Today's Screenshots - Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables is one of those anime series that seems most likely to break wide open in North America, if it were ever to see release here. I think the World Masterpiece Theatre could prove to be a success on our shores, if given a proper treatment and enough exposure. Takahata's three masterpieces - Heidi, Marco, Anne - are the best candidates, and I think Anne would be the best choice of the three to introduce to Americans.

We, of course, are familiar with the Canadian productions of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, popular staples for two decades. I would suggest, however, that the Isao Takahata version is the superior version, the definitive Anne.

I've also noticed that a cartoon Anne was produced (again in Canada) and broadcast here on PBS. I believe the series website includes numerous clips from many of their episodes, so you really should check it out, if only to see the enormous difference between that and Takahata's Anne. The Canadian cartoon is much more of a standard Disney afternoon cartoon, with cheaply caricatured characters, choppy animation (Westerners never really learned how to work with limited animation, unlike the Japanese), and plodding, syrupy moral lessons. What is is with all the preachy moral lessons? None of these "morals" are really worth the bother, anyway; just simple-minded drivel like "you should learn to share" and "you should always tell the truth."

Uh huh. I'll tell you what. Impeach Bush for stealing our nation's resources and lying us into a genocidal war in Iraq, and maybe I'll start to listen to your insipid little "moral lessons."

Anyway, these screenshots are from the final episode, number 50, "God's in His Heaven, All's Right With The World." This is a montage that accompanies Anne Shirley's final soliloquoy, as she writes a letter to her college friends explaining why she is choosing to stay in Green Gables and pursue her dreams. It's a magnificent sequence because it marks the return of Anne's flights of fancy, the runaway imagination from her childhood. The first shot is, in fact, calling back to that wonderful scene at the beginning of episode 3. The adult Anne has let go of this part of herself, turning towards real-life concerns like Queen's College and Matthew Cuthbert.

With this final scene, Takahata reminds us that the adult Anne Shirley is the same as the younger girl, and her imagination will always be a part of her. It's a final gesture of romanticism that ties together the two Annes in a way that Maude Montgomery never did.

Finally, it goes without saying that this would never be achieved without the tremendous skills of the painters and background artists who brought Green Gables to life as never before, realized as an Impressionistic romantic dream. The skills of character designer Yoshifumi Kondo, as always, can never be overstated. His realism enabled Takahata to achieve his vision better than anyone, and this can be seen in the later Ghibli films Grave of the Fireflies and Omohide Poro Poro.

Don't forget that you can download Anne of Green Gables from the Fansub section.


Ingrid said...

Thanks for sharing the screenshots!

Chris Sobieniak said...

I'm surprised PBS bothers to co-produce cartoon crap like that. I personally haven't seen that show at all, but I can expect the worse like you've stated. PBS nowadays is basically ruined due to the conservative and over-commercialized entity it has become (nowhere near the PBS of the 70's and 80's that still felt fresh and new, if only anime like Anne of Green Gables got aired back then on PBS).

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