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VN Review: Kanon (Key)

This review for Kanon is way overdue. To the point where it’s kind of sad, really.

I first encountered Kanon somewhere back in 2002/3, when the Toei anime adaptation of it was released. Having watched it, and being left still a little confused, I looked into the original game. I won the Dreamcast version on eBay eventually and was so ecstatic XD
Of course, at the time I couldn’t exactly read much Japanese so I was relying on the voices to help me along.
It was no good, I couldn’t understand even half of it o(;△;)o I was so foolish XD;;

Well, even despite this, the game has held a special place in my fandom-heart and I’ve always looked back on it fondly. The 2006 anime adaptation done by KyoAni was remarkably better and cleared a lot of things up, but, alas, nothing replaces the original media in my opinion. Naturally, that should have pushed me to go back to try to read it again. Why it didn’t, I’m still not clear on, but the result is it took me until now, 2011, to properly dive into the game. (~Д~;)

If you’ve somehow managed to miss the general plotline of Kanon, here’s a brief overview:

The protagonist (Aizawa Yuuichi) returns to the snowy town of his childhood to live with his aunt and cousin since his parents have moved overseas for work. It’s been 7 years since he last returned, although during his elementary school years he would come visit during his winter holidays, and he can’t quite remember what happened the last time he was there. Yuuichi begins going to school alongside his cousin Nayuki and gradually starts to remember things about the past of 7 years ago.

Depending on the route chosen, the story is more or less related to things he’s forgotten – for example, Shiori’s route is almost, if not entirely, unrelated to anything he did seven or more years ago, however Ayu’s route is deeply connected to that time.

The girls with routes are as follows:

Tsukimiya Ayu: A generally bright, cheerful girl who loves taiyaki and spends all her free time wandering the shopping district looking for something she’s lost.

Minase Nayuki: Yuuichi’s sleepy cousin, a girl who, despite her slow manner of speech and generally relaxed personality, is the captain of the track and field club at school. Her special ability is sleeping through anything.

Sawatari Makoto: A girl who suddenly appears out of nowhere with a serious grudge against Yuuichi. She loves nikuman and manga.

(Makoto enjoying her favorite things)

Misaka Shiori: A slightly mysterious girl who, despite being off school on sick leave due to a cold, keeps coming to the snowy courtyard every day. She insists upon eating vanilla ice cream, even outside in freezing temperatures.

Kawasumi Mai: A mysterious sword-wielding girl who defends the corridors of the school every night from invisible demons. She’s not much of a talker.

Unfortunately for me, one of my favorite girls, Misaka Kaori, doesn’t have a route.

(Kaori in the classroom)

Kanon’s system is fairly simple, with a date in the upper left corner, and a text field at the bottom of the screen. Menus are accessed by right-clicking.
There are a fair number of choices for each route, although most of them don’t feel like tricks so it’s probably simple enough to get by without a walkthrough (I did use one in the interest of time and I already knew most of the story, anyway).
As you can see from my screen captures, there is an English patch available for the PC versions (which I also used in the interest of time, primarily).

The art style is very… puni, I think is the term. The faces are wide and have huge eyes, as well as mouths and noses that are squished up close to the eyes. XD; It takes a little getting used to, I have to admit. Some facial expressions end up looking buggy to me no matter how much I see them (Makoto’s teary-eyed face comes to mind… it’s just creepy u__u;;).

If you’re not familiar with Key’s works, then know that you should be prepared to cry. All of their storylines involve very emotional events and circumstances that are designed to pull your heart strings to the point of breaking. But that doesn’t mean there are no happy moments, or that it’s all heavy drama.

(Yuuichi has a fairly dry, sarcastic sense of humor, and style of narration)

I definitely recommend Kanon for the story, and the music isn’t bad, either. (It’s too nostalgic for me to be able to view it objectively at this point XD;;) The art is… passable, but not a style I would have chosen, personally. (But I’m usually willing to overlook any sort of visual quirks if the story and music are good. Sometimes even if just the story is good, but it must be VERY good.)

Just to get this out of the way: I probably won’t ever be playing Air because the anime alone left me in tears days after I’d finished it, and weeks to months afterwards if I even so much as thought about it I’d cry. Not sure I can go through that again ^^;

Chaos;Head will be my next VN update!

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