Canaan Alphard scan

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.

Canaan Alphard China Dress

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.

Canaan Hakko

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.

canaan ishii akiharu oosawa maria yunyun

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.

alphard canaan ishii akiharu oosawa maria

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.

Canaan Alphard

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.

canaan ishii yuriko oosawa maria type_moon

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 China Dress

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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63 Responses to Canaan

  1. The series had looked interesting through its character designs, which were the first thing to catch my attention, but after hearing the initial reports coming over the plot, it didn’t sound like something I’d go for, regardless of how well-animated the action scenes were. And I’m doubtful that this can really engage me without a story to back all the yuriliciousness up.

    I did see the “sugoi sugoi” video though, and that was hilarious at least.

    • Yi says:

      @zzeroparticle: The premise is not all that engaging, but I thought the plot was decent. It successfully incorporated all the characters and made for a rather intense story. The ending has also been criticized, but I actually kind of like it. Some loose ends, but it left a nice bitter feeling.

      I admit though I’m biased toward the femme fatale genre.

  2. Canaan is one of my favorite series. I can’t get enough of it~ I also have a Canaan figma so I intend to re-enact scenes from the show in stop-motion someday.

    As for why it’s among my favorites: “Hot gay girls with guns kicking ass in brilliant settings in brilliant ways with unstoppable production values. What could I possibly not love about this series?”

    • Also, I can’t even tell you how happy I am to know that someone is as excited over this show as I am~~~~

    • Yi says:

      @21stcenturydigitalboy: “Hot gay girls with guns kicking ass in brilliant settings in brilliant ways with unstoppable production values.”
      Exactly! Yuri, guns, beautiful fights between gorgeous girls… I just can’t not love this either. ^ ^

  3. enri says:

    Yes, I too LOVE Canaan.
    It was after I finished watching Queens Blade 2, whitch last episode failed so bad, I got depressed
    So I planned to watch only 1 episode of Canaan, but could’nt stop until I saw the last.
    Yes, I too LOVE Canaan.

    • Yi says:

      @enri: I’m glad you love Canaan too! Queen’s Blade isn’t too bad either, but Canaan is definitely better. I also marathoned it as well (mostly).

  4. 2DT says:

    The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this on Reader was “GET SOME, GET SOME.” What a nostalgia trip. 🙂

    But what I remember most about this show was how nothing had turned out as I thought it would, for anyone. Whether it makes the show brilliant or frustrating, I still have to sort out.

    • Yi says:

      @2DT: “GET SOME, GET SOME.” Haha!

      The ending was certainly a lot different from what I had expected, but I actually kind of like the slightly sad but determined separation between the two girls. For me, that is a beautiful way to end this unlikely romance/ friendship. The deaths of some people did surprise me a lot though, and I’m still not entirely convinced it is a good move.

  5. Baka-Raptor says:

    >>I particularly like Alphard and Hakko.

    “You have excellent taste in women.” That’s what I’d say if you didn’t like K-ON.

  6. blindability says:

    While Canaan really did have fantastic character design and animation, I just can’t like it quite as much as you do. In fact, I don’t like it at all. The storyline bothered me, and I didn’t find myself investing in the characters as much as I wanted to. The only thing I did like was Hakko and Santana’s relationship which ended perfectly with their deaths – well, Santana’s death was predictable and unnecessary, but Hakko’s subsequent death was quite impactful.

    Great pictures though!

    • Yi says:

      @blindability: I had a slightly different take. While I agree that the storyline isn’t something I loved, I was very invested in the characters, and that made me have a buy-in to the series. Ultimately, I cared about what happens to the characters, and thus the plot.

      As for the deaths, Hakko’s subsequent death is indeed very powerful, the most beautiful scene in the whole series for me.

  7. Swordwind says:

    I liked it too. I’m glad you saw it. And, as anime goes, the plot wasn’t really all that bad.

    • Yi says:

      @Swordwind: Agreed that the plot isn’t all that bad. It’s been done before, but it has not been done this well in recent anime. It exemplified the femme fatale genre.

  8. biotoxic says:

    Canaan was great when I watched it. I also liked Noir and Madlax but not Gunslinger Girl, it was boring.

    I can’t remember much of the story but I remember it jumping around a lot. I was also satisfied with the ending. It tied up most loose ends, but left just enough undone for interpretation. I do however remember all the characters vividly. Canaan was my favourite – deadly assassin but also had a soft side to her.

    Coincidentally I recently changed my desktop wallpaper to that last picture of Canaan you have there.

    • Yi says:

      @biotoxic: I’m glad you loved it too. I thought there is a few loose ends here and there, but the main things are covered well. The characters are very vivid and I loved them. I really Canaan too!

      The last image is really pretty, right?

