Canaan sits at a very soft spot in my heart. I have always had a love for “girls with guns” anime; Noir and Gunslinger Girl are among my favorite series ever. Thus, I had high expectations for Canaan. It more than delivered with its different personalities, character interactions, and yuri undertones.
Of course, the series has its faults. The premise is a bit generic for the genre. A girl is rescued by a skilled gun-slinging girl shrouded in mystery. Together they uncover a larger conspiracy as well as deal with their pasts. Madlax, El Cazador, and Noir all had some variations of this. Therefore, despite being set in China, the overarching plot is nothing special.
While the plot is somewhat cliché, it is surprisingly brutal. I guess I have been watching too much “fuwa fuwa” series lately, but the deaths of some characters shocked and moved me. However, those scenes are terrific. Treated delicately, the deaths are powerful, tragic, and romantic. A perfect combination. I even shed tears for Hakko and Santana during one of the scenes.
Perhaps what makes those deaths so moving is that I love the characters. Indeed, they are the brightest lights of Canaan. I love almost everyone, even the comic relief, Yunyun. Each person has a distinctive personality and very compelling motivations. Alphard and Canaan are tied to the ghost of a past. Maria is in love with Canaan while Liang Qi obsesses over Alphard. And Yunyun is just trying her best. Canaan pays delicate attention to developing its characters, which really makes their emotions and actions real.
More importantly, the series focuses on the characters’ interactions, which really are the primary driving force behind this unoriginal premise. Alphard and Maria help Canaan to realize her potential from two opposing ends. Liang Qi hates Canaan out of jealousy and love for Alphard. Mino, Hakko, and Santana have a modest love triangle that is inextricable from Alphard and Canaan’s past. This web of relationships really builds both the plot and the characters. I know what each person’s strengths and faults are, where she is coming from, and what she desires. This deeper understanding then makes me care about them.
Having extremely sexy characters also helps. The character designs are gorgeous. I particularly like Alphard and Hakko. Alphard exudes this sensual powerful confidence. Her attractive rawness simply captivates me. On the other hand, Hakko has this quiet reserved elegance about her that I love. Even her necrophilic scene seems graceful. The other ladies are all very lovely as well.
The beautiful character designs also make for very delightful yuri. (As this is a review by Yi, I have to mention yuri…) Liang Qi’s lesbian tendencies are obvious, but the yuri love surrounding Canaan is more subtle. Canaan has an unusual fixation on Maria. Maria is not the only person Canaan knows, and she is probably not the only person Canaan has saved. Yet, Canaan cares deeply about her despite only a single cursory meeting in the past. Similarly, Maria seems to love Canaan. Indeed, this seems like love. I also feel something between Canaan and Alphard, but I have heavy yuri lenses on. Well, it is all in the interpretation.
Canaan succeeds on many levels and really showcased why clichés became clichés. The series is a perfect example of the usual premise associated with this subgenre done right.
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