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Visual Novel / Kanon

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The epitome of Snow Means Love.
"Do you know the title of this song? It's Canon. Pachelbel's Canon. It repeats the same melody and crescendos gradually, peacefully, and beautifully. It would be nice if life changed like that: slowly but surely, while being seemingly unchanged from day to day."

Ordinary High-School Student Yūichi Aizawa used to visit his aunt Akiko Minase and cousin Nayuki Minase in their quiet little town every holiday, but one year something happened and he left for seven years. When he transfers to Nayuki's high school, his memories of that time remain a blur.

Upon his return he encounters a number of mysterious girls from his past who all need his help. Bokukko taiyaki-thief Ayu Tsukimiya searches for a precious lost item she cannot describe. Quiet and serious Mai Kawasumi hunts demons in the school after dark. The childish tsundere Makoto Sawatari suffers from amnesia and has no place to go. The Delicate and Sickly Shiori Misaka is estranged from her sister and never present at school. Finally, there's the lonely Nayuki, weighed down by rejection and tragedy.

Yūichi resolves to help them, but as he gets involved, he discovers that there is far more to the girls than meets the eye. Mystical happenings lie hidden in this strange town, tied to Yūichi's forgotten past. In dealing with the girls, Yūichi must face his lost memories. What happened seven years ago, and why can't he remember?

This is the story of Kanon, a well-known eroge by Key/Visual Arts with a clean version. The original Visual Novel was first released in June 1999 for Windows, with the clean "all ages" version following in January 2000. It also recived several console ports over the years, being released on the Sega Dreamcast in September 2000, the PlayStation 2 in February 2002, and the PlayStation Portable in February 2007. Despite its Multiple Demographic Appeal to girls, it's actually a seinen series. It has several adaptations; there are two anime adaptations (the 2002 Toei Animation one and the 2006 Kyoto Animation one), CD dramas, a manga, a series of light novels, an Alternate Continuity manga called Kanon Another Story: Wonder Three, and a non-canonical gag manga crossing over with AIR. The original game was never released outside of Japan, but a completed English translation patch presently exists courtesy of Non-Directional Translations. That is, until 2024 where the game was finally made available for a global audience on Steam.

Several characters also appear as playables in the doujin Fighting Game Eternal Fighter Zero by Twilight Frontier. Kanon is notorious for having the most representatives in that game (Ten in total: The heroines Ayu, Nayuki [who has two forms, asleep and awake], Makoto, Shori and Mai; as well as Sayuri, Mishio, Kaori and Akiko). Ayu and Akiko would also appear as playable characters in Glove On Fight, another doujin Fighting Game by Watanabe Seisakujo, later known as Franch Bread (Of Melty Blood fame), with Super-Deformed, Ax-Crazy characters who specialize in boxing.

Absolutely not to be confused with this Kanon, a shoujo manga by Chiho Saito. Or the trope Canon.

Character Page under construction here:

Kanon provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Mai's sword. While it wasn't a clean cut, she still breaks a brick wall with it. (Also, when thrown, the sword tends to sink deep into floors, walls, tables, as if they were made of half-melted butter.)
    • Yet strangely averted, as it can't even cut a banana. It doesn't affect how it hurts demons, so Mai doesn't really care, but it seems to contradict how the sword sunk into the floor during one of the earlier battles.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The game shows that, under normal circumstances, ikiryou whose natures are discovered are forgotten and unable to be seen, and even if their natures aren't discovered, they eventually fade from view and memory anyway. None of the adaptations cover this, aside from showing Ayu asking Yūichi to forget her and Yūichi refusing. While one can extrapolate that Yūichi then wished to not forget Ayu and thus her miracle protected him (skipping over the part in the game where he does start to forget and then remembers), not having the universe rules spelled out in Kanon will then throw you for a loop when you watch CLANNAD.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Every major character appears in the first episode of the 2006 version of Kanon, save for Amano Mishio. Yes, Makoto is there. For those who kept trying to spot the Makoto Sawatari we know, it's not her that we see in the pilot episode, but rather, her fox form, the fox that Nayuki approaches on the hill that we see. Many of them appear only as extras, making them Early Bird Cameoes.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In the 2006 anime, rather than have Yūichi actually go through a bunch of love interests in quick succession, all but the winning girl have unreturned feelings and deal with that. Yūichi is clearly just humouring Makoto so she can die happy, Shiori's kiss scene is reframed to show that her crush is unrequited in this version, Nayuki goes through even more pain realizing that her feelings are still not returned, and because the unfortunate bit about Sayuri "just being unwilling to open up to boys" is removed, nothing is stopping Mai from ending up with her instead.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Yūichi, are you a miracle worker?"
