Kanon is a visual novel developed by Key. It was released in 1999 and has become one of the most popular visual novels in the US and Japan. So, how does it hold up today? Let’s take a look.
Who says you can’t use anime art for a visual novel review?
Yuuichi Aizawa, a high school student, returns to a town that he last visited 7 years previously to live with his aunt and cousin. For a reason he’s not quite sure of, he can hardly remember anything about his last visit, but initially this doesn’t seem to worry him too much.
The day after he arrives he goes into town where he (literally) bumps into a girl named Ayu Tsukimiya, and Yuuichi’s memories slowly begin to return
Kanon’s scenario is what founded the visual novel formula. A male finds himself surrounded by a group of female characters who happen to be love interests.
The one thing about Kanon is how it is very similar to Maeda’s previous work, One Kagatsu Kietsu e. I think Kanon’s scenario is slightly better, just due to how things are better explained, and it has a better character cast.
The characters are the driving point of Kanon. And, like all Key works, said characters are all likable.
The main character of this tale. Yuchi is sarcastic, smug, and very relatable. He is the basic Key protagonist. While I don’t like him as much as Tomoya, Koutarou, or The Junker, Yuichi’s still a great character.
Ayu is the main heroin. You first run into her in the street when she’s stealing Tayaki. Ayu and Yuichi soon remember that they are childhood friends. Yeah, the childhood friend trope was less prolific as it is today. Ayu is a very clumsy and generally cheerful girl. What separates her from Misuzu or Nagisa is the fact that Ayu is also very pushy with things. She really reminds me of Kagami Sumika from Muv-Luv.
Uguu is the greatest thing ever
Nayuki is Yuichi’s cousin. She is a fan favorite character, and I can see why! She’s a very sleepy girl who can still be asleep when about 10 alarm clocks go off. Despite this, she is captain of the track team. Nayuki is bursting with moé! Oh yeah, Kanon is packed to the brim with moé. I didn’t mind this, because I quite like moé, but I can see why someone may not like it.
Makoto is the obligatory tsundere of the VN. However, I’m am surprised that I enjoyed her route as much as I did. Typically, I dislike tsundere characters, but I really like her route. It’s easily my favorite of them all. It was the only to make me cry.
One day, Yuichi meets Shiori in the park after Ayu runs into her. And than the next day, he meets her at his school. Shiori is nice, calm, collected, and generally polite. She does have a way of putting people down, but she still does it in a very polite way.
“Sono koto uuito kirai desu”
Mai is my favorite of the heroins. Why? Well, I LOVE coodere characters! Mai rarely talks and when she does, it’s almost always in a monotone voice. She also claims to be a demon hunter, and stays after school hours to hunt said demons. This has made her to be labeled as a delinquent. However, Mai could care less.
The side characters are Minase Akiko, Nayuki’s kind mother and the best character, Misaka Kaori, Nayuki’s sarcastic friend, Kitagawa Jun, the Sunohara or Masato of the VN and Kaori’s self-proclaimed boyfriend, Amano Mishio, a silent girl must like Mai, she only appears in Makoto’s route, and finally Sayuri, a friend of Mai who is the complete opposite of her, being very cheery and friendly.
Seeing as Kanon is almost 20 years old, the art is quite nice. Itaru Hinoue is probably my favorite artist ever, so I am very partial to her art. The characters all have plenty of expressions and suit the variety of scenes the VN has.
There are also quite a number of CGs, while not as many as something like Muv-Luv or Fate/Stay Night, it still has a lot for it’s time.
The H-Scenes are not the highest point. I think it’s mostly because the characters are so moé that I find it disgraceful to lewd them.
If there’s anything you can guarantee about a Key product, it’s that the music is great. It has almost every kind of track, emotional, calm, energetic, etc. Kanon’s ost is another ost that I think is quite good to listen to on it’s own.
Voice acting is good, but there was no voice acting suddenly at one point when I was playing Shiori’s route. The music also does tend to be louder than the music, but that’s kinda expected from an older VN.
I certainly did not expect Kanon to be this good. But it was much better than I thought. However, there is something to note, which is that the 2006 anime might be better. It’s one of the few adaptations that is that way. So if you don’t want to play the VN, than watch the 2006 anime by Kyoto Animation.
The anime can be streamed for free on Funimation’s website: link