Canaan has a history that’s bit unusual. The anime came before the manga or the light novel. But it is a sequel, to the critically acclaimed visual novel game 428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya de. The question is, is this sequel to a game that was only released in Japan accessible to people who have never even heard of the game?
Canaan’s story opens with two Japanese journalists going to Shanghai. The two of them get separated and one of them finds herself in danger only to be saved by the mysterious Canaan, whom she has some connection with from the past. They quickly become involved in a plot involving a deadly virus and terrorism. Overall, the story is handled very well. You might expect it to get bogged down with references that you’d have to play the game to get but it does a good job of explaining everything that’s important for the audience to know. The action sequences are really strong. It’s fast paced, but not to the point where it gets ridiculous or feels rushed. It has love as a pretty important theme and, unlike a lot of things that use the same theme, it does a good job exploring both the positive and the negative aspects of it. Love is shown as a source of strength but it’s also connected with insanity. That goes into a second important theme, duality. A lot of the characters, conflicts and other themes explore a dual structure. The themes are well handled most of the time. Although there are a few moments where they get exaggerated in a slightly ludicrous way. The biggest weakness to the story is that they have several flashbacks and a lot of them aren’t necessary for the story so they just come off as filler.
The characters are very well done. They have complex motivations that are revealed during the story and are realistic for them. Every important character is complex and well developed. There aren’t any characters who are extraneous to the plot. The protagonists and the antagonists both have sympathetic qualities that make them interesting and help strengthen the conflict. They also get some compelling dynamics that help move the plot forward.
The art is great. The characters are nicely detailed and the backgrounds are vibrant and lively. Things like planes and guns are very well detailed and look realistic. The art takes advantage of Canaan’s unique senses in a way that’s story relevant and helps you understand her without overly relying on those segments.
The voice acting is very good. Sawashiro Miyuki, Sakamoto Maaya and Nanjo Yoshino all do fantastic jobs in their roles. The only real problem I had was that some of the English dialogue seems a little stiff and unnatural, but there are very few moments where they show people speaking English so it’s not a big problem.
The yuri factor is a 7/10. Canaan and Maria have an incredibly homoerotic relationship which is well executed and adorable. Liang Qi also has a really obvious romantic interest in Alphard. But their relationship is not adorable. It’s actually creepy. It’s pretty obviously deliberate, so the whole difference between the two dynamics could be part of the duality theme.
My final rating for Canaan is a 9/10. Its problems are pretty minor. It has excellent characters, a very well told story, a great relationship between Canaan and Maria and really good action sequences. If you enjoyed Bakuretsu Tenshi or El Cazador de la Bruja you’ll probably enjoy it as well.