I’m probably jumping the gun because I haven’t finished watching the show, but at episode 22 out of 24 (plus some vaguely mentioned continuation/oav/type thing) I’m rather enjoying it. Perhaps it is just formulaic, continuing the tradition made popular by the adaptation of Kiminozo (Rumbling Hearts as its official English name), where drastic drama and difficult dilemma pump the viewers from episode to episode. It is a recent trend that by taking a lot of girls and girl angst, whirling them into a foundue of a trainwreck? Mai-Otome Destiny (and much of Mai-Hime), the Da Capo series, and the popular Shuffle are just some of the key pieces that grabbed various fanboys by their balls.
But more succinctly I think what kept me interested (so interested, in fact, that I marathoned all 22 episodes in less than 3 days) was the character acting. Instead getting annoyed and bothered as I would with the likes of Ed Elric or Miaka Yuuki, the adolescent drama was realistic and sweet, as opposed to extreme or hackneyed. The hard-to-like Elis Housen (I love the name!) was truely hard to like only because of her character flaws that were explicitly drawn and defined over the course of the series. Slowly she defined her complex, drawn the lines, and walked out of it. By this point in the game I’m totally on her side, despite what lurks beyond in episodes 23 and 24. Raws here I come!
Of course, the show just won’t work if we don’t spend the rest of the narrative on older, better characters like Hiroki and Kiri. Not even I could tolerate Elis for that long. It’s safe to say that these two made Canvas 2 what it is–a notch above the the average bishoujo adaptation crowd. The two of them form the diagonal in Canvas 2′s love quadrilateral (lol like a canvas) and are the backbone to the narrative. Kiri, especially, seems antithetical to Elis in so many ways that it made the drastic drama deliciously available in the meta, rather than the foreground of the narrative. Keeping things serious as Canvas 2 does means you have to also keep the drama tucked away, avoiding the trainwreck (at least till the very end). I think that’s really what made the show work–being just subtle enough that it doesn’t bother the heck out of your serious viewers, yet obvious enough that people have an easy time figuring out what’s going on inside people’s heads.
Of course, Canvas 2 scores major points for being fresh, taking that old-school narrative, polishing it, and inserting it in a modern bishoujo game adaptation. That’s also a boon for me personally–the illustrations and design perspective is hawt! I’m so sold over the ending sequence… Come to think of it, the way the show was written is kind of similar to Koikaze. There were some major differences, of course, but the writing seemed to be “fresh” in the same way. Definitely something worth exploring.
Well, enough leching over half-French-half-Japanese high schoolers. Despite Elis’s whacked complex and Hiroki’s unseeming inability to grow up…what’s wrong with Kiri again? What would a reasonable, fertile young woman of the proper social, economical, and emotional stature do in a case like this? She can’t deny her feelings, that much is clear. But she really stands to gain in the long run by actually befriending Elis seriously. Elis may be her student and a “child” in a lot of ways (which ironically is something Kiri explicitly sympathizes with Elis), but there’s so much of her “wisdom of age” that can be passed down. I mean, as someone who is single and over 25 I’m pretty sensitive to that, so it goes. Surely if I am serious about this girl, I’d try pretty hard to bond with the girl’s brother. Well, that’s just me. Is that the moral of the story? :)