I give this awesome anime a 95/100
In 1862, Victor Hugo published his most famous novel, Les Miserables. Since then, all kinds of adaptations of it appeared throughout history, from the famous musical to this underrated anime here. Les Miserables is considered one of the best 19th century novels ever. In 2007, Nippon Animation decided to make an anime version of Les Miserables, the promotional art of which is shown above. This is part of the World Masterpiece Theater, an anime staple that showcased anime versions of famous 19th-20th century children's novels such as Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna.
Basically this anime is about Cosette and her mother, Fantine, trying to find a home in a poverty-stricken France. Fantine has to leave Cosette with innkeepers called Thenardier in order to do her job at a factory. However, the Thenardiers are actually cruel and abusive toward Cosette and treat her like a slave. Also, an ex-convict named Jean Valjean tries to restart his life and help people, but is pursued by the policeman Javert. Both them, and many others, have to deal with the harshness of society and an uncaring French government.
I love historical anime based on 19th-20th century children's novels, and this is my second favorite out of all of them. It's also #10 on my top 20 favorite anime. The novel is also one of the most loved pieces of work ever. And yet...why do so many people give it the cold shoulder and don't give it a chance? The answer is as simple as you can make it: it's too "kid-friendly". Cosette (along with other children portrayed in the show) are drawn to look cute and innocent, Fantine never goes into prostitution, and characters that originally died in the novel actually live on in the anime. Sure, Nippon Animation did make the anime look a bit more acceptable to younger viewers, but does it really look like a water-downed kiddie show like most people claim it is? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
Sure, Nippon Animation did change some things to make it kid-friendly, but I say this: SO WHAT!? Let me say this: this anime does not totally shy away from the hardships that Cosette and Fantine endure, other character deaths (including one particular important one that Les Miserables fans might be happy about), and the cold, merciless harshness that comes from living an impoverished lifestyle. I think this is what the anime does best. Portraying people, particularly children with good hearts, who get totally crapped on by life, particularly in hard times. Even so, this anime is actually the most faithful adaptation of the novel I've seen. Of course, I haven't particularly read the novel, but in 8th grade my music class saw a bit of the musical on DVD.
Don't judge this anime by its looks. It may look like a botched-up adaptation of Hugo's famous novel, but believe you me this is a unspoiled, polished gem in the form of a masterpiece. If you think you're not going to like this, AT LEAST watch episodes 39 to 44. Those are the best ones! ESPECIALLY episode 41 (there's 52 episodes to this anime)! You'll be very surprised. This is one of my favorite anime and I truly feel it deserves more recognition than it's getting now. Thankfully a fansubbing group that I love completed the entire series recently, so everyone can see it subbed now!