A series of events unfold in Shangai, China, starting with the arrival of two Japanese photographers taking pictures there during a festival. But before they know it they, and many other people, will be entangled in a series of events that will affect the whole world, including a deadly virus.
Girls with guns; a formula that has held popular in anime for as long as I've been alive (1984), if not longer. It combines two things in one that guys like: girls, and weaponry. Sadly, though, the results don't always come out on top. For every Dirty Pair and Noir, there are several other mediocre shows like Grenadier and Madlax.
CANAAN falls somewhere in the middle of that field. It starts off pretty good, but slightly falls apart as the series goes on.
I think the main reason for this is Canaan herself. Voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, Canaan is an example of a character who always comes out on top under even under the most extreme circumstances. A room filled with a gas that will kill people in minutes? No problem! Her best friend has an explosive attached to her that will go off if she doesn't come to stop her? She'll be there in the nick of time! While it makes for interesting, exciting storytelling, it really doesn't make her a character who you worry for.
There's also the fact that Canaan herself has little personality. She has the unique ability of sensing a person's aura known as synesthesia, allowing her to aim with perfect accuracy and avoid with such as well. And as you can guess, more often than not the series uses it as an excuse for her to aim with perfect accuracy every time until she somehow loses the ability near the end of the series. Aside from that, she has very little emotion or feeling in either her voice or her facial features.
Canaan also has a rival, Alphard Alshaya, who's played by Maaya Sakamoto. Basically she spends the series trying to kill Canaan. We also have the psychotic Liang Qi, played by the versatile Rie Tanaka. She spends the series trying to get her dear "sister" Alphard to listen to her, even at the lives of others. She's like a spoiled brat trying to gather the attention of her mother so she can buy a soda from her. Needless to say, I didn't shed a tear when it came time for her to make her leave.
The series also focuses fairly greatly on two Japanese photographers in China: Minroru Minorikawa, and Maria Oosawa. Maria herself plays a rather big role as Canaan's friend, even though she spends more of the series being dragged around by her or being saved by her. She's your typical cute, happy girl, which doesn't meld well in a series filled with assassins and people proficient with guns.
There's also Santana, a man in a Hawaiian shirt and Hakko, a shy, green-haired woman voiced by Mamiko Noto. And lastly we have Yunyun, a Chinese girl who befriends Maria fairly early on in the series, voiced by Haruka Tomatsu (Nagi, Kannagi).
A lot of things go on in CANAAN, but one of the bigger plot elements involves a virus known as the Ua virus. This virus has been known to kill its victims in 12 hours, but there is also the rare person known to live despite the injection. These people are known as Borners, and they typically have special abilities granted to them (though not all of them do). There are also Unblooms, people who must wear a costume head and avoid UV rays outdoor noises, for they will die if in contact with either. I could give you more information, but that will involve talking about the actual plot of the series, and we here at THEM Anime try to avoid spoilers as much as we can.
Earlier in the review I said that the series falls apart as it goes in. I'll explain now what I mean by that - it gets too over-the-top. In the beginning of the series, there was a sense of mystery and suspense that lured me into the series and made me look forward to each upcoming episode. As the series went on, though, it just became more over-the-top. It begins with Liang's homicidal tendencies to push her "love" for Alphard, and escalates further with Canaan's almost by the clock timing to save Maria's butt for the fifth or so time, and ends with the series giving us not one, but two events that should have easily killed the people involved, but somehow they survive it. Sprinkle odd Canaan/Maria scenes (like Canaan calling Maria "amazing", and her getting embarrassed and shy by it), and the series kind of loses its cool edge it had early on.
Now don't get me wrong; I like CANAAN. The action scenes are well-done, the art and animation are fantastic, and the characters are interesting, as is the story. But it's played out not unlike a Hollywood action movie with a bit of Japanese storytelling thrown in, which may or may not be your cup of tea. Personally I enjoyed the series' highlights quite a bit, and even its lower points still brought about some entertaining scenes. But I can't consider it a classic by any means. Check out a few episodes for yourself, but if you're going into this series hoping for the next Noir, you might want to keep looking.
An interesting action series that kind of loses its luster later on. A high three star nonetheless, though. Add a star if you like gun fights or lots of action in your anime, and subtract one if you have a hard time dealing with Maria and/or Yunyun. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Lots of bloodshed in this series. There's also partial nudity, though it's not as rampant as the violence.
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license digital source
Review Status: Full (13/13)
CANAAN © 2009 CHUNSOFT / Project CANAAN
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