  • Art Shift: Briefly during Mai's past flashback.
  • The Artifact: Being one of the first visual novels, the game incorporates a calendar system from the older type of "micromanagement hell" dating sims. Everything happens sequentially rather than on any specific date, however.
  • As You Know:
    Nayuki: It is lunchtime, Yūichi-san!
    Yūichi: WHAT!! REALLY?!
  • Awful Truth: Yūichi is the cause of his chosen love interest's misery, no matter who you pick. Once he figures that out, he has to spend the rest of the game trying to make up for his mistakes.
    • Unless you pick Shiori, since Shiori's the only girl out of the five that Yūichi did not previously know as a child, and the sources of Shiori's misery are a disease and her sister not acknowledging her, rather than Yūichi.
  • Balanced Harem: Even if it is not a case of Marry Them All in the end, the plot strives to give all five girls roughly equal time and make them all plausible choices for Yūichi.
  • Beta Couple: Kitagawa and Kaori in the 2002 version's OVA episode, where they finally hook up with each other after Kitagawa's efforts.
  • Big "NO!": In the English dub of the 2006 series, Yūichi gives one after Ayu's apparent death. The Japanese version has him screaming Ayu's name instead.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Played with by Sayuri and Mai.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kitagawa in the 2006 anime, big time.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Makoto is able to become human at the cost of her memories and her life.
  • Catchphrase
    • Nayuki's "Faito da yo!" and "Usotsuki!" ("Liar!")
    • Shiori's "I dislike people who say things like that."
    • Akiko's "Approved."
    • Ayu's "Uguu."
    • See also Verbal Tic, below.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mishio in Makoto's arc, and in the Kyoto Animation version, all the major girls.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Nearly every haremette and Yūichi, as it is the theme.
  • Childhood Memory Demolition Team: Twisted. Both demolitions (the barley field and the tree) were done right after Yūichi left town as a child, so he barely had those memories when he returned, and he didn't really want to remember the tree, either.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The comatose Ayu still believed enough in her promise to Yūichi and the wishes that she made on a simple crane machine doll that she was able to spiritually project herself as a solid living being even seven years later.
    • Also shows up in a much darker form in Mai's story. Her unrealized powers lead to the "monsters" she made up to try to keep the young Yūichi from moving away manifesting as quite real - and quite dangerous.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Several short manga based on the heroines' stories have been made: two normal series that take on the story in two volumes. There is also a five-volume light novel series.
  • Continuity Nod
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Yūichi goes to talk to Ayu's comatose body after he discovers the truth about her.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Uguu~mmphff~!
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: In the Visual Novel, Yūichi will end up with one girl. What happens to the others? Mostly, they die. Thankfully, this is averted in the anime.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: In the visual novel, there are five separate girls with five separate storylines, but Yūichi/the player is only meant to experience one arc. Playing out the other girls' storylines requires playing the game again. The 2006 anime adaptation, however, has four of the five arcs happen sequentially. Some have complained that the character development feels like Yūichi is largely written as though he never experienced the previous arc and never bonded with the previous arcs' characters, simply because he's trying to move on; others point to all the additions made by the anime that reference those previous arcs' events and say that Forgotten Fallen Friend is not enforced but in fact strongly averted. It doesn't help either side that the girls get (understandably, due to plot reasons) mostly written out of the show after their arcs are done.
  • Dating Sim
  • Debut Queue: In the anime, everyone who counts is present in episode 1... but for most, it's easy to miss.
