Review: Daimajin Kanon (2010)

I don’t know how fairly I can evaluate the 26-episode Daimajin Kanon TV series.  Not only am I a huge fan of the original Daimajin films, but the DVD copy I got had some of the worst subtitles I’ve ever seen.  Clearly subbed by the Chinese, the first third of the series was mostly coherent, but then they must have given the project to another “translator” so that the last two thirds of the episodes are a lot like a word puzzle.  Fortunately, the good subs were at the beginning so at least I could get the character names right instead of relying on the Chinese-afied versions.

Subtitles aside, this is one of the weirdest series I’ve ever seen.  I think the idea of basing a modern-era series on the old Daimajin films is a good one, but this strange mess has almost none of the things that made the original film trilogy great.  If you like the old movies, don’t assume you’ll like this series.  You might, but it won’t be due to the Daimajin connection.  In fact, the giant stone god sleeps through most of the 26 episodes, only appearing awake in a small handful of moments.

The story follows a college girl named Kanon who was raised by her grandmother in a rural area where the giant stone god, Daimajin, rests in a sort of stasis, waiting for…something.  Kanon’s having a rough time of it, mainly because her douche bag boyfriend cheated on her and stole a song of hers that he’s produced and had a hit with.  Thing is, this song has some kind of magical power and can possibly awaken the sleeping Daimajin.  Enter the weirdos.

 

I call them weirdos because I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be.  A group of “people” from what seems to be a remote shrine of sorts show up and start looking for Kanon when they aren’t hanging out at the noodle shop.  These people are able to transform into Power Ranger type characters based on various animals and they do so in order to battle a demon who’s decided to possess Kanon’s ex-boyfriend.  Still with me?  In addition, there are these tiny, naked baby dolls with bell-shaped heads who speak gibberish and mostly provide fan service moments by hiding between the breasts of the koi-woman who’s one of the weirdos.

Kanon follows a downward spiral of depression and it’s a little hard to root for her after being deluged with her self-pity, but the beautiful, snaggle-toothed Yuka Rikuna does an admirable job of carrying the show nonetheless.  The entire cast is very good, but in the end, the series falls far short of the Daimajin films.  Simply put, it has absolutely nothing in common with them.

DK comes off as sort of a Power Rangers/soap opera hybrid and those two things have never been high on my list of likes.  Putting them together and attracting my attention by falsely including Daimajin as if the story revolved around him further raised my hackles.  But I stayed invested in Kanon’s story all the way to the end and found the whole thing to be a pleasant enough diversion.  Just don’t go into it expecting to see Daimajin very much and you might enjoy it more.  The irony is that I’d have probably liked it better had it not included Daimajin at all, but I probably would have never heard of it if that were the case.

It’s hard to imagine who the target audience for this was, as it aired fairly late at night in Japan.  I expect it was aimed at college students who remember properties like Kamen Rider fondly but would like something a bit more grown up.  If you don’t fall into that group, I suspect you’ll dislike the DK series and if you’re a fan of the films, I expect you’ll like it even less.  I can’t recommend it to anyone except those few of you who simply can’t get enough of Japanese pop culture weirdness.  You know who you are.

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