There is a scene halfway through Canaan where Liang Qi get’s her men to bring Maria to the central control room of the conference center. When Maria get’s thrown in there, the first thing she does is ask “Where is Canaan?”. Her response? A quick kick to the face! Liang then uses Maria’s phone to call Canaan, and lure her to this trap at the conference center. But while on the phone Maria begs Canaan not to come, although Canaan says she’s coming anyway. Angered by this Liang destroys the cell phone, and pulls a gun on Maria, who is still on the floor because that kick really hurt. She’s going to kill Maria, which seems logical. They have no other use for her, and Canaan will without a doubt be showing up soon anyway. Maria can only get in their way if left alive. It seems like they can finally kill Canaan too. But no, a mere second or two before she pulls the trigger, Alphard of all people shoots the gun out of her hand. But why?
This scene sums up the personalities of all the major players of this anime perfectly. Maria is the regular person caught up in a dangerous world she wasn’t ready for. None of us world be. And she always needs to be saved from the bad guys. Liang, while being partly insane and completely sadistic, is still very logical and wants to ensure that their terroristic plots go off without a hitch. Yes she may be crazy, but killing Canaan and Maria makes perfect sense here. Alphard, while much more reserved and calm, seems to have bigger plans, that foolishly put their entire operation at risk. She wants neither Canaan nor Maria dead (yet?). Liang can’t stand this, even though she cares deeply for Alphard. And Canaan is willing to fight for, and protect, Maria at all costs. But perhaps I should start at the beginning here.
Maria Osawa and Minoru Minorikawa are two reporters from Japan, who are sent to Shanghai, China. They are there to report on an upcoming important International Anti-Terrorism Conference, a conference in which leaders of many of the important nations around the wolrd will be attending. They are also there to just do a report about the city its self. Maria and Minoru are out and about, discovering the city, and watching a street festival, and everything seems to be alright. However in the shadows Liang Qi and her terrorists are taking care of the first phrase of their plot, which involves the upcoming conference. In the chaos of the festival, Maria sees a man die because of a strange virus, and she almost get’s killed herself by some strange assassins. She is barely saved by Canaan, an old friend who she hasn’t seen in a few years. And this won’t be the last time Maria is saved at the last possible moment by Canaan. Canaan is working for an unknown government agency, to disrupt the terrorists. This places her at odds with Liang, her sidekick Cummings, and her boss, Alphard. But Canaan has the ability to use synesthesia to aid her in her combat. This makes her a capable opponent for even the best marksman around. It is later revealed why exactly this is the case for her and not others with synesthesia, but I won’t spoil that here. And so like so many other shows, Maria and Minoru get involved in a crazy world in which their lives are constantly placed in danger. The difference here is the execution. Nothing in this series is very revolutionary. Yet it’s still a great, high octane, intense, and fun action show. The show never aims to be anything more then this, and I surely don’t mind. It’s throughly entertaining.
One important aspect of this series that sets it apart from it’s brethren, is how simple the story is. I personally love a interesting, complex, and entangled plot, but there’s something enduring about simplicity. Yes, there is a mystery to what is exactly going on with Alphard. And we’re not quite sure how Canaan and Alpard’s pasts intersect until much later in the series. But unlike so many other shows, we’re not left in the dark scratching our heads with “what’s going on?”. Most of the important things we know right off the bat, or learn fairly quickly. And the things that are happening are pretty clear. There’s no complexity, no complicated or convoluted plot to be found here. Since the story is so straight-forward and so simple, we get connected to the characters fairly easily. And we can just lay back and enjoy the story. Sometimes simple stories can be amazing and involving, like this one here. And yes the plot is not really original. But what it lacks in originality it more then makes up for in sheer excitement and intensity. The show is quite dark at times, people get killed left and right, and the terrorists do some terrible things to a lot of people. The virus which plays a major role in the story is really terrible, and what happens to those who survive really sucks. But the show is not 100% serious. Maria and Minoru are often aided by an unnamed cabdriver, and a chinese restaurant waitress named Yunyun. The two bring a much needed comedy to the show. They have a few running gags, and I found myself laughing quite often! There’s some really funny things sprinkled throughout this show. These recurring characters, along with a famous pop singer, Maria’s father, and the owner of a karaoke bar, help create a very lively world beyond those of the main characters. And some become much more important to the story then you’d first think.
