Posted by psgels on 23 December 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Note: this is a review of the 1997 World Masterpiece Theatre version of Ie Naki Ko, not the Osamu Dezaki version of 1977. I’d love to have watched the original version, but unfortunately I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere; it’s gone up in smoke, so I needed to settle with this inferior version. For those of you who don’t know, Ie Naki Ko has a whole backstory to it.

In 1996, the World Masterpiece Theatre franchise was in a lot of trouble. The previous WMT-series, Famous Dog Lassie, had been suddenly halted after only 26 episodes, and it was replaced by this series. 23 episodes later, and it was suffering from bad reviews and low television rates, so it got taken off the air completely by the television network. After 23 years of non-stop series, the World Masterpiece Theatre went into a hiatus that would last for nearly ten years, until it was picked up again by Les Miserables. Even among the WMT-fans it seems to have been rated as one of the lesser series of the franchise.

However after watching the series, I do want to say that if the version that’s universally considered as a cheap rip-off is already this good, then I can only imagine how incredibly beyond awesome the Osamu Dezaki version must be.

But yeah, this series definitely has its problems. The creators here tried to stuff a story that’s meant for 52 episodes in only 26 of them. They changed a lot from the original novel, including the actual gender of the main character, and even with the shortened episode length, it still includes a few fillers. I think that this was done in an attempt to make the WMT-franchise more mainstream, which obviously failed.

Nevertheless, despite this the show has an awesome cast of characters, which stay true to themselves no matter what gets thrown at them. Remi may have changed into a girl, but she’s a really strong character, who is able to carry the weight of the series easily. There are still plenty of slice of life moments, which really try to flesh out the different characters. Despite the fillers feeling rather random when you watch them, each of them has its own purpose of foreshadowing later plot-twists.

Where this series falls behind in comparison to the other WMT-series is that it wants drama a little too badly. With this, I mean that no matter where Remi arrives through the series, you’ll know that something bad is going to happen to her. Be it a robbery, stolen item, or whatever, and especially the way in which Remi meets her real family feels really strange. Compare that to Porfy no Nagai Tabi, where you’ll never know if a person Porfy meets is going to have gentle or ill intentions, and yes, it does fall flat in that aspect. There’s also a bit of romance that pops up near the end of the series. On one hand, it’s incredibly heart-warming, though it can also be way too soppy at times.

But what impressed me the most about this series is that even though it usually has a warm but naive idealistic nature, there are times where the cold, hard feeling of reality crashes down on the characters, and at those times it really spares nobody. It may fool you at times, but this series is typical WMT in the sense that it can be incredibly dark for a children’s series. We’re talking about brutal child abuse here. The contrast between these dark and cold parts and the heart-warming mood is what really made this series something special.

So yeah, while overall flawed this nevertheless is a very capable series. What it lacks mostly is polishing. If the creators could have spent some attention to make the drama less soppy, the different coincidences less apparent and added 26 more episodes, then I can imagine how the Osamu Dezaki version could easily be one of the best anime of the seventies.

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

12 Responses

  1. Avatar Ialda says:

    French DVD boxes of Dezaki’s Remi may still be around; the deluxe versions should even have japanese audio, I think…

    Thanks a lot for your review ! I have never been able to catch this version, I have often wondered about what could have gone so wrong in it to stop the WMT series. now I have a better idea ^^

  2. Avatar gaby says:

    Unless you understand spanish, I can show you some links to the original Remi
    Otherwise, I have only seen them on french Dvd’s..

    Thanks for the review! =)

  3. Avatar windy says:

    If you can understand french then you can find some episodes on youtube or on dailymotion, or if you access the video page on internet and write :” Rémi sans famille”, all the episodes are not yet here I guess, but there’re some amount of them.

  4. Avatar windy says:

    I haven’t seen this version yet but I started watching the 1977 version and it is wonderful, you’ll get the impression of reading the novel itself, well ,I haven’t read the original novel but it has a litterary way of narrating the events ( I’m watching it in french) that I’ve never seen fefore in any other anime, the atmosphere is conveyed in a particularly good way , as well as the emotions( melancholy , sadness, fear, joy…), the characters are tediously depicted .

  5. psgels psgels says:

    Windy: yeah, that’s a bit of a problem. There’s actually a torrent of the whole series flying around, but it’s all dubbed in French, and my French is horrible. :(

  6. Avatar Cesca says:

    Where’d you find this version? I’ve been looking around for it, it’s a childhood love. I’ve been itching to see it again…

  7. Avatar crazy3d says:

    Blasphemy, this series is very good and far superior to other world masterpiece theaters i have seen, and yes the other version is one of the best but this one is just 26 episodes so you can’t want it to be the same. Give the creators some credit please.

  8. Avatar Firechick says:

    Where can I find episodes for this series? It interests me.

  9. Avatar lili says:

    j’aime cette serie s’est la préfére

  10. Avatar Firechick says:

    Good news, psgels. A lone fansub group is subbing Dezaki’s version of Nobody’s Boy, but only 18 episodes are out now. Look!

    http://takara-fansubs.0sites.net/releases.htm

    Yeah, I know it’s already licensed, but I figured you’d want to at least see it and see if ya like it.

  11. Avatar Firechick says:

    I only saw the first episode of this, and yet even though I love the Dezaki version too, I’m already in love! Sure there’s a lot of contradictions to the original material (not that I know of, due to just seeing the first episode), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good in it’s on way! I especially love the OP and ED of this series. They’re so adorable yet beautiful! I can’t believe some people don’t like this! I think it’s adorable from what I’ve seen! Ya can’t have everything in life, y’know?

  12. Avatar Alfie says:

    here’s the link to the original “Remi:Nobody’s Boy” – http://kissanime.com/Anime/Ie-Naki-Ko and this is for the “Remi:Nobody’s Girl” – http://kissanime.com/Anime/Ie-Naki-Ko-Remi

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