Old grudges and debts must be dealt with and paid for in blood.
What They Say
Colors have scent. Sounds possess images. In this future world, where biochemical weapons have changed the game, an unlucky few have their senses blended. They are gifted with abilities beyond what normal humans feel. They possess synesthesia.
The bilingual mix for this release is pretty good all around as we get the two language tracks in 5.1 using the DTS HD MA codec for the lossless presentation. The show starts off strongly with the forward soundstage dynamic of the opening sequence but it has some good subtle throws to the rear channels as well as a couple of sweet key moments. The show has some big moments to it throughout and they tend to be the most noticeable, but there are subtle moments as well with dialogue and background noises that helps to raise the bar nicely in giving us an audio presentation that pulls us into the show. In listening to the Japanese track, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this 13 episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. The show is spread across two discs in a fairly standard nine/four format that gives it a good bit of space to work with. While the show is listed as being in 1080p, a bit of forum sleuthing has revealed that it's actually 1080i, not that it makes all that much visible difference on our setup. The show has a very good look to it with lots of great colors and a very solid feel to it throughout. There is a lot of detail to this show, particularly with backgrounds but the character designs are no slouches either when it comes to the folds and styles. Character motions are fluid and the big action scenes carry out well with no breakup or problems. It's a great looking presentation that lets the source material shine.
Canaan comes in a standard Blu-ray case where the interior has the discs on either side with no hinge used. The front cover is really nicely done with the logo down the middle, laid out sideways, where each side has one of the two Canaan's to it. Doing it with a strong red tone for one and a blue tone for the other gives it a solid light and dark feeling that adds to the overall atmosphere of what to expect. The case color ties into it rather well also which adds to it. The back cover goes more with the reds overall with a number of character pieces mingled across it as well as a few shots from the show. The summary is spread out a bit and kept fairly light but it teases you enough to get the idea and entices you to want to know more. The bottom third of the cover is the usual layout with production credits in white set against a black background as well as a clean technical grid that covers all the basics. The shows features are clearly listed but it doesn't make a strong push that it's a bilingual title, something that I thought they'd do more of since most titles are not dubbed. While there's no artwork on the reverse side, the overall design we get works wel for the show and looks very appealing even if a bit basic.
The menu design is kept very simple with a static screen of the two main leads together with the logo in between them. There's a good blood splotchy feeling to the edges of it which casts it in a darker light while the bottom has the individual episode selection and a languages submenu to it. The episode numbers and titles are listed which gives it a bit more meat to it. Surprisingly, there is no music associated with the menu so it's a naturally quiet affair that doesn't help to set the mood a bit more. The blood around the sides and bottom is also used for the pop-up menu which gives the whole thing an extra bit of macabre to it when you pull it up during playback. It's also welcome to see that the episode you're watching is highlighted when you bring it up since many shows don't use titles or episode numbers, though this one does. Both discs ignored our players' language presets and default to English with sign/song subtitles.
The extras for this release are on the second disc and there's a little bit beyond the norm here. In addition to the clean opening and closing sequence, we get a twelve minute mini feature that shows us a bit about the show using animation and scenes from it to flesh out the initial stages of it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Canaan is a series that's going to really engage people of a certain nature. While we have shows that come from a manga, adapted from a game or an original work, it's not that often that we get an anime series that's an original story set as a sequel to a game. Canaan is the anime sequel to the Nintendo Wii visual novel 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de and it shows. The thirteen episode series here takes the popular and well know Japanese game and shifts that story forward a couple of years and tells what happens to the characters that survived that experience. Unfortunately, if you haven't played the game, you don't get a lot of the key important details that would explain and smooth out things in the story here until about the seventh episode. It's at that stage of the show that things really do start picking up and coming together, giving us a show that is thoroughly interesting and exciting.
But up until that point, Canaan is a strange and difficult tease to get into. The show introduces us to a world that dealt with a virus attack a few years prior where the virus is incredibly deadly and killed quite a few people in the incident in Japan. One of the survivors turned out to be the daughter of the man who had the antidote, but giving it to her caused her to lose a lot of her memories. In the time since then, she's gone to find herself only to find blanks, but it's been a fun ride as she's worked as a photographer alongside a reporter named Minoru. Minoru's looking for his big break in order to be playing with the big boys of journalism and having Maria Osawa as bit of a partner helps get him along. The two find themselves in Shanghai at the series start as they're there to cover a terrorism conference that's taking place soon.
