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CANAAN: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 10, 2010 by  



An enjoyable anime series featuring ladies with guns, ladies that can kick butt and most of all, a humorous and fun series that follows the tradition of other similar anime series like “NOIR” and “MADLAX”.  The sequel to one of  Japan’s top visual novel adventure games, receives its anime adaptation.  “CANAAN: Complete Series” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © CHUNSOFT/Project Canaan.  2010 Sental Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: CANAAN: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: October 26, 2010

 

Directed by Masahiro Ando

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Hikaru Nanase

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director by Takeshi Waki

Chief Animation Director: Kanami Sekiguchi

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Anime Production: P.A. Works

Featuring the following voice talent:

Maaya Sakamoto/Lesley Pedersen as Alphard

Miyuki Sawashiro/Hilary Haag as Maria Oosawa

Yoshino Nanjou/Shelley Calene-Black as Canaan

Akio Ohtsuka/Andrew Love as Sham (Siam)

Haruka Tomatsu/Serena Varghese as Yunyun

Hiroaki Hirata/Leraldo Anzaldua as Santana

Junko Minagawa/Kaytha Coker as Natsume

Kenji Hamada/David Matranga as Minoru Minorikawa

Mamiko Noto as Hakko

Rie Tanaka/Jessica Boone as Liang Qi

Toru Ohkawa/Andy McAvin as Cummings

Colors have scent. Sounds possess images. In this future world, where biochemical weapons have changed the game, an unlucky few have their senses blended. They are gifted with abilities beyond what normal humans feel. They possess synesthesia.

In Japan, many visual novel gaming fans are huge mega fans of Type-Moon (the company known for producing visual novel adventure games for consoles).  Type-Moon co-founders Kinoku Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi would create a visual novel for the Nintedo Wii known as “428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya De” (from SEGA) and it was also one of the few games to receive a perfect score from the popular Japanese video game publication, Famitsu Weekly.

The game featured a special scenario created for by two Type-Moon co-founders and it was announced by SEGA that the scenario would receive an anime adaptation known as “Canaan” which would air on television in the summer of 2009 and now would receive its US release courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.  The anime is considered a sequel to the popular visual novel video game.

The anime is directed by Masahiro Ondo (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Elemental Gelade”, “Hana-Saku Iroha”), screenplay by Mari Okada (“Angel Tales”, “Aria the Natural”, “Vampire Knight”, “Rozen Maiden”), music by Hikaru Nanase (“Gravion”, “Angel Sanctuary”, “Ichigo 100%”, “Scrapped Princess”), art direction by Takeshi Waki (“Samurai Champloo”, “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki”, “Trouble Chocolate”) and character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“Hikaru no Go”, “True Tears”, “Wild Arms – Twilight Venom”) and based on the original character designs by Takashi Takeuchi (“Fate/Stay Night”, “Tsukihime, Lunar Legend”).

“Canaan” is a series which focuses on three women who have a connection to an upcoming anti-terrorism summit in Shanghai.  The three is a stoic, young assassin/mercenary named Canaan; the other is Alphard, the rival of Canaan and also an assassin and mercenary who heads the terrorist organization “Snakes” and the third is Maria Osawa, a victim of an attempted terrorist attack in Shibuya two years earlier.

In the beginning of the series, reporters Minoru Minorikawa and the naive Maria Osawa are sent to Shanghai to cover the NBCR International Anti-Terrorist Conference.  Both are survivors of  the Shibuya bio-terrorism incident (featured in “428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya De” video game) and during that time, Maria was infected by the Ua virus but was cured by her father, a scientist who developed an anti-Ua virus vaccine.  She has suffered amnesia and has lost all memory of what took place at that time but she does remember Canaan and her friendship with her.

One night, While the two were out shooting pictures at a festival in Shanghai, Maria shoots a picture of a man who has been inflicted with a virus and has a purple scar on his neck.  Immediately after shooting the photo, she has become the prime target by killers wearing masks.  She is eventually rescued by an old friend, Canaan, and being the naive girl that she is, doesn’t realize that Canaan is an excellent assassin.

Since that day, there have been many attempts on Maria’s life but she has been rescued each time by Canaan.

Meanwhile, as Canaan and Maria spend time together, Minoru begins to investigate using Maria’s photo to find out what these purple scars are on the skin of people who have died. Is it a virus?  What is it? Interesting enough, he becomes smitten with a deaf woman named Hacko (an actual Borner who has the ability to kill anyone with her voice) who works at a strip club and is shocked to find out that she also has the scar right on her neck.  Eventually Canaan learns quickly that the person responsible for the attacks on Maria is none other than her rival Alphard.

