Underrated and Obscure: “Canaan” Quick Review

I watched Canaan about 3 years ago and loved it. I rewatched it in mid-2018 and still loved it. Then, one day last week, I realized that it was just too underrated on myanimelist (7.33), with only 66k viewers who reported wacthing it. I don’t understand these numbers. From my perspective, Canaan deserves an 8/10 or close to it, even as a critic. It was based on a visual novel and animated by P.A. Works, airing in summer 2009. Genres include action, thriller, sci-fi, supernatural, and mystery. It’s got gun-slinger girls and awesome fights, plus it’s very mildly suggestive of yuri. The fans I’ve talked to online all ship Canaan x Maria, and I heartily agree! Now onto the review.

Story 7/10

The mercenary known as Canaan has a harsh and action-packed life, and she is well-suited for it. With her jobs being what they are, she has few friends, but her very best and closest one is Maria Oosawa, a freelance photographer and reporter. With her male colleague Minorikawa, Maria travels to China, and is surprised and thrilled to be reunited with Canaan there. However, trouble is in store, as Canaan’s rival, female assassin Alshaya, goads her on to conflicts and digs up her past. Alshaya resorts to kidnapping, killing, terrorism, and bioterrorism for her dark schemes.

Canaan has a solid story concept, though slightly convoluted. Actually, that’s true for the story as a whole and not just the initial setup. It’s exciting and interesting if you can catch on to the mystery and have time to develop possible theories, but if you miss any important hints or world-building details, you might not even see that there’s supposed to be a mystery element. It might just seem like the plot is directionless and mindless action. (It’s not, but it apparently seems that way to some viewers.) Also, the audience must read between the lines to understand some story factors, which were no doubt explained in the visual novel, but did not carry over well.

Art: 8/10

I would give the art in Canaan a 9/10, but it uses some CGI that annoys me a bit. It’s not used on characters, but for background things like balloons at the festival in episode one, or the vehicles. That being said, it’s pretty decent CGI that doesn’t look too jarring. I love the fight scene animation, and the art-style and character designs are gorgeous. They remind me of a cross between early Fate Franchise works and Angel Beats. While the art isn’t as detailed as anime of today, it was made ten years ago, and I think it’s aged very well.

Sound: 8/10

Sound is excellent on all fronts: original music scores, songs, and voice-acting. It’s worth it to go back and listen to the OST wherever you can find it. As I always do in my reviews, I’m going to note the voice-actors I like best. Miyuki Sawashiro plays Canaan, and she is famous for being Fujiko Mine in Lupin III, Mordred in Fate Apocrypha, and Kurapika in Hunter x Hunter (2011). Antagonist Alshaya is voiced by Maaya Sakamoto, who has pretty much my favorite voice of all seiyuus besides maybe Yuki Aoi. She played Haruhi in Ouran Highschool, Lyza from Made in Abyss, and Ryougi Shiki in Kara no Kyoukai. Nakata Joji, voice of Alucard from Hellsing and Kotomine Kirie from Fate series, plays a minor but very memorable character, the taxi driver.

Characters: 7/10

Now, I really like all the characters in Canaan, and couldn’t forget them if I wanted to. I’d like to say characters were 9/10, but that’s just based on how much I love them. I’ve tried to instead base the rating on how well the characters were introduced and developed, what kind of growth they had over the series, and if they had interesting back-stories. In these regards, Canaan‘s characters are not excellent, but still qualify as good, and well above average. Some people had trouble understanding Canaan’s personality. Others were disappointed with the lack of character focus on Minorikawa. The motives of Alshaya are a little bit hard to believe. Although Canaan and Maria are constantly portrayed as the dearest of friends (or maybe lovers, secretly), there are very few details in their histories to explain why this is the case.

Enjoyment: 9/10

Here’s what I enjoyed most about Canaan:
1) The mystery aspects, which I solved.
2) The personalities of the characters, especially Canaan, Maria, Qi Liang, and Alshaya.
3) The love between Canaan and Maria, whether it’s close friendship or romantic.
4) The action scenes. 5) The style of the art. 6) The amazing voice-acting.
Those are just a few examples!

Overall score: 7.8/10 Good

Anything in the 7 range is good in my book, and anything in the 8s is excellent. Canaan almost made it. Still, consider checking out this anime! Anime Rants, signing off. Ja, ne!

(Note: I own none of these images. All credit to original creators for any fan art or official images.)

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