Kanon Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: 29.99/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kanon

Kanon Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     March 12, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008


Kanon Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
He's a stranger in a strange land.. and the land keeps getting stranger.

Between hunting demons, looking out for his charges and keeping his cousin awake, Yuichi has had little time to work out the mysterious events of seven years ago. But the longer he stays in this town, the more the memories drift back to him, piece by piece... A quiet girl who wears a sword and moonlights as a demon hunter offers some ominous advice: watch out for Makoto and protect her, no matter what. But with no memory of her past and no evidence that anyone is looking for her, Makoto has become an even greater conundrum. It's as if she simply appeared from nowhere! How can Yuichi protect her if he doesn't know why? Or from what? The next clues will be revealed in the second volume of KANON!

The Review!
While the power of uguu compelled you to pick up the first volume, it's the power of Auu that will get you to snag the second volume.

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:
The second installment of the series brings us Kaori for the cover art which is admittedly a strange choice considering she has practically no presence in these episodes whereas it's dominated by Makoto. That said, the cover art does look good with that kind of soft focus to it that draws you into the very smooth and appealing character designs. The original Japanese logo is retained which is a really nice touch as it adds to the light and airy feel of the cover. The back cover is similar to the first one in that it's using an interesting choice of artwork with Nayuki leaving a building with a lot of late afternoon sun hitting it. There's such a variety of colors here that it feels almost like it's clashing. In particular, the white text with a black border feels a bit stark against the white background while the other text around it with the blue and white border is somewhat difficult to read at first glance. It looks decent overall once your eyes adjust to it though. The production credits are very 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:
The menu design continues the simple approach that ADV Films has been using for the last quarter as it takes the cover artwork, zooms in a bit and adds a brief bit of music. The navigation is kept to the right 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:
Kanon features some of the basics we've come to expect from anime releases by including the clean version of the opening and closing sequence. In addition, we also get a pair of video extras entitled "A Close Look at an Anime" which looks at the animation process for Kanon. The first volume had the first installment but this one gives us the second and third installments together to follow the progress of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Kanon begins to establish itself a bit more with this volume, it decides to do what is required by not spending so much time introducing the variety of girls but instead tackling some of them in a bit more detail. The plus side is that we start to get to some of the meat of the series but the downside is that if it's a girl you don't care much for then this'll be a bit of a chore. Thankfully at this stage none of the girls are instant turn-offs but there are a couple that are far too shallow for my tastes.

For the four episodes here, Kanon decides to put its focus on the character of Makoto. When first introduced to her and her amnesia situation, I really have to admit I didn't care for her too much. She came into the household when I wanted to see how things would play out between Nayuki and Yuichi and added far too much of a blatant harem element. Brash, outgoing and at times simply odd, Makoto is the one that draws attention to herself whether she intends to or not. With the stronger focus on her in this volume however, she's started to become more humanized and interesting, even if she doesn't have any real current background to her. There are some brief flashes of a connection that Yuichi realizes later in the volume and there's some very strange potential with her as revealed during the last few minutes of the volume, but all of that is circumstantial at the moment as we're just being shown her connection to others.

What drew me in to Makoto's charms this time around is the way she plays against Yuichi. The two of them aren't exactly oil and water but Makoto can't help but try to get the better of him. Where the problem comes in is that Yuichi is completely on top of his game. Unlike a lot of male leads in shows like this, Yuichi is fairly confident about himself but not cocky. He's outgoing enough and can easily make friends. He's got no issues in going right up to someone and introducing himself or trying to get some information out of them. His interactions with characters like Mai and Mishio show this clearly, never mind the stranger ones like Shiori. Yuichi's banter is disarming for many of them and is evidenced by the way most of the girls at the dinner table laugh with him about things.

With Makoto, Yuichi can't seem to help but really tease her because of how she is. Yet that interplay between the two of them is becoming infectious. The way she continually tries to sneak into his room to give him grief actually had me smiling and laughing more than I expected. She's quite childlike in a lot of ways, which is to be expected with her memory loss, but there is a charm in how she goes about it with such simplicity. Even more amusing is that Yuichi always has one up on her and throws her simple plans into disarray quite easily. This only serves to frustrate her more which in turn makes her all the more adorable. At the same time, the disconnect between her and reality due to the amnesia has some very dark moments, particularly when she's on the bridge with Yuichi and talks about how disposable relationships are and proceeds to show him without even really thinking about it. That adds an interesting angle to her that's starting to get explored towards the end of the volume.

When it comes to the rest of the cast in this volume, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Nayuki is only given a couple of cute scenes related to her allergies and Ayu simply shows up to eat regularly at Yuichi's place. The story that deals with Mai is given a few nice nods as Yuichi continues to check in on her and her strange ways with the sword. This also introduces him to Sayuri, a girl who appears to Mai's only friend. The trio when together is quite cute and disarming because of the way Mai is indifferent to everything and Yuichi's jokes backfire on him in front of Sayuri. The one girl who I want to know more about, to really know if she's real or not based on how the story is going, is Shiori. She is like the others in this volume in that she's trotted out on occasion while Yuichi is dealing with other things and we get to see a new facet of Yuichi through her while also getting to know her. Nothing terribly in-depth is revealed of course but the slow pattern of building her up along with Yuichi is certainly one that raises a lot of questions.

Visually, Kanon continues to be quite the attractive show which isn't a surprise. When it comes to a real world kind of show like this where the backgrounds are even more important than usual to evoke an atmosphere, Kanon pays off in spades. Particularly nice is that it's one that deals regularly with a lot of snow and that has a very different kind of visual effect than what we usually see from Tokyo based shows where there's often not much snow or just a few flakes floating about. The look of the show is one that has a lot of cold to it but still feels incredibly warm because of the lighting used for it. And just like the background design, the character designs are very attractive and fluid. Each of the girls has a very distinct look but one that doesn't set them apart as being different from the rest of humanity. No truly outrageous hair designs or outfits are to be found here. That only serves to help the view connect with them as something that could very well be real.

In Summary:
Kanon focuses quite a lot on Makoto with this volume and that's not necessarily a bad thing. While there's a good diversity to the girls here, spending a bit of focused time on one of them helps to flesh them out and also to expand what we know of the situation overall. Even better is that Yuichi is coming more into his own and is acting like more of a fully formed character. If anything, Yuichi has really became my favorite of the show simply because he doesn't follow the route of many male leads in shows of this nature. With a sharp wit, some amusing and incisive humor Yuichi just hits it home every time and is very enjoyable to watch. This volume ends with some interesting teasers about the show overall and it'll be interesting to see where it really goes and how well it can pull it off. Kanon is very enjoyable on an atmospheric level but I'm still cautiously optimistic about it as a whole.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,A Close Look at an Anime Part 2,A Close Look at an Anime Part 3

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.

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