Before I get to my review, I'd like to talk about something. Some anime cliches that I really hate--which are unfortunately being used a heck of a lot more nowadays--are when characters act like jerk butts because the story tells them to (Minko from Hanasaku Iroha, anyone?), when characters don't solve their problems by talking to each other and just keep being stupid for the sake of dragging the story out (I'm looking at you, Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon R!!!), and characters who ABSOLUTELY refuse to listen when someone tries to clarify something to them. I really hate these cliches. For one thing, if done wrong, they can really hurt a story and characters. However, if done right, it can really bring a story to life. I was really convinced I would absolutely HATE this anime...but I don't, because not only does it wonderfully lampshade, avert, and call out these horrible cliches in the best way possible, they're wonderfully used to craft a very well done story, especially considering the big theme and message of the show is forgiveness and how hating someone and not listening to them can make both parties suffer horribly.
The story focuses on two childhood friends, Annette and Lucien. They're opposites, but they're good friends. But even they get into fights and misunderstandings sometimes. Annette later has a little brother named Dani, but her mother dies after his birth. Five years later, Annette and Lucien were still good friends until a misunderstanding creates a rift between them. But when they're on the verge of forgiving each other, Lucien gets extremely mad at Dani and threatens to throw his pet ermine (It's a cat in the novel. Don't know why they changed it into an ermine) down a ravine (but he wasn't going to go through with it). However, said ermine, Klaus, bites him in retaliation and falls down, with Dani going down with him. Lucien is convinced Dani is dead, and Annette, when she finds out, is absolutely furious with him, vowing to hate him forever. Dani is alive, but his leg is broken, and doesn't heal properly, leaving him handicapped. From then on, Lucien becomes a pariah, and Annette is so immersed in her grudge against him that she'll do anything to make his life miserable, never to let him forget about his crime.
The animation is good for it's time, even though I did see a couple of off model shots and misplaced body parts here and there, but nothing too bad. The music isn't much to write home about, and for the most part, it does its job well, except some happy music plays during some pivotal scenes where they weren't really needed, which kind of killed those scenes for me. The characters--most of them, I'll get to it in a later paragraph--are good, well written, and wonderfully flawed. Annette in particular is very well developed, as she is a good girl, but she's not perfect and even she succumbs to making bad decisions and doing things that make both her and the person she hurts suffer greatly. You want to root for her, but the show doesn't let us forget about her negative traits, nor does it want us to condone the bad decisions she makes. Lucien is the same. You really feel bad for the poor kid, as he's always being misunderstood and judged for stupid things, even by his best friend and his family. There is, however, one character who is my absolute favorite: Annette's Great-Aunt Claude Martha. I don't know if she's a character in the novel or not, but if she isn't, then I don't care. She is awesome. Why? Not only is she the kindest, most understanding person in the entire cast (unlike Annette, she knows Lucien never meant to hurt Dani!), she gently chastises Annette for her grudge and nudges her to change her ways for the better so she and Lucien can get along again. She even tells Annette that it's stupid to not listen to Lucien and judge him over stupid things, but she's nice about it and doesn't do anything like spank her or yell at her. That's what makes a good caregiver! She's nice, but doesn't gloss over Annette's bad decisions, and gently pushes her to improve on her behavior.
Which brings me to what I feel is the biggest flaw of the series: Lucien's family members, his mom and big sister Marie. For the most part, they're better than most anime characters, and I want to like them. I really do. But whenever I get around to liking them, they do something that makes me hate them, especially in later episodes! Lucien's mother does have good intentions, but she's also bossy, self-centered, and overbearing, and whenever she scolds Lucien for something, she'll say something like "it'll be an embarrassment to me if you do this and that!" and she always talks about punishing him whenever he does something, even though he doesn't do it to be bad! She could at least have the decency to at least TRY and understand her child's feelings instead of spending her time lecturing him! Heck, Lucien's teacher even tells her that scolding him won't solve the problem, but she goes and lectures him anyway! Worst of all, his sister, who I used to like, even spanks him 20 times in the same episode! That is NOT how you treat your brother, nor is it a good way to make a child not do something again! And everybody treats it like it happens every day! I know the time period plays a role in this (1900s), but really, I wanted to smack them for choosing to punish Lucien instead of trying to understand his reasons for doing what he does and actually tried to help him. I tried something similar, and my parents and sister NEVER yelled at me or spanked me 20 times to make me not do it again! Instead, they talked things out with me and wanted to help me, and currently I'm in therapy for it, and it's helping a lot! I really wanted to enjoy this show, and it would have been a lot better had they not acted the way they did during that episode! Also, I don't like Lucien's classmate Jean. He has the most annoying voice I've ever heard next to Kappei from Zambot 3 and PallaPalla from Sailor Moon SuperS!
However, I do love and respect this show for taking typical anime cliches and doing something wonderful with them. The show's message is this: it's better to forgive than to hate. If you spend your whole life hating someone, you'll never be happy, and just because someone committed a crime, whether by accident or on purpose, it doesn't mean they can't repent for it, nor do they deserve having their lives made miserable because of it. And don't hold their crime over their head, because that won't make things better. In order for this message to get across, those cliches had to be used, and I at least praise the creators for actually having Lucien try to explain his actions--while at the same time not justifying them--even though Annette refused to believe any of it. I especially praise the show for lampshading these cliches and how horrible they are (Aunt Claude). Really, if there's a show kids really need to watch, it's this one. Why can't shows like this be aired in the US?! Kids can handle drama!! We can't hide this stuff from them!!
This show is the prime example of how to take certain horrible cliches and use them in the best way possible. I highly recommend it!read more
This was one of the first animes I ever watched when I was very young. It was such a touching story and I wish everyday that I could watch it again (in English). I identified with Annette and her protective side a lot, but I didn't like some of her choices. I loved Lucian, he was such a kind-hearted child. If you get a chance to watch this, don't miss out!