CANAAN Complete Collection (Cert 15)
3 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 302 minutes approx.
Japanese reporter Minoru Minorikawa and photographer Maria Ōsawa are dispatched to Shanghai to cover an upcoming International Anti-Terrorist Conference. Whilst taking photos the sights of a local festival parade Maria snaps a man who appears to be dying from a strange malady when a pair of masked men suddenly appear from nowhere and accost her. Thankfully Maria is rescued an old friend, Canaan! Meanwhile Minoru explores the unusual markings on the dead man in Maria’s photo leading him to uncover the mystery of a so called missing village linked to the plans of a terrorist group called Snake, who plan to launch a biochemical weapon called the UA virus at the conference.
Blasting out from the remnants of the visual novel game 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de is this thirteen part action-adventure series which serves as a sequel for fans of the game, but needs no prior knowledge for us newbies. The three central characters of the game – Canaan, Maria and Snakes leader Alphard Alsheya – return along with a colourful and deadly supporting cast in what is an explosive tale of love, friendship and loyalty. It is essentially a show of two halves with the first dealing with the terrorist campaign of Snakes and the second the emotional and personal bonds of the characters and how they each intertwine with one another.
When not taking jobs from her stoic intermediary Yuri Natsume, mercenary for hire Canaan is fuelled by revenge against Alphard for killing their mentor Siam, the man who rescued Canaan from the Middle East and trained her in the art of combat. Aided by her devoted lieutenant Liang Qi – who refers to Alphard as her sister and is utterly infatuated with her – and Cummings, a subservient man in love with Liang Qi, Alphard and Snake’s plan is to pollute the world with the UA virus and choose the Anti-terrorist conference as a starting block to show everyone the effects of this deadly chemical.
Minoru’s investigation uncovers a village where the inhabitants were used as test cases for the UA virus. Those that survived were left with an odd purple marking, as seen in Maria’s photo, and a bizarre side effect. These people are called Borners and while some end up in the employ of Snakes, others seek refuge in the form of Santana, the owner of a karaoke cosplay bar in Shanghai. One Borner is the beautiful mute Hakko (check out her sexy cat outfit!), whose voice can cause destruction to all that hears it hence her silence. Also arriving noisily on the scene is energetic Chinese girl YunYun, a young Borner used as a disposable pawn by Liang Qi until she meets and befriends Maria. Largely adopting the comic relief role, YunYun doesn’t appear to have any side effects from the UA virus but her heart is as big as her mouth.
One thing Canaan is not short on is ideas. It is chock full of them and with the brisk pace of the first few episodes some of the content takes a while to sink in. For example, you have Canaan’s synesthesia – an ability where she can combine her sense for maximum effect, allowing her to dodge bullets, hack into computers and detect a malevolent presence. By no mean is Canaan impervious however; she can be injured – there is a lot of claret spilled in this show – but she is often able to come out on top and save the day at the nick of time, usually whenever Maria is in trouble. Despite appearing like a convenient “damsel in distress”, Maria holds some importance to the plot as her father has created an antidote to the UA virus, making him a prime target of Snake as he is secretly flown out to Shanghai for the conference.
Things slow down a little at the halfway mark as the investigation into the village where Snake conducted their tests brings back old memories and sees our cast in a more reflective mood. On the other side of the tracks, Liang Qi is losing it big time over Alphard’s infatuation with settling the score with Canaan rather than pay attention to her. Attempts to kill Canaan herself earn Laing Qi nothing but scorn from Alphard, while poor Cummings is stuck in the middle like a love sick puppy loyal to two masters. Liang Qi’s breakdown is quite disturbing yet somewhat intoxicating to watch as is the final showdown between Canaan and Alphard which shows some Bond-esque flair in its use of a speeding train as a fighting platform.
Some people may find the tonal and focus shift of the latter half of this series a little hard to reconcile, turning from action to character driven narrative. This reviewer didn’t mind this personally but can see how it may not sit well with action junkies, suggesting thirteen episodes was not enough to explore the initial story arc. The final episode is something of a comedown after the thrilling events that precede it, but it provides sufficient conclusion while leaving the door ajar for more. Animation comes from PA Works and while the action scenes are phenomenal as is the artwork and detailing, some of the basic character designs vary from episode to episode, mostly in distance shots where the details are hurried. The use of CGI is implemented well enough brining some wonderful depth to the opening scenes of the festival parade. Overall a fairly solid and nice looking show.
Whatever cavils some may find with this show, Canaan is ultimately a lot of fun, if a little too short to explore its full potential. It has the guts to try something different with a familiar premise and shouldn’t be vilified for it. For this reviewer, this bullet ridden ballet is a girls with guns show that definitely hits the target!
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
Disc 3 only:
Clean Opening Credits
Clean Closing Credits
Ratings – ****
Man In Black