Posted by psgels on 9 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

With this review I feel like I really need to explain its rating. Daddy Long Legs seems to be one of the most appreciated series of the World Masterpiece Theatre out there. At AniDB it is rated as the best of the franchise with more than 100 votes, so quite a lot of people seem to agree on the classic status of this series. I don’t, though.

If I sound harsh in this review, remember that I’m comparing this to the other World Masterpiece Theatre series I’ve seen. And really, you can see the influences. This remains a series that’s based on a novel, and so the characters are constantly growing up, are forced to come to terms with their flaws and really change throughout the series. It’s perhaps not the most original story, but as a story of growing up it does its job quite well. I just have some fundamental problems with how it was executed.

I think my problems are best summarized by that it follows too much from classic shoujo tropes. And of course, there have been quite a few other WMT-series in the shoujo genre, but they had a very solid execution to back it up with, while this one doesn’t. The drama in this series at times tends to resemble a bit of a soap opera, where the writers try to make the different characters clash a little too easily. Especially the latter half of this series is filled to the brim with romantic cliches that have been done better by many different series that appeared both before and after this series.

Because this is yet another one of those high school series that puts a poor person (an orphan in this case) in a rich environment, leading to culture clashes, it really needed something to make up for it and partially, this series did. Even though it sometimes likes to force its drama, the slice of life moments were well portrayed, and the creators did a good job at exploring the differences between the culture of the upper classes without devolving it into just a string of endless parties or snobbish, stuck up and spoiled children. Julia, one of the main side characters, is especially good at that, where you can see that she has been spoiled her entire life, and yet she behaves like an actual teen-aged girl with more sides to her than just that.

And really, for the biggest part of this series I really didn’t mind it that much. Sure, it wasn’t the best of the World Masterpiece Theatre by far, but it still was pretty good, and did what it was supposed to do, and I didn’t really mind the flaws I mentioned above. Then, however, the ending came.

Now, I have watched a number of series where the ending completely changed my opinion, causing me to rate it much higher or lower than I originally had in mind, and this again happened here. That ending was one of the most contrived, cheesy, Deus ex Machina-laden endings I have seen in a long while now. A huge part of this series is devoted to building up to this particular ending, which then completely trashes any kind of subtlety or charm that was originally introduced. The plot is made way too complicated for its own good and in the end this series collapses under all of the plot twists it made to make the ending as spicy as possible.

The reason why I’m such a big fan of the World Masterpiece Theatre is because how well it handles its drama. It’s all very genuine, its characterization is truly excellent. The final quarter of this series however reduces most of its drama to stereotypical teen-aged angst, and it’s not even good angst. Relatively smart characters also tend to behave like idiots when the plot demands it. I have a lot more plot-related qualms to the ending of the series, but that would be too spoilerific to discuss in this review. The characterization of this series is good, but not good enough to make up for the many issues I have with this series.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Solid at times, but tries way too hard at others.
Characters: 8/10 – Ignore the bad teen-aged angst and you’ve got a bunch of likable characters that are actually quite well developed.
Production-Values: 8/10 – there is no eye candy, but the animation is detailed and does what it needs to do.
Setting: 7/10 – Held back by just too many things that don’t make any sense, a high school that lacks any kind of life, and too much of a focus on shoujo cliches to really show much of America in… whatever time period this is set in.

– The Trapp Family Story
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
Perrine Monogatari

11 Responses

  1. Avatar Firechick says:

    Wow. You rated this lower than Konnichiwa Anne. Daddy Long Legs didn’t exactly interest me from the start anyway.

  2. Avatar Sapphire says:

    I have to agree that Daddy Long Legs isn’t among the best WMT series and I understand that you’re giving it a low score because you’re comparing it to the others. However, if you look at it as a standalone piece, I think it’s actually a great shoujo/slice-of-life series. The main couple was so fun to watch, their relationship was different yet so charming!

  3. Avatar AlexS says:

    Interesting that you review Daddy Long Legs, as I have read that book (set at the end of the 19th century) just a few weeks ago.

    The book is actually pretty lighthearted, and the tragic sides of life are more alluded or subtext than expressly developed. There was also almost no endgame trainwreck, so I guess the anime director became very creative in the shoujoisation of the novel.

    A pity, I read the book planning to see the anime afterwards, guess won’t bother now.

  4. Avatar lane says:

    Have you ever seen ‘Please Save My Earth”? that is the anime that got me into loving shoujo :)

  5. psgels psgels says:

    lane: yup:

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of shoujo ( a ton of my favourite series are actually shoujo), but I like the genre because of what it can do when it’s ambitious and tries something new or daring. When it dabbles in its own cliches I just get a bit annoyed.

  6. Avatar Hamachan says:

    Was the anime adaptation of Please Save My Earth worth it? If I remember correctly it was only 6 episodes? I love the manga but I can’t see how they could fit all that in a few episodes.

    As for Daddy Long Legs I think it’s a perfectly fine adaptation of the book. The book itself was written as diary/letter so the anime did a great job fleshing out the character and the setting. For those who’ve read the book I suggest you watch it. I watched the series first and I can say honestly enough that I enjoy the anime a little more than the book.

    PS. It’s main audience are for young girls, so perhaps that’s why psgels wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as he should. ^^v

  7. Avatar Senna says:

    Not Lane, but I wanted to chime in about the PSME anime. Personally, as a huge fan of the manga, I loved it. It adapts the first few volumes very well. I would recommend it to fans of the manga, but it would definitely be frustrating to those who haven’t read the manga since, well, 2/3 of the story is missing.

    As for Daddy Long Legs … I find it interesting that the anime put the main character in high school instead of college. I think that would make the romance aspect too creepy for me to watch. Too bad; I enjoyed the book.

  8. Avatar Hamachan says:

    ^Creepy?! @_@

    I guess to me the whole writing a letter to your benefactor seems more suiting hobby of a young girl rather than a college student doing so. The main character’s joie de vivre was infectious not annoying when seen from that viewpoint. Abbott was 18 when they developed feelings for each other and for an anime that’s quite old and should have deter any notion of creepiness. The romance was also quite understated and refined, no inappropriate conduct between the two. Heck you like Please Save My Earth, there the age difference was more blatant. >.>

  9. Avatar Senna says:

    Ah, if she’s 18 when the romance happens, then yeah, I see your point. I guess I saw “high school” and immediately put her age at 14, forgetting how much time passes during the story. Is Daddy Long Legs ever given an age, though? I don’t remember how old he was in the book, but he had to be significantly older than Judy since he was already a trustee. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details.

  10. Avatar Steve B says:

    I also really like Daddy Long Legs. The joy was infectious. It’s fun. It’s great slice of life. The romantic relationship was great- relatively nuanced. The secondary characters are well done, and get lots of development without derailing the entire show.

    The romance takes it’s time to build. The age gap is there, but it’s unclear just how old he is. In the beginning, he’s purely a benefactor- the other feelings develop over time. It’s definitely an “old school” concept of acceptable age differences though.

    Is it all a bit melodramatic? Yes, at times. She’s definitely a teen girl. But it reminds me more of great 1940’s cinematic romances than an over the top moe shoujou story. That’s just my take.

    It makes me a bit sad to see such a negative review, as it will clearly skew people away from watching the show. I liked My
    Daddy Long Legs alot when I watched it a few years ago. Easily one of the best WMT productions, imo. And the only one I’ve watched that really features a romance as an important part of the main story line. Definitely worth watching.

  11. Avatar Tyciol says:

    I still love the series but I think I understand your point in that I think I probably enjoyed the first half more than the second.

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