I give the final installment in the WMT franchise an 89/100!
For those of you wondering, I first got into the World Masterpiece Theater when I was around 13 or so, when Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette was first coming out. When I watched it, I suddenly found my favorite genre of anime: historical fiction. Namely, the stories of nice young kids who get totally crapped on by life. I don't think I liked these stories as a kid. I remember not being able to like or understand Black Beauty back in 5th or 6th grade or so, but now I like it! I have it on my nintendo DS! Ever since I saw Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette, I began following other WMT anime. Of course I found myself interested in the 2009 WMT anime, Konnichiwa Anne ~Before Green Gables~.
Before I get to my analysis of it, I'd like to explain something. I didn't learn about the existence of Anne of Green Gables until 2009 or 2010 or something. I don't remember. But I do know that I saw the first episode of Before Green Gables before seeing Anne of Green Gables (though I did read the original book before seeing the rest of both animes). Before Green Gables is also a book written by Budge Wilson in 2008 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables. It chronicles of Anne's early years, before she arrived on Prince Edward Island. To a small extent, Anne's past was explained in the original book, but it didn't go into much detail about it. Suddenly, producers in Japan thought it'd be awesome to adapt Wilson's book into an anime, and so they did!
The story's about Anne Shirley who lives with the Thomas family, not knowing anything about Prince Edward Island or the Cuthberts or anything. The Thomas family took her in when her parents died. Unfortunately, because the family's so impoverished, she's basically a servant. She cooks meals, does the laundry, take care of the babies, etc. All at the age of five! It also doesn't help that the father is an alcoholic and beats his wife, and the mother is basically a grouchy and hopeless bag of bones. Thankfully, Anne has Eliza, the Thomas' oldest daughter, by her side. But then everything changes later on.
On the technical side of things, the animation is quite nice. It's nothing truly ground-breaking or special, nor is it low budget (though some scenes in later episodes I did notice looked kinda weird). It does it's job. I especially love how forests and animals and nature-esque scenes looked. The characters were the most simply animated, but Nippon Animation isn't really keen on making it's characters look physically extravagant (which unfortunately is common in a LOT of new anime, mostly in cheesy romantic comedies like Ro-Kyu-Bu and Mayo Chiki, which are stupid!!!), so I'll let them slide.
The soundtrack...wow. I'm surprised! The soundtrack, like the animation, isn't truly ground breaking but practically EVERY single piece of music fits the show perfectly! It knows when to be happy, subtle, heartbreaking, and everything in between. Believe it or not, this anime has THREE composers! But one of them, Takanashi Yasuharu, is slowly becoming one of my favorites. He did the music for Heartcatch Precure, Toward the Terra, Itazura na Kiss, and Naruto Shippuden. Unfortunately he also did the music for Ikki Tousen, which is a HORRID anime! Plus I love all the Irish and Canadian vibes in the music, and the composers caught the 19th century perfectly!
The characters...normally I get pretty verbose around this part, and this anime is no exception either, but for this I have very good reason to be. The characters are great and well-portrayed, but out of all of them, I think our favorite red-headed Anne Shirley is the best of them all. She's not some big boobed moe chick or a whiny girl who has to be saved by guys every three seconds. You don't see that in this series or this character! She's simply a VERY imaginative and talkative little girl who's living in an impoverished family and is not given the opportunity to really be a child who plays with friends and draws pictures. I do find it rather unrealistic that at the age of five she takes care of the family, but it IS the 19th century and I guess child labor laws weren't set back then so I can let it slide. Anyway, Anne is awesome. She relies on her own imagination to get through life, makes do with what she has in order to get by, speaks her mind, doesn't care about what other people think (except during hard times), and is always morally on the right path. It also helps that she's voiced by the ever-so-awesome new teenaged newcomer seiyuu Rina Hidaka (who is awesome!). I'm sure some of you might find Anne's new voice annoying, but I think it's awesome! I'd even be so bold as to say that I thought the original Anne's voice was annoying at some points, but I should be glad that there was no such thing as moe or lolicon back then so I won't complain. Plus you can't help but root for Anne because everybody's always putting her down. In short, Anne is awesome. The other characters are great too. Unfortunately, there are only TWO characters that I really hate. One of them is Joanna Thomas. Seriously, this woman is soooo angsty! All she does is complain and tell Anne what to do every single day! And she doesn't even THANK Anne for her back-breaking efforts to help her out around the house and when Anne does nice things for her! Sure she had to deal with little kids and an abusive alcoholic husband, but that doesn't justify what she does to Anne! Normally I'm neutral when it comes to my favorite books and their adaptations, but I actually like Joanna in the book better than in the anime. In the book she's MUCH more appreciative! Yeah, Joanna does get better later in the anime, which is good. But then another character shows up and proves herself to be even worse than Joanna: Mrs. Hammond. MY GOD this woman is a real sourpuss! She just sees Anne and immediately disses her as a pitiful wretch who came from nowhere! She NEVER thanks Anne for her back-breaking efforts to take care of her kids and just watches from the sidelines! In the book she was MUUUUUUCH nicer and appreciative, but the anime version made her look like some heartless wretch! If these two women think Anne is an ungrateful brat, they should see Minko from Hanasaku Iroha!