As Minoru continues to investigate these scars, Maria’s life continues to be in danger and only Canaan can protect her.

Why is Alphard desperately trying to kill Maria?

“CANAAN” features the following characters:

  • Canaan – A survivor from the Middle East trained by a man named Siam to become an elite assassin and mercenary.  She was trained alongside with another girl named Alphard who would later become her rival.
  • Alphard Alshua – The antagonist who is the rival of Canaan and the leader of the terrorist group Snake.  While working on a mission with both Siam and Canaan, she betrayed them by trying to kill them.
  • Maria Osawa – Abducted by Snake and infected by the Ua virus in order to have her father, scientist Kenji Ozawa to come up with a cure.  The trauma from her abduction has left her with amnesia.  She is a photographer and a partner of reporter Minoru Minorikawa.  She is good friends with Canaan but unaware that she is a mercenary.  She is a survivor of the Shibuya incident.
  • Minoru Minorikawa – Maria’s partner who was also a survivor of the Shibuya incident.  In Shanghai working on assignment alongside Maria.
  • Siam – An ex-mercenary who trained Canaan and Alphard to become killers.  His apprentice Alphard ends up betraying him and Canaan.
  • Lian Qi – Alphard’s top Lieutenant who wants to be recognized by her boss.  She is obsessed with Alphard and will do what she can to kill Canaan to make her happy.
  • Cummings – The head of the private military company Daedela and serves under Lian Qi.  He is also the target of her shooting him with an airsoft gun when she gets mad but it’s OK with him as he is a masochist and is in love with Lian Qi.
  • Yunyun – A borner who has mutated to have two appendixes but other than that, she is a friend of Maria but also working for Lian Qi.  Unfortunately, as much as she wants to get away from Lian Qi, she is dependent on anti-viral medicine that Lian Qi has.
  • Hacko – A silent mute as it would seem but the truth is that she is a Borner who can cause brain damage with her voice and thus never speaks.  She works at a karaoke cosplay bar ran by a man named Santana.
  • Santana – The owner of the karaoke cosplay bar who uses his establishment to help Borners and Unblooms.
  • Yuri Natsume – A Japanese woman who is a representative of Canaan’s employer and also serving an informant who works for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

CANAAN: Complete Collection” features all 13 episodes of the TV series on two Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Evil, Flood-Colored City – While shooting photos in the city, Maria is rescued by Canaan when masked men started shooting at her.
  • EPISODE 2 – Worthless Games – Alphard is rescued by her terrorist organization, Snake.  Meanwhile, Minoru is fascinated by the photos Maria took of the people with scars.
  • EPISODE 3 – Trivialities – Canaan and Maria go out for some R&R, meanwhile Minoru hangs out with the mute beauty with the purple scar.
  • EPISODE 4 – Lingering Sunset – Maria has seen the dark side of her friend Canaan and now doesn’t understand why she is like that.  Meanwhile, Alphard and Canaan come in contact with each other.
  • EPISODE 5 – Friends – Maria prevents Canaan from killing her friend Yunyun, but Maria is not aware that her friend is work with Liang Qi of Snake.  Meanwhile, the concept of the “Borners” (those with the purple scars) is explained as people who survived the 2nd Generation Ua virus and have mutated and now these people have special abilities.
  • EPISODE 6 – Love & Piece – Minoru learns the truth about Hacko’s Borner abilities.  Meanwhile, the terrorists (led by Liang Qi) have come after Maria Osawa by attacking the anti-terrorist convention.
  • EPISODE 7 – Gravestones – When Alphard shows Liang Qi her disdain of what she has done at the anti-terrorist convention.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Canaan.
  • EPISODE 8 – Voice – As Maria and Canaan along with Hacko attend a concert performance, Hacko accidentally sings and hurts people around her.  This leads to Canaan and Maria trying to help her but for some reason Hacko shows her anger towards Canaan for some reason.
  • EPISODE 9 – Flowers of the Past – While Canaan, Maria, YunYun, Santana and Hacko are in the desert, someone tries to kill them.   We are introduced to the “Unblooms” who are also victims of the 2nd generation Ua virus but unlike the “Borners”, they did not mutate nor did they receive a special ability.  They are vulnerable to UV ray and noises and thus have to wear masks to protect themselves.  Meanwhile, Alphard begins the final stage of her plan.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – Loss – Liang Qi reveals why Borners were created and also we learn why Hacko was created.
  • EPISODE 11 – See-Saw – Yuri Natsume shows her true colors and Liang Qi goes mad.  Meanwhile, the factory is collapsing and Canaan and Hacko will need to escape.  Can they?
  • EPISODE 12 – The Seasonal Train – Canaan and Alphard have their final confrontation.  Meanwhile, Maria and YunYun are kept in a train compartment with a bomb that is about to go off.  Will Canaan be able to defeat Alphard?
  • EPISODE 13 – The Promise Land – The conclusion of the battle between Canaan and Alphard.

