Written by TheEclecticDude (with edits/revisions by Ryugama628)
So now, after taking a look at Kino’s Journey last week, we jump ahead a bit to 2008, to the tail end of the ADV era of dubbing productions. Kyle Jones worked on dubs almost right up to the end it seems. This week I am taking a look at the last series he did for ADV, which is….
A Fleeting Miracle
Kanon (2006 TV Series)
Studio: Kyoto Animation Director: Tatsuya Ishihara Script: Fumihiko Shimo
Now, before I begin I want to stress that I am talking about the Kanon 2006 KyoAni series, not the Kanon series made in 2002 by Toei Animation. Granted, the 2002 series isn’t licensed (and unlikely because lol Toei) so I had to get that out of the way. Anyways, Kanon 2006 is a 24 episode series with an initial run of show from October 2006-March 2007. It is based on a visual novel by KEY, also responsible for Air, Clannad and Little Busters all whom have animated adaptations as well.
Well, Kanon, like its fellow KEY adaptations, is a harem visual novel, wherein the player acts as the main male character (MMC) and weaves through the lives of several girls. Kanon, in this regards, has Yuichi Aizawa, a young man who goes to live his cousin Nayuki and her mother one winter, after being away from Nayuki for 7 years The reason for which, unfortunately, escapes him initially. Over the course of time he spends the winter in his cousin’s town, he meets up with various girls: the cute Ayu, the tsundere Makoto, the quiet Mai, and sickly Shiori. Yet, in some form or another, Yuichi slowly discovers that he impacted their lives in one way or another in the past and finds some way to help them reconcile this as it relates to a present issue for those girls.
What makes Kanon work is that it has a very endearing cast of characters. For instance, Yuichi is a nice guy though a bit biting/sarcastic and mean but means well. Though clearly casted from the MMC mold, he has enough beyond that to compensate; he experiences a character arc. All of the heroines have something that appeals to those who like those archetypes, be it the cute Ayu with her ‘Uguu~’ catchword, the sleepiness but strong-willed Nayuki, the mischievous trickster Makoto, the quiet stoicism of Mai or Shiori’s kindness in spite of bad situation. Even outside of that, the supporting cast are really good as well. Akiko, despite her special jam, is a kind caring mother and I love how though limited her involvement in the story is, she plays her part.
Of course, in addition to being a visual novel harem title, it does come with some issues. To a certain point, it operates on fairy tale logic i.e. some of the more magical/supernatural are not explained that well but then again I understand why that decision is done in accordance with the fairy tale logic. It is fairly serious but has times of levity and comedy which doesn’t feel out-of-place. The plot is dictated with the girl who is the focus so feels a bit like a play-through of the VN done in total animation. And though it does intertwine the storylines for the girls at certain points, once they betray the source material for the show, often the scenes with other girls amount to ‘hey remember me i am still in the show/story’. The arcs that work well are the ones with the most intersection with the others or permeate the show fully (Mai, Ayu and Nayuki story lines come to mind) though Makoto’s is fairly rote once you are clued into how her past is tied to Yuichi. In my opinion, the weakest arc has to be Shiori, she appears in a few scenes here and there but then when the times comes for her. So it’s quickly resolved with little fuss and not really followed up on but only with an aside.
Kanon also works in terms of emotional impact. It is fairly dramatic but not too overwrought in it. It does manipulate you emotionally, the old pulling at the heartstrings with the ‘oh look at these poor cuties and their sad tales of woe’..Thankfully the story balances that out with light-hearted slice of life stuff and even moments of comedy. It touches upon themes regarding the importance of memory and family/friendships which are critical to understanding and getting through it all, the joy and sorrow, grief and happiness, etc.
In terms of visual and audio presentation, Kyoto Animation is really great here. Granted, this is from the time they were doing Air and Haruhi and just on the cusp of becoming a great studio in their own right. It’s really great, visually speaking, and certainly shows why Tatsuya Ishihara has been the main director for all KyoAni shows past this point. The OP is just so beautiful, perhaps due to the involvement of KEY developer Jun Maeda. The rest of the soundtrack is soft piano music mixed with electronica mixed with some classical music, particularly the Pachelbel Canon in D. Going from this musical connection, the anime goes further than that with episode titles having a word linked to musical forms. In one of the pivotal scenes of the series, the progress of life is described as a song with its harmonic progression. Also, the heroines of the tale have their own theme affixed to them akin to Wagnerian leitmotives. Of course, out of all of them I got to hand it to Shoujo no Ori, Mai’s theme, as a favorite of mine.
Now this is a 2008 ADV dub, re-released by Funimation. In fact I picked up the SAVE edition for the series right around Christmas last year. ADV did run it in singles run from January-March, May-July 2008. Then Funimation, after picking this and some 30 other titles from ADV, re-released the last single volume in October 2008, before proceeding to release it twice on a full DVD set in 2009 and then again in 2010. Kyle Jones directed the dub, although credited as a co-writer for the dub script in last 8 episodes and as a co-producer on last 4 episodes. Amusement Park Media, the precursor to Seraphim Digital, handled the ADR Production for this title and many of the other late era ADV titles, like Welcome to the NHK, Shattered Angels and Magikano. This dub in particular demonstrated that even near the end ADV was putting some quality dub work, some exceptions aside (cough Magikano cough Shattered Angels cough cough). Like with Kino’s Journey, Jones handles the dub very well even with a much more adaptative script, written by Kathleen Moynihan. Anyway, the cast is very good and handle themselves very well even the newer talent in the cast (ex. Tiffany Terrell, Melissa Davis and Natalie Arneson). Chris Patton is really great as Yuichi and at the top of his game here. The rest of the cast consists of late era ADV talent: Jessica Boone, Brittney Karbowski, Maggie Flecknoe, Melissa Davis, Greg Ayres, etc, many whom would go onto be regulars in many Sentai Filmworks dub productions. Of note, Brittney Karbowski is really cute as Ayu and captures the child innocence perfectly and I think proves why she became, for better or worse, a mainstay for Houston dubs in the near future. In addition, Funimation regulars Colleen Clinkenbeard and Caitlin Glass also shows up in the cast and acquit themselves well, something from that time that some later era ADV dubs have with the talent pools of Houston and Dallas intersecting on dub productions. I find it nice that practice has been revived in recent years.
In conclusion, Kanon 2006 is a very effective visual novel adaptation manages to strike the right balance between comedy and drama to tell a nice story of relationships between people and how important it is best to remember both the good times and the bad. Yeah it’s not totally realistic, relying on fairy tale logic; But then again there is an understandable degree of it for me to suspend my disbelief. It has a top notch production in terms of visuals and sound with an english dub which is a standout from its era yet still holds up greatly even today. I do give this a recommendation as out of all the KEY adaptations this is probably the strongest in my opinion. Kanon 2006 is available from Funimation in the aforementioned DVD sets as the ADV singles have pretty gone out of stock and hard to find, what a bummer.
So next 2 reviews will be over Kyle Jones dubs from the Sentai Filmworks era. What about, you readers will have to find out next week. Tomorrow I got Shimoseka episode 6 review.
PS-Kudos to my younger brother who have brought in as an editor/revision helper, starting with last week’s and this review. He has a deviantArt account page Ryugama628’s dA Page where he has art, stories and such stuff. Figure I would give him a plug. Thanks for the assisting there. See you all next time, dear readers.