Posted by psgels on 27 February 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




So, time for me to review another installment of the World Masterpiece Theatre. Little Princedss Sara tells about about a young, really rich girl who joins a boarding school in London. What happens after that though… let’s just say that I’ve rarely seen so much suffering in just one series. If you’re planning to watch this series, be prepared for a gruelling journey.

It’s hard to talk about this series withuot spoilers, but let me just say that Little Princess Sara has very strong messages against poverty and the hypocricy to which people look at it. It’s a long series, 46 episodes. In this time it delivers a haunting and very in-depth portrayal of poverty and neglect on children. Beyond that, ti also has strong morals and values that are delivered with heart, instead of cheese.

The scenario really helps by being wonderfully realistic. Seriously, a ton of time in this series is spent on very mundane tasks and nothing else. The creators strike an excellent balance between this and character development, leading to an entire cast of characters with a lot of depth and development, miles away from your usual stereotypes.

Like all good WMTs, it also really knows how to build up. It’s a very one-sided series, but the final climax is without a doubt a highlight of the entire series in which everything it built up to comes together. This show definitely knows how to do drama well, and even if the animation is dated at this point, it still manages to bring the characters to life with more detail than most series nowadays can.

I’ve got lot of praises for this series, but at the same time I also want to say that I do not consider this series amongst the best of the World Masterpiece Theatre. I’m going to be nitpicking a bit here, but the standard of this franchise is just so damn high. My issue with this series was that at times, it was a bit too “shoujo”, if that makes any sense. Some twists were delivered with a sense of shoujo-ific melodrama that definitely could have been done more subtle, and some characters spend a long time as cliched and boring rivals who do exactly what you predict them to do, and there is one twist near the end that is just… way too convenient. Sara herself is also way too pure. It’s like she could have been the love child of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa, or in that direction. All of this does not create characters as realistic, as some of the other WMT series, plus the one-sidedness of the plot also doesn’t create them as dynamic as the others.

At this point I’vwe managed to finish 10 WMT-series, so here I present an updated ranking of my favourite WMT-series to close off this reivew (the ones that I fully finished, at least), in the order of the ones I liked the least to the ones I liked the most. Little Princess Sara ranks fifth. It’s a wonderful series with amazing and unique characters, despite my above criticisms I really recommend it if you like the kind of children series that really try to tell an excellent story that takes both itself and its target audience seriously.
10. My Daddy Long Legs
9. Konnichiwa Anne
8. Tom Sawyer
7. Ie Naki Ko Remi
6. Romeo’s Blue Skies
5. Little Princess Sara
4. Anne of Green Gables
3. Porfy no Nagai Tabi
2. Perrine Monogatari
1. Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette

Storytelling: 8/10 – Realistic, detailed and down to earth, though a bit one-sided and melodramatic at times.
Characters: 9/10 – Realistic and full of depth and development.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Dated, but very detailed. The soundtrack is a bit disappointing, though.
Setting: 9/10 – Excellent social commentary, themes and messages. Plus a wonderful portrayal of London of more than a century ago.

Suggestions:
Perrine Monogatari
Anne of Green Gables

15 Responses

  1. Avatar Firechick says:

    I didn’t know you’ve been following Licca Subs’s work on this! But still, it’s great! I love it! I have yet to finish it, but it’s a wonderful series! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Avatar Doll Licca says:

    Your review was pretty much spot on. This was going to be difficult for you to review without spoiling the vast majority of the plot.

    If you haven’t read the novel, it is available for free online and you can see the differences. Also, since the novel is actually relatively short, I would have been very much surprised if they could have stretched it to the standard 52 episodes.

  3. Avatar TRazor says:

    I remember watching this when I was younger… Good stuff.

    eBay, here I come :D !

  4. Avatar AlexS says:

    A pity that from the top 3 only Perrine has been fully subbed. I guess I’ll start with that one, while hoping for more to come.

    From the list which ones have been subbed? From what I understand it’s the following:
    – Anne of Green Gables (nice!)
    – Little princess Sara (not seen)
    – Daddy long legs (read the novel, so less interested)
    – Perrine Monogatiri (my next series, it seems)

    Any other? I would really have liked to see Porfy

  5. Avatar Doll Licca says:

    Les Miserables: Shoujo Cosette is almost fully subbed; that should be done reasonably soon as well.

