So, this was really the episode that would make or break this series: it was going to be the first episode of Anne, as she settled in the Hammond family, and visited her new school for the first time. The result is really a mixed bag, but I think that the creators are going to be able to make something out of it. At least, I don’t think that we’re going to get another repeat of the disaster of the Marysville arc.
First of all, Anne has grown again: she’s now ten years old, and you can see her development for the past three months that skipped: she has had no time to play around and be a kid, and really grown up in the meantime. But yeah, that brings us the the problems of continuity again: 10-year-old Anne is much more mature than 11-year-old Anne of Green Gables.
At a certain point in this episode, Anne also finds books of Shakespeare, and it’s actually very interesting to see her using these books and her own fantasy, in order to distract her from the reality she’s in. Like with the books she read in Marysville, she becomes entranced with them, especially because this time, she really has nobody to talk to. In Marysville, she at least had Johanna to talk to, Bert to relieve her worries to, and Noah, who she saw as her own brother because she had been raising him ever since he was born. But yeah, that brings us to continuity again: remember the beginning of Anne of Green Gables? Anne talked about a lot of girly things, but to my memory, she NEVER mentioned Shakespeare. This just again shows that there were a lot of red-haired Anne Shirleys walking around back in those days.
Now, as for the school. I absolutely loved the part in which the teacher was grading some tests by his students. That was really realistic. We didn’t actually get to see the students, because the schools were closed for summer break, but at least the teacher is much better than Henderson: he has this down-to-earth attitude towards teaching, and yet you can see why he decided to become a teacher in the first place.
Unfortunately on the other hand, the cheese is back. The drama in this episode was of the shallow kind again: Anne meets person, Anne talks to person and in the end the person completely changes into a different character because of the insights that Anne gave him. Especially the way in which the teacher said exactly what he learned and how it’s going to change his life just felt forced. I know that this is a kids’ show and all, but Porfy no Nagai Tabi faced the same problem, and that series again and again came up with great one-episode stories with plenty of well-written drama.
So yeah, overall this episode pretty much solidified as an inferior, though capable WMT-series, somewhat like Ie Naki Ko Remi (the 1997-version)’s sister-series. The two have a lot in common: both are spin-offs of utterly brilliant adaptations of literary works, but have drama that’s too shallow to really call themselves equal to the series they’re based on. And yet standalone, they’re pretty enjoyable. Remi had this with its excellent soundtrack (along with the best OP and ED of any WMT I’ve seen so far), strong lead and dark story about child-labour, while Anne did this with its dark attention to dysfunctional families, and a well-developed lead character Anne, who hardly resembles her original character.
Now that 2010 is getting closer and closer, I can only hope for an announcement of next year’s WMT-series to appear. Oh, I so hope that Nippon Animation is going to continue this franchise, despite its low popularity.