The conference is what draws the different forces together as it explores what it is that binds them together. The title character is actually two of the forces as the name of Canaan is given both to the sandy haired assassin as well as the dark haired one who now goes by the name of Alphard. Both of them had spent time together with a man named Siam, a former CIA operative who learned of a tragedy created by the CIA involving biological agents and he wanted to put it right. For Alphard, that meant exacting vengeance on everyone including him while for the much younger Canaan, it meant seeing the man who took care of her and trained her murdered before her eyes unable to do anything. With Maria mixed into it through reasons that are not really made clear for quite awhile, they all slowly have their stories mingle and mix until the conference brings things to a deadly international incident.
What gives the show an extra edge from your normal revenge story is the virus itself. A group of people termed Borners who are exposed to the Ua virus go through a change where they have a marking appear on them as well as gaining a variety of powers. Canaan is one such person as she sees the world through interesting colors, where people take on a glow about them that describes them in certain ways. It allows her to see danger easily. Others have more dangerous powers, such as the beautiful Hakko who doesn't speak as her voice causes massive vibrations that gives people headaches but can also kill like a sonic attack. Those who have gained these abilities outside of Canaan are under the control of Alphard though, which is why the threats come into play as she wants to manipulate Canaan and that means using Maria since there is that tie there.
The first half of the series offers up a number of interesting action scenes and a cast of characters that you definitely want to know more about. The various factions to it are kept relatively apart outside of the hunt for Maria so there's time for each of them to be explored, but it can go only so in-depth for a series this short. A lot of it comes down to watching the cruelty of Alphard with her style of indifference, seeing Canaan trying to do the right thing and protecting Maria whenever she's in trouble and watching as the men in their lives get tossed about. The weak point in the show is with a woman named Liang who portrays herself as Alphard's younger sister. She's completely off her rocker and spends a good part of the show wearing just lingerie. Her personality doesn't add much and the subplot with her even less overall outside of having someone “edgy” in it that wears sexy clothing all day long.
The confusing nature of the show does slowly give way to a more solidified plot as it moves along with the halfway mark really getting things underway as it deals with the conference. Canaan plays with a few odd ideas at times, especially the way it has certain world leaders so heavily promoting peace and love that feels wholly out of place, but it also really does a top notch job with the action and choreography of the scenes. What really struck me with this show and is likely the parts that will stay with me long past watching is is the tragic relationships that come into play here. There are some really tragic moments to be had that are beautifully executed that connect far better than the main storyline does. It almost feels out of place.
The look of Canaan is another very big selling point here. P.A. Works has created a very rich and detailed world for the characters to inhabit as it moves through the small shops, the big conference area and the various hideouts they all inhabit at one time or another. The colors are very rich, giving it a strong real world feeling, and the character designs are top notch. There's a really engaging intensity to all of it that really brings you into each of the locales. The boat houses, the bar and the other little holes in the wall they spend time in throughout it. When it shifts to the Silk Road it shows off the beautiful landscape there as well. The combination of the backgrounds and characters helps to elevate the work overall to draw you into it until it finally stars to reveal what it's all really about.
Canaan really left me conflicted with how I feel about it. The show opens to a strong first episode that hints at a lot of what's to come, but it takes awhile to get there and it doesn't help you much along the way. Its origins as a sequel to a game gives it a rich history but it's one that doesn't get explained well for awhile and even then you feel like so much more was left out that could help helped it. The show has a whole lot going for it but it takes awhile to capitalize on it and after the main segment with the conference, the shift to more personal nature of it causes it to lose some of its steam, which in turn has this feeling like it's more open ended than it should be. Canaan definitely has its appeal and it's an easy recommendation if you want something a bit challenging with a history to it that you can research, but it's not a casual show you can drop into and get everything in the first pass.
Japanese DTS HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Minorikawa's Report
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.