kanon 10 (spoilers)

I decided to split my Kanon coverage into spoiler and non-spoiler posts. I find it more and more difficult to talk about this series the way I want to talk about this series without revealing spoilers. Since this will be about double the work for me, neither post will be very long– i.e. don’t expect Mai Otome Zwei levels of quality.

WARNING: This is the spoiler post and what I consider to be spoilers is stuff that will happen in Kanon in the upcoming episodes. If you’re expecting me to type out something like, “A Making Snowball Nayuki is fine too… Ayu fanboys, where is your Oharuhi-sama now?!?” turn around and leave. Find the other Kanon 10 post.


FINAL WARNING: Spoilers ahead about Ayu, Nayuki, and Akiko. If you don’t want spoilers, visit the non-spoiler version!

I watched an episode of Parental Control on MTV last week where this skanky rich girl was complaining that her boyfriend doesn’t pay any attention to her so she’s going to start dating other guys. I wanted to write something about how Regressed Makoto is the equivalent to an ultra-high maintenance girlfriend, which would make Yuuichi the greatest and most attentive boyfriend ever. Then I decided to go with a different train of thought. Kanon‘s not a typical bishoujo game and maybe that’s the real fault of the original 2002 series: it made it seem like just yet another bishoujo game.

The real drama and entertainment value (for some) about Kanon has always been sad girls in snow. Unfortunately, Kanon took it to the extreme and gave us Makoto. She reminds me of a little kid who is dying and whose parents are putting their best face forward but are really crumbling inside. To abstract us away from that ultra-depressing reality is that Makoto isn’t really Yuuichi’s kid but rather some fox creature he found and cared for. Still, this episode becomes a painful reminder of what it is like to care for a dying or sick child. Yuuichi does whatever he can, even if it means a cost to himself, to try to bring her happiness before her time is up. The selfishness that he displays for Makoto is worthy of any parent.

Yuuichi becomes Makoto’s protector, lover, caretaker, and Make-a-Wish Foundation all rolled up into one.

And this cycle will repeat and repeat and repeat. Kanon is about sickly girls who crave the warmth of someone who cares for them. It’s about presenting weak girls who need to be protected and nurtured. Sad girls in snow, indeed. The irony, of course, is that the sickly girl isn’t the sickest. The sadness is created through magical or illness but never something like “My boyfriend isn’t giving me any attention” and maybe this choice is a concession as an h-game. It’s an interesting angle for a bishoujo game, but unfortunately, it’s hard to sell x-rated bishoujo games where characters die like they’re caught between Revy and a hard place. In the end, as we can see with the last scene in this episode, even though Kanon insists on taking us through an emotional tour de force, no sad ending awaits the girls. Still, I’m not sure about my endurance for Kanon if Kyoto Animation will milk Ayu’s and Akiko’s stories like what they have done with Makoto.

As with any form of entertainment, entertainment is key. Do I find enjoyment watching the equivalent of someone taking care of an unlucky child? It’s noble… but not necessarily quality entertainment. Good entertainment makes us laugh, makes us cry, makes us think, makes us believe, makes us giddy, and tries to empathize with us on reasonable terms. Kanon has doesn’t really any of those things… it’s like watching Grey’s Anatomy… what exactly is the entertainment value? It’s not something tangible like a Revy gunfight, an otome train wreck, a Pekopon pun, or a Mushishi proverb. Instead, Kanon‘s about trying to get the audience to empathize with the girl’s plight. Sure, Kyoto has dressed it up, but the core remains sad girls in snow. And they’re waiting for warmth.

Then again, for people who don’t exactly find sad girls in snow their cup of tea, they’d probably have bailed out of Kanon by now and are firmly entrenched with Code Geass or Death Note.


After seeing the past few episodes watching Makoto slowly degrade as Yuuichi does his best– and he finds relief and happiness in such a small thing like how Amano managed to get Makoto to remember her name– we’re going to go through it again once Akiko lands in the hospital and Nayuki spends all of her time here. We get to see the opposite end of the spectrum as Nayuki has to balance her life with caring for her mother as well as take on the household’s everyday responsibilities. When I heard Nayuki’s “I’m sure that I can be good friends with Ayu-chan,” I wasn’t thinking, “Hehehe, it’s Kirino and Riko!” But no, Nayuki will get along with Ayu because she all but concedes Yuuichi to Ayu to take care of Akiko.

