Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Canaan, girl with gun

Maria, dragged into unexpected adventure. Running == action. Right?

Colorful Shanghai street festival is the setting for the first episode.

Categories: seinen, girls with guns, contemporary, science fiction, supermen, evil USA, fights, boring invented political intrigue

This show played in Japan in the fall season of 2009. The title character Canaan is a Femme Nikita knock-off, and a superwoman (the plot deals with the secret of her creation, and the creation of other various superhumans who show up in the show). The show opens with an intensely colorful and complexly choreographed Shanghai street festival cum firefight. It would be nice if the entire show were this detailed, but it isn't. Canaan is rarely ugly, but after the first few episodes, production values drop to no better than average.

POV character is Maria Ousawa, who plays the part of the clueless innocent in every Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode who gets dragged into the action. Maria has a partner, a magazine journalist, whose purpose in the plot is never quite clear. And there are sets of intersecting bad guys, including a Chinese criminal gang and the CIA. And Yunyun, a vaguely racist stereotype of a Chinese girl who provides comic relief with jokes about her small breast size.

Canaan is beautiful to watch at its start, and shows lots of promise. I watched all 13 episodes, but found it ultimately unsatisfying. First, the plot is contrived, and too complicated for a show of this length. Second, I didn't really care about any of the characters. I've been thinking about why, and I haven't quite got it figured out. (If I had, perhaps I'd have a clue about how to create engaging characters of my own.) The audience is supposed to care about Maria in particular, but she was too much of an airhead for me. They say that people like characters who like things. If you want your readers to love your character, make your character love books, or photographing covered bridges, or the boy who moved in next door. Maria never seems to really love or want anything, until the penultimate episode. I never understood Canaan's motives, and had no reason to love her or care about her. The bad guys get a POV episode of their own late in the show, but by then it's too late to make the viewer care about them, because the director's emphasis has been on presenting them as exotic, sexy, or crazy, not empathetic.

Another problem with the characters is that they all seemed drawn from the stock character bin. Even the ones who were supposed to be super-exotic and bizarre came across that way. None had an ounce of, well, character.

Minimal fan service. Not licensed in the US at this time. Fansubs are available. Based on a very well-regarded Wii game. I don't think I have ever liked an anime show based on a game.

Executive summary: If the show is ever licensed in your country, I'd rent it rather than buy. The first few episodes are fun and the animation is gorgeous. Maybe you'll be more taken with the characters than I was.
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