  9. Canne says:

    Two things I absolutely agree with you; the girls looked great and the characters are the heart and soul of the anime. 🙂

  10. Fabrice says:

    Here CANAAN fails the most; to put it shortly, although technically you are supposed to be captivated by the bustling plot, action and general turmoil, you simply are not. I found myself often drifting away and forgetting what I was watching, by which time it was difficult to get back and realize what the hell was happening. =/

    • Yi says:

      @Fabrice: When I marathoned this, I didn’t really have too much problem following the story. It didn’t impress me as much as the characters, but it is decent. As far as the weakest point of the series though, I agree it is that the story jumps around a bit too much between Maria, the other journalist, Santano, and Canaan.

  11. Smithy says:

    The characters were indeed one of “Canaan”‘s strengths but it terms of overarching plot and execution in the latter episodes, the series let me down and didn’t seem to live up to its potential.

    Some of the character development seemed a bit haphazard too, mostly around Canaan, she’s first shown as tough as nails but insecure in how Maria will see her, along the way she suddenly becomes a weakling (not entirely coinciding with the moment she looses her synesthesia skills), she then regains her strength but still has trouble defeating Alphard.
    Not to mention the final confrontation with Alphard which links to Canaan’s bond with Maria as well as her common past with Alphard never really culminated into a clear resolution.

    It was a decent series, liked watching it but in the end I feel it could have been more.

    • Yi says:

      @Smithy: Agreed about Canaan. Her character seemed inconsistent to me as well. I hated the time when she lost her synesthesia. I didn’t understand what that did to her character, why she lost that ability, and why it came back. I think it’s supposed to represent her inner growth, but it isn’t done well and seems very forced. In the end, all I know is that Canaan has a very close relationship with Maria and that she has a soft side as well. Other than that, she is pretty blank. Still, that is enough to get me to like her.

      Also agreed on their common pasts. That is one of the loose ends I would’ve liked to see explored further. I still don’t know what Maria and her dad has to do with Alphard and Canaan, or what Alphard and Canaan has to do with Ua virus’s past. Another loose end is Canaan’s boss. I’m unclear as to her role or her motivation.

      The characters are the saving grace though. Despite all these plot holes, I still loved it. Maybe I’m too biased toward the genre and the yuri.

  12. Shinra says:

    Oh Yes!!! CANAAN!!! I just love it! cant stop rewatching too. But for some reason, Maria Annoys me. YunYun too. The Yuri is strong, especially the part where Maria n Canaan under the starry sky, holding hands (when going to the factory). But the ending is unsatisfying, i can’t accept the fact that Canaan wont be able to be with Maria, beside her(literally).

    But frm what i heard, they are going to make 3 extra movies for CANAAN. Is it for real?

    • Yi says:

      @Shinra: Maria annoys me too. She is just not my type. Yun Yun, on the other hand, actually got a few chuckles out of me so she’s all right in my books.
      Love the yuri, like the ending as well. I think lately, I’ve started liking these type of lightly tinted yuri and bitter separations. It’s kind of romantic.

      I’m actually not sure about the extra movies for Canaan. I’d love to see more of this anime though.

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  15. Ningyo says:

    Oh god.
    I’m watching Railgun, I’m getting to it, really! A series conceptualized by Nasu that I haven’t seen yet – it’s like I’ve yet to meet my maker. I feel as if I said something similar to you before in a post about similar things, but in my heart of hearts I really mean it. Just… remind me sometime, again ^^;

    Girls with guns. Have you ever wondered how that taste would’ve grown for you out of the subculture? Lately that phrase has only been reminding me of the Sisters of Battle.

    • Yi says:

      @Ningyo: I think my love for femme fatale may have actually originated outside of anime and games. It began with La Femme Nikita.

      When I first moved to the US, in order to get me to learn English as quick as possible, my mother got me to watch American TV with her (which was easy enough). She really liked watching Nikita, so I watched and loved every single episode of every season. It’s an awesome show.

      Years later, I saw Gunslinger Girl and Noir, and I fell in love.

  16. Janette says:

    Yes! Another Gunslinger Girl fan! Gunslinger Girl is one of my favorite series.

    Honestly, I was disappointed with Canaan, but I concede that’s because the ending broke my heart. Had it ended on a happier note, I’m sure I would like it better.

    • Yi says:

      @Janette: Yea, the ending doesn’t seem to be popular. I liked it. I thought it was kind of bittersweet and romantic. But I’m sure I would’ve liked a happy ending too.

      Also, Gunslinger Girl is one of the best anime ever. ^ ^

      • digital boy says:

        >Yea, the ending doesn’t seem to be popular.

        I think this is the case with most anime. I for one have a really hard time disliking endings, so I enjoyed it.

