Sunday, 20 September 2009

CANAAN - Episode 12

Last episode, I put forth my thoughts as to how CANAAN has been missing something that I couldn't quite distinguish; with just two episodes left to go has it managed to find it?

With all of the excitement, sorrow, death and necrophilia at the research building over, you might think that life is about to return to normal for Maria, Canaan and company. Okay, actually you probably wouldn't think that to be fair, this show was hardly likely to become a slice of life series at this juncture. Anyhow, after a brief stay at a hotel it's time for everyone to head back to Shanghai... Except their car won't start, leaving Maria, Yun-Yun and Canaan to take the train back while Minoru tries to get it fixed.

Now, if there's one thing we know from action-based anime series, it's that nothing good ever comes of a train journey, particularly when you're sat in an empty carriage. So it proves here, with military types stopping and eventually over-running the train killing most of its occupants, while Canaan races off to the source of this ruckus only to leave Maria unprotected and thus falling right into the hands of Alphard. To cut a long story short, we end up with Maria shot and wounded, a bomb counting down on the train (another reason never to catch one in an action anime show) and Alphard and Canaan facing off against one another.

In fact, perhaps it's that final point which answers the question as to what much of CANAAN has been missing - I'd almost forgotten how absolutely fantastic this show's action scenes can be, but once again when it comes to the crunch this series delivers with some brief but brilliantly balletic fight scenes that were truly breath-taking, against yet another episode that was simply beautiful to watch in purely aesthetic terms. That aside, this episode has also set us up nicely for an interesting and potentially emotional finale, albeit via some rather clumsy means, with Canaan's mental state being portrayed in a particularly cliched fashion. It's this kind of juxtaposition of the majestic and the mundane which makes CANAAN so hard to discuss - I really want to like it and there's aspects of the show that shine through week after week, but once you drill down beyond that it still seems as though there's something fundamentally missing from its DNA.


Robert said...

I've chewed through Canaan in the last few days, and I've been enjoying it immensely as well, but I see what you mean about "something missing".

I think that the main problem is a lack of a clear antagonist. While Alphard is set up as the baddie, God only knows why... she's not so much inscrutable as incoherent!

In one scene she says that she's going to start lots of wars to show the futility of capitalism (um, somehow...?), but against that she's the head of a big corporation, has a shot of royal blood in her, and in another scene says that she wants to use the Borners as a bioweapon business. She keeps going on about how she's no longer bound by the past, but she still jealously pursues Canaan for being the late Siam's favourite (but then leaves her be half the time, so it's a pretty confused cat that's chasing the mouse). I'm not sure exactly what the tortured cutting off Liang Qi, a fanatically loyal lieutenant, was supposed to achieve either.

The show makes a few anti-American sideswipes but is pretty muted and half-hearted about them. The Snakes themselves have no motive - they just seem to be terrorists just for the sake of being bastards.

Canaan is an action anime, but it's one without an enemy! All of its elaborate moves and techniques are flailing at empty air. It's a great pity, because it's strong in many other respects.

Hanners said...

It's been mentioned before by people on this 'blog that the "missing link" I speak of may well be familiarity with the "428" video game from which this series spins-off - I wouldn't be at all surprised if that game fills in a lot of the motivations and developments that we feel we're lacking here, which might in turn have made this series seem much better.