Sunday, February 25, 2007

Anime: Kanon Ep 21

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Since last autumn, I have been following Kyoto Animation's remake of the acclaimed anime 'Kanon'. The main plot of Kanon revolves around a high school guy named Aizawa Yuuichi and the snowy city of mystery and miracles in which he is currently residing in the present time frame. Yuuichi had lived in the city as a kid 7 years ago, but moved out with his family during his elementary years. Fast forward 7 years later, Yuuichi returned to the city, but mysteriously, he had little recollection about the city, nor any memory of his life in the city 7 years ago. However, since moving back to the city, he met a string of girls, who slowly trigger the return of his memories in the city. And it seems that we will soon find that his memories about the snowy city 7 years ago was a traumatic one.

I had not mentioned anything about watching Kanon, nor review it since its premiere on Japanese airwaves last autumn. Apart from not having the time, I find the story pacing very slow, and sometimes quite mundane. However, I still follow the series every week not only because the first production was a success (storywise, and also production wise), but particularly because I quite like Kyoto Animation's work. One of KyoAni's production which I liked best was the animation AIR. I love their artwork, fluid animation and soundtrack. The way they shoot the scenes create a subtle, yet incredible impact. Furthermore, this remake of Kanon boasts an impressive seiyuu (voice actor) cast: the male lead, Aizawa Yuuichi, is voiced by one of my favorites, Sugita Tomokazu. Other seiyuus include Horie Yui (Tohru of Fruits Basket, Naru of Love Hina), and Seki Tomokazu (Nobu of NANA, Chiaki of Nodame Cantabile).

Now, I admit that I had been watching the first 60% of the series impassionately. I do enjoy listening to Sugita Tomokazu's acting, especially the sarcastic jokes and dramatic demeanor. While each arc of the series is decently interesting, they were not over-the-top exciting. There's sort of like a degree of mildness and calm in the way KyoAni presented the story. However, watching the ending segment of Kanon episode 21 took my breath away. The way KyoAni introduce such a shocking turn of event in the calming pace they had adopted all this while is excellent.

Let me just highlight 2 particular segments I liked best in this episode:

1. Nayuki and yuki-usagi (snow bunny)

While I understood that Nayuki had all this while liked Yuuichi, it made me very sad when they showed the link between Nayuki's unhappy memories of the snow bunny with Yuuichi. I did not expect Yuuichi to have delivered such a harsh blow to her sincerity 7 years ago, and yet she can still like him after such a hurtful gesture. The scene showing Yuuichi's memory of the shattered snow bunny and the relevation that it was to Yuuichi whom Nayuki was giving the snow bunny was very good. I think KyoAni created the desired emotional impact of Yuuchi recalling the memory. I was impressed.

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2. Akiko and strawberry cake

This segment blew my mind. I like the way they blended Yuuchi's realization of the snow-bunny thing with Akiko's accident. The scene of the accident really really shocked me. I cannot put it in words how well done I think the scene was done... you really have to watch the scene to feel the impact. And the way they zoom in on the ruined strawberry cake on the snow was an excellent reminiscence of the ruined yuki-usagi. The cliffhanger was the best I have seen in the series so far.

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Plus, the preview was exciting. I especially love the part where Nayuki sat in a corner of her room, blaming herself for Akiko's accident and telling Yuuichi to leave her alone. The next episode is going to become emotionally intense and very interesting.

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Unfortunately, it seems to me the best of the series is just beginning at the near ending of the anime. I find KyoAni very artistic in delivering emotionally wrenching scenes at the last few episodes of the series. The pattern seems to replicate from their previous production, AIR. The first half was quite calm, and slow paced, but the last 3 episodes made me cry, especially when they showed the link of reincarnation and the inevitable death of Misuzu. The part where Misuzu tethered towards her aunt at the 'goal' end was very very sad.

For the first time, I'm actually looking forward to the next episode of Kanon: Symphony.

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All images belong to Memento & Random Curiosity.
Please do visit them for excellent reviews on Kanon.

cross posted in Miharu's Musings.