Another emotional rollercoaster. And… we’ll get to go along with a that ride… until we realize that the real Ayu is in a coma in the room down the hall from Akiko’s. Then we’ll see Nayuki struggle with the weight on her shoulders as she debates whether or not to tell Yuuichi about Ayu. And that’s probably why Nayuki’s my favorite character.

The more I think about this series and where it is going, I think that the original creators and designers within Key had a “Final Fantasy 7” moment comparable to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s when he experienced something tragic in real life, and the tragedy made it into the game. Except while you couldn’t use a phoenix down for Aeris in FF7, Akiko makes a stunning recovery, and with Yuuichi by her side, Ayu makes an even more miraculous recovery. There’s no emo moments. There’s no angst except the helplessness of watching a loved-one suffer in pain and illness. There’s no great big moral except, “Warmth from love is what you have left in these situations.” There is a feeling of hopelessness… yet… everything will be right in the end.


The way Kyoto has been handling things, they are definitely doing a better job at preserving this aspect of Kanon than the 2002 series. Pointy chins? Not important. Keeping the spirit of the source material? Worthy of smoked cheese.

17 Responses to “kanon 10 (spoilers)”

  1. I think one of the most important things of Makoto’s arc is that it sets up the themes for Ayu’s miracle. Her life has already been paid, and Yuuichi has paid his memory in order to let them meet again. Of course, the wishes on her doll are also important and I’m interested in seeing how KyoAni presents the wishes that she makes.

    I think Nayuki’s role is also important as a contrasting element to the other girls, Ayu especially. Nayuki is the girl that is always left behind, with whom Yuuichi never keeps his promises. She’s also the only one who is able to more or less live her life without Yuuichi’s help.

  2. I actually appreciate these divided posts over the norm, where the spoilers have to be kept in the closet. Myself, I’m one of the “new” fans of Kanon, having neither played the game nor watched the 2002 version. However, I actually like spoilers, which allow me to understand overall what’s going on much more easily.

    Kanon gives me quite a bit to think about, often I’m mulling on how exactly to look at it. Episode ten in particular concerned me, as I was really unsure of how the series would follow up on Makoto’s story. After reading this, I’m quite convinced to finish the rest of it, wherever it may go.

    So as a fellow lurker on this site, thanks for the extra work.

  3. I’m recalling the scenes of Yukito taking care of Misuzu in Air reading this post. I guess it’s a mark of this game production house.

  4. I found the saddest part this episode to be when Akiko said goodbye and broke down. Akiko~! Nakanaide!

    Now that this is over, I’m looking forward to seeing Mai in more detail… and even better I guess, Nayuki in more detail. I never got to like her much in 2002, so I hope that changes within a few months.

  5. It was actually the ‘every thing will be alright in the end” part that I didn’t like about the first Kanon. I didn’t feel like a good ending was appropriate after everything that happened. Ayu being alive just negated all of the powerful emotions that the scene of her parting with Yuichi brought up. I am not sure if the new series can actually fix that. My only hope is that by the end of 24 episodes perhaps Yuichi has suffered so much more then he had by the end of 13 episodes of the original series, that I’d feel sorry enough for him and want him to have a happy ending. Granted I already like the new Yuichi better, so I suppose it is possible that I will like the ending to the new Kanon.

  6. If you think about who Kanon was written for (and probably who it was written by) it’s pretty easy to see why these stories are written as such and also have a happy ending.

    That said, I’m kinda annoyed that anime adapations feel a necessity to go through every story scenario when the “canon” story is just a single one of them that has minor overlaps. This is especially the case with Kanon… I’m probably the only one here that actually really wanted to see KyoAni do Kanon before another Haruhi, but Makoto, Shiori, and Mai will have next to zero importance in the final arc. Like AIR, Kanon is several side stories and one important one, so why are we doing this awkward mishmash of 4 again, KyoAni? /mutter (Oh, money, right.)

    Nayuki’s my favorite character too, by the way. I think Kanon’s theme of supernatural tragedy is in direct contrast with Nayuki’s overall normalness, and she was written into the story for that reason. The way an anime format has to handle Kanon necessitates that she be handled last (with Ayu), and in the “standard” ending for Kanon she is a faultless, unbearably understanding, and likable girl, who just simply cannot allow herself to win against the supernatural occurances surrounding Ayu and her happiness.

