The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Akage no Anne

Title: Akage no Anne aka Anne of Green Gables
Genre: Drama
Company: Nippon Animation
Format: 50 episodes
Dates: 7 Jan 1979 – 30 Dec 1979

Synopsis: Based on the classic novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Akage no Anne is the story of an orphaned girl with fiery red hair who arrives by train to be adopted by aging siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. The Cuthberts, who were expecting a boy, consider sending her back, but are won over by Anne’s sincerity, charm and incredible imagination. Anne soon embraces Green Gables as her home and manages to show Marilla, Matthew and the people of Avonlea an entirely new way of looking at the world.

The Highlights
Spirit of the novel: Captured perfectly.
Characters: Very human.
Humour: Genuine and touching.
Anne’s imagination: Unbounded.

I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables when I read the original novel a few year ago, so when I found out that it had been turned into an anime through the well-respected World Masterpiece Theatre series, I knew I had to see it. It’s a story that’s been done many times before, as movies, TV mini-series and animated series, yet one of the very best versions was produced half a world away in a foreign language. Yes, the Japanese got it right.

Akage no Anne captures Anne perfectly, with her creativity and imagination, anxieties about fitting in and admiration for the beauty of the natural world. She and her friends form the core of the story, and each one is well developed and explored. There is the loyal and kind Diana, the busybody Mrs. Rachel Lynde and the quiet but loving Matthew. It’s easy to become attached to these characters as Anne leads the way through her misadventures and discoveries. The humour that shines through here made me laugh more genuinely than I had for a long time. Yet the series handles its darker, more dramatic moments exceptionally well, capturing the emotions of the characters with grace and subtlety. Nothing happens outside the realm of daily life in Avonlea, yet the story manages to be captivating. I felt I was with Anne as she grew from an awkward 11-year-old into a smart and caring young woman.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the series was so well done when considering who was behind it. Released in 1979, the show was directed by a young Takahada Isao (Grave of the Fireflies) who also wrote the screenplay. With character designs by Yoshifumi Kondo (Whisper of the Heart) and some of the layouts done by Miyazaki Hayao (Spirited Away), it’s easy to imagine the care that went into the series. The team even traveled to Prince Edward Island before beginning production. In an 2004 NHK documentary called Journey of the Heart, Takahada Isao explained: “We didn’t come just to take photos… We did a lot of research about how people actually lived. …Everything we learned went into our animated Anne.” The voice acting compliments the series well, and though Anne’s seiyuu seemed a bit grating during the early episodes, she proves herself later with Anne’s great speeches and dramatic performances. The animation and backgrounds are simple, but manage to capture the beauty of Prince Edward Island, highlighting the lush forests of the countryside and the charm of the changing seasons. The music, aside from one obtrusive bagpipe piece, is very fitting and subtle.

Anne of Green Gables is a story that has remained popular over the years for good reason. It is a heart-warming tale of growth and discovery. Fans of the novel will appreciate how closely Takahada follows the source material and captures the spirit of Avonlea. Newcomers will enjoy a well-told and memorable tale. You may not be able to see the world the same way, after you have seen it through Anne’s eyes.

The Rating: 9
9/10

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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