Neophyte professional photographer Maria Osawa travels from Japan to Shanghai to report on the annual festival, where she also hopes to meet Canaan, a mysterious Action Girl who saved her life a couple of years ago and has been fascinating her ever since. However, things get ugly when a Nebulous Evil Organization targets Maria. Known as the "Snakes", they are led by Canaan's arch-rival Alphard and are somehow involved with the "Ua Virus"—the biological weapon that left Maria the only known survivor of the deadly Shibuya terrorist attack. Fortunately for Maria, Canaan shows up to save her again, much to her (and the fans') excitement.Canaan is an anime series based upon a scenario from the Wii mystery Adventure Game titled 428: Fuusasareta Shibuya de ("In Locked-down Shibuya"), which (the scenario, not the whole game) was created by Kinoko Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi of Type-Moon fame (at which point many tropers rush off to leech it from the Internet, no further questions asked). Since the game is really obscure outside of Japan (its notability in the West basically being "that Visual NovelFamitsu gave a 40"), here's a detailed synopsis of 428 in English.
Badass Normal: Some characters take awesome risks. Mino first tries to run into the virus infected area... not even eight SWAT men can force him to move, he also risks being killed in a precision airstrike trying to save Maria and delivers a Cooldown Hug to Hakko even whilst she's shooting at him. Cummings twice risks getting shot for real by Liang and Alphard herself.
Yun Yun as well. It seems like nothing goes right for the poor girl no matter how hard she tries. Let's see, her borner mutation is a second appendix, her boss considers her life disposable but also controls the supply of medication she needs to survive, she had her workplace shot up by her own "allies" twice, she failed an assignment because her boobs were too small to interest the target, and she got interrogated at gunpoint with her own gun (while still wearing the embarrassingly skimpy bunny girl outfit from her failed assignment to boot).
Dark-Skinned Blond: Canaan is a mild version, closer to a White-Haired Pretty Girl than anything. And it's later revealed that this is not natural, since exposure to the Ua virus causes dark hair to turn white if one carries the synesthesia gene complex.
Disease Bleach: In some cases exposure to the Ua virus results in dark hair turning white. This is known to have happened to Canaan, Liang Qi and at least one other girl who was an attempt to make a second Canaan.
Dodge the Bullet: One of Canaan's powers, which becomes prevalent in the last episode.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Liang Qi: "She's going to pull my tongue out; slowly and slowly, she's going to cut my neck open, then reach into the wound and churn my insides!"
When Mino, sitting on a park bench, is thinking of the previous night when he first met Hakko (in her rather revealing Cat Girl costume), a jet from the fountain suddenly shoots into the air. When she appears later on in the same scene and comes to sit down next to him, a whole bunch of jets go off.
Eagleland: A mildly done flavor 2, but the United States is given a rather unflattering depiction in Canaan; They have a bombastic bozo for a President, a corrupt crook for a Vice President, are shamelessly neoconservative, and the CIA collude with a terrorist/private security organization in the development of biological weapons, using Chinese villagers as test subjects.
Even the Girls Want Her: Alphard. Besides the obvious example in Liang Qi, she sets the hearts of both the male and female party guests in episode 4 aflutter when she passes by them in her sexy evening gown.
Magic Skirt: Despite the extremely short hemline and often sitting with her legs apart, while in her qipao Liang Qi somehow never manages to flash the audience, mainly through creative use of camera angles. As she becomes (even more) unhinged she quits with the skirt altogether and just goes around in lingerie.
Mistress and Servant Boy: Liang Qi and Cummings are a particularly dark and violent version of this trope. Liang Qi couldn't care less about Cummings and mainly takes her frustration out on him, but Cummings has a (one sided) infatuation with her and seems to like the abuse he suffers. He loves her so much, in fact, that he's the one who gives her a Mercy Kill, and he becomes a monk at the end of the series.