VIDEO:

“CANAAN: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9) .  For the most part, I was pretty impressed by how much detail and location scenes were featured in this television series.  Animation was well-done and if anything, artistic backgrounds were well-done.  Some scenes were quite vibrant with the strong reds and oranges during the early Shanghai episodes.  But there are much more details that can be seen on the Blu-ray versus its DVD counterpart.  For example, in episode 3, when Maria and Canaan are underground and Maria is being held hostage, the scene is very dark and on DVD, it just seems like black water.  But on the Blu-ray version, you can actually see the water reflecting from the wall and see it actually flowing.  So, there are details that you can see much better in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“CANAAN: Complete Collection” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  I have had the chance to watch the series in both English and Japanese.  And both are well-acted but when it comes to preference, the Japanese lossless soundtrack seemed more natural compared to its English counterpart in which the center channel seemed lower and I had to manually increase the volume.  Typically I don’t have to do this but for the English soundtrack, I had to as the front and surround channels seemed more overpowering.

But this is no big deal as I am able to adjust the levels on my receiver.  But for the most part, both exhibit good use of the surround channels and at times (especially in the more action-driven scenes and where crowds are involved for more crowd-based ambiance).  But overall, I felt the Japanese lossless soundtrack was more of my preference but watching it both in Japanese and English, both language soundtracks are very well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“CANAAN: Complete Collection” contains the following special features:

  • Minorikawa’s Report – (12:30) A short featurette on “Canaan” and the characters as told by ace reporter Minoru Minorikawa.
  • Also Available from Sentai Filmworks – Trailers for “Tytania”, “Kimikiss: Pure Rouge”, “Tears to Tiara”, “Xam’d: Lost Memories”, “Uta Kata and “Blue Drop”.

“CANAAN” was a much better series than I expected.  To tell you the truth, I was expecting another “Burst Angel” type of series or something “NOIR”-ish but “CANAAN” was pretty cool series as each episode is connected, the character were cool and interesting and it helps that you have a good amount of action and humor.

If anything, after watching this anime series, I was hoping maybe SEGA would bring “428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya De” out for the Wii, so fans of this series can know what is going on and what happened during this “Shibuya incident”.  Because you literally feel like you are missing on key details.  Yes, we know Maria and Minoru are survivors of the incident but yet, we are unclear about the incident because the game hasn’t been released in the US.

But I enjoyed the series and some of its twisted and dark undertones but for some people, some may feel its too similar to series like “NOIR”, “MADLAX” and “El Cazador de la Bruja” with a little “Burst Angel” mixed in.  You have your usual female mercenary assassin with Canaan who is stoic and literally kicks butt, and then you have her antagonist, Alphard and of course, her best friend Maria that she tries to protect.  Throw in other characters who are more like comedy relief or fodder and if anything, the series shows its banality.  Almost like having a feeling that you have watched this type of series before.

But fortunately, because of the added characters and the concept of “Borners” and “Unblooms” made the storyline quite intriguing.  But once again, I can’t help but feel that if we were given a chance to play “428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya De”, similar to our Japanese counterparts who had, we would be enjoying this anime series much, much more.  With that being said, I did enjoy “CANAAN: Complete Collection”.

As for the Blu-ray release, for a TV series, I was pleased by the animation and artistic backgrounds for this series and hopefully it establishes P.A. Works as a major anime production house (as its previous role was more of providing in-between animation for other companies).  Also, the series does gain some major credibility as you have one of the finest anime director’s working on this project.  Masahiro Ando was remarkable with the animated film “Sword of the Strangers” and given the material he had to work on, for 13-episodes, I felt that he did very well and didn’t need to stray into filler-based episodes.

It’s important to note that the series is quite violent and although rated 14V, that second to last episode is quite bloody.  But there is no clear violence or appendages being blown off that you can see (although we know it did happen in certain scenes).

And in addition, it’s important to mention that there are three films on the “CANAAN” 13-episode anime series that will be released in Japan.  One can only hope that the newer footage integrates storyline and scenes from the video game to better illustrate what took place during the “Shibuya incident”, especially for those of us who will probably never ever play this Japanese game.

But overall, I was pleased with this Blu-ray release.  The anime series was enjoyable, action-driven and fun!  So, if you enjoyed series like “NOIR” and “MADLAX”, definitely give “CANAAN” a try!






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