I originally planned to wait a bit longer with watching this series, but due to certain…*ahem* developments I just had to finish it before the end of the year. Anne of Green Gables, or Akage no Anne is part of the famous World Masterpiece Theatre. It’s written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and adapted by Isao Takahata, just before he joined Hayao Miyazaki (who also worked on certain parts of the series by the way) to create Studio Ghibli. While I can’t say it’s the best WMT out there (it lacks conflict for that; this series is largely just slice of life), but it did succeed in what it set out to do: creating the wonderful character called Anne, along with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who raised her.
The series confirmed a suspicion I kept having about Isao Takahata, since I’ve been rather disappointed by the movies that he made for Studio Ghibli. The guy is most likely the director with the biggest sense of realism out of all anime directors out there, but his movies were all just too short to make any real impact on me, and this series showed that his specific style really is at its best when applied to such a long series, where you can see the characters slowly developing and changing, while going through their daily lives.
So yes, the biggest strength of this series is the huge sense of realism. Anne of Green Gables is a tale of growing up, and especially the first half of the series is chockfull of nostalgia. There are so many things that a viewer can relate to. Every single character in the series just feels like a real person, whose problems are those of real people instead of the problems of soap opera characters. This also means that it’s very easy to find the series boring, though. The conflicts in this series are far apart, even when compared to other WMT-series. You need to like slice of life if you want to be able to enjoy this series.
And of course, Anne makes the long length really worth it. The series shows her growing up from a cute, energetic and very talkative 11 year old to an inspiring mature 16 year old. She’s a wonderful character to watch, especially in her younger years. She does suffer from being a bit too perfect when she’s fifteen years old, though. She achieves any goals she sets to herself, everyone likes her and becomes enamoured with her, and she simply doesn’t have any flaws.
It’s interesting though that Lucy Maud Montgomery was fully aware of these flaws, and after watching this series, it becomes apparent that she tried to make Emily of the New Moon a completely different character with actually lots of flaws.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t prevent the conclusion of the series to be utterly amazing, and the series actually ends with a short but very powerful climax that’s definitely worth watching the 46 episodes that preceded it. Everything that the series has been subtly building up for comes together like a charm, and really ends the series on the best note possible.
As for Hayao Miyazaki’s influences: it’s very easy to spot the episodes on which he worked. The animation of the first fifteen episodes is of a considerable bigger quality than the rest of the series (remember, this series was made in 1978, and probably has the most solid graphics of any TV-series produced in the 1970s), and you can really spot his trademark style of animation, especially comparable to movies as Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro.
Anne of Green Gables really is one of the very few WMT-series to be fully subbed and widely available on the internet at this point, and so I wholeheartedly recommend it if you want to get a taste of the lighter side of the franchise. While most other WMT-series are much darker than this one is, it nevertheless is a very charming and adorable slice of life series in Canada of about a century ago.