Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Merry Month of Shojo Review #3: CANON

It figures when I need to talk about a good but overlooked shojo manga from the past, I can always turn to CMX.

CANON (Kanon), by Chika Shiomi.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2007.


Six months ago, Canon’s classroom was attacked by a mysterious vampire.  All of her classmates were drained in an instant, while Canon was transformed to a vampire.  Through sheer willpower, she has managed to contain her hunger and now uses her supernatural powers to save others and hunt down the man who transformed her.  The only ones able to help her are Fui, a sassy vampiric crow, and Sakaki, a fellow vampire with an agenda of his own.


Vampire fiction is a timeless topic for shojo.  While this manga was made in the mid-90s, it could have easily fit in with the urban paranormal romances that were all the rage in the early 2010s.  Canon doesn’t tread much new ground as far as shojo vampire stories go, but it still delivers a good story full of drama and action.

Canon is just one in a long line of vampiric (whether in full or in part) vampire hunters in anime and manga, but she’s an effective one.  She’s got a decent motivation, a good heart, she's good at making the most of her vampiric strength in a fight, and she's able to compassionately cure any vampiric servants that cross her path.  She's a good blend of action heroine and sensitive shojo heroine, something that Shiomi seems to specialize in.

If there’s any failing to Canon, it’s Sakaki.  He’s established from the start as a bloodthirsty pragmatist, which makes him a fine foil to Canon.  The problem is that Shiomi keeps insisting that the tension between Canon and Sakaki is romantic as well as philosophical.  It's not like she doesn't already have a dude who challenges her beliefs because Fui exists (well, when he's not serving as either the Resident Exposition Giver or comic relief).  Adding Sakaki just shifts story too far away from Canon and her plight, as the longer he's around the more her personality melts away in a cloud of doki-dokis.   Maybe I wouldn't mind so much if Sakaki himself weren’t such a toxic combination of smugness and sour grimness. 

Also, maybe Shiomi should have thought of a better name for the mysterious vampire that turned Canon and set her on her quest than “Rod.” That's not exactly a name that drives fear into a reader's heart.


Shiomi’s art truly was at its best in the 90s.  She’s always tended towards more angular, adult-looking characters, and it’s really obvious here how much her style owes to CLAMP.  She also makes good use of shading to give her characters a sense of dimension that wasn't common in shojo art of the time. She also avoids a lot of the visual excesses of the time, relying more upon moody twilight screentones instead of flowers and sparkles. She handles the action quite adeptly, making very good use of perspective to communicate the power and dynamism of the vampire fights.  I do wish the panels were bigger and less cramped so she could really show off.


Canon makes the most of its paranormal setting, strong heroine, and quality art, but I wish more time and (literal) space was devoted to exploring Canon and less on setting up a romance between her and a blood-drinking jackass.  It's the only thing that's keeping me from giving this series a green light.  If you like paranormal shojo, this is one that's well worth hunting down.

This series was published by CMX.  It is complete in Japan with 4 volumes available.  All 4 volumes were released and are currently out of print.

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