Canaan anime- Is it a sign for the industry to reduce fan service and create better female characters?

alphard and canaan

The overreliance on fan service in anime can be exhausting. But is the industry actively reducing fan service and creating better female characters? The answer, like most things in anime, is nuanced. Canaan, a supernatural action thriller set in Shanghai, offers a fascinating case study in this ongoing debate.

Gratuitous nudity and sexualized character designs often feel like a cheap attempt to grab attention, especially when it comes at the expense of well-developed female characters. Many girl viewers, myself included, are tired of this trope. We crave stories with strong, complex women who drive the narrative, not just decorate it.

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Canaan and the Evolving Landscape of Female Characters

canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

Canaan throws us headfirst into the neon-lit chaos of Shanghai. We meet Canaan, a mysterious warrior with superhuman senses honed by a condition called “synesthesia.” Her past shrouded in secrecy, Canaan finds herself entangled with a terrorist organization known as the “Snakes” and a deadly virus called “Ua.” As the city becomes a battleground, Canaan’s path collides with Maria Oosawa, a blonde photographer on assignment in Shanghai.

The show’s strengths lie in its mysterious setting and intriguing premise. China, a breath of fresh air compared to the overused Tokyo, pulsates with energy. The action sequences deliver thrills, and the tension between Canaan and her nemesis, Alphard Alshaya, keeps viewers hooked. However, as the narrative unfolds, cracks begin to show in the show’s character development.

A cast of “what-would-have-been’s”

alphard and canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

Canaan, our titular character is a walking contradiction. She possesses impressive fighting skills and unwavering loyalty, but her emotional depth is a shallow puddle. Her near-invincible nature removes the element of danger, making it difficult to truly connect with her. We learn she has a mysterious past, but the show offers only fleeting glimpses, leaving us wanting more.

Canaan’s foil, Maria, embodies the “cute and cheerful” trope. While she plays a crucial role in Canaan’s life, particularly grounding her emotionally, Maria’s character development feels one-note. She lacks the complexity needed to be a truly compelling character.

Liang Qi in canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

The supporting cast, including Alphard, Liang Qi, and the photographer duo of Minori Minorikawa and Maria, offer glimpses of potential but ultimately fall flat. Their motivations are underdeveloped, and their personalities veer towards tired stereotypes. Alphard, Canaan’s nemesis, could have been a formidable foe, but her motivations remain murky. Liang Qi, with her obsessive devotion to Alphard, becomes a one-dimensional character bordering on caricature.

Fan service in Canaan

maria and canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

Canaan’s approach to fan service is unconventional. While lacking the typical nudity or “panty shots” that plague many anime, it relies heavily on exaggerated displays of affection between Canaan and Maria. This “girl-on-girl friendship” angle, while not explicitly sexual, can feel forced and detract from the narrative. Imagine a high-octane fight scene followed by a scene where Canaan blushes after Maria compliments her hair. The tonal shift is jarring.

canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

However, amidst this awkwardness, Canaan offers a glimmer of hope for a more positive approach to fan service. The narrative doesn’t exploit the characters for cheap thrills. Their personalities, however underdeveloped, inform their interactions. This subtlety, albeit imperfect, suggests a possible evolution in fan service. Imagine a scene where a character chooses to wear a revealing outfit because it empowers them, not because the narrative demands it.

So, does Canaan represent progress?

alphard and canaan
Canaan | Image via TMDB

Canaan is a show with intriguing ideas that ultimately fall short of its potential. While the plot has its merits, the characters remain underdeveloped stereotypes. The show’s attempt at fan service is debatable, offering a less exploitative approach but ultimately feeling out of place.

Does Canaan exemplify a move towards stronger female characters? Not definitively. While Maria escapes the hyper-sexualized stereotype, she remains underdeveloped. Canaan, though powerful, lacks emotional depth.

The answer lies not in the absence of fan service, but in its execution. Canaan hints at a future where fan service complements the narrative and empowers the characters, rather than objectifying them. Imagine a scene where a character’s revealing outfit is a result of their confidence, not a ploy to attract viewers.

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