Every season of anime brings with it one or two shows that are hyped as being "the best thing since fucking Evangelion!!!!11!!1 LOLZ!!1!!" Most don't live up to that title. Most don't live up to being "the best since Princess Nine." Canaan is this past season's most boastful show, and although it is a far cry from anything truly epic (or even memorable), it's at least better than most of the crap out there... I think. Really, it has a lot of been-there-done-that, got-the-Dirty-Sanchez stuff going on, but Canaan at least has some fantastic action and animation. That counts for something, right?
Let's start things off by talking about the plot. The plot is all over the place for the first half of this short 13 episode series, and the first chapter makes things even more confusing than they ever needed to be. The opening episode of Canaan ties Le Chevalier d'Eon for "Most information packed into the first 22 minutes of storytelling ever. Ever." We're introduced to a young assassin who seems to be able to defy gravity and the rest of the laws of physics (and human anatomy in the way that she sees shit), some reporters covering a global anti-terrorist meeting and a Chinese festival in Shanghai, a captured leader of a terrorist organization, weird men in giant masks who shit themselves crazy-dead when their masks are removed, some business people who like to bathe during important meetings, an undercover guy and his mute girlfriend who can't follow her man's orders, and some basic plot points having to do with people who can use all 5 of their senses all at once (meaning hearing and tasting colors, and seeing and feeling sounds), oh, and lots and lots of action and bullets.
By the end of this first episode I was kind of overwhelmed. I liked the complexity of the whole scenario, but nothing really grabbed me. Nothing made me sit up and take notice or slapped my balls around. All the characters were clichés of heavily used and abused caricatures that have been shit out ever since I can remember watching my first anime. The brash reporter, the retarded blonde Japanese girl (ugh, it kind of hurts whenever I type that), the emotionless super killer, the psychotic yet devoted badguy underling, the mysterious mute beauty, and the 5 steps ahead of everyone, cold and calculating super criminal. Absolutely nothing new here. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The plot, you want to know about the plot.
The plot of Canaan has to do with the Ua Virus and its ability to kill most of those who are infected by it within 12 hours, and turn the handful of survivors into mutants. Just like the X-Men — super powers and all. Well, some Ua Virus mutants get kind of screwed and only get "gifts" like an extra appendix, but others get super-heightened senses and.... well, this show is so unimaginative that that's pretty much all we see in its mutants. There is one other gift we witness, but it's kind of a surprise, so I won't ruin it, though it's already an ability that one of the old school X-Men had from way back in the 70s... That old Irish bastard.
Okay, so the Ua Virus makes muties (well, 3 that we know of, and only 2 with any real powers), but it also makes messes (those who don't get powers or die outright become the unBloom, and die if they ever see sunlight or some such shit). There's a lot of questions over using civilians in Ua Virus experiments in order to make more super soldiers like our title character — the super killer known as Noir, I mean Canaan — done by the CIA in central China... Don't think about that last sentence too hard. And the plotline of the cure for the Ua Virus, and the world leaders who are held captive by the Snake terrorist organization in the building they're holding their (kind of ineffectual) anti-terrorist meeting in. Actually, that whole subplot of the world leaders being terrorized didn't amount to anything... It was resolved quickly, and it didn't have any repercussions that followed our heroes and villains for the rest of the show. Honestly, that's this show's biggest problem: nothing that happens in Canaan matters. There's ALREADY A CURE for the Ua Virus (thanks to the blonde Japanese girl's scientist father), and so everything that everybody's fighting for is pointless.
Other than the lack of any kind of plot that made a lick of sense, I found myself HATING one of the lead characters. Maria Oosawa (the blonde photographer from Japan, and bff of Canaan) is so goddamn dumb. And every third word from her mouth is "Sugoi!!!1!eleven!!1!" She's so dumb that in order to see her friend Canaan again (after chasing her off with her own annoying personality), she remembers that Canaan always saves her when she needs to be rescued, so she thinks it'd be a good idea to introduce herself to some scary rapist-looking punks in a dark alley in order to make her friend magically appear... And that's one of the smartest things she ever does. She continuously throws herself into harm's way in order to... fuck if I know. I can't understand stupid. And Maria's belief in the good of all people really got old fast, especially when half of the cast were so unrepentantly EVIL. There's such a thing as having a sunny disposition, and then there's minor retardation.
I did like Yun-Yun (the down on her luck girl with 40 part time jobs), the main reporter guy, and that mute green-haired chick, but the rest of the cast (especially the psycho or "menacing" villains) were just annoying. And yeah, I understand that this is an animated program, but when it tries to be serious — which it always completely fails at since so much of the whole is just ludicrous and ridiculous (like the entire MAIN PLOTLINE) — it makes it very difficult to get through.
Beyond that, there was the plot problem of Canaan losing her super powers (for NO reason) and then her getting them back (for even LESS reason). They don't even reflect on that major issue — it just is, despite the fact that it was made out to be HYPERLY important to everything at the time. And my least favorite part of this whole thing has to be the whole non-ending. Nothing is accomplished, nothing is really changed, and no real issues are resolved (at least not satisfactorily). You feel like you just sat through 6 and a half hours of pointless storytelling when all is said and done. Major plot problems (like the importance of the US' involvement in everything, the sufferers of the Ua Virus, and the actual point of everybody coming together) are just left up in the air, and it falls into the trap of having people die, but not really die. Ugh...
I did like a couple of things in the second half of the series though. There was one death that was truly disturbing — not in a grossness or violence factor, just mentally disturbing (refreshingly so). AND THEN, almost immediately after that wasted life is one of the most fucked up (yet somehow hot) sex scenes I've ever seen. Wow, this show really knows how to throw it all out on the table when it wants to... But that's really pretty much all it pushed in the end. Not very redeeming.
Unfortunately the most entertaining part of Canaan (past a few extraordinary fight scenes) was the chapter titles in the GG Fansubs I watched. "OK, let's see how silly this ending is going to be" being the first chapter of the final episode. My favorite though mirrored my thoughts the exact moment that it appeared: In the same episode, just when the commercial break ended the chapter title popped up "Wait, what the fuck is going on here?" I pretty much spit out those exact words myself.
Politics in the early 2000s, as portrayed by this strange show Canaan, appear to be why humanity had to turn to The MotherBrain in the early 22nd century in order to keep homo sapiens from falling into an anti-evolutionary spiral. See, the people who ran for the highest offices in the world in your time turned out to be the dumbest people ever to step foot in DC, the House of Parliament, or the Japanese Diet.
The laws put into effect thanks to this "Era of Stupidity" are astounding to the historians of my time! Rules like "You must not smoke pot," "You must hug at least one person of every color once a day," and "In order to stop the natural cycle of Global Warming we must allow the communist country of China take over as the world's largest industrialized powerhouse nation by closing all auto, appliance, and lead-toy-making factories in the country" are so absolutely ludicrous that the historians of your future look upon you as if you are mere medieval deadites. Only with less grey matter.
Thank you, my retarded ancestors, for documenting your own leaders' stupidities so perfectly in the form of showing how they are so easily captured and tortured and made to piss their pants by one insane woman with big breasts, and her tiny army of pansies. At least the US president did not urinate in his trousers like the Read or Die authors made him do over and over again in their own story of animation.
I don't remember what my point was except to say that you are all ignoramuses and you will bring about your own doom shortly. You bastards.
Cool BOOMS and BLAMS, whore, but lame everything else. Fuck this show, and it's dog.