As cold as it gets in the location this story takes place, it doesn’t compare to how cold the writers are in dealing with this cast of characters.
What They Say
Like a dream on awakening, or mist in the sun, in a promised place, the end of dreams must come.
The memories and tragedies of the past and present intertwine as Yuichi's memories of seven years ago slowly filter back. But even as a memory of Nayuki floats before him, news comes of a terrible accident, one that will have shocking repercussions. And still there is Ayuà What secret is it that he must recall? As his quest builds to its final crescendo, the answers to all that Yuichi has lost hover on the edge of memory, even as the present threatens to destroy all he has gained.
For life, like love, can be bittersweet, as joy and heartbreak embrace in the final stunning volume of KANON.
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.
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.
The final volume of the series closes out with Ayu as its central focus as we have the end sequence image of her from a different angle as she runs through the forest of snow with her entirely too cute backpack on. She’s not exactly smiling here but it’s a very spot on expression for her with what she’s doing. 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.
Ayu takes the menu as well as we get an image of her standing in the forest with the sunset going on behind her, casting a very orange and warm feeling combined with the cool look of the snow. The oranges are pretty strong here and when combined with the navigation strip it feels just a little off. Kanon’s menus haven’t been the worst but they pale compared to what ADV Films used to be able to do. 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.
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 is the final production piece that shows what went into the series. This one delves into the animation process itself, both the actual animation and the CG side of it, for a nearly seven minute feature that takes us through the inner workings of Kyoto Animation. I always find these interesting to see the working environment of the key animators and CG folks so this was definitely fun, even if they let the director talk a little too much.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The conclusion to Kanon has arrived at last and even though it’s changed hands for distribution, it is essentially what ADV Films was bringing out. The transition of having it released by FUNimation after the Sojitz brokered deal hasn’t really changed anything other than a different logo here and there as well as some non-ADV Films trailers. I was amused that they weren’t forced to put on trailers just for Sojitz backed shows instead of general FUNimation ones. That said, the conclusion to Kanon was enjoyable but left me somewhat empty.
A couple of situations have cropped up in the last few episodes as the story has worked a bit across both Ayu and Nayuki. For me, the story with Nayuki was far more interesting as I continued to find Ayu a less than interesting character, so when it shifted more to Ayu than anything else I was somewhat disappointed. Of all the girls to end up disappearing in the series, she was the one I was the least unhappy about having that happen to. Where this story starts to change is that what happened seven years ago is directly tied to Ayu and it’s served as something of a block for Yuichi all this time. There’s some less than clear answers about what’s been going on with the way Ayu disappeared, but the greater understanding of the past between her and Yuichi helps to build up why the two are so close and familiar.
The storyline with Nayuki is given more play once again during all of this as well since Yuichi can’t do much with Ayu as she’s simply disappeared and hasn’t come back home. While the underlying story between the two from the past, one that haunts Nayuki strongly, isn’t exactly the most engaging of material, it’s interesting to see how it starts coming back to Yuichi and he connects it with other things. Nayuki’s interest in Yuichi is certainly understandable, as is the reason he acted as he did with her all those years ago when you considering the situation with Ayu, but Nayuki doesn’t make out well in these episodes at all and comes across as even more childish than she has before. I liked her soft demeanor and the way she fell asleep so much yet was so active but her core storyline in regards to Yuichi from seven years prior was simply weak.
Steering into definite spoiler territory here, which is fairly important considering the nature of the changes the show goes through into the final episodes. When it comes to Ayu, finding that she’s spent the last seven years in a coma isn’t a surprise once we get some of her past out of the way. In fact, the possibility of her being killed by the fall she was involved in was my first thought considering how she reacted to it. That was certainly a cruel twist and a jarring shock to poor Yuichi as the memories came flooding back. Where Kanon becomes extremely cruel though is how they torment us with Mrs. Akiko by having the kids taken out of class to talk about what happened to it just as the accident happened. And not a simple off camera accident, but one where the cars whip buy and she goes flying. You don’t see much of her in it, but the implication (and reasonable deduction) would indicate that she’s little more than a series of bloodstains at that point. As much as I wanted her to live, I was sorely disappointed that they played the miracle card again to have things work out like they did. It turned into another moment that was near impossible to suspend disbelief over.
Not surprisingly, the series closes out in a fairly positive way and finds a way to bring back everyone after we go through some last minute emotional turmoil. On the positive side, the return nods to the other characters gives us a chance to see them again and how they’re coping with everything. Kaori’s situation with Shiori in particular is worth revisiting since so much time has past since everything came to a head. The smaller situations, such as Sayuri and Mai graduating and so forth are pleasant little moments of closure for people who orbited around Yuichi for awhile. Makoto gets a nice nod at best but the main focus is on that of Ayu and Yuichi. And even though I disliked the storyline that Nayuki was given, I was more disappointed by how her side of events turned at the end and the way their relationship changed. From what the early moments were when Yuichi first came to town and she met him, I expected more to come from it and felt disappointed by the end result.
As much as parts of the finale left me disappointed, Kanon is overall a solidly enjoyable series. Kyoto Animation has really gained a lot of skill in creating series that evoke a certain atmosphere and they make the city here look so enticingly beautiful. The characters are fascinating to watch, beautifully designed and have a certain thoughtfulness that is missing in so many other shows. A show like Kanon obviously won’t appeal to everyone, and you can see it being copied in numerous other shows, but Kanon has really perfected things here. In the end, it makes me want to rewatch the series without delays between volumes and to simply marathon it. And it makes me want to see what else Kyoto Animation has in store with Key/VisualArts. Overall, Kanon gets a very solid recommendation from me as it’s time spent well.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Behind the Scenes
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.