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FreezeFrame: Bittersweet Akiko Jam

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No music. No zoom-in slow-motion replay. Sometimes, the unbiased reality is more painful than any dramatic interpretation. In what could have been a recording from a security camera, we’re exposed to a brutal scene in which the mother we’ve come to love as our own is plowed over by two tons of drunken SUV, with nothing but a smashed strawberry cake as a final punch line.

My heart is in pieces, laying somewhere between the shards of windshield and makeshift Smucker’s. Kind of gives a new meaning to “Akiko Jam,” doesn’t it?

And while Kanon has been no less of an emotional roller coaster up till now, everything that’s happened seems to pale in comparison to “the accident” – most likely because of how sudden it was. I mean, it was difficult to watch Makoto go from speaking Makopinese to stage 3 Alzheimer’s in a few episodes, just like it was sad to see Shiori and Ayu fade away. But those took episodes to happen, and we pretty much knew what was coming. Not Akiko…

You see, the reason this hit me so hard was because in my mind, I had already elevated Akiko to the status of “untouchable” – one of those support characters that are always there to offer girl advice, or go to the arcade with, or fix you a midnight snack. The one that’s never a part of the main story, but provide the necessary interactions to bring out the personality of the main characters. Akiko’s status as an unchanging side character was solidified when she recovered from that fever that caused such a commotion earlier on – seemed like she would’ve gotten worse if she was to be a plot-swinging character. When she recovered, I completely let my guard down, and assumed she would remain the same loving mother I had always adored. Assumed that she would always be there to greet Yuuichi at the door. Assumed that I could always take her for granted.

The last time a show hit me this hard was ol’ Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, where poor Haruka got mowed over in similar fashion while standing next to a telephone booth. Call me foolish, but I didn’t see it coming. All I could see were the fun dates, the purikura, the incessant blushing and maybe even the eventual “I love you, so it’s ok…” moment. And just like Haruka, I had envisioned a future where Akiko and Nayuki would always continue their Aria-esque way of life, softly and slowly living their lives one day at a time.

If I were to pick the one thing that makes Kanon special, I’d say it’s because “always” didn’t happen.

Oh Akiko, get well soon.

-jaalin

February 26, 2007 at 6:06 pm
31 comments »
  • February 26, 2007 at 6:14 pmKaito

    Ah, to be honest, the crash was done in such a comedic way that it didn’t quite manage to give me the same sting that Haruka’s accident did. There was just no real “shock” factor…
    Akiko kind of just “disappeared” after supposedly being plowed by the car… No blood, no dropped belongings…

  • February 26, 2007 at 6:24 pmGStrike-

    Akiko is superhuman getting hit by that and with no blood -.-

  • February 26, 2007 at 6:39 pmAvisch

    I really like Akiko she’s one of the best comedic and sympathetic people in Kanon. She;s got the really kind form of atmosphere that really justifies the “young thoughtful mother” stereotype in anime.

    And about the no blood sequence.
    Have any of you seen this?
    It’s scary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9kQwfc4WLo

    Just making sure.

  • February 26, 2007 at 6:44 pmdsong

    Dude, the Kanon crash sequence was ripped off directly from the YouTube video.

  • February 26, 2007 at 6:49 pmAvisch

    Yeah I know

  • February 26, 2007 at 6:54 pmEld

    No i think she teleported when she got hit >_>

  • February 26, 2007 at 7:02 pmRevyFTW

    Can people stop saying the accident was humorous and unbelivable. When you get hit by a car the body does not magically explode into a million pieces with blood flying everywhere and mothers crying huddled with their children. If at the end we saw akiko’s severed head instead of a smushed cake that would have been humorous and unbelievable.

    Seriously. The you tube thing shows it as it really is. If anyone ever studied physics the momentum of the elastic collision would role the person with the car that hits it simply beucase the mass of the person is so much smaller and momentum (as well as energy) must be conserved.

    Thats my rant for today. Great write up jaalin, i’m behind your assesment of akiko and her “ariaesque” life 100%.