Plucky Girl: Yun Yun in the last episode, pulling Maria out of a train car that's about to explode and then carrying her who even knows how far. By the time Mino finds them, she's completely out of it and thinks the three of them are in Buddhist heaven.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Subverted and played straight at the same time in episode 10. Hakko tries twice to kill Liang Qi with one of these, only to have Liang Qi troll her on both accounts and then deliver her own Reason You Suck Speech right back at Hakko each time. To add insult to injury, Hakko finds to her dismay that she accidentally killed Santana with her second speech, which Liang Qi all too gleefully informs her of during her second Speech.
Rescue Romance: Maria attempts to replay her first meeting with Canaan by getting in trouble.
Liang Qi had set up a trap for Alphard to get captured in the beginning so that Liang Qi would get to rescue her. Alphard was very aware of this, and went along with it merely because she was curious where Liang Qi was going with it.
Scenery Censor: Liang Qi's first scene, in which she gets out of the bath in Cumming's office and, still nude, goes to retrieve some documents for him. As she bends over to hand them to him, a conveniently-placed plant on the table in the foreground acts as Censor Foliage.
Sequel Hook: Canaan gets the assignment to kill a "one-armed woman".
Shout Out: The US President is clearly a fan of Trigun, he managed to get the entire crowd and other world leaders screaming 'LOVE AND PEACE!!'
Shower Scene: Alphard gets a vaguely plot-important scene where we first see that she has the same tattoo as Canaan.
Shown Their Work: other then the of glaring errors with the stealth bomber the creators clearly spent some time researching everything from US military uniforms through Chinese railroads to the local cuisine of Xinjiang province.
Shoot the Dog: Cummings has to kill Liang Qi after her attempt to give herself Synesthesia...really, really doesn't end well.
Single-Target Sexuality: Arguably most of the main cast has this going for each other, but Liang Qi for Alphard and Cummings for Liang Qi are the most obvious. Cummings even becomes a monk after he has to Mercy Kill Liang Qi.
Super Power Lottery: The kind of mutation a Borner gets, along with its strengths and drawbacks, seem to be entirely random. Hayatori in episode 2 has two hearts, granting him immense agility and premature aging, while his brother in episode 3 can contort and squeeze inside small spaces, though he's physically trapped in a child's body. Meanwhile Yunyun has been granted... two appendixes.
The "winner" until now is Hakko: She can kill you with her voice!
Surprisingly Good English: Episode 7. The English in the stealth bomber scene. The Chinese (it isn't English, but still!) used by the Chinese army is also surprising good.
There's also a little bit of Surprisingly Good German in this episode...
The Delta Force commandos in the 11th Episode. Averted in the North American release as the lines were removed.
Take My Hand: This is how Canaan and Alphard's ultimate duel ends, but Alphard really doesn't want to be rescued by her... She survives, nonetheless.
Vapor Ware: The announced three theatrical releases have yet to appear.
Villainous Breakdown: Episode 11 has a truly horrific and heartbreaking one of these on the part of Liang Qi.
War for Fun and Profit: Alphard helps all countries go to war with each other and takes money from everybody; and she also helps countries go to peace (since peace also results in rearmamenting and sales opportunities).
Where It All Began: The train (possibly the same train, but at least the same make) was both the setting for the beginning of Canaan and Alphard's feud (when Alphard killed Syam) and their climactic duel.
The airport that Alphard is sitting in during the epilogue would seem to be the same one from the last scene in 428.
White-Haired Pretty Girl: Canaan, leaning towards the "death symbolism" subtype. Subverted: At first, there's nothing to suggest she's not an ordinary, naturally white-haired anime girl. Then we find out that it turned white as a side effect of her exposure to the Ua virus.
Horrifyingly subverted when Liang Qi tries to give herself synesthesia. Her hair turns white... but then she turns anything but pretty herself, and suffers a truly horrible death.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Yunyun, lampshaded by Minoru and Maria, and then explained in episode 5 as she is spying on them as per Liang Qi's orders. Could also be a reference to the potential after effects of China's economic growth spurt as Yunyun mentions that many in the slums take up several part-time jobs to make ends meet.