Whew, another Key project added under my belt. While I must say it kinda tripped a lot in terms of writing perspective, it wasn't entirely painful to read, to say the least.
However, though, I cannot shake off the possibility of this "prototype" work of Key could have turned out to be something quite spectacular had they been invested more thoroughly.
But what do I know, maybe they already did learn from their past mistake to realized their flagships series later on such as Clannad or Little Busters!, but whatever.
It goes without saying, this is still Key's very first work, so I sort of understand the inevitable shortcomings that spread all over Kanon. Regardless, I'm not going to go easy on it just because of the technical disadvantage it had given the release year (1999!).
I mean yeah, they might have struggled a lot to get the work running back in the old days, hence a severe lack of care for character polishing and plot coherency.
In the end, though, I think the core structure of every work should have something meaningful to offer rather than having unclear direction or trying to cram as much superficial value as possible to distract the audience from its critical drawbacks.
Firstly, I'll list out some of the major problems I've had while reading Kanon. The biggest of all is, obviously, its propensity towards forcing emotion out of the readers.
You might be thinking, doesn't that apply to all of Key works? Yes, that's true, but I feel like Kanon just had to take it to a whole nother level that even me in my "retired" mode could not help but get annoyed at this outrageous obstinacy of theirs.
Maybe they're trying to match the air of the story to the designated setting full of snowy and kinda "bluish" tone, which is not a wrong approach but the execution was terribly lousy and not at all effective.
On top of that, the plot had so little to offer that I almost always fell asleep reading Kanon.
No matter which route I got into, there was barely any entertaining value nor compelling substance to keep the ride engaging enough.
I mean, the air can occasionally feel rather uplifting (thanks to the music of course) but for the most part, the process of getting to those climaxes felt very dull, bland, and not quite worth the time invested in all honesty.
And don't even get me on with the non-sensical third-act approach they tend to rely on (you know, like, holding hand signing kumbaya and tadaa, the "blizzard" is gone).
The cast, in the same vein, suffered quite a devasting blow to their overall "image" across the whole story. Would not actually be a lie to say I didn't expect anything from them, for the initial build-up did well to get my hope going, but as things got closer to the end for any route or over-arching plot, I could not help but be disappointed.
On the bright side, however, Kanon did offer some rather well-delivered atmospheric moments.
To be more specific, there would often come a time where the novel suddenly transition smoothly to something I'd like to call a "hollow" state, which eased up my early frustration in preceding acts of the story (or the routes).
The music doubtless has the biggest contribution in this regard, followed up by its wonky cast that somehow didn't feel quite right to me earlier on but managed to gain a noticeable momentum at the moment of truth.
Thematically speaking, Kanon is probably the pioneer of the Key expedition due to the fact that many of their newer creations would inherit this same energy within.
This might sound a bit confusing and perhaps contradictory, but as mentioned earlier, while I truly dislike the resolution of Kanon's in general (all routes seem to share this motif lol), the message it's trying to convey has more weight to it than it appears to be.
Simply put, we're all but temporal beings, our lives do not last forever, therefore, while it's still possible to do so, live your life to the fullest, so when shit hits the fan, you won't have anything to regret.
Yup, cliche, and cringey as that might have sound, I don't have any qualm with going back to this cheesy mode once in a while.
For the record, it's not a groundbreaking concept yet fitting for something of this scale I'd say.
Technical-wise, Kanon has a decent set of music to offer but that's about it. Some BGM was finely utilized to make the most of the dramatic showdown. The ED is not that great but the OP kinda nails the outlined picture of Kanon, I like the chilling vibe of it in contrast to typical dynamic Key music.
The CG and character design, on the other hand, is, welp, not too good I guess (lel). Even if we disregard the obsolete technology, I just can't stand Key's mindset in crafting characters with that awkward eye pattern, and this goes double when the color palette was also off the mark for some of the cast.
But yeah, these are more or less minor complaints. In fact, I'm actually impressed by how far Key has evolved when I look at their roadmap again.
Ultimately, I guess I have already long passed the period of nitpicking and shitting on everything that doesn't end up the way I expect them to be.
Sure, Kanon is likely Key's weakest visual novel that I've stumbled upon, but again, for something that came out more than two decades ago, I would say it's not bad for acting as a "prototype" for something much more grandiose to come out later on (some might say Clannad but to me it's Little Busters!).
To make a long story short, good concept, bad execution, and packs a commendable (yet short-lived) burst of emotion. Recommended for those who seek something chilling or to kill time, somewhat.
P/S: no best girl propaganda this time because I couldn't find anyone worth going crazy over so welp.