Kanon Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, June 03, 2008



What They Say
After 7 years abroad, Yuuchi reconnects with his cute cousin... but my, how she's grown!

The Review!
Shiori's situation begins to progress in a bad way while Ayu's past is slowly beginning to reveal itself.

Audio:
ADV Films has presented a good bilingual presentation with this release. With the show being all about the mood and dialogue, the two stereo mixes done at 224 kbps work well in setting the tone and atmosphere. The music is the only area where there's anything resembling a full on mix that utilizes the entire forward soundstage, but even then it's often more to just accent the moment rather than dominate it. In terms of dialogue, both tracks cover this pretty well with some mild directionality and placement at times while still working within the overall stereo framework. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2006 and early 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Kanon is a series that really teeters on the line when it comes to the grading portion simply because it has so many beautiful scenes as well as some problematic areas. Many of the scenes look quite beautiful and rich but there are several moments throughout where there's a fair amount of background noise going on and even some light cross coloration. Banding shows up in a couple of scenes as well, but there are moments where it's coming up in a darker scene which leads to a bit more blocking and noise because of it. Colors in general look quite good though and the bulk of the program is solid, but it's not clean and solid throughout.

Packaging:
Kanon returns to the kind of covers I like with this volume as it features a great shot of Shiori in the outfit she's usually wearing while set against a beautiful background that has lots of snow and a great cool looking lake. Add in that she's got a wonderful smile going on while building a tiny snowman and it's just spot on perfect. The back cover uses the leafless trees as its main design which gives it a bit of a cold nature that some previous ones haven't really pushed through that strongly. The text for the summary is much improved with this volume as it has a simple thin black border to it which makes it a lot easier to read the white text. Toss in several shots from the show in a strip down the left and a clean listing of what's included in the disc under the summary and it's put together well. The production credits are a fair bit difficult to read though due to the size of the text while the technical grid is nicely laid out and very easy to read. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
Using the same kind of artwork as the back cover, the menu design here has a very cold feel to it with the darker skies and the more ominous feeling because of the snow on the branches. It's not quite as inviting as some of the previous menus have been nor anywhere near as inviting as the front cover artwork is. The navigation is kept to the left with individual episode access and quick submenu navigation for language setup and extras. The menu works well in helping to set the mood with its artwork and music and is overall fairly pleasing. Submenus load quickly and we had no problems getting around the disc. In addition, the disc properly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
Not unlike the previous volumes, Kanon has a couple of good extras here, particularly for the KyoAni fan. The clean opening and closings are still standard and welcome but the main attraction are the two production series pieces that show what went into the series. The first one is a fun fluff piece that runs through how the series is actually animated and delves lightly into how it's all put together. The second piece goes into more detail about the coloring and how it's all determined, which is certainly illuminating for some and really interesting with this show since the colors are so rich and pronounced.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Kanon moves through its fifth volume, the series plays up a couple of interesting storylines and teases with more open-ended pieces than we've seen before. Shiori's story comes to an incomplete close - setting up for something potentially heartwarming as a closer or epilogue - while Ayu's story only begins to engage before it moves out into left field with nothing truly revealed just yet. All in all, this volume is quite a huge tease without too much in the way of real payoff just yet.

While Shiori's story started up in earnest in the previous volume, it does manage to close out in a decent if anti-climactic way with the first two episodes here. Shiori has been something of a favorite since she first appeared simply because I couldn't figure out if she was telling the truth about herself or whether she was even real. For quite awhile she didn't even interact with anyone else so it was hard to tell if she was some sort of delusion that Yuichi had created in his mind. This was all the more plausible after Makoto's secret was revealed. Shiori did become more grounded in reality as time went on and her story in its own way feels quite tragic which keeps it in tone with everything else.

With the knowledge now that her time is limited, Yuichi is doing what he can to make her happy. This is something that's an integral part of his character personality and it's really nicely done, even if it does make him seem a bit too nice at times. His desire to help those that he's close to is certainly an easy one to understand, at least to me, and it's refreshing to see someone like that in a leading role and to not have any qualms about it. Yuichi's efforts to make Shiori happy range from the painfully simple to the very difficult. He takes her out on a date which is simply innocently cute and he even sets up a birthday party for her. The difficult side comes when he tries to bring Kaori back into Shiori's life in a way that will make both of them happy. Kaori has set up some strong walls over time and bringing them down is difficult even for him and his persistence.

While Shiori's story plays out in a way that doesn't feel like it's wrapping things up too quickly, it does draw to a close in a way that's just too sudden. But that's also how life is at times so it's frustrating but good to see it happen in this way. It shifts into Ayu's story very quickly from there though which is a bit problematic since Yuichi could really use a little down time before having to deal with another near traumatic relationship experience. So much of what seems to revolve around Kanon involves things that happened seven years prior so it's little surprise to see that Ayu and Yuichi have a shared past to back then that gets explored a bit more as well. And it's one that has some very similar undertones to Makoto's story in that there is something of a supernatural angle to all of it, one that isn't cleanly explored in these two episodes.

It's one that feels like it will be touched upon more in the remaining four episodes but those episodes also have to deal with Nayuki. The relationship between Nayuki, Yuichi and Ayu is all tied together as we start to see Nayuki being "aggressive" in her own way about things as she prods him a bit more about the past when he asks her about not having someone she's interested in. Of course, Yuichi is a typical male at this point and doesn't read any of the subtext to her responses, but they're ones that are painfully blatant to the viewer and they reveal a fair amount when taken in context to what's going on with Ayu. In a way, this is all rather frustrating since I don't find too much interesting with Ayu's story until the very end of the last episode here and I'm far more interested in the history that Yuichi and Nayuki share. Nayuki held the most interest for me from the start but she's been the most underused of them all, which gives me hope for a great ending storyline for her.

In Summary:
Kanon has been a bit of an odd show from the start and when it first delved into the supernatural side I felt sort of cheated by it. As its progressed though and it became apparent it wants to stay there, I've enjoyed it a great deal for what it is. The character interactions and the overall atmosphere and mood are major draws since it's great to just relax into a beautiful production that exudes such warmth in the midst of such cold surroundings. It does play out in a fairly traditional manner and each characters arc is ended in a rather clear cut way. But it's the little moments that tie it all together as the "remaining" characters provide knowing looks, perfectly timed sighs and other reactions that give hint to what their story will be about. This installment does feel a bit rushed, but the setup for the ending is done with great potential and it gives me a lot of hope that they'll actually pull it off.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Inside a Production House (Two Parts)

Review Equipment
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.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kanon