  • Deus ex Machina: The anime's ending is a little too convenient for some. Especially the ending, which has the entire cast magically healed. Even by the show's standards, and that's saying something.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Yūichi narrates meeting Kaori, which she responds to:
    Yūichi: As I turned around, Kaori Misaka was standing there.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mai and Nayuki live with their mothers, and have since they were little; Nayuki admits that she can't even remember what her father looked like, and Mai's is never mentioned at all.
    • Very few characters actually have both of their parents. Sayuri's mother is also never mentioned as she seems to be raised solely by her dad.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Kitagawa.
  • Downer Ending: Makoto's route in the original VN. The only bright spot is that Yūichi and his friend figure that someday they'll get over it... someday.
    • There are also two bad endings on Mai Kawasumi's path. Given just the right choices, you can either get killed by a demon or watch her fall apart without Sayuri's friendship.
  • Driven to Suicide: Three characters.
    • Shiori, due to her terminal illness and Kaori's rejection. It doesn't work.
    • Sayuri, due to the death of her little brother. It doesn't work either.
    • Mai, during the "good" ending. It works, but she gets better.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Yūichi's breakdown when talking to Makoto (the real one) near the end of the 2006 anime has him accidentally say "when I was seven" instead of "seven years ago" in the dub. Kanon may not officially state the characters' ages, but it's clear from context that Yūichi is seventeen, not fourteen. (Mai's flashback was ten years before the story, since Yūichi had been visiting every year until seven years ago, but when "seven years ago" are the Arc Words and denote the moment when he broke, it still doesn't make sense.)
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The real Makoto briefly appears in the background of a much earlier episode than her actual introduction. Light orbs also explicitly appear to end arcs in the anime.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Yūichi has to go through a LOT before the finale in the anime. Expect a lot of heartbreaking pain first, though.
  • Easy Amnesia: Memory loss is a theme of the work. The anime expands on it by saying that memory is part of the price you pay for creating a miracle, which is a very workable theory.
    • Yūichi cannot remember what happened seven years ago.
    • Ayu can't remember what she's looking for, when she lost it, or where it is, but she knows it is important.
    • Makoto can't remember anything about herself besides her name and that she has a grudge against Yūichi.
  • Emotionless Girl: Mai. At first.
  • Erotic Eating: Mai in episode 12.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Despite the story taking place in winter, most characters don't wear winter clothing very often, with several female characters only going around outside in their school uniforms (which consist of short dresses with capelets). Downplayed with Ayu, who's the only one of the five main girls who actually wears a winter coat regularly, though some of her legs are still exposed.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Yūichi in the original game, making him one of the only key protagonists to be drawn in this way.
  • First Kiss
  • Foreshadowing: A veritable masterclass. Just how cleverly the dialogue is written - everything said has at least one other layer of significance — can only be fully appreciated on repeat viewings. The anime adds a little more.
    Ayu: Why are you standing there?
    Yūichi: I'm scared of heights.
    Ayu: Actually, I'm not good with heights either.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Yūichi knew Ayu as a kid, but he forgot about her due to Trauma-Induced Amnesia after her accident. Yūichi also knew Mai and (sort of) Makoto as a kid, but he doesn't remember them anymore.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: As a troublemaking tsundere, Makoto was just an annoyance, but when she starts to lose herself, Yuuichi is now desperate to save her — and when it becomes clear that he can't, he instead goes out of his way to make her happy while she's still alive.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: For just a second in Episode 6, when Yūichi and Ayu are in the cafe after going to the movies the adult Makoto can be seen walking by outside the cafe.
    • Also for just a fraction of a second Episode 14, when Yūichi and Sayuri are in the cafe, you can see a scar on Sayuri's wrist, hinting at a suicide attempt (mentioned more explicitly in the game)
  • Generation Xerox: Akiko and her daughter Nayuki. Akiko sleeps less and runs less, but they look almost the same, have very similar personalities, and even crack the same jokes.
  • Generic Cuteness: The show is so heavily loaded with moe characters, it's just about impossible to guess which ones are intended to be attractive in-universe (Leads to Informed Attractiveness). That said, the non-speaking and one-or-two-line characters look even more generic — almost interchangeable — yet they're far less cute than the major characters.
  • The Glomp: Ayu tends to combine this with a running tackle. Leads to a Crash-Into Hello Once an Episode.