        • Yi says:

          @digital boy: Same here. I think as long as the major loose ends are dealt with, I don’t mind most endings. Canaan, for example, had an acceptable, or even good, ending.

  17. koyote says:

    I loved Canaan and the characters. Sure it had potential, but the storyline and certain characters were forgettable. Unlike Noir or even El Cazador, this just did not have the character development other than “Sugoi” to keep the interest going.

    • Yi says:

      @koyote: I like this better than El Cazador, but I thought Noir is better. Sure, Cannan could’ve been better, but I still love it. Agreed about the storyline though.

  18. softz says:

    I’ve not catched a single episode from this series yet. After owning the figures Alphard and Canaan, I should do something and learn more about them.

    Yi, you did give me some ideas of what to expect in the series. I hope that I’ll enjoy it 🙂

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  20. lovelyduckie says:

    Well I bought the figures, so I def need to watch the anime 😉 but I think I’d also like to play the game. I feel like the game will do the story and characters the most justice. The way you wrote this reminds me of how I felt about the Fate: Stay/Night anime. The strength of the characters alone is what pulled me through the series. Since then I’ve been meaning to try the game, sigh…but I really haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to play it in English. If it were just officially released in English I’d surely buy it and play it right away.

    • Yi says:

      @lovelyduckie: That’s a really good point you made about Fate/Stay Night. I actually feel the same way for that and Tsukihime as well. These Type Moon adaptations have not necessarily one the stories justice, but the characters have all been really strong. I remember I loved Arcueid, and Saber and Rin’s popularity is overwhelming.
      Still, I haven’t really tried to play any of the games though. Good luck getting them to work.

  21. Reltair says:

    Noir and Gunslinger Girl? *high five*

    I loved CANAAN’s character designs (done by Type-Moon I believe), but the story was meh. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as Noir or GSG.

    • Yi says:

      Agreed. Canaan’s great and it has gorgeous designs (as do all Type-Moon anime adaptatations), but Noir and GSG are still the best.

      I gave Canaan an 8/10, while Noir and GSG are both perfect 10s and among my top 5 anime.

      Still, Canaan is good in its own right.

  22. Grah, I feel so bad for not continuing to finish this show >_< And I was quite excited for it too when they announced it. Things happen and everything got delayed. I have the whole series, just need to find the time to watch it. It really is the yuri part that I was looking forward to after seeing Maria and Canaan together. I stopped when Maria found out what Canaan really is… So that might be a reason, lol. I will one day come back to Canaan, to the promised anime.

    • Yi says:

      @lightningsabre: I’ll be honest. The yuri between Maria and Canaan is pretty up to interpretation. Seen through one lens, they are just really close friends. But with yuri goggles on (which I always have), they definitely have romantic feelings.

      The series is pretty good and relatively short, so I think it’d be a nice watch if you have a short stretch of time. ^ ^

  23. Epi says:

    Alphard is my favorite character in this series… can’t get enough of her back muscles!! Now if only Maria were banished forever….

    • Yi says:

      @Epi: Maria is both boring and annoying. If she wasn’t Canaan’s love interest, I would want her banished as well. As for Alphard, she is so toned and so sexy!

  24. Caddy C says:

    Hmm, I never checked this show out when it was on, but now I may have to! The pictures are gorgeous! Plus, girls with guns – I’m with 21stcenturydigitalboy there. Probably not for the same reasons, but …. 🙂

    • Yi says:

      @Caddy C: I’m with both of you on girls with guns. It’s one of my favorite themes in anime.

      And those characters really are gorgeous.

  25. Tyler Junky says:

    Nice review. Vary in depth and makes me want to watch it over again. My favorite characters definitely Yunyun. She made me Lol, It’s the best action anime on the planet in my opinion. If you mind could you check out my blog, there’s a Ga-rei Zero review!

    • Yi says:

      Yunyun is awesome indeed! I love her. She’s funny. She’s charming. And she has a lovable strong personality. She’s certainly one of the reasons I love this show. Canaan is an short and amazing series, and I’m glad you like it too.

  26. EmperorG says:

    Well said comrade Yi. Sorry for my late replies to shows that I myself have discussed much earlier. In any case, my main gripe with this show is that it felt incomplete to me. then again, the reason why is pretty obvious, the rest of the story or what’s been excluded is further explained in the Japanese Wii visual novel, 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de. Ah well, aside from that, everything else on the show was awesome. I guess I was a little too harsh on it myself because of its intentional plotholes. Ah well, I’ll probably watch it again sometime in the future.

    • Yi says:

      That seems to be very widespread opinion. I don’t have too much of a problem with the ending. I thought the story itself is wrapped up well. What most people have a problem with seems to 1. Alphard still roams and/or 2. Maria and Canaan’s future together is unexplored. However, I think it’s better that way. It leaves more room for our imaginations. What needed to be addressed (Canaan and Alphard’s past and the virus stuff) are addressed. We also see a glimpse of what all the characters are now doing after the whole ordeal. For me, that’s just perfectly enough.

