is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by Key and released on June 4, 1999 for the PC. An all ages version for the PC was released in January 2000, and was later ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable. The Kanon Standard Edition was released for the PC in November 2004 playable as a DVD-ROM in adult and all-ages versions; this version incorporates the few extra graphics added to the earlier all-ages version of the game. Both Standard Editions add support for Windows 2000/XP and other technical changes such as more save slots. Otherwise, the all-ages Kanon Standard Edition is the same as the original all-ages version released for the game.
The gameplay in Kanon follows a linear plot line where the player interacts at predetermined times to choose several options that appear on the screen. The game was developed so that the focus for the player would be an intricate plot and the appeal of the five female main characters. The title is generally believed to be derived from the musical term canon; the second TV adaptation plays on this association by using of Pachelbel's Kanon D-dur, or Canon in D major, as a background piece at certain instances throughout the series.
Kanon has been adapted into light novels, drama CDs, and two anime and manga series. The first anime was a thirteen episode TV series that aired between January and March 2002; this version includes a one episode original video animation, Kazahana, released in May 2003. Both the original anime adaptation and the OVA were produced by the animation studio Toei Animation. The second anime adaptation, created by Kyoto Animation, contained twenty-four episodes and aired in Japan between October 2006 and March 2007 ; this series was first licensed by ADV Films, but the license was transferred to Funimation in July 2008 and is being released in English.
Kanon's gameplay requires little interaction from the player as most of the duration of the game is spent simply reading the text that appears on the game screen which represents either dialogue between the various characters or the inner thoughts of the protagonist. Every so often, the player will come to a "decision point" where he or she is given the chance to choose from multiple options. The time between these decision points is variable and can occur anywhere from a minute to much longer. Gameplay pauses at these points and depending on which choice the player makes, the plot will progress in a specific direction.
There are five main plot lines that the player will have the chance to experience, one for each of the heroines in the story. To view all five plot lines, the player will have to replay the game multiple times and choose different choices during the decision points to progress the plot in an alternate direction. Jun Maeda, who worked on the scenario for Kanon, commented in March 2001 that it may have been due to Kanon's influence on the Japanese public which likened Key to making soothing games, but Maeda affirms that there was not one person who worked on Kanon who thought that. One of the goals of the original version's gameplay is for the player to enable the viewing of hentai scenes depicting Yuichi and one of the five heroines having sexual intercourse. Later, Key released two editions of Kanon without the erotic content. The versions that include the adult content include one explicit sex scene in each of the five main story routes, 50-75% of the way through, excluding one fantasy scene. Outside of these, there are two scenes with nudity which use the same CGs. Yūichi Suzumoto, a scenario writer who worked on later Key titles, commented that the sex scenes in Kanon are very self-contained, and can be easily removed without altering the story. Maeda was asked what he thought if the sex scenes had been written in order to promote human reproduction, but he remarks that it would not work in games like Kanon or Air.
There are recurring themes that appear throughout the story. A music theme is present, as the name of the series is generally believed to be based on a classical composition named Canon in D. The episode titles from the 2006-2007 anime have parts in their titles related to music, such as overture and introit. Furthermore, miracles play a large part in the story; Kanon's plot line and characters are influenced by various instances where miracles occur. The act of promising and keeping promises is found throughout the story. Yuichi eventually makes important promises to the five main girls while at the same time fulfilling past promises he had made with them when he used to visit the city as a kid.
One of the sub-themes in the story is amnesia, or the loss of memory; three of the main characters—Yuichi, Ayu and Makoto—suffer from amnesia in varying degrees; this is used as a plot device to advance the story. Another sub-theme deals with the favorite foods of the five main heroines. Newtype USA stated in an article on Kanon that, "it's when the characters are eating something really tasty that they seem most beautiful and alive," despite the somber setting and overall tone of the series. These five foods of choice are: taiyaki (Ayu), strawberries (Nayuki), nikuman (Makoto), ice cream (Shiori), and gyudon (Mai).
