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AKA: Canvas ~セピア色のモチーフ~ (Canvas ~Sepia-iro no Motif~)
Genre: Art school softcore romance
Length: OAV, 2 episodes, 30 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: NC-17 (adult situations)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Comic Party, End of Summer, Wet Summer Days
Notes: Like many other adult-only titles, this one is based on a bishoujo game of the same name.
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

Canvas ~Motif of Sepia~

Synopsis

Asou Daisuke is a talented artist suffering from severe artist's block. His primary love interest childhood friend, Tachibana Amane, tries desperately to find what it is that can get him to draw.

In the meantime, other love interests childhood friends pop in out of the woodwork to make cameos and generally confuse both Daisuke and Amane about what they really want.

What will it take to get Daisuke to draw something? Why is Amane willing to sit out in the rain and get seriously ill just for the sake of his artistic talent? Why the heck am I even watching this?


Review

Normally, I wouldn't put something like this in the "adults only" section -- I actually had no idea this was adult material when I queued up the torrent. Even veterans get surprised some days.

A funny fact about Canvas is that 95% of this show is the sort of fluffy light romance that would fit better on a shoujo manga anthology than anywhere else, because unlike most shows based on dating sims, a lot of time (in fact most of it) is spent through the female protagonist's point of view. This is a good thing, considering that Daisuke is such a stereotypically temperamental artistic sort that he veers from "jerk" to "son-of-a-biscuit", with occasional forays into "what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you" territory.

For the vast majority of this short OAV series, I have a really hard time understanding why we are to sympathize with Daisuke at all, and why Amane (and the zillion other girls at this school) are interested in him. And even better, we have a teacher who looks like she's interested, and Amane is all flustered over that.

At this point, the sudden shower scene should have clued me in that this wasn't exactly normal high school age material.

So, fine, we follow Amane and her Teenage Romantic Angst, and then an internal Crisis of Faith, and then all of a sudden we see Amane with her hands down her pants moaning Daisuke's name?!?

Imagine tuning into Marmalade Boy, only to find out it's been rewritten for the Spice Channel. That is Canvas in a nutshell.

After picking my jaw up off the floor (and reattaching it extra securely for good measure), it was time to completely reevaluate the situation.

Does Canvas truly succeed as a romance anime? Well ... after watching the whole thing, I'm not inclined to say yes. The romance, as it were, is pretty thin, largely due to Daisuke being a grade-A jerk until the last ten minutes of this show, where he has a change of heart. Unfortunately, this change of heart is prompted by Amane basically telling him she won't move from her spot until he draws (her spot, of course, being under a tree during a rainstorm). Score one for female stubbornness, I guess, but stubbornness and forced actions don't make for a terribly exciting romance. Add to that some remarkably weak voice work from just about everyone involved, and suddenly, a two-episode OAV becomes a chore.

Granted, the character designs are sorta kinda cute (except for the obligatory Lolita girl, Yuzu, who looks like a Sister Princess reject), and when the art is properly rendered, it's actually occasionally good, but the Z-grade animation does them no favors at all, particularly during the pathetic attempts at fan service (how a softcore title can have less effective panty shots than most Ghibli films is a true mystery of modern pop culture) ... and most tellingly during the two "adult" scenes in this film.

And oh boy, let me tell you about the "adult" scenes ...

Modern slang is replete with phrases like "weak sauce" and "pretty freakin' lame", but those aren't sufficient to describe these "sex scenes". It would perhaps be more effective to go with the direct approach. I can, and have drawn more realistic sex scenes than are shown on Canvas. I can't imagine any hentai fan actually paying to see this work, and it boggles me that this "softcore" title actually sold a single copy in Japan.

What is frustrating is that the softcore scenes (squishy bits just offscreen, thankfully) detract heavily from what is otherwise a promising, but mishandled story idea. There's just not enough here -- there are occasional glimmers of hope when the characters actually seem like they're gaining even a modicum of chemistry, but the scriptwriters just can't hand down a sufficient script. The dialogue is nothing more than recycled high school garbage, with no truly creative effort showing through at all. Canvas could have been a good little series, but it simply isn't, especially when the best thing about the show are the drawings.

Finally, synopses of this show indicate some sort of "painful conclusion", implying that the girl who becomes Daisuke's model dies in operation afterwards, or some such. Unfortunately ... (hold on while I check my notes) ... Yurina (that's her name!) appears for a whopping five minutes, not nearly long enough for us to really care whether she lives or dies (but hey, she gets naked for a second or two, which would have been awesome if the animation were any good). Maybe the "painful conclusion" part refers to the sex scene ... which, really, makes everything perfectly clear!

Too racy for light teen romance, too half-hearted to be truly exciting, and too badly animated to be of any use, Canvas sinks beneath an overwhelming motif of mediocrity.

Leave sepia to Shinesman. This Canvas needs to be wiped clean and started over from the beginning. People who would do anything for the slightest hint of romantic angst *might* want to try this, but frankly, most audiences shouldn't even bother with it.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: What a weird little show. It's not racy enough to draw in the hentai crowd, but it's a smidge too explicit to recommend to folks who like light teen romance. Adults only, but I'm not sure this is going to really make most adults very happy.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Canvas ~Motif of Sepia~ © 2002 F&C
 
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