Well, if there's one thing this anime does better than Anne of Green Gables itself, it has one thing in this show that Anne of Green Gables doesn't have: conflict. Sure Anne of Green Gables is great and very atmospheric, which is good, but there wasn't much conflict in the main story and sometimes it was boring (I don't think it's boring. But my mom read bits of the book once and says it's boring. Grrrr!). Konnichiwa Anne, however, has LOTS of conflict, and that's what makes the series itself awesome! Well, the main story is mostly about how Anne became the talkative little girl who the Cuthberts adopted when Anne of Green Gables begins. Unfortunately, like other anime, it has it's flaws. Where are those flaws? In the little details. Namely, Anne's hair. Yes, it's still blindingly red, but...if any of you have watched the entire anime, you'd have noticed that NOT ONCE DOES HER HAIR GROW PAST HER SHOULDERS!!! In the original anime her braids go down to her hips! In this anime, they REMAIN at her shoulders, and they don't even grow! THEY NEVER GROW IN THE ENTIRE SERIES?! What, did she get hair cuts every day or something, or did the producers leave out the most important detail about her EVER?!? To me, I think it's the latter. Have they seen the Anne of Green Gables anime?! Also, admittedly some episodes are a LITTLE cheesy, but I would definitely watch those cheesy episodes over dumb fan-servicey anime that the industry is being ravaged by these days. Another problem I had with this anime is the subs. The group ray=out has been subbing it and they do a very good job, but when I watched the HD versions and re-sized them, the encoding would get really dumb and scenes would get all blocky and unwatchable after I re-sized it! It became especially bad when they stopped releasing SD versions! That irritated me greatly! So after a long while I got tired of waiting and decided to watch ARR's horrible subs instead. Sure their subs aren't as good (they have many errors, especially with characters' names) but their video quality doesn't drop when I re-size it! So it was worth it!
However, the reason I give this anime such a high rating is entirely personal. The reason? It may seem trivial to you, but one particular episode (episode 27) gave me the downright WEIRDEST vibes to one of my favorite anime ever. Wanna know what anime it reminded me of?
Yeah! That's right. 07-Ghost of ALL ANIME!!! Imagine! A slice of life historical fiction anime reminding me so much of an epic fantasy anime taking place in a church and fantasy world of all things?! That's just mental! And of all the subjects it had to tackle, it had to tackle slavery of all things! Yeah! Slavery! Well, technically Anne wasn't treated like an abused slave in the Hammond house thanks to the kindness of Mr. Hammond and Miss Haggerty, but seriously! Anne's feelings of loneliness and potential disconnection from a good and decent future totally struck me in the gut! HARD!!! The only other anime that gave me such strong 07-Ghost vibes was Tales of Symphonia, the Tethe'Alla arc episode 2, but THAT's totally understandable because Tales of Symphonia is another epic fantasy anime, and the vibes it gave me were totally different from the vibes Konnichiwa Anne gave me! Sorry, I just HAD to get this out. It sounds stupid, I know, but that's what happened to me!
While Konnichiwa Anne isn't the best adaptation of Budge Wilson's book, it's better than nothing, right? And besides, I love it for what it is anyway and appreciate it's existence. Also, if I had a top 30 favorite anime, I would put this and Anne of Green Gables in the same rank (like with Ie Naki Ko Remi) since they're the same franchise. Long live Anne of Green Gables!