Sunday, 5 July 2009

CANAAN - Episode 1

Yes, that's right, it really is new anime season time yet again - Has it really been thirteen weeks since the lasts time I uttered those words? Apparently so. Anyhow, first out of the gate for me this season is CANAAN (no, I don't know why it's all in capitals either), a show notable if nothing else for being produced by P.A. Works, formerly of True Tears fame.

Having said that, it's probably fair to say that this series couldn't be much more different from True Tears if it tried. This first episode is, as you would expect, an attempt to introduce us to at least some of the major elements and characters of the series. So, we have Canaan herself, seemingly acting as some kind of mercenary for a third-party (while also taking out balloons with a rifle... She obviously really doesn't like those Sony Bravia commercials) on the one hand, and a reporter for a gossip magazine and his fresh-faced photographer Maria Oosawa who are also visiting Shanghai to cover a festival on the other. There are plenty of other faces and names to whom we are briefly introduced during the course of the episode, but the only key element to come from these is the mention of synthesia - Something which is clearly going to be a major plot element as the show develops.

While we soon learn that Oosawa and Canaan know each other (although how they do is still unclear), perhaps the most interesting aspect of this opening episode is the complete disinterest the festival-goers show in the increasingly disturbing goings-on around them - Thus, we see children playing in the blood of a dead man or dancing around another bleeding, screaming prostrate individual, and even with hails of bullets flying around later in the episode everything is welcomed by cheers and excitement. Are these people simply caught in the moment amidst the celebrations, or is there something more sinister going on here? The latter certainly could be the case, especially given the various men in masks, for some of whom being unmasked bringsa them to an untimely demise...

For a series that aims to bring so many disparate elements together, the opening episode is always going to be a tough sell - Just how much do you cover and how quickly? CANAAN's first episode certainly seems determined not to rush its introduction of major characters, and perhaps sensibly so, instead sewing some of the show's basic seeds while also intermixing it with enough action to keep the viewer's interest. The action sequences in question certainly made for stylish set pieces in almost a James Bond-esque way, and coupled with some of the bizarre goings on it depicted here my interest has certainly been held going into episode two. This may not have been an absolutely fantastic opener in and of itself, but it's certainly a case of mission accomplished thus far - Can this video game-based series keep things going and create a compelling story for itself? We shall see.

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