  • Gratuitous German / Foreign Language Title: The title of the franchise is taken from Pachelbel's Canon (Kanon in D-dur), which figures periodically in the 2006 anime. Alas, the franchise gets the meaning of the word "canon" all wrong. The confusion derives from the fact that Pachelbel's Canon happens to be both a canon and a passacaglia (or a ground base, which is more or less the same thing). Passacaglia is the forerunner of the Theme and Variations, and that, rather than a canon, is the basic musical form the franchise is loosely organized around. Four of the five paths in the original Visual Novel have links both to Yūichi's forgotten past seven years ago and his childhood promises from then, along with supernatural elements, and a girl who needs his help (and love). Each girl, and the path she represents, is a variation on a theme. By contrast, a canon need not have the structure of a theme and variations; it fact, it seldom does. Rather, a canon is a musical form defined by its use of exclusively strictly imitative counterpoint (in contradistinction to a fugue, which employs both strictly imitative and freely imitative counterpoint) — although said "strict imitation" can nevertheless run backward or upside-down or any of dozens of other complex tricks, so long as the pattern of intervals remains unchanged.
  • Head Pet: Makoto's cat Piro tends to perch on her head.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Nayuki. The Visual Novel explains the psychological reasons behind her behavior. This leads to some amusing non-thudding non-sequiturs delivered in her barely-ambulatory state.
  • Hospital Surprise: In a flashback, Ayu falls from a tree and is presumably killed. Later, it is revealed that she's been in a coma in the hospital the whole time, and she soon recovers.
  • Idiots Cannot Catch Colds: In the 2006 version, after Yuichi and Ayu are done visiting Mai at the hospital they bump into Shiori on their way out. She asks them if they're there because they have colds too, and Yuichi invokes his own twist on this trope by telling Shiori that, "Uguu never gets sick." The English dub renders his adage as, "An Uguu a day keeps the doctor away." Ayu is not amused in either language.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: The feline variant is used with Piro. He lives out in the cold, gets thrown off a bridge, lives in a house with someone who's allergic to him, gets stepped on, gets dunked in the bathtub in the game, and he lives just fine.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Necessary, on occasion, because of the extreme Generic Cuteness and overall moe-level of every female character with more than a few speaking lines.
  • Inner Monologue: The VN is narrated by Yuuichi's inner thoughts.
  • It's All My Fault: Several, but the most dramatic would be Nayuki after Akiko gets hit by a car.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: If another girl is chosen, Nayuki makes an effort to support the two, while Ayu will appear to give her blessing and never show up again for the rest of the route.
    • This trope is implied to be the third wish that Ayu wished for while in a coma, the miracle that managed to save everyone that Yūichi cared about. Yūichi discusses it at length with Shiori in the KyoAni anime.
    Shiori: I don't know what exactly she wished for, but maybe, 'I want my dearest person to always be smiling'. Maybe it was a wish like that.
  • Kissing Cousins: The Nayuki option.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Happens to a lot of characters, all for reasons relating to the town's miracles and the tragedy seven years ago.
  • Last Episode, New Character: The Toei version of Mishio.
  • Last Girl Wins: In the 2006 Kyoto Animation version, all of Yūichi's important romantic options are introduced — or at least glimpsed — in the first episode. But the episode ends with Yūichi and Ayu together. Ayu is also the First Girl, the Last Girl, and the closest thing to a protagonist in both the opening and closing credits. See also First Girl Wins.
  • Late for School: Nayuki became the track team captain because her sleeping habits trained her to run quickly to school.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted in 2006 by most of the cast, but in the VN and all other adaptations, a character will have maybe one or two outfits. Even in 2006, they'll usually have one signature outfit.
  • Look Both Ways: Akiko is hit by an SUV, but survives thanks to Ayu's miracle. Details of the accident itself slightly differ in game and anime adaptation.
  • Meet Cute: Yūichi meets almost every available girl in an odd manner. To wit:
    • Ayu literally runs into Yūichi before dragging him off with her, an irate taiyaki vendor in hot pursuit.
    • Shiori meets Yūichi after Ayu faceplants into a tree and said tree drops its snow on her.
    • Yūichi meets Mai on her usual routine at the school in the dead of night while retrieving Nayuki’s journal.
