Magical Kanan was an anime that had been on my to-do list for a while. It looked like a cutesy magical girl series on the boxart and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for. Except, I then noticed a line on its Anilist page that read: “Based on the erotic game by Terios.“
This was odd, but not necessarily a dealbreaker. Anime adaptations of eroge have often been excellent. Shuffle, In Search of the Lost Future, anything by Key, you name it. What was really odd is that there are 2 versions of this series. They got the sexless, toned-down adaptation for TV, but then also still made a hentai version more in line with the game. Of course I was gonna watch that one. Casper is no coward!
Magical Kanan is your typical magical girl setup. Chihaya Hiiragi is your everyday high school girl, who one day finds a strange-looking animal passed out on the street. This is Natsuki; a weird dog-thing from the magical realm of Evergreen. He’s on a special mission to retrieve magical artifacts called Seeds, for which he needs the help of a maiden like Chihaya. When the two of them share a kiss, she will transform into the magical hero Kanan. A form that she will need to defeat the monsters and villains that are also after the seeds.
It’s functional, though uninspired. It very much feels like the magical girl genre is just decoration to dress up an assortment of erotic scenes. The OVA never tries to actually engage you with its magical girl content. There are no exciting battles or any of the themes typical of the genre; it’s just an aesthetic choice.
I say that, but there is a very specific “appeal” that Magical Kanan creates with this choice of genre. Magical girls are typically associated with shoujo anime and represent ideals like purity, beauty, innocence, and kindness. Magical Kanan creates an upsetting contrast by taking staples of the genre and filtering them through its flavor of rape-tastic dark fantasy. Kanan still wears the kind of frilly, cutesy outfit that you’d expect from a magical girl, though now it mostly exists to be violently torn off by her assailants. It feels subtly unnerving, especially if you are a fan of this genre. That effect is very much on purpose.
Unfortunately, the series soon falls into a repetitive loop: somebody casts a mind control spell on innocent people, Kanan arrives and is raped by them, then Natsuki shows up and helps her transform. Kanan then purifies the rapists with her magic and sends the villains running off. Everybody then goes home none the worse for wear to repeat it all again tomorrow. It’s a very casual treatment of sexual violence.
As a hentai anime cosplaying as a magical girl series, Magical Kanan is quite competent. I find that the visual style of early-2000s hentai usually aged poorly (see Bible Black) and Magical Kanan is no exception. If you like characters with bright hairstyles though, then this series has you covered. Its cast includes everything from golden blondes to tints of purple to full-on green. The character designs are also surprisingly appealing, considering they mostly exist to be sullied by zombies and tentacle monsters.
Sex scenes are bridged by comedy bits at school and Chihaya’s daily life. Honestly, I can see how they could’ve made this work in a longer TV series. Chihaya’s family owns a café in which she helps out and her relationship with Natsuki offers plenty of laughs as well. The dude is so obviously in love with Chihaya, but he just can’t keep women away from him. He keeps getting into compromising situations that then lead into fights with Chihaya. Any attempt at explaining himself then usually goes even worse, creating even bigger misunderstandings. It had me snickering a few times, even if it’s not mind-blowing in its originality.
I kind of regret not watching the full TV series now. The hentai OVA was fine, but difficult to recommend. Both because of its dated visual style and because it just doesn’t do much with its magical girl theme. It was one of the earlier shows to blend mahou shoujo and hentai, but it was soon followed by the likes of Beat Angel Escalayer. You can still have an alright time with it, but only if you go into it expecting little more than a hentai romp with some laughs included.