      Also, I don’t know what was excluded from the visual novel, but if it involves another whole arc with its own plot, I don’t think it would belong or fit in this short series.

      • EmperorG says:

        Ah well, in the end, what’s important is that the show was awesome, even though it felt like it had some loose ends. Still, to deny that this show ruled is a crime in and of itself.
        Oh, you’re my comrade because we share the same goal in terms of what we write and discuss, promoting and demoting good and bad anime. Saving animeniacs from evil shows and guiding them to good ones. I never bothered with the word comrade’s original meaning or usage in the past. However, if it kinda upsets you to be addressed as such, I’ll stop.

        • Yi says:

          Don’t worry about it. I’m not that sensitive. And it’s ridiculous to get upset over what people say on the internet. Call me whatever you want.

          Anyways, I don’t have such noble intents about anime nor do I have the authority to decide what’s good or bad. Only stating my opinions here.

  27. EmperorG says:

    Fair enough. Still, you can’t deny the fact that your words are respected and read by many who either agree or disagree with your words. So yeah, point is that people do read what you have to say and think about valid arguments to either support or oppose your thoughts. With that being said, you rock dood.

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  29. Avondt says:

    I don’t think the yuri is an “undertone” in Canaan. The thing between Canaan and Alphard is very subtle and left to interpretation, but I think Canaan and Maria are uncloseted lesbians and in love with each other. When Maria first meets Yunyun she seems to try make a pass at her with her flirtatious talk of “I don’t want to leave,” and in the English version, Yunyun replies “I don’t swing that way.” On the soundtrack to the album, the song that played when Canaan and Maria had their little outing is called “Canaan to date,” “to” being Japanese for “and,” so they were on a date. Toward the end, Maria and Canaan walk together holding hands in the moonlight, and Maria expresses wantind to say something to Canaan…Mino also never tries to flirt with Maria, though she’s right by his side all the time, but he goes for Hakko. I think it’s b/c Maria and Canaan are openly gay.

    • Yi says:

      It’s been a while since I watched the anime, so I don’t really remember all the details, but from what you’ve said, it does sound very heavily implied. I don’t disagree. I believe there is something romantic between Maria and Canaan, and they’re most likely partners. Still, I guess my use of “undertone” merely means that the yuri is implicit, rather than explicit. (Though you could argue fairly that holding hands and going on dates is explicit enough.)

      Anyway, I guess one thing I’ve learned over the years is to not assume people’s orientation. And as another sidenote, there’s also a slight difference between going on dates and even engaging in sexual acts and being openly lesbian. But in the end, they’re all just labels. ^ ^

      The important thing is that Maria and Canaan definitely definitely care and love each other very much!

      Thanks for the really thoughtful comment! I didn’t know all those lovely details.

      Cheers, Avondt. ^ ^

  30. MagdaX says:

    I am not usually into romance, yuri, yaoi or any kind so when I watched this anime I could see the hint of romance between maria and canaan but I just ignored it. My favorite character by far was Alphard and I think it is safe to say that she is my idol. I just love the way she fights its so brutal powerful and she has a lot of style and technique, to be truthful it makes my jealous. Her personality was also one of the things that made me love her, she was so mysterious and i could never fully understand her. Also her sense of fashion was unusual for an example her suspenders but it really worked for her, not only that but because of her I really want a trench coat now. I know a lot of people didn’t like the ending but I loved the way she shot off her own arm at the end it totally fit how she was feeling and her character. I am concerned about what she is going to do now since she no longer has a left arm. I doubt it will effect how well she fights since she is so bloody good at it and if it does i will be very disappointed. I wonder if the rumors of them coming out with a movie are true, I hope they are because I really loved this anime.

    • Yi says:

      I really like Alphard too. She’s so powerful and so sexy. I have a thing for women who exude that kind of confidence. It’s really quite a turn on haha.

      I love her fights too. I think my favorite sequence of the whole series might be when she fights Canaan in the restroom and ends by pinning her against the wall. I love that scene. Love her fit, toned body and smooth movements. Agreed about her fashion sense. I usually don’t like suspenders much at all, but as you said, it works very well on her. she totally rocked it in a very wild way.

      I didn’t mind the ending at all either. Although Alphard only has one arm now, I feel like she’d be OK. She’s charismatic, smart, and strong. She’ll surely be able to not only survive, but maybe even come back.

      I haven’t heard of a movie, but if one is released, I’d definitely watch it!

      Anyway, thanks for visiting and for commenting. ^ ^ I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. It’s really nice to meet you and hear your thoughts. Please do come again!

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