    • Makoto first appears punching Yūichi for a slight he committed that neither of them can even recall.
    • Nayuki, the First Girl, is a tamer example of Meet Cute — but even she arrives two hours late to meet Yūichi at the train station. Outside, on a bench. In a snowstorm. Of course, they already know each other, being first cousins. Then again, Yūichi already knows most of the other girls from ten years earlier, anyway. But he's forgotten them.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Ayu's hairband. While the ikiryou version wears it, Yuuichi was never actually able to give it to her. In the VN and most adaptations, he has to find it in the forest before he can see her again after she vanishes. In the 2002 anime, Yuuichi finds it in his possession before he sees it on Ayu, and the idea that it's in two places at once clues him in eventually.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: In Makoto's first appearance in the 2002 anime, she stalks Yūichi in a Cardboard Box.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending theme of Kanon 2006 is an upbeat pop song that can create some mood whiplash when it starts playing after an especially sad or dramatic episode.
  • Musical Spoiler: If you check the track list, Makoto's theme is called "The Fox and the Grapes". This references the fable of the same name and shows that Makoto's spite towards Yūichi was only because she couldn't stay with him when they were younger, just like the fox in the story only spited the grapes because he couldn't reach them. On a simpler level, it also shows that she's a fox.
  • Musical Theme Naming: Each episode title of the 2006 anime contains the name of a type of musical composition, such as symphony, concerto, etude and nocturne.
  • New Game Plus: Replaying Mai's route in the VN allows you to see Sayuri's mini-route.
  • New Transfer Student: Yūichi. Many students are disappointed to see that he isn't a cute girl.
  • Not a Morning Person: Nayuki is constantly sleepy, spending her mornings in a haze where she'll fall asleep standing or drift off the path.
  • Not Quite Dead: Shiori, should the miracle save her, didn't die after she ditched Yuuichi at the fountain, and Ayu didn't die in the accident — she's an ikiryou, not a ghost, and her body is in the hospital.
  • Not So Weak: Mai. Obviously, she's a demon-killing badass in her own way, but she's also very selfless. Hell, she lets a dog try and eat her hand after it was attacking people because she had nothing to feed the thing. See also: Constant abuse from student council, other students and teachers.
  • Once an Episode: Ayu runs into Yūichi. This does not, however, happen at the end of the arcs of all the other girls, but there's a reason for that.
  • One-Word Title: Much like its companion pieces, AIR and CLANNAD.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ayu's father and stepmother are said to be out of town, and she can't reach them. Yūichi's parents are out of the country, and Makoto's amnesiac and can't find her parents, if she has any.
  • Parental Substitute: Akiko. If you're homeless girl who needs a roof over her head and 3 square meals a day, just ask and you'll have an instant family of your own, no background check of your shady past needed. She goes as far as to say "Come play with Mommy" to Makoto as the latter begins to lose her memories.
  • Perfect Health: Shiori initially Hand Waves her skipping of classes and lack of energy as "a cold." While this excuse rapidly wears thin, the heartbreaking revelation is somewhat spoiled by the audience being well aware it could only be a fatal condition.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: When he was a kid, Yūichi found an injured fox on Monomi Hill and he took the fox back to his aunt's home where he kept it in his room for the rest of the summer. When he had to go back to his parents' home, he released the fox into the forest. Seven years later, the fox returns as a human girl named Makoto. Despite having amnesia, she knows she resents Yūichi because he left her.
  • Pinky Swear: Ayu and Yūichi's relationship is marked by several of these.
  • Post-Episode Trailer: Both anime adaptations had them. The final episode of 2006, instead of having one of these, had an announcement for the CLANNAD anime.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Makoto starts out as a Pretty Freeloader before becoming an Unwanted Haremette. And Akiko, who is not one of the available girls but the mother, lets the girls have the run of the house and talks Yūichi into helping them out when he doesn't want to; the only thing keeping her from qualifying is that she's the one that technically heads the house.
