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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canaan 13 - Land of Hope (Finale)

A passable but disappointing finale. The dénouement was well done and one of the most satisfying in recent memory, but the climax was too subdued.

One of the problems was how the episode negated everything about the ending of episode 12 that had made me so excited for the finale. In the opening seconds, the bomb finishes counting down and explodes, and Canaan suddenly turns the tables against Alphard and gains the upper hand. Soon afterward, we find out that Maria survived the explosion, because Yunyun ran back to the cart and saved her just in time.


It's never explained how she managed to get back into the cart that was coming at her at considerable speed and to save Maria within 30 seconds. Or how they survived when it appears that they were inside or at least very near the cart when the bomb went off.

Regardless, it makes meaningless the whole existence of the bomb in the first place. Likewise, that Canaan suddenly had an epiphany and started beating Alphard easily and immediately negates all the tension that was building up in the previous episode.

But beyond that, the climax was just not enough action and too much thinking/talking. Type-Moon's works have long been criticized on /a/ for being LOLDEEP - as in, spending too much time being serious without enough substance to make it work - and this climax was the best example of it so far. There was definitely some substance there, but not enough to justify the long internal monologues and conversations. Especially since it cut down on the one thing Canaan kept doing very well, which was the action.

And the action was good. The setting was intense, with Alphard and Canaan duking it out on top of the moving train and on the ladder to a helicopter that eventually crashes (on a side note, why would they design the machine gun on a helicopter to be able to be aimed at the pilot, or inwards at all?), ending with Alphard hanging freely off the side of the still-moving train.


And the way Alphard (appears to) commit suicide was badass, cutting her figurative ties to Siam and Canaan as well as her physical connection to Canaan who was forcing her to remain alive.

So it definitely had its moments. It had beautiful animation, choreography, and cinematography. There just wasn't enough of it. Every time it looked like something cool was about to start, it reverted to conversation mode again. I don't mean to imply that it was completely without substance. Canaan's revelation that she doesn't need Maria by her side and Alphard's revelation that she had to let go of Siam were both good plot points. I liked her mentioning Liang Qi in her thoughts; it would be nice to think that some part of her misses her.

Now, what I did like a lot was the ending that followed. It was disappointing to see Maria and Canaan never meet up again for LOLDEEP reasons, but overall, it was handled very well. Each of the surviving characters are shown to move on with their lives, with a very slow, bittersweet sounding song in the background. I particularly liked seeing Canaan again, presumably back to her job as a hired gun, pointing her sniper rifle at the plane Maria is in, and calling it hers. The smile she had displayed the enlightenment she had achieved.


Maria seems to have arrived at some sort of enlightenment as well. She cannot be part of Canaan's world, but that doesn't mean that she can't "be by her side" as an equal. The way this was conveyed through the conversation about the term "amazing" that Maria and Minoru have in the back of their taxi was excellent.

And two characters who are presumed dead at this point make appearances: Cummings, as a Buddhist monk, and Alphard, in the airport where she quickly disappears from the camera as some people walk by. At first I thought maybe that was just supposed to be an image of her, but the post-credits section implies that, no, that was really her. It was an odd choice to have Cummings become a monk, but it also accentuated the central message to the ending: that life goes on, that we aren't bound by our past.


Before the closing credits, we see Maria showing off her photos at a gallery, where she looks at the two headshots she took of Canaan and Alphard in the previous 2 episodes. They share the one label "Canaan," and Maria reflects on how Canaan was an "ordinary girl" right before the screen fades. It was a great closing and sent the viewers off with the message that no matter how great some individual might seem, in their core, they're humans just like us. And the shot itself reflected one of the central themes, that it is important to remember it while not being trapped by it as so many of the dying characters in this show had been.

The great sendoff was why I didn't much like the post-credits scene. It was neat seeing a Canaan who looked somewhat older and sporting Alphard's hairstyle, and learning that the conflict between Canaan and Alphard continues. But it accentuated the fact that the conflict as it was shown in this episode wasn't satisfactory. The last frame is just a black screen with END on it, implying that this ending sequence was just a glimpse into the life of Canaan, not a hint at a sequel. At this point, I wouldn't mind a more action focused sequel of some sort, because this finale left me too disappointed in its lacking.

I'll probably try to rewatch the series at some point just to get a refresher of the plot and sequence of events, but either way, I'm hoping to write up a post on the series overall some time soon.

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