Altered Reality

I read an article on BBC about Steve Jobs and his amazing power to alter people’s perception of reality. The details are not important but it got me thinking.

People Who Think Red Garden Is Ugly Needs To Learn What Ugly Is

KyoAni’s Kanon does very much the same things. Once you boil it down, Kanon is a protoharem, and many games (and ergo, anime from eroge) follow its footsteps. There’s not much magic once you get past its sad-girl-in-snow exterior and see what it is for yourself:  a parade of angsty pitiables that gives the audience what they want, with enough ambiguity and implications that drives the mind and satisfies the flesh.

And like reality, while footsteps in the show is clear and distinct, they’re too often just messy trails of indentations and slush. The successors don’t get it quite right. What is behind Yuuichi’s gradual recollection, Nayuki’s two famous lines, and Ayu’s plushie is not merely poignant plot devices that twist the dagger sticking out of the hearts of its audience. They’re ways in which the storyteller alters the perception of what is really going on.

To use a more concrete example: Mai and Shiori. We’ve seen how both of their stories unfold. The two makes good examples because they are both characters looking at the same kind of tragedy unfolding in their lives; one is someone directly influenced (in fact, Sayuri is easily the Kaori-equavalent in Shiori’s story), the other is a bystander but key to fulfilling the dying’s wish. Yet, why does it feel so different when Shiori reveals her inner struggle with us at the last moment, versus Mai revealing her inner struggle with us? Or if they feel the same, why doesn’t it feel different? After all, Mai came into the picture without her mother where as Shiori is literally dying.

Perhaps I ask these questions to try to figure out why I feel better about Mai’s story and feel worse about Shiori’s story? Shiori is the girl with all that she has to lose. Maybe it just means I feel better about Yuuichi and Kaori after seeing what Shiori had to go through?

At any rate, to take a step back from that, again, you can see that in reality the two are one and the same, but if you put aside your personal feeling about Mai or Shiori (as in, don’t think with your groin), we’re revisiting the same theme over and over again. What makes this repetition exercise fun is the Kyoani Reality Distortion abilities, and Kanon itself.

Much like how gentle but unending snow transforms the mundane landscape into “winter wonderland” and makeup can turn geek to gorgeous, such is the art they practice. The artisan makes not just footprints, they make pristine footprints. They don’t just make an alarm clock, they make an alarm clock that is more moe than the stash of anime porn you got hiding under your bed. They may lift real life landscape into their animation, but they transform the nine-to-five into five-to-nine.

3 Responses to “Altered Reality”

  • Kurogane

    That’s the genius of good story telling, to be able to convey the feelings of the story at hand without overtly blowing it up nor twisting it as so much to lose track.

    KyoAni’s strengths have always been in their story telling, even given in to real life constraints that plague many anime studios, and even more superior than their much-vaulted art quality. They have done very well with Kanon, even better than AIR as a matter of fact. And we still have to keep in mind that this is the first time KyoAni has done a 26-episode anime.

    … and sadly, their quality has so far been a much higher level than most others nowadays to make me lose interest in more lesser titles already.

  • Ascaloth

    Think of this another way; what you’re seeing here is the main reason why “Kanon” is titled as it is. It is, in fact, a homage to Pachabel’s Kanon D Dur, or what most of us would know more popularly as Pachabel’s Canon in D Major.

    I’ll give you the words of Kurata Sayuri in Episode 14:

    “It’s Kanon. Pachabel’s Kanon. It repeats the same melody gradually, peacefully, and beautifully.”

    Just like the musical work it was titled after, Kanon is also a piece of work that in actual fact, is repeating the same themes through different variations; thus the reason why you felt Mai’s and Shiori’s stories seemed so different and yet so similar, somehow. If you think about it, it’s not that hard to link Makoto’s, Ayu’s, and Nayuki’s storylines together with those two either.

    And not to contradict you, but it’s not really KyoAni, but KEY itself which created this structure. After all, it’s something about Kanon which has existed since the game itself; KyoAni just built up on it in an (admittedly) fantastic way. ;)

  • omo

    You’re totally right, but the same-difference is not so much what I was talking about in the post. You’re right that is all from the original material.

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