An interesting theme that keeps coming up in this show is almost every character has an obsession for another person. Be it Cumings for Liang Qi, Liang for Alphard, Alphard for Siam (her mentor), Maria for Canaan, or Canaan for Maria. They all seem a little too caught up with and interested in another person. I’m not exactly sure what they are trying to say with this, but I suppose it has to do with friendship, unrequited love, platonic love, and romantic love. The show clearly shows us where all of these can lead, and contrasts them against each other. Another important thing to mention is Alphard’s distrust and dislike of hate. She thinks any soldier who fights because they hate something is useless. What are her thoughts on fighting for love? Well she mentions them briefly to Liang during the conference when they grabbed Maria. But I won’t spoil this.
The animation is breathtaking in Canaan. The gun fights look amazing, car chases blow you away, and characters move incredibly realistically. And as Theron Martin pointed out in his review, the crowded street festival scene in episode one looks incredibly lively! Along with that other crowd scenes (like the one at the conference in episode 6) are incredibly active. So many people are running around, moving, and going crazy in the background. No boring stills and pans here! The animation is near perfect. It’s also noteworthy to point out that the show attempts to show us regular people how a synesthete sees the world. This works quite well. The artwork is nice too, with appealing character designs, detailed backgrounds, and a real attention paid to weapons and cars. I loved the way this show looked. It’s rare a TV series looks this good. The animation was done by P.A. Works, and you can bet I’ll be keeping my eye on them from now in. The music is pretty good too. It’s intense when it needs to be, and more laid back at other times. It’s not going to be your new favorite soundtrack, but it’s still quite good. The opening theme song puts you in the mood for a high-octane show, and the ending theme sounds great too. The ending theme is quiet and creepy, with a hint of mystery to come. I liked the insert songs by the pop singer too.
Canaan was dubbed by Seraphim Digital (formerly called Amusement Park Media. It’s ADV’s old dubbing studio), and all I can say is ADV is back baby! This was easily the best dub released on DVD last year. Everything in the dub is perfect. While Seraphim hasn’t exactly gotten back to their plateau of awesome they were on towards the end of the ADV era, they are really really close. So while not exactly on the level of 5 Centimeters Per Second, Kanon, or Welcome to the NHK, this is still beyond excellent. Canaan is voiced by Shelley Calene-Black, who fits the role about as good as anyone could. She has a innocents about her here that works, although she can be quite serious at times. Hilary Haag played Maria, and I just love her in this role. She captures Maria’s more bubbly nature with ease, and her friendship with Canaan seems so warm. This role fits her perfectly. Cummings is played by Andy McAvin. And I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. This is his role, and his alone. He just has the right voice for this guy. His scenes with Liang toward the end of the show seem so emotional. Lesley Pedersen, formerly Lesley Tesh, does a great job as Alphard. She’s cold, quiet, and reserved, yet has a certain importance to her voice that’s unmistakable. But the true star of this dub is Jessica Boone, who plays Liang Qi. Liang is my favorite character, so I am a little biased here, but there is something so very impressive about Jessica Boone’s performance in this show. It couldn’t have been easy playing a semi-insane character, getting more and more crazy as the show went on. But she gets really into it here. It’s also nice to hear her in an anime dub again! I’ve missed hearing her. The acting throughout this series is top notch, all the smaller characters are amazingly well done, and there’s nothing to complain about at all. I can’t wait to hear their other recent dubs! There’s no studio out there quite like Amusement Park Media (or rather Seraphim…)!
Sentai Filmworks put this out on dvd and blu-ray back in October of 2010. It’s available pretty much everywhere. I’m kind of surprised how little this show is talked about. It’s fun, action packed, filled with good looking girls kicking ass, and it’s action packed. There’s not much more you can ask for in an anime. It’s story is simple, but very engaging, it’s characters likable, and features some near-perfect animation. It’s another great girls-with-guns anime. So no one cares about this why again?