    I think Kanon (and Nayuki) was a lot more interesting to examine when the “I picked her and I didn’t pick you!” scenario wasn’t as common – it’s admittedly written far more these days. To my knowledge, if you think about the majority of harem-type scenarios written around Kanon’s period, the actual selection of which plotline was followed has little effect on end result of the others – this is true with Mai, Makoto, and Shiori as well. On the other hand, Nayuki’s tragedy only occurs if the decision to save Ayu from her supernatural tragedy is made over her; it must have created a strange sense of responsibility for those who played it. I think it’s a very realistic tragedy among a throng of semi-magical ones.

    Again, my favorite character. =p

  7. This is a welcome change from dancing around the tragedy that is unfolding in Kanon.

    I am actually still watching this because I am curious about how far and where KyoAni is going to go with this.

    I have seen the same plight in RL but at a much intense level. As sad as Kanon maybe it doesn’t really go into the financial problems of it, the guilt of having to ask for money, and worrying if you can still keep your job. The US military if nothing else does provide a degree of medical care that would be otherwise impossible for a civilian worker. As such I have seen people who have similar problems, but hardly mention it. They miss work for week long periods and if they are really unlucky have to contend with inflexible officers. For intents and purposes these guys are stuck, and this does breed a degree of resentment because despite all the noble connotations to it what you wanted to do has been put on hold if not utterly crushed. Love may still be there but it can be and often is marred to a degree.

    As an onlooker I hope that things work out for them, but I know that having to balance all that and a job is never easy. All you can do is do your job hold the fort for these guys until they come back. In this regard I can understand Yuuichi’s plight but there is no empathy on my part. Miracles can happen, but sometimes they don’t, such is life.

  8. Agh, and here I was thinking watching the first Kanon series would render me immune to spoilers… >.

  9. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen an anime that made me care as much and feel for the characters as Kanon has so far. It’s like a kick in my poor, shrunken heart, turned cold by too many characters I’ve cared about who died for no reason, only to be brought back for even less of one, and worse, didn’t even manage to evoke any response in the process.
    This episode was a real tear jerker for me, and I don’t think I’ll be able to put the tissues down anytime soon, the way I’ve heard Kanon’s going to play out.
    Personally, I’ve never played the game or watched the first anime, but I’m certainly enjoying the poignancy of Kanon so far.
    In conclusion, damn you Key and KyoAni for making me feel again. It’s going to take several seasons of train wrecks and pointless resurrections to deaden my senses again.


  11. The Makoto arc I find really creates sympathy and overall good feelings towards Yuuichi that is inevitably going to complicate things when he dumps Nayuki. Making her somewhat related to him even plays on her closeness to him in that he helps everyone around him but not the one closest to him kind of thing. Seeing him care for others with such devotion was absent from the 2002 anime most likely because of episode count and focus, but it left him appearing as a real jerk and the Ayu thing way too convenient. KyoAni here however, is complicating Yuuichi with their portrayal. You can not help but like the guy for how he deals with Makoto and probably we are going to see the same thing with Shiori and Mai. Nevertheless, as we all know, it is that heart and caring which is inevitably going to hurt Nayuki.

  12. I just want to see Nayuki tormenting Yuuichi by making dozens of snow rabbits and smashing them to bits in front of him, over and over again.

  13. A host of fine thoughts you have, good sir. Very thought provoking and deep. Thank you for the extra work! It has certainly given me more things to think and contemplate over.

  14. A-ha-ha, whoops! Here I was wondering why a post about Kanon 10 would have spoilers about Ayu, Akiko, and Nayuki, so I decided to read on. I thought, ‘Akiko? I’m pretty sure she didn’t even have her own storyline–how could there be spoilers about her? And isn’t this episode about Makoto? How could there be spoilers about Nayuki or Ayu? That can’t be right, I guess I’ll continue reading.’ Fooled myself quite well!

    Darn darn. And usually I get in trouble for taking people to mean literally what they say. At least I remain unspoiled about Shiori and Mai.

  15. Dear,i think Yuuichi ia UNSELFISH towards Makoto,not SELFISH.And i think Kanon has a LOT of things to care about.But i am not annoyed by any means about what you have written.Everybody has a right to opinion.Yes,i am deeply taken by this story.

  16. Smoked cheese is win. And what if I’m into Code Geass, Death Note, Kanon, AND Otoboku? Does that make me an overachiever?

  17. >> Does that make me an overachiever?

    Not unless you try adding Pizza Hut into the mix. Kudos to Kyoto Ani; they did an outstanding job on the Makoto storyline. Here’s hoping their touch works just as well on the rest of the series.

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