#1 A generally uninteresting plot
Contemporary stories about military science, mercenaries, terrorism, corruption, and espionage are the bread and butter of many a novelist out there. I find books like Tom Clancy’s bibliography a bit boring, but I have enjoyed some anime that use similar themes, of which Canaan could have been one.
The story follows a gunslinging mercenary called Canaan who teams up with a duo of reporters to fight a terrorist threat looking to disrupt an international conference in Shanghai. The terrorist force consists, for a large part, of victims of an experimental virus that was released on a remote village. A virus that granted those affected by it bizarre mutations that could be utilized for warfare. In doing this, Canaan straddles the line between being a serious thriller about terrorism and being a wacky action anime about young-adults with superpowers.
The mixture is bizarre and makes it difficult to pinpoint who it appeals to. Fans of colorful action anime will find the subjects the story addresses dull and the source of much boring downtime between action scenes. Meanwhile fans of political thrillers will likely find the show’s sense of humor obnoxious and the supernatural themes too unrealistic.
To me, the story also felt just generally boring; owing to a wealth of minor issues that pile up. Its twists are predictable, it recycles setpiece moments all the time, characters like the American president and his scheming underling are boring stereotypes, the heroes constantly make stupid decisions, the list goes on. Towards the end, the story also just gets weird. I had to take a few breaks to stop myself from dropping the show altogether.
#2 Failure to endear characters
A concern I had in regards to the story is how it seems to start in medias res, which made me suspect I had accidentally started watching season 2 of a longer series. Turns out I wasn’t far from the truth.
Canaan is set in the same universe as the live-action visual novel 428: Shibuya Scramble, which was Japan-exclusive up until very recently. Characters like Minoru Minorikawa, a reporter desperate for an exciting scoop, and his young assistant Maria, are hold-overs from this game. Canaan relies on references to 428 in order to fill out its backstory, which is problematic considering how few people got to play it.
Later episodes do get around to backtracking through the story and revealing to us who these people actually are. This comes of as boring exposition and still doesn’t give you any reason to feel emotionally invested in these characters. By about the midway point, I noticed I didn’t care for most of the characters and the remainder of them I actually disliked. Yunyun is occasionally entertaining, but even that is a rarity.
#3 Main character too OP pls nerf
I have had Canaan on the To Watch list ever since the Kickstarter project for Under The Dog; a short OVA that sold itself on the basis that it was made by the creators of Canaan, among other industry veterans. In particular, I was told to look forward to intense action scenes with some of the best choreography out there.
While I will admit that Canaan has some good fight scenes and episode 1 is particularly impressive, I disliked how overpowered the main characters are. Alphard ended up being an especially boring villainess because of this. When she can just casually walk around in the middle of a firefight and nobody can hit her, it drops the floor out from underneath the anime. She can just walk up to people as they shoot at her, missing every shot, then blast them in the face. Wow, sure feels intense when main characters are literally invulnerable.
Canaan is similarly unstoppable, but at least allowed to be hurt from time to time. By comparison, the anime makes it very clear that nothing is going to touch Alphard until the final battle where all that plot armor suddenly falls away.