  • February 26, 2007 at 7:17 pmZzz…

    …all my experience with Kanon came from watching the 2002 version…I haven’t played the game…so I had kind of expected this all along…that she will be in a accident you see…

    …as for the poor quality of the actual crash…give KyoAni a break people…even the best have their off days and the shows been good enough that a few hiccups should be forgivable…

  • February 26, 2007 at 8:05 pmNightingale

    hell, u ppl really need to witness a real car crash… the scene is as realistic as it can be…. aside from that, for Kanon’s sake, cant we just all agree on the fact that Akiko-san is having a terrible time already? Comedic or not, that’s not the point of this article u no…. jeez

  • February 26, 2007 at 8:25 pmcbhl

    I’m not surprised about the “quality” of the car crash scene at all — Ever since Episode 1, vehicles in particular have always been pointed out by my sister (age 15) as blatant and … “simplistic” computer-generated graphics. You go back to the video of episode one (or two) and look at any of the cars and buses that pass by… it’s the same kind of thing.

    I think the speed and simplicity of the scene was due to simple need — there simply wasn’t the level of (technological) resources available to make a “dramatic” scene with slow-mo/music without drawing the frames by hand (and let’s face it — we’d rather they draw the characters by hand then cars in a car crash).

    Remember also that the previous episode was relatively just as dramatic in its pacing (kissing Ayu + U1 => missing Ayu), so the result (sad U1 => accident) is just keeping pace.

    I am, like jaalin, rather distraught at Akiko’s accident, but considering we have a “whole two episodes left”, I’m not surprised that they wanted to put something sudden in — they’re just trying to keep us hooked for every last frame that gets produced. And, I don’t blame ‘em — it’s working.

  • February 26, 2007 at 9:31 pmdsong

    Of course the crash was “realistic” – it was actually copied from footage of a real crash!

  • February 26, 2007 at 9:38 pmShippoyasha

    I don’t know. I thought some of the Mai Hime/Otome deaths were more dramatic to me. I like deaths in my anime to have some sort of a story-relevance and possibly even some purpose even if it’s caused by randomness of violence.

    And with the rumor that Akiko might actually be alive (we never know if she survived or was badly hurt or anything) to the fact that the car crash was lifted from that internet viral video of another car crash where the survivor actually walked away without an injury, I didn’t think it was that sudden.

    I simply don’t know what to think with Akiko’s accident until we see the result of it.

  • February 26, 2007 at 9:58 pmpakxenon

    Since I’ve been spoiled with BMW jokes for the past 2 months… what shocked me was not the suddenness, but simply the velocity of the cars and Akiko-san getting mowed over… and then the strawberry cake.

    I’m still fidgetting from Kanon relapse.

  • February 26, 2007 at 10:35 pmHeiae

    Personally, I didn’t think it was comedic at all. It really made an impact for me.

    When people get hit by cars, they get taken with them. Physics, people.

  • February 26, 2007 at 10:40 pmRevyFTW

    ^^
    Yes, another person who believes in physics.

  • February 26, 2007 at 10:48 pmRasmiel

    …I’m not going into another argument about car crashes. I’ve had enough of it in this episode’s entry.

    Anyways, moment of silence for…she’s not dead but she deserves it anyway because she’s the most awesome side-character you could come across. So moment of silence for Akiko-san, ladies and gentlemen.

  • February 26, 2007 at 11:36 pmPlaid_Knight

    My jaw dropped, even though it had been spoiled beforehand by reading various aniblogs. Holy cow. Kanon doesn’t pull any punches.

  • February 26, 2007 at 11:42 pmYyi

    Realise that Yuuichi only displays his concern towards girls who have apparent problems of their own. Nayuki, however, has been the only female so far who has been living her life peacefully (and sleepish-ly) with her mother without any evident problems of her own.

    Hence, Akiko’s crash opens up Nayuki’s path, since Yuuichi would realise that he has neglected Nakuki’s feelings all the way till this point when Nayuki will slip into depression (as seen in the preview).

    Whether it is to be viewed as a tragedy or an opportunity, it’s up to Kanon fans to decide.

