I never caught on to popular shows in the US, and I’ve never watched many X-Files episodes. But you know, the underlying plot in Canaan is so much like the X-Files – an experimental virus, a political conspiracy among the CIA, China, Japan among other things, a shocking cooperation between the CIA and the Snake (Michael Moore-esque much?)….We have a nearly perfect formula. Add great action, pathos, awesome performances by two tragic characters – Liang and Hakko, voiced by veteran seiyuus Tanaka Rie and Noto Mamiko, and we have a summer blockbuster. Damn, I thought nothing good came out in the summer in the anime world!
Being a cynic and constantly harboring hate like Krauser II/Negishi, I don’t usually give out super high compliments. Claymore was one of the very few shows that I really loved (among the shows I’ve written about). Haruhi season one was another (though I didn’t write about that). Those were high caliber shows. Oh, and Kurozuka. There wasn’t much information in English about Kurozuka, and yet it was one of the most dramatic shows with great performances, not to mention AWESOME animation. There are many others that are great, but I didn’t write about them.
Canaan is the biggest surprise of this season.
The gang is fighting in hell. There is no redemption. It’s not because there isn’t a way out exactly, it’s more like the organizations running the schemes behind the scenes are so huge, what can those people do? Canaan maybe; she’s almost super-cyborg-like in her abilities to track enemies and to even somehow affect missile computers, the method of which is not explained well. But in the past she couldn’t prevent Siam from dying and in the present, she can’t convince Hakko to go back with her. Hakko may have a sonic voice attack, but she couldn’t help but kill her lover and let Liang have her short-term victory. Santana has been wanting to expose the CIA, but Liang and her minions capture him and indirectly take his life during a cruel twist and trick that causes Hakko to lose her light in life.
These are powerful people, each with his or her own “super strength,” mind you.
Then we have Oosaka Maria, who has been powerless so far, except in the previous episode, she did convince Yun-Yun to take care of her life better. If Maria has powers we are not seeing any yet.
Yun-Yun is a Borner. But she has no powers whatsoever.
Minoru is just a reporter for a third-rate gossip magazine.
Natsume…Well, yeah, she’s one of the leading scientists who conducts the experiment and the factory is like her domain. But she says “whoever gives you what you need is your god” or something like that. She serves her organization and does everything they tell her to do only because she wouldn’t have a way to sustain a living otherwise.
They’re all just people being used by the fictional CIA and the Japanese government.
And then there is Liang.
From her fearful reaction when Alphard tried to kill her the first time, we learn or can guess that a big reason Liang turned out to be the crazy person is because Alphard used to be so ruthless and heartless, so without a shed of humanity, she probably scared and traumatized Liang deeply enough that she turned insane. It’s an obsession that could ruin anyone. It’s particularly worse when the insane one tries everything to please the ruthless but is spurned at every turn. After all, Alphard isn’t really human inside (perhaps she never had an ounce of humanity). She’s a beautiful, calculating, and deadly machine set on her goal, which is finding her true self back, whatever that means.
Liang is the tragic character that no one save Cumming loves in the show. She never finds solace in Alphard, just a black hole of empty longing. Alphard never sees her as much more than a piece of equipment; that attitude influences Liang deeply and in turn, Liang treats all the experimental subjects including Borners, Unbloom, and so on the same way Alphard treats her. She craves love; she receives treatments from cruel intentions and lives with two fears – fear of losing the only person that influences her with deep emotional scars, and fear of being destroyed by that person. In the end, she’s shot by Cummings but Alphard had already killed her long ago.
Don’t forget Cummings. Initially, he is only a comic relief character. As time goes on, we discover something so touching and yet so desperate about him – his love for Liang, his dear mistress, who’s a psychopath in love with a heartless terminator. His loyalty is born out of his perceived love for Liang. Yes, it’s perceived, because true love would’ve sent him away; far away until Liang heals, which would never happen. Even at the end, when Liang fully displays her contempt for him for no good reason, he still tries to get her back from hell.
Alas, hell’s fire had already consumed our crazed Fury. The only thing he could do was to comply with her last wish.
The tragedy of that wish…Well, I’ll leave it up to you readers to savor the sadness.
Out of all the characters, there is one to hate – Alphard. Being the typical animated villain with no feelings and using everyone as tools, she feels nothing for Liang’s death or Cumming’s loss. She needs no one and cares for no one; she’s the strongest killing, calculating machine of them all and she does what she desires. In Siam’s words, that makes her invincible.
It also makes her truly a monster.
Additional Notes: There is one thing that makes those powerless people strong (or so many religious freaks would have you believe in real life). They believe life is precious and they fight to keep themselves and in Maria’s case, others alive. Maria abhors killing and actually, so did Hakko, until Hakko completely gives up in this episode. Although being shaky and weak many times, Maria can stand up with some good encouragement from Minoru. She takes the crucial pictures, which may expose the entire scandal after all. I suspect that will be part of the ending. Although all that Minoru can do is take a smoke, he helps to bring the truth to light by taking photos and encouraging Maria to take some. Whether that will do anything in this story is still up in the air.