  • Questionable Consent: Some of the visual novel's sex scenes are... rather dubiously consensual. First we have Makoto's - the girl's got an immature personality even normally, and the fact that she's already beginning to lose her humanity and intelligence and that she seems more confused than anything else during it only makes it worse. And then there's Ayu's - from the beginning Yūichi says he does not really care if she doesn't want to, and apart from a brief moment where she removes her shirt, through the entire scene all she does is look awkward and uncomfortable and tell Yūichi to stop or that it hurts, which Yūichi responds to by irritably thinking that she's ruining the mood. And this one's good in comparison to other 1999 (and even current) eroge!
  • Really Dead Montage: Ayu gets one late in the 2006 anime... except that she's not dead, Yuuichi just thinks she is.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: Yūichi openly expresses that he hates sweets, and is delighted that Akiko's "special jam" does not taste sweet... until he tasted the jam in question...
  • Real-Place Background:
    • The train station that plays such a big part in the story is modelled after Moriguchishi station in Osaka.
    • Shiori's favorite fountain is based on a fountain that's located in Tokyo's Showa Kinen park, which in real life charges a fee and thus cannot be entered freely.
  • Ret-Gone: In Ayu's route in the game, the ikiryou Ayu when she disappears is forgotten by everybody.
  • Say My Name: "AYU!" near the end of her arc, and "MAKOTO!" in Toei's adaptation of hers.
  • School of No Studying: Neither Yūichi nor Nayuki ever seem to worry about their grades, and seem to spend most of their time in class either sleeping, having conversations with each other, or lamenting how boring the class is. While the other main characters in the series have an excuse (Makoto is actually a fox, and thus doesn't even go to school, Mai is a demon hunter, etc.), neither Nayuki or Yūichi have such an excuse.
  • Scenery Porn: The Kyoto Animation version is full of beautifully detailed backgrounds that get plenty of attention.
  • Screwball Serum: Akiko's "special jam" is so infamous that Yūichi and Nayuki beat a hasty exit everytime someone is about to try it.
  • Self-Harm: Mai. Taken furthest in the adult version of the game, where she only sleeps with Yūichi to "punish" herself for Sayuri being brutalized by the demons, and when she realizes she's into it and it doesn't feel like a punishment, she stabs herself instead. Other adaptations skip to her resorting to the sword.
  • The Series Has Left Reality: While the story seems realistic at first, it slowly develops into magic realism, with a sharp swerve into it with the introduction of Mai's demons.
  • Shout-Out: In the 2006 anime, lots of them, mostly to other Kyoto Animation shows. The first few episodes are riddled with Shout Outs to Haruhi Suzumiya that depend for their humor on having the same seiyuu playing both Yūichi and Kyon.
    • Every so often in the 2006 version, you can see a bus drive by with a peach juice drink logo on the side; this is a shout out to Air since the drink depicted is Misuzu's favorite. There's also a trolley with an ad for Nagamori (the surname of one of the heroines of ONE, and also a play on the Japanese candy brand Morinaga) Milk.
    • There's another Shout-Out to ONE episode 17, with Expies of Akane and Rumi visible in the background during the cafeteria scenes.
    • Also in the 2006 anime, Yūichi wears a Lost shirt briefly in the last episode — the only anachronism, considering that the adaptation otherwise takes pains to remain set in 1999.
    • The last episode of the 2002 anime has Kitagawa wearing a shirt with CLANNAD written on it - sort of an Early-Bird Cameo, since the game didn't come out until 2004.
    • Music from the Sleeping Beauty ballet plays when Yūichi sees Mai in her ballgown, and again during their Dance of Romance. Counts as Older Than They Think, since some viewers didn't realize that the animated film used the ballet's music and called it an orchestral version of "Once Upon a Dream."
  • Shown Their Work: The Kyoto Animation adaptation paid attention to enough little details that, even though the order of events has to accommodate the routes happening in succession, weekdays and weekends happen in the right order and number and everything fits precisely with the 1999 calendar (the year the VN came out, and thus the setting). Count the days and you'll even see that Mai's and Shiori's Birthday Episodes take place on the right day. Compare to Toei's version, where Makoto gets a Birthday Episode to replace the staged wedding, making you wonder how it's been January 6th for weeks.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Yūichi goes up on the roof to talk to Mishio.
