Posted by psgels on 24 November 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

12 Responses

  1. deadsunrise says:

    Nice review of probably my favorite anime series. It’s slow and couldn’t fit better the “slice of life” adjective but I guess that I just enjoy that genre. Also it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book with most of the dialogs being exactly the same.

    I read the book after watching the series and did enjoy it a lot. The cool thing is that there are more books that keep telling anne’s life so you can continue the series in your head.

  2. BlueYoshi says:

    Definitely sounds like something I’ll enjoy. Hopefully I can find the time to check this out early next year after I catch up with the current shows this season.

  3. Steve Berry says:

    Easily one of the first “proto” slice of life shows. Great animation for a late 70’s show. And if you know Anne of Green Gables, then you know you’ll love the characters. What I found interesting about Takahata’s version is that
    1) yes, it has a real sense of detailed realism– supposedly, animators actually went to Canada to do research–, and yet,
    2) it really has a wonderful sense of lyricism and wonder that has been hard to catch in other versions. Anne’s flight’s of fancy as a young girl, with flowers and what not flying through the air, are a perfect representation of young childhood, and yet, utterly unrealistic. I thought it odd that you didn’t bring up this very specific and repeated sense of magical wonder.

    Also, one of the neat things is that Takahata actually adds a lot to the book– there are a lot of scenes that are original to the show, and yet fit perfectly right in to the existing story.

    All in all, currently my fav. WMT show. Still, I love slice of life, and you probably have to enjoy that genre to really, really get in to the show.

    Nice write up!! I’m glad you reviewed it. A very underrepresented show, and a real classic.

  4. Denizen says:

    And there’s yet another anime version in Winter – I think it’s a prequel.

  5. L189 says:

    @Denizen: due to certain…*ahem* developments I just had to finish it before the end of the year

  6. Sapphire says:

    Anne is my favorite anime character and “Akage no Anne” is my second favorite anime of all time. It’s the most touching story I’ve ever known. I first watched this anime when I was a child and even then it made me realize how happy we can be if we just appreciate the little things in life. Anne was able to give me a different perspective, even a lesson, about overcoming life’s obstacles. It also taught me the true meaning of gratitude and friendship.

    I disagree with you about Anne not having any flaws. Although they’re more obvious when she is younger, even when she’s fifteen she’s an absolute perfectionist, not accepting the possibility of not being as good as Gilbert, and she’s also quite resentful for what he did, which shows that she’s not a forgiving person.

    “Nevertheless, this doesn’t prevent the conclusion of the series to be disappointing”.
    My English is not very good, but I think this isn’t what you meant ^^

    I was surprised that you didn’t mention the soundtrack, which is beautiful and a very powerful tool in many occasions, specially during the climax.

    I’m very glad you wrote this review, I really hope that it helps motivating people into watching it and also giving it the recognition it deserves.

    • Panino says:

      Even though I have the same “concern”, I agree with you. Anne is not perfect, what happens is that she REALLY tries very hard to be perfect, she herself declares this at some point. After the life she had and the luck she had, she can’t accept make mistakes and learn from her faults.

      But yes, the difference is so very thin.

  7. Lika says:

    Kind of ironic that you’re watching this now as this year’s the 100th aniversary of the book. xD

  8. AlexS says:

    Very nice series, and basically I agree with the review, the ending is unusually interesting. The anime does have its blemishes (which probably already were in the novel), but it’s very touching nevertheless. I’m also surprised at the quality for a 70’s production.

    My only comment is that Takahata Isao is one of my favorite directors: Grave of the Firelflies is a fantastic movie, and I loved Only Yesterday (but then slice of life is really one of my favorite themes in anime), thanks for letting me learn about another of his productions.

  9. Firechick says:

    I read the book and I only saw one episode of this, but I do plan to watch the rest of it later. I just need to finish up some other anime I need to finish (my anime line-up’s been rather tight as of late).

  10. Thanks for taking the time to write about Takahata’s Anne of Green Gables. I’ve loved this series for years, and it’s very fortunate that a fansub community exists to help share this amazing series to the world.

    Here’s an interesting question: Have you yet seen Heidi and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (aka Marco)? Anne has been available for much longer, and it’s only now that we’ve been able to share Heidi and Marco. I strongly urge all fans of Anne and Ghibli to see those series.

    I do agree that this longer format is superior to Ghibli’s films, but that’s really a preference for longer novels over short stories. When you consider the time limitations, especially after a decade of working in television, the Ghibli movies are quite astonishing. It’s amazing how densely packed they are, and they are deeply, deeply indebted to Heidi Marco Anne.

  11. Battousai1864 says:

    Any chance the other Anne novels will be adapted someday?

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  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:09 AM)
    @Kaiser Sunny looks interesting but I’ll be honest, when I say Slice-of-Life I actually mean Cute-Girls-Doing-Cute-Things.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:07 AM)
    @Kaiser I actually haven’t seen Black Mass.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 12:57 AM)
    These new Batman shorts called ‘Batman of Shanghai’ are pretty awesome:
    Props to Wolf Smoke Studios for the style and execution. I think this borrowed a lot from the Studio 4°C segment of the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology series. I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman cartoon since the original Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:45 PM)
    @Realist: Whatever name you prefer is fine. Though its Kaiser now so we may as well use that.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:28 PM)
    @Kaiser/Emma (do you prefer to go by Kaiser now?) Punpun is the best, but I don’t see it getting adapted any time soon. As someone who personally loves slice-of-life, I love Dead Demons.

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