  6. Avatar JBM says:

    I take it that you haven’t seen Little Prince Cedie (Little Lord Fauntleroy/ Shoukoushi Ceddie).

    I can say it’s marginally better than Little Princess Sara, and in many ways they’re a bit similar but I generally prefer Cedie as it has lesser shoujo elements.

    I’m a big fan of WMT, in the 1990s my work involved translating a lot of WMT animes for a local station in SEAsia and it was an arduous task having had to beat deadlines since the shows aired daily and another WMT would start right after the previous one ended. The WMT hasn’t returned to local channels here now that people are more interested in Naruto, and Bleach and other shounen anime. Aaah I miss those days.

  7. Avatar Maureen says:

    A Little Princess is pretty shoujo as a book, so I can only imagine how shoujo it gets as an anime. :)

    FYI: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s mom was a big reader of old Gothic novels (and yeah, I mean like Castle of Otranto old). She used to tell her daughter the stories of the plots (and in Burnett’s later opinion, much improved them in the retelling). So Burnett’s books are strongly Gothic, albeit child-ified. A Little Princess is strongly reminiscent of her mom’s retelling of Fatherless Fanny, for instance, although the plot is mostly quite different.

  8. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    I’ve already read and totally loved the novel, so I don’t think I’ll watch this one. I just much more prefer reading these classics than watching their anime counterparts.

  9. Avatar Alec says:

    brings back memories

  10. Avatar thatoneman says:

    @JBM: Do you by any chance still have the scripts for your translation work on such WMT series? I know many people would be very interested in seeing them and creating proper subtitles.

  11. Avatar AKI says:

    I had the privilege of watching almost every WMT series everyday when I was a kid. I remember this, Cedie, Remi 1997, Romeo’s Blue Skies and Daddy Long Legs airing. Surely brings back memories.

  12. Avatar JBM says:

    @thatoneman

    Unfortunately it’s been more than 15 years and I’m no longer connected with the network, moreover the translation was not done in English but in a local dialect and some liberties were done to change names, places, etc.

    But if memory serves me right, the series still exists in our local networks until today as I used to see reruns of Little Princess Sara, and Cedie sporadically but I can’t remember if it was the same dub nor translation we used back in the day as the WMT series usually airs at 10 or 11 in the morning where I’m usually at work away from a television set.

    I was actually also hoping to get a copy of the scripts myself as it was only recently that I came to revisit the WMT and appreciated its beauty with the help of psgels and this blog.

  13. Avatar Petran79 says:

    Very nice review and I agree with most of your points.

    Regarding Cedie, while animation and backgrounds were more detailed than this series, it had some flaws that prevent it from becoming as epic as this.also if you read the book, cedies final chapter is condensed to just a few minutes.

    Sara is the best directed wmt series, excluding the 70s. Unfortunately the sara of the series is much more lenient than that of the novel. At least the world of the novel comes alive like the 70s series.

    From the 3 novels i prefer the secret garden (there is also an anime series but is far from wmt standards).

    I’d like to watch les miserables too, but after reading the book and watching the french tv version, i find the anime character design hideous and after one episode it turned me off.

    Porfy and anne from episodes i watched have more in common with remi of 1996 than heidi,perrine, rascal, marco or even sara. Classic? Maybe. Epic? No way…

  14. Avatar Firechick says:

    @Psgels: I forgot to mention! You seriously hate the soundtrack?! I thought the OST fit well with the show, especially in the suspenseful and tragic scenes. Though I do agree it IS rather dated and old.

  15. Avatar johntoreno07 says:

    I seriously have a question for you !

    you can tolerate all those multi-colored GIGANTIC eyes&hair and all the stupid anime stereotypes like hyper-active blond girl and love-sick girls

    but you cannot take that this actually plays like a ‘shouju’ even though you know that the focus in on a girl living in a girl’s only hostel -_- and this actually doesn’t portray her ‘unrealistically’ FYI girls used to live like tolerating all the nonsense and smiling away

    and i don’t give bananas about it being ‘outdated’ seriously what the buck is outdated here ?

    Its just 2d animation for god’s sake its been always like that !

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