Yuichi is accosted a few days after arriving in the city by Kanon's third heroine Makoto Sawatari, a young girl who has lost her memories, but despite this she is sure that she holds a grudge against Yuichi from when he last visited the city. Makoto has a mischievous side and constantly plays pranks on Yuichi. She has an affinity towards the spring and once wished that it would stay spring forever. Yuichi coincidentally runs into Shiori Misaka, another heroine and first-year high school student suffering from an unexplained illness since birth. Her affliction has caused her to become very physically weak, and she is almost always absent from school because of it. She tries to be strong in the face of her condition, and gets along well with others, even though she does not know very many people her age due to her condition. The fifth and final heroine in Kanon is Mai Kawasumi, a third-year student of the same high school that Yuichi attends. She has a cold attitude towards almost everyone, but despite this, she is actually a very kind and caring person; she "punishes" someone who makes a playful joke about her by giving them a light karate chop to the head.
On the day after Yuichi's return, he is out with Nayuki who is showing him around city. Nayuki remembers that she has to buy things for dinner, but Yuichi is reluctant to go into the store with her, arguing that he might get lost. Moments after Nayuki leaves him waiting on the sidewalk, a strange girl named Ayu Tsukimiya barges into him with little warning. Upon recovering, she drags him away to a nearby café and confesses to inadvertently stealing a bag filled with taiyaki after being accidentally scared away by the salesman before she had a chance to pay. Yuichi drags Ayu back to the salesman, where they both apologize for the trouble, and Ayu is forgiven. They decide to meet up again another day and Ayu scampers off. A few days after he has been in the city, Yuichi is accosted by a girl named Makoto Sawatari who has lost her memories, though still remembers that she has a grudge against him from when he last visited the city. After she collapses in the street, he takes her home and learns about her situation. Akiko gives her permission to live with them for the time being, which is against Yuichi's plan to hand her over to the police.
Another girl who is connected to Yuichi's past is Mai Kawasumi who attends his high school as a third-year. She takes it upon herself to fight and defeat demons at night while the school is deserted. Due to this, she is constantly blamed for accidents because she never denies them, being too sincere to say anything and knowing that no one will believe that there are demons in the school. Yuichi coincidentally meets a fifth girl named Shiori Misaka for the first time who he gets to know along with the other four heroines in the story. She has suffered from an unexplained affliction since birth which makes her weak to the point of missing school because of it. Yuichi starts to talk with her more after noticing her in the school courtyard one day. It turn out that Shiori stands outside on the school grounds nearly every day because she wants to meet someone dear to her.
The Kanon Standard Edition was released on November 26, 2004 with added support for Windows 2000/XP as a DVD-ROM. Only this version and the original release contained pornographic scenes. Three months later, on January 28, 2005, the same game was released with the hentai content removed. A PSP version of the game went on sale in Japan on February 15, 2007. The first release of the PSP version came with a special DVD featuring a message from five of the voice actors and a recompiled opening video from the video game version. The five voice actors on the DVD included: Mariko Kōda as Nayuki Minase, Akemi Satō as Shiori Misaka, Mayumi Iizuka as Makoto Sawatari, Yūko Minaguchi as Akiko Minase, and Tomokazu Sugita as Yuichi Aizawa. Yui Horie as Ayu Tsukimiya voiced the short introduction of the DVD, but was not featured in the contents of the DVD itself. A version playable on FOMA and SoftBank 3G mobile phones was released by Prototype through Visual Art's Motto in May 2007. In the original release, there was no voice acting for the characters, but in the later versions produced for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, full-voice acting was included in order to heighten the experience. The only exception was Yuichi, who was not voiced in either version. However, the PlayStation Portable release features voice acting for Yuichi, provided by Tomokazu Sugita.