  • February 26, 2007 at 11:56 pmjaalin

    excellent point yyi – yuuichi is kinda messed up like that, huh? maybe he’s more into damaged goods cuz they’re easier to mack on… he really is a dick, lol.

  • February 27, 2007 at 1:40 amMutio

    Ahh, your text is so sweet Jaalin..^^
    Well, I myself wasn’t shocked since I just knew that this was coming and I dealt with it already in the game and the old anime series. The accident scene is still hard since it’s just tragic. The traffic situation seems completely under control and then suddenly, knock, Akiko is hit by a car (and how she’s hit; showed this scene to my father who is a doctor and he said: Ok, she’s either dead, or heavily injured with dozens of fractures etc.)
    As for Kima ga Nozumo Eien: The ending sucks that’s why I’ve nerver watched it.

  • February 27, 2007 at 1:51 amShippoyasha

    “Personally, I didn’t think it was comedic at all. It really made an impact for me.

    When people get hit by cars, they get taken with them. Physics, people. ”

    Except Kanon has been very, very far from being realistic throughout. Yes, a lot of the emotional scenes had resonance, but we don’t know what is going to happen until it happens.

  • February 27, 2007 at 5:30 amAvexMode

    Would. I mean hit her. No that’s not a pun. Arghh this is confusing. Where’s the cancel button.

  • February 27, 2007 at 5:40 amOropherZero

    I haven’t seen the previous Kanon or played the game but I think this crash may relate to the two possible endings I keep hearing about and the ‘one wish’ left from Ayu’s angel thing which she said can go to anyone who needs it. No one confirm this for me though as it will obviously be a spoiler =P

  • February 27, 2007 at 10:59 amMr.P

    Just watch ‘Meet Joe black’, it’s the same.

  • February 27, 2007 at 1:17 pmShinSenshi

    I completely agree with what you said,I was just completely taken aback after that scene. Akiko is definitely one of my favorite characters,because she embodies the right amount of knowledge and wisdom, and the right amount of “be good because how could you ever do anything bad with such a person around”-ness (XD) that it’s impossible to see her as anything but the ideal parental figure. Kinda like the complete opposite of Air, ne? Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 27, 2007 at 4:01 pmbananabanana

    I think that was the most realistic car crash scene ive ever seen in a anime.

    No exaggeration. No melodrama.
    Just the pure simple ugliness of twisted metal and people caught up in it.

  • February 27, 2007 at 4:19 pmHito

    Indeed, Akiko is the ideal parental figure, the ideal mother. I mean, how can you not like her?
    So why, why I ask, this damn car hit her? I do not believe that she will die, she will recover from it, but it is still greatly unfair. Such a sweet and caring character… There is no justice in this world.
    Nayuki is suffering now immensely, because of Akiko and Yuuichi. She didn’t deserve any of this either.

    Poor Minase family.

  • February 27, 2007 at 6:12 pmNeverwhere

    I don’t think I will EVER understand how this sad series is derived from an eroge. :/

  • February 27, 2007 at 8:17 pmNightingale

    @ Neverwhere,
    U may put the blame on the Japanese market. It’s rather difficult for any visual novels like this to sell even at decent level without the word ERO. The only reason KEY decided to put Ero materials in the story (the H-scenes feels rather abrupt anyway) is the survive the market. Kanon was KEY’s first creation since their establishment, and certainly they cant risk the chances. In fact, when they finally earn enough reputation and support of many fans, KEY challenges the market and created CLANNAD, which is all age to begin with, and barely made it off with decent sales. It’s sad, but its the way in Japanese erogame market.

  • February 28, 2007 at 3:20 pmYakamaru

    Man, my heart almost shattered when I saw Akiko getting hit by a car..
    Why had it to be her?.. Poor Nayuki…

  • March 1, 2007 at 1:13 amUsako

    Hmm I always thought from the beginning that Nayuki would be the main female character, but it turned out not so much. Each female has had their time. Now it is Nayuki’s. Show Spoiler ▼

    I hope something changes from the first one at least…I want them to better explain what is going on with Ayu at the end.