So about half a year ago I was lurking around on various blogs looking for things to watch and I discovered many strange things that I had never before known about the anime world. For one, that many, MANY western classic novels have been adapted into animes. Kaze no Shoujo Emily was one of the ones that I discovered. If you look on Star-Crossed, you will find a rather raving review of it, as I did. Before learning about Kaze no Shoujo Emily, I had never known much about Emily of New Moon, the LM Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) book it was based on. The name was vaguely familiar, the plot not at all. So it was that in this odd, roundabout way I discovered one of my favorite children’s classic novel series ever. And I even wrote a post about it here. It’s not a very good post, but you’ll have to forgive me. I was in the throes of fandom. Maybe I’ll re-write it one of these days.
Now, months later, I got it into my head that I ought to finally watch the anime. So I did. Dear lord. What HAVE I done?
Plot: Before I start writing the actual review, I had better mention that I’m extremely biased towards the original books and therefore might not be judging completely fairly. However, I also understand that cultural barriers present difficulties when adapting a Canadian turn-of-the-19th-century novel into a Japanese children’s anime TV show. Whoosh.
Ahem. The original plot of Emily of New Moon is typical LM Montgomery. Girl is displaced from home. Girl goes to live with strict family on Prince Edward Island farm. Girl grows up. And the anime sticks to the basics of this quite truly. But SO much of it is lost. For one thing, the show seems to be aimed at younger kids than the novels. For another, Emily, while still pretty awesome by children’s anime standards, is just so much LESS awesome than in the books. There are also elements of the plot that are heavily simplified such as the story of Ilse’s and Teddy’s mothers. And hello? Whatever happened to Dean Priest? He’s like essential to the storyline! And yet after one episode he just disappears. But I’m just griping here. The point is that what punch and pizazz Kaze no Shoujo has, it got it ALL from the original works. And I can guarantee that any lines or scenes that seem more over the top than the others were anime-original.
Art and Animation: Obviously this would be a pretty obscure show in Japan, so the budget couldnt’ve been great. However, as a picky and snobbish anime viewer AND a fan of the novels, I felt like the art and backgrounds were just TOO simple. The worst part, however, is that now when I read the books, the anime art will be STUCK IN MY HEAD.
Another strange thing about the character designs was that the characters didn’t age or grow. Even when she was supposed to be 20, Emily came up to Elizabeth’s chest. That’s weird. I can kind of understand that they didn’t want to show her aging and her dress/hair changing as a normal 19th century girl’s would because it’s for children in JAPAN. Even children in America probably wouldn’t know that at a certain age Emily should have started wearing her hair up.
But other than the whole non-aging thing, I actually quite liked Perry’s and Ilse character designs, and I thought Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Laura were both captured adequately well in anime form.
Music: Childish. Please don’t let the theme song play in my head when I read the books. PLEASE. A few of the background tunes were quite lovely, but I can’t remember them anymore.
Characters: All credit here goes to LM Montgomery. The anime directors just had to transfer the characters to their adaptation, tone them down a bit and make them more childish and less deep.
In conclusion: Yes, I AM a die-hard fan of the novels so you DON’T have to take me seriously if you haven’t read them. But if you have read them and like them, then please for god’s sake stay away from the anime. I’m not saying it completely BUTCHERED them or anything, it just doesn’t really come close to being as awesome as them. And if you haven’t read them but have watched and liked the anime, then know that everything good about the anime came directly from the books, and so they should therefore get all the credit.
One more important thing: I wouldn’t have watched the whole thing if it had been a bad anime. It’s not a bad anime at all. The books are just way better.