  • Snow Means Death: The 2006 version of Kanon has Yūichi searching for Ayu in a raging blizzard, then giving up and waiting for death. There's also the Look Both Ways incident, which was made more dramatic with the scene of red mixed in the snow. And when Makoto dies, a previously completely green area was instantly covered in snow.
  • Snow Means Love: Kanon practically embodies this trope, due to the original visual novel revolving around romancing one of five girls and taking place during winter, and it's one of the few works of Key/Visual Arts with a happy ending. Oddly enough, Yūichi himself hates snow, though he's gradually revealed to have his own reasons for that.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Shiori's body is weakening and she's got a little over a month to live. Nothing about her illness is ever clarified beyond this.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: The English rap segment of the ending. Something something something EVERYBODY AND THEIR MAMA KNOW I GOT IT GOIN' ON! Somewhat out of place.
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: Spice up the dub, on occasion. For example, in episode 17, after Kaori blows him off and insists on keeping up the story that she isn't related to Shiori in public, Yūichi in the subs grumbles, "That idiot..." In the dub, he simply mutters, "Bitch."
  • Spoiler Opening: The game and the second anime both start with scenery shots that culminate in a pan up the tree that figures into the main couple's backstory (long before we know it's important to anything) and also show Ayu with real wings, hinting that she's more spirit than human at this point.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Deconstructed in one route. Mai Kawasumi cures her mother with her tears, and people eventually learn that her tears have the ability to rejuvenate anything, even after it has died. Unfortunately, since she's living in a modern setting, she gets swept up in a media circus that publicizes her powers, gets persecuted by the people around her for being different, and is eventually forced to leave her town.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Started as an eroge, with two clean anime versions.
  • Themed Harem: Childhood friends, with Shiori the odd one out.
  • There Are No Therapists: The girls' mental health thrives on Yūichi helping them to discover their own strength, and just Yūichi. Then again, a school nurse wouldn't help Mai if they had one because the administration hates her, Nayuki's main source of support, her mother Akiko, is hospitalized at the exact time that she needs her the most, Makoto's an animal in human form, Ayu's an astral projection, and Shiori isn't even supposed to be out.
  • Third-Person Person: Both Sayuri and Makoto use the third person. Because it factors into Sayuri's backstory and Makoto just does it to be cute (and also because it'd be very difficult to translate with Makoto, given that when introduced, she doesn't know her own name), most translations only keep it for Sayuri.
    • When doing a narration, oddly enough, Sayuri uses 'Jibun' and drops her cutesy voice.
  • Threesome Subtext: Yūichi/Mai/Sayuri. All three relationships are emphasised to be strong, they spend much of Mai's route all together, and near the end there is an extended sequence where Yūichi imagines the three of them all living in the same house together and being incredibly domestic with one another.
  • Title Drop: The above page quote.
  • Tomato Surprise: The true natures of both Makoto and the demons Mai is trying to kill are pretty big tomatoes by themselves, but the author pulls this twice in fairly-rapid succession with Ayu: 1) when Yūichi first remembers her falling from the tree, and then 2) when Akiko tells him he's mistaken — she's not dead, just in a coma.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Nayuki and Ayu as rival love interests and Mai and Sayuri as friends.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ayu's taiyaki, Makoto's nikuman, Nayuki's strawberry sweets (especially sundaes), Mai's gyuudon, and Shiori's vanilla ice cream.
  • Troll:
    • Makoto and Yūichi bring this out in each other. Makoto nearly always gets the worse end of the deal; for all her effort, she is not all that skilled at trickery. Ironic, since she was actually a fox before a wish turned her into a human. (It is also quite likely she loses, at least in part, because she is in love with Yūichi and what she really wants is to play with him, rather than actually defeat him. In fact, her whole reason for becoming human was to return to his side and spend time with him before her death.) See also Troll.
    • Yūichi really seems to enjoy the reactions his snarky comments and strange explanations get. It helps that the girls are generally very gullible, but they start to catch on somewhat.
  • Truer to the Text: While the 2002 anime's character designs are closer to those from the original visual novel, in terms of plot it cuts out a lot of extraneous content (including the more light-hearted parts of the story) while greatly condensing the necessary content to the point of creating several plot holes. In comparison, the 2006 anime is more faithful to the visual novel in terms of story, and even its opening is much more similar to the original game's opening.
