did it really really well. It’s not like they were all jumbled up, they all seem to fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle. Kanon has happiness and sadness combined with humour, romance (the romance runs alongside the bittersweet plot very smoothly and doesn’t consume the whole anime giving the viewer tiny, well timed doses as the story progresses) and so many other emotions I can’t even begin to name them. The incredible score (taken from the original visual novel) accompanies all of these various emotions perfectly. Just have a listen to the music in the trailer below to get a little taste of what I'm getting at.

When it comes to characters, the story follows a similar structure to most Key visual novel anime adaptations. The main character Yuichi goes through his life and along the way meets various characters, in particular, five girls; his cousin Nayuki Minase, Ayu Tsukimiya, Makoto Sawatari, Shirori Misaka and Mai Kawasumi. Each of these girls have arcs in the story where the episodes are focused solely around them and Yuichi helps to solve the problems that they may be having, often ending with a lot of emotion drawn from the viewer, particularly Makoto's arc.

On a more negative note, I've seen reviews of Kanon (2006) that really piss me off, not because they feed some sort of odd urge I have to hear others confirm that it is a good series, not at all. I honestly don't mind if Kanon is not your cup of tea. Even fans of other Key works tell me they prefer Clannad. Fair enough, Clannad rocks (it really does). No, it's not my own personal bias that makes me pissed off about some of these reviews, it is the anime snobs who write them. They are the type of irritating snobby people who spend half of the review dwelling on the surface, throwing around stupid anime terminology rather than looking at the bigger picture of what actually makes an anime good. I often hear the word 'moƩ' used time and time again, because the creators intended the characters to be cute. Okay then, now hands up who genuinely gives a shit? Sure, they are cute characters, but it isn't really worth dwelling on when you've got a fantastic plot and those characters have more than an ounce of personality, unlike some anime you see floating around nowadays.

I've played the fan translated visual novel, I've bought the Dreamcast game (which I can't play as all the text was in Japanese, and even if I could, my Dreamcast won't seem to boot it, even with a boot disc). I've bought various figurines and an art book. At one point, I even thought up an idea for a 3D adventure game based on Kanon, as well as an idea for a sequel to the first season. Kanon pushed the boundary of obsession for me, but that was because it was so darn good. It also set the standard for what I expect to see in an anime series to make it good, and this is a standard that I love yet hate at the same time. Kanon (2006) created a boundary for what I perceive as a masterpiece and sadly I find it hard to find anime series that even begin to compete with Kanon. There has been a few, but they always seem to fall short to my all-time favourite series. It kind of makes me wonder however, if I had saw Kanon later on, would I love it just as much? Definitely.

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