What an entertaining show – or so I think, at least. You meet a whole slew of characters without knowing what sort of role they’re going to play in the series – but it looks promising. A lot happens in the first episode alone, but because it’s clouded in mystery and the significance of each coinciding event has yet to be established, it’s almost as if nothing happens. We’re left with many questions after the first episode – questions that aren’t answered by the second episode; in fact, the second episode only increases the number of questions raised. But our curiosity is certainly piqued, which is what should keep drawing us back.
The story opens in Shanghai during a festival. A man is killed while running through a back alley for reasons unknown. His killer: a skilled assassin who goes by the name Canaan. Next we meet two reporters who are sent to Shanghai to cover the festival: Minoru Minorikawa and Maria Ōsawa. At first glance Maria seems to be air-headed and light-hearted but you quickly pick up on a few indications that there’s more to her than meets the eye. She’s also friends with Canaan, having befriended her with a game of cats cradle sometime in their past. Then there’s Alphard, the female leader of a terrorist group known as the Snakes – an armed group that disturbs society. She’s shown at the beginning of the episode being escorted off a boat in handcuffs (zip ties make inexpensive and efficient handcuffs) and put in the custody of armed soldiers. That convoy of guards, however, is decimated when two presumable members of the Snakes – a woman named Liang Qi who refers to Alphard as “sister”, and a bespectacled man named Cummings – show up in an armed helicopter and rescue their leader.
But that’s not even the brunt of the action that occurs in the first episode: The cheerful festival is flecked with odd people running around wearing oversized animal costumed-heads who, in the event that their costumed-head is removed, scream and die what appears to be an agonizing death; an unusual marking is also revealed somewhere on their body though it’s not clear whether this mark was there before their deaths. They’re closely followed by another group who wear masks and carry guns. Maria gets involuntarily caught up with these two groups when she witnesses and photographs one of the mysterious deaths and gets chased down by the second group who attempt to kill her. She’s saved by Canaan who goes on to brilliantly target and eliminate every single one of her opponents.
Aside from the characters and organizations that have been introduced by name and or brief description, there are many others who we also know very little about. The woman who seems to be Canaan’s superior, for example: what organization does Cannan work for? What do they do? What about the old man who appeared in the news as someone attending the anti-terrorism meeting and later appeared undercover at the festival with his “grandson”? At the end of the episode it seems they’re responsible for blowing up the last remaining costumed-headed person. There’s also the man in the van with the woman named Hakko who apparently doesn’t speak; they seem to be related to the people with the costumed-heads. Who and what are the costumed-headed people and those who follow them wearing the masks? And the Snakes: Who are they and what is their objective? And like I mentioned, these questions aren’t quickly answered.
In the second episode, we learn a little more about Maria: she was a victim of a bioterrorist attack that happened in Shibuya. The Ua Virus – named after the word for flower in Swahili “Ua” and can also be translated as “death” – has a killing rate of 100%. Within 12 hours of contracting the virus, the body bleeds out, killing the victim. Maria was forcefully infected and would have died if not for the anti-virus her father, Kenji Ōsawa, developed. However, despite having survived the illness, she has no recollection of the experience.
Maria’s life also gets put on the line again, only this time, Mino’s dragged into it with her. The old man and his “grandson” who Mino was following in the first episode chase Maria and Mino around town, trying to gun them down. Again, Canaan comes to the rescue, disposing of the old man who bears a similar marking as two of the costumed-headed people who had lost their costumed-heads and died – only his mark was shown while he was still alive. Question answered? Not really. When Maria and Mino return to their hotel, Maria finds that her room has been ransacked and stained in red; the negatives of the photos she had taken (because she doesn’t use a digital camera) are gone. Subsequently, they’re kicked out from the hotel and wander around without a place to stay.
To be honest, I like Canaan; I mean, it’s only been two episodes, but I like it. Then again, I’ve been known to enjoy shows and movies without substantial plots to a point; hopefully that isn’t the case, though.
P.S. If you were hoping to see more of the girl in the first picture – the one with the “huge meat buns” – then here you go. They really were just large meat buns after all.