  • Unbuilt Trope: One of the first games that used the plotline of "guy meets a number of very troubled girls and solves all their problems (or just the one you picked) while they all (or the one you picked) fall in love with him". Harem Series meets Intimate Psychotherapy as described above is now dirt common. Thing is, though, in all but one route of Kanon comes the Awful Truth that Yūichi caused the girl's problems and screwed up her life unintentionally for the past seven years. Less "I'll solve your life issues and then you can date me" and more cleaning up your own mess.
  • Utsuge: At one time, it was the go-to example. Kanon has a Dysfunction Junction of characters who need help and tragedy that befalls them.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Don't hurt Sayuri when Mai's there to see it.
  • Verbal Tic: Ayu's "uguu" and Makoto's "auu" underline their immaturity (Ayu from not having fully existed in the world since she was 10, Makoto from being an animal in human form). Nayuki says "nyuu" when she's sleepy and Sayuri has a Signature Laugh. Mai doesn't have a verbal tic so much as responding to most things with "..." instead.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Some of the choices in the game lead Yūichi to do some really nasty things to the girls that only serve to make him look like an utter asshole. One notable example being stomping Ayu's taiyaki bag into the snow.
    • Appropriately enough, Yūichi gives Makoto a major one after she drops Piro off the bridge.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: The album version of the ending theme.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: In the anime, since they have 5 characters to go through in 24 episodes which sums up around 3-5 episodes per girl, post deduction of the exposition; that means the plot for each arc / route has to advance quickly; which enforces Ass Pull characters or motives to appear without any explanation or proper legitimization to advance the plot. But the viewer is willing to avert one's gaze away specifically because of the limited number of episodes.
  • World-Healing Wave: In the anime adaptations of Kanon, Ayu disappears as an astral projection through the granting of a wish that improves everyone else's lives.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Most characters have normal hair colors, but Nayuki and her mother have blue-purple hair while Mai's is a very dark purple. Makoto also has reddish-orange hair, though this is justified since she's actually a fox, which has naturally red fur. Despite this, no one comments on anyone else's hair colors.
     Kanon Another Story: Wonder Three 
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Kaori's hair is now orange.
  • Ascended Extra: Jun Kitagawa is one of the most prominent characters in the manga.
  • Beta Couple: Not Kitagawa and Kaori, but Kitagawa and Shiori.
  • BFS: Mai's sword is now huge and as tall as she is.
  • Big Brother Attraction: Ayu calls Yūichi "oniichan", despite their being the same age, and he treats her like a child. This appears to be to shock readers used to an Ayu ending in every adaptation into realizing that, hey, this ain't the Kanon they are used to.
  • Bland-Name Product: "McBonald's".
  • Byronic Hero: This version's Yūichi barely has any good points.
  • Demoted to Extra: Makoto gets one mention. That's it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everyone whose personality is markedly different gets one. Yūichi starts a snark war with Nayuki that goes far past any other Yūichi's limits to how rude he can be, and Nayuki is just as rude back. And Shiori? Shiori wraps a rock in her shawl, tosses it at Kitagawa and Yūichi, and blames it on the wind.
  • For Want Of A Nail: What if Yūichi remembered Ayu right away?
  • I Have No Son!: I Have No Younger Sister. In this version, Nayuki actually knows from the start that Kaori and Shiori are sisters and says so even when Kaori's denying it to her face, which makes the relationship dynamics somewhat more messed up than usual.
  • Love Triangle: Nayuki insinuates that a Type 4 is going on between Sayuri, Mai, and Yūichi. Whether Sayuri actually does love Mai is up for debate, but the mangaka probably knew the pairing's popularity.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Unlike every other adaptation, instead of picking Ayu or Nayuki, Yūichi ends up with Mai.
  • Secret-Keeper: Akiko, as usual, but she's more overt about it here.
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: Shiori. Car fanatic, technological wizard, and might not even really be terminally ill in this version.
  • Snark Knight: Nayuki, of all people.

Promise me?



Ayu and Yuichi share a kiss as they form a stronger bond together.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheBigDamnKiss

Media sources: