Life Is a Canvas, Too!

Elis Housen

Life is a canvas
And the paint is hope and promise
The world is ours
No one could ever take it from us
The sky is blue
The day is new
The sun is shinin’ down
You know life is good
We got each other
And that’s all we need

Maaya Sakamoto’s lyrics got pretty close to the heart of the matter. If a carefree, positive attitude is the approach to life you take, then the climax and resolution of Canvas 2 is the dark, evil twin. Admittedly the last two episodes did a number on me.

… It’s an understatement that the last couple of episodes did a number on me. It really changed my mood after watching it the first time. I felt about as bad as my first couple times going through End of Evangelion. Admittedly I’m a strange creature when it comes to my emotional response to EoE, and Canvas 2 has nothing similar with End of Evangelion aside from my emotional reaction. I had to put off a few days just to try to even write down what was going on in my head.

Part of the experience is a weaving and the coming-together of a lot of parallel theme concepts. The fact that it was a silly renai/bishoujo game adaptation didn’t matter, even if you can see the marks of such. I think I would have missed some of the threads if not the ending bothered me so in a screwed up way and got me stuck thinking about it. It was definitely thought provoking.

The quality of writing regarding Elis was beyond expectation. Her character concept is deep and yet understandable, appreciative yet realistic to her teenage self. The struggle, the progression from fawning to materializing her feelings for “Onii-chan” was (the bulk of the narrative’s burden aside) subtle and then it surfaces like Tessa’s Tuatha De Danaan–a genuine surprise; showy for your emotions and deadly for your moral calculus. Much, MUCH better than the typical drama you’d expect from its peers like Da Capo.

I think it makes more sense to tell the Canvas 2 story from Elis’s perspective rather than the typical Hiroki angle. Even by the end of it all he sucks at letting people know what is going on in his head. I think what bothered me about him was that unlike Elis, who changed drastically from the first episode, he was still pretty BLAH about it until he decided to answer Elis’s affection with his own.

The foil that is Kiri, then, is a bit of a satire against a realist’s perspective of romance. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say that the writers went out of their way to paint that relationship almost ideally. A lot of the fault falls on Kiri, naturally, in exactly how she pursued her relationship. For a comparison…maybe Belldandy’s relationship but sans the divine blessing?

Which is to say, that’s why it hurt all the more (for me! and some of you, I bet) when Hiroki parted ways and Kiri just took it like a man… Well, I’m all for women like Kiri and who can take the emotional punishment. She is a saint by normal people’s standards.

Upon more thought, the train of logic goes, is how Kiri and Hiroki would have fallen into a cherished state in their past if not for the fact that Hiroki was still looking for “whatever it is” and the whole Yanagi angle. Yanagi was an interesting element that, IMO, added a lot of realism along with his misappropriation and all.

Some credit is still due to the supporting cast. Kana Hagino probably gets the best prop here for the subtle introspections the writers managed to cast and clue me in; a cliff-note of the ongoing drama in short truisms. Mami Takeuchi & the Art Club helped earlier on much more so, and it’s nice they get a nod and saved Takeuchi’s coolest moments for last. Sumire Misaki sadly looked as if she’s a tack-on now that Tomoko stole the show… But far better was the Tomoko Fujinami angle; you’d almost expect they play that angle more. It’s my favorite because not just how it related to Elis but because they went out and bought all the cheap tricks they could with her. She does dress how she feels. Loneliness was a theme, at least as far as I can tell, that Elis seems to struggle with. I think overcoming that was the key in her maturity. Once she managed to reach out and “touch” Hiroki, the rest snowballed into the ending we have here. I guess that’s why I thought Tomoko’s role was huge.

I wonder how the writing changed due to the fact that the PS2 version had 2 more characters that had such large roles in the anime writing…

Some other musings:

  • Elis, like Yanagi, was the “bad” guy in the love triangle. Is that why she didn’t like Yanagi at all?
  • It is still pretty messed up. I confess no matter how I dress it up and while the THEME is fine, what transgressed is a nod to the realist’s ideal in heart-breaking and being a retard at handling your relationships. Sure, you can’t please everyone, but you can try a little harder at communicating clearly.
  • Kiri is clearly at fault too, but the harder question is what did she do wrong?
  • I like the ending theme and ending.
  • The LAST Tomoko trick is LOW DOWN DIRTY. ARRG I fell for it. But…how can you not?

Overall I have to say it was a great ride. It’s definitely a little slow; the first set of 13 painted a fairly interesting story but they could have gotten it over faster. The intercharacter drama between Kiri and Hiroki lifted the show from being dropped, I bet, for many. Yet Elis…wow.

Makes me want to rewatch Koikaze.

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