46 of 46 episodes seen
`Princess Sara' is based on a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, `A Little Princess' (1905), with quite a history of rewrites and adaptations, and this particular anime belongs to a bigger project known as `World Masterpiece Theater', which gathers adaptations of classical western books and stories. I am yet to see other adaptations or other titles of the project (though you might have accidentally seen some already), and i feel as if there is a good reason for me to doubt that other adaptations of Princess Sara would be any better, for what i have just seen actually is, one way or another, a masterpiece.
The original book is actually quite short. You can easily find it and read it along with watching. The anime, on the contrary, was made dramatic and grand. It wasn't simply stretched to fill a year of airing. I must admit these guys had really felt it through and transformed it into something bigger, unfolding the story step by step to be sure each and every thought and feeling reaches you.
That said, i cannot say i instantly fell in love with these series; i only decided to put the top mark for it after around episode 36. By that time the story is mostly over, but it is the way they presented it that fascinates.
Would an story like that appeal to a modern viewer? Sure it will. I'm actually quite sure that most of us will one day meet a person like Miss Minchin as their superior, and would have to choose if they would behave like Lavinia or like Lottie. Or maybe even like Becky. And i can only hope you won't ever have to behave like Sara :) People haven't changed a bit. Maybe just scales are different, society pushes in a bit different direction, maybe the story exaggerates a little bit, but people making the world go around are still the same.
Note how this is one of those works where relatively little is said in words. No, it's not your typical `tenshi no tamago', of course, but they still often avoid speaking for like five minutes in the beginning of an episode, depicting a quiet morning when you don't really want to involve yourself in making noise yet. A lot is being said by directly showing it, in such a way that a thousand words won't really show it all. And that is where art and sound get a chance to really show themselves.
First, you have *these eyes*. Whether our characters look out of the window, stare at each other, or simply do whatever they need to do, their eyes say a lot. And Sara's look has a special role. As Lavinia, the one most affected by it, accidentally grasps the essence and mentions what was probably intended to be the author's lines, which happens to her from time to time, "Sara has been decreased to that little, yet she still behaves as if she's noble". Just looking at her eyes, you see that Sara never really looses her face through out the story. She effectively completes her "shoujo quest" of "never letting anybody know how you feel, even if you're about to die" (cf. Fruits Basket, for example), and her eyes always expose her attitude as cleanly as possible. I'm not really crazy about megapixels in anime artwork, but these eyes pretty much outweigh the shortcomings of old school graphics for me.
Then there's seiyuu work. Shimamoto Sumi, whom you might remember starring in Nausicaa a year before, is really doing epic great here, from the simple "ah~" sound opening the talk in most episodes, and "ma~, Becky ..." whenever something funny (or not really, at all, funny) happens, to the ultra-polite and forever-genki cheerful optimistic "please watch the next episode" annoncement, it leaves an aftersound straight in your brain, and suits her character ... perfectly. Opening and ending themes are also very noble; though possibly background music could have been made a bit gentler.
Time to wrap up, so let me put it straight: This is not your typical anime. There's nothing wrong if you don't watch it, or drop in the middle, or something like that. But it is also great if, alongside with being a naruto fanboy or a precure fangirl, or vice versa, or whatever, you also enjoy *that* sort of stuff together with me, as i'm enjoying modern stuff most of the time as well. It may also appeal directly to those who enjoy shoujo stories in general, or looking for pain and suffering like urobuchi's, or even those magical doll lovers everywhere. And there's still much more in it.
Last but not least, not sure if this anime is translated to your native language, but full English subs are there waiting for you to watch. I can't help saying thanks to the guys who kept these around till today. Miss Minchin would probably not approve them. She'll ask something like "How can they do such an outrageous thing?", seeing these guys helping out each other, if you know what i mean :) read more