The second manga, under the main title with the subtitle each regret of Kanon, was serialized between June 29, 2006 and October 20, 2007 in the Japanese manga magazine Dragon Age Pure published by Fujimi Shobo. The story was adapted from the visual novel version that preceded it, and was illustrated by Kinusa Shimotsuki. The first bound volume was released in Japan on April 1, 2007 and focused on Nayuki's story. There were five chapters in volume one, starting with a forty-six-page chapter one, followed by two smaller extra chapters twelve pages long each. Chapter four was forty pages long, followed by a six page epilogue. The second bound volume was released on December 8, 2007 and focuses on the other four heroines. There are four chapters in volume two, one for each of the other heroines not featuring in volume one, starting with Makoto's thirty-eight-page chapter, followed by Mai's with eighteen pages, Shiori's with twenty, and finally Ayu's with forty-eight pages.
There have also been many releases of manga anthologies produced by different companies and drawn by a multitude of different artists. The first volume of the earliest anthology series, released by Ichijinsha under the title Kanon Comic Anthology, was released on November 25, 2000 under their DNA Manga Comics label. Volumes for this series continued to be released for another two years, ending on December 26, 2002 with the fourteenth volume; an additional fifteenth volume was released later on February 24, 2006. Ichijinsha also released two more volumes of anthology collections of four-panel comic strips entitled Kanon 4-koma Kings on April 25, 2001 and June 25, 2001. The second anthology was released in a single volume by Softgarage on December 20, 2002 entitled Kanon Anthology Comic. On April 17, 2004, Ohzora released an anthology comprising of works based on both Kanon and Air entitled Haru Urara: Kanon & Air. Between April 17, 2004 and August 18, 2004, Ohzora also released five separate volumes of manga based on Kanon drawn by five separate artists. Ohzora later collected some of the previously published manga anthologies into two volumes entitled Kanon Anthology Comics Best Selection released on December 26, 2006 and January 31, 2007. Additionally, Ohzora released another thirteen volumes of an anthology series entitled Kanon under their Twin Heart Comics label. The now-bankrupt published Raporto also released sixteen manga anthology volumes entitled Kanon under their Raporto Comics label. The last manga anthology, a collection of four-panel comic strips released in a single volume by Enterbrain entitled Magi-Cu 4-koma Kanon, was released on January 29, 2007 under their MC Comics label. Each of the anthology series are written and drawn by an average of twenty people per volume.
There are two different anime adaptations of Kanon. The first series adaptation in 2002 lasted thirteen episodes, followed by a single original video animation in 2003. In 2006, the Kanon anime series was completely remade and lasted twenty-four episodes.
The first Kanon anime was made by the Japanese animation studio Toei Animation and aired in Japan between January 31, 2002, and March 28, 2002 spanning a total of thirteen episodes. Later, a single original video animation entitled Kanon Kazahana was released on May 3, 2003. The original anime used the songs "florescence" and "flower" for the opening and ending themes respectively. While it did not appear as the ending theme in the first twelve episodes or in the OVA, the game's ending theme "Where the Wind Reaches" was used as the ending theme for the series in episode thirteen. Additionally, the game's opening theme "Last regrets" is played near the end of episode thirteen during the flashback scene.
Starting in 2006, Kyoto Animation, the animators of another Key game-turned-anime, Air, decided to animate a new adaptation of Kanon. This 2006-2007 version aired between October 5, 2006 and March 15, 2007 on the Japanese television broadcasting station BS-i, containing twenty-four episodes. In a magazine published interview, studio producers stated that the primary reason for considering animating another Kanon anime was largely in part due to Kyoto's Air anime being well-received by viewers. In the second episode of Air, in fact, the studio procured the rights and the original voice actors to give Ayu, Nayuki and Makoto a cameo as Kano Kirishima's school friends. Consequently, Kyoto Animation received numerous phone calls from viewers expressing their desire for the studio to animate Kanon. ADV Films announced on September 21, 2007 at the Anime Weekend Atlanta anime convention that they have officially licensed the second Kanon anime series. ADV had previously posted a trailer for the series in August 2007, but was soon taken offline once the news had been spread on the Internet. The first English-dubbed episode was made available via streaming online at Anime News Network between December 23, 2007 and December 30, 2007. In July 2008, the licensing rights of the second Kanon anime were transferred from ADV to Funimation Entertainment who will continue to produce the series in North America.
