This short review of Kyoto Animation and Key's anime Kanon was originally posted on MyAnimeList.net, where it pretty consistently was loved and hated by an almost equal number of people. However, because they kept making it harder and harder for me to actually link to it, I have republished here.
There is something very wrong with Key. It shows in most of their stories, but nowhere is it as obvious as in Kanon. It is a problem shared throughout the otaku industry, but once again, in Kanon it is more clear than anywhere else.
The problem seems to be a severe emotional immaturity and a nearly pathological fear of women. In Kanon, this influences nearly every female character: They are, through numerous contrivances, designed to be as non-threatening as possible. They are either so retarded that they would have no chance to function in society except by fiat of the writers, or not human, or otherwise dysfunctional and immature.
The main character, in turn, manages to fumble his way through the story without ever forming any kind of meaningful, human relationship with any of them, never feeling anything deeper for them than the affection one might feel for a pet, or the grief one would feel at the loss of a pet. This is even true in a literal sense for one of the poor girls, who turns out to actually be a pet.
None of it feels real in any way. It is a shallow fantasy, written by emotionally stunted people. It depicts a desire for human contact devoid of any risk of being hurt, or deeply affected in any way. It is really quire disturbing to watch.
The show is, in a purely technical sense, very beautiful - Kyoto Animation are masters at their craft, and the art is wonderful and the direction tight. But the core of the story is rotten, and no amount of dress-up can change that.
If you liked that, you might also enjoy this article by the professional angry guys over at Colony Drop. (Be advised that this article is not actually all that angry.)