The second TV Kanon animation features the same voice acting cast as the original version released in 2002, with the exception of Yuichi and Kuze. This version is longer at twenty-four episodes instead of the previous thirteen, and has updated animation quality. Unlike the first anime, the actual theme songs from the Kanon game are used for the second anime's opening theme, ending theme and soundtrack. There is one song featured as an insert song in episode sixteen that did not come from the visual novel. It was entitled "Last regrets -X'mas floor style-" from I've Sound's first album Regret. Other songs are used from the arrange albums released over the years, which include Anemoscope, Recollections, Re-feel, and Ma-Na.
The first music album released was Anemoscope which came bundled with the original release of Kanon in June 1999. The next release was a single, "Last regrets / Place of wind which arrives", which contained the opening and ending themes plus arranged versions of three background music tracks and a male vocal version of the opening theme. A compilation album containing tracks from the two albums was released in December 2001 called Recollections. The game's original soundtrack was released in October 2002 containing twenty-two different tracks along with short versions of the two theme songs. A piano arrange album was released in December 2003 called Re-feel which contained five tracks from Kanon and five from Air. Excluding the first two albums, each of the albums released for the visual novel version were released on Key's record label Key Sounds Label; this is due to the first two albums being released before the label was formed.
The first anime's first original soundtrack was released in May 2002, and a second followed in July 2002. The first anime's opening theme was "Florescence" and the ending theme was "Flower", both sung by Miho Fujiwara; the maxi single containing the anime's opening and ending themes was released in June 2002. An album containing music box arranged tracks of music from the first anime was released in July 2003 called Orgel de Kiku Sakuhin Shū. The albums released for the first anime were produced by Frontier Works and Movic. A single was released in commemoration for the second anime called "Last regrets / Kaze no Tadoritsuku Basho" which contained the game's original opening and ending themes in original, short, and remixed versions; the album was produced by Key Sounds Label.
According to a national ranking of how well bishōjo games sold nationally in Japan, the original Kanon release for the PC premiered at number two in the ranking. Three years later in June 2002, the original release ranked in again at forty-five, and then again at forty-six the following two weeks. The original release also made the ranking after that at number forty-one in early July 2002. The Kanon Standard Edition premiered at number sixteen in the rankings. The Kanon Standard Edition remained on the top fifty list for the next two months, achieving the rankings of forty-seven and thirty-five. The all-ages version of the Kanon Standard Edition premiered at number forty-two on the national ranking, went up to thirty-five the next month, and did not appear on the rankings after that. The Dreamcast port sold 42,379 units in the first week and was the fourth top selling console game in Japan for that week. The Dreamcast version sold 49,047 units in total and is ranked the fifty-seventh highest selling Japanese Dreamcast game. Kanon was the seventh highest selling bishōjo game of 1999 selling 39,683 units, and since then, Kanon has sold over 300,000 units, not counting the PSP release.
Characters from Kanon have appeared in several dōjin games not directly based on the Kanon series such as the Eternal Fighter Zero game by Twilight Frontier where most of the playable characters either came from Kanon or from an earlier Key game entitled One. The dōjin game Glove on Fight featured at least two Kanon characters: Ayu Tsukimiya and Akiko Minase in a fighting style game along with various other characters taken from other media. The character Ayu Tsukimiya in particular is known to be extremely popular, and "has had more appearances outside of the original Kanon than any other anime or H-game character ever."
Five days before the first PS2 release for Kanon, a PlayStation 2 printer called Tapis MPR-505 went on sale which enabled the user to print out game screens. Kanon was one of the three games supported at launch, the other two being America Ōden Ultra Quiz from DigiCube and Marle de Jigsaw from Nippon Ichi Software.