Being a single mother is hard in early 19th Century France. When young Cosette was traveling with her mother trying to find a job and a place to live, they were always shunned away because very few employers hire single mothers. When she is promised with the prosperity of working in the big city, Cosette is separated from her mother in the hopes a caretaker will watch over her while her mother earns some money. Unfortunately this was a trick and the caretaker is a corrupt man who makes Cosette his indentured servant. Then the kind mayor of the town that Cosette makes her new home in sees how winds of change are so detrimental for children and families, and decides to do something about it.
In 1862, Victor Hugo published his most famous novel, Les Miserables. Since then, all kinds of adaptations of it appeared 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. Note: Les Miserables the novel is NOT for children, so I have yet to
know why they chose to adapt it.
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 (Yes, Les Miserables is NOT a children's novel. I know that), 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. I think the anime is great...and yet...why do so many people give the anime 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!
Story - 8
What can I say? Shoujo Cosette is an adaptation of my favorite book of all time, Les Miserables, and it's overall surprisingly faithful to the original text. Especially when you consider that SC is geared toward children, and the original is...well, definitely not.
That said, SC gets an 8 and not a perfect 10 from me because in their effort to keep the anime kid-friendly, Nippon Animation committed some pretty grievous crimes against the original canon. I'll keep it vague here, but I'll settle for saying that some characters who ought to have died survive for the dumbest reasons. Overall, though, their attention to
canon is commendable indeed.
Art - 4
This, I think, is where SC suffers most. Nippon's animation budget clearly isn't high, and I suppose they do the best with what they're given, but aside from the occasional lovely background, the animation here is sorely lacking and, at times, looks like it might've been passable a decade ago at best. Character designs are decent - Valjean is especially well done - but also somewhat bland. Overall, this is the weakest point of the anime.
Sound - 6
The sound in SC is decent enough, but nothing special. The fact that the same OP and ED are kept throughout the entire anime rather detracts from it as well, especially after Cosette herself has long grown up and tons of new characters have been introduced. Only one or two tracks stand out in my mind at all - good, but nothing memorable.
Character - 8
SC does an overall good job of keeping true to the original characters. Javert could stand to be wittier, and Enjolras could stand to be less - well, nice, but all in all most characters keep true to their original. Characters in the anime who weren't in the book are surprisingly few and far between, and all serve their purpose fairly well - especially Alain.
Again, Character is an 8 and not a 10 because of one unforgivable change to one character in particular.
Enjoyment - 8
As a die-hard Mizzie who was initially very dubious indeed about anything remotely resembling an anime adaptation for children, I was surprised how I kept coming back to watch SC every week, despite my own limited Japanese and the decided lack of subs. Only once did I even consider dropping it, and that hesitation was fairly short-lived. Nippon Animation manages to transcend its clearly limited animation budget and make SC something actually worth watching.
Overall - 7
Overall, SC is an admirable effort by Nippon to adapt a classic work of literature into a television show, several minor pitfalls notwithstanding. It's an enjoyable anime for even those unacquainted with Victor Hugo's masterpiece, and the vocabulary is simple enough that even someone who doesn't know the language can probably follow along (though I do wish someone would hurry up and sub it). The only real downsides are a few instances of bowdlerization and the aforementioned poor animation.
I recently read Les Misérables in class and completely fell in love with it. I googled "Les Misérables anime", not expecting to find much, and was very pleased to discover such a lengthy and faithful adaptation. There were a few changes here and there, but most I didn't mind, and some I liked. For example, a large portion of this series is from Cosette's point of view, which I actually found nice because in the novel, the reader hardly knows her and she is written very passively. In the anime she shows strength and personality that we never saw in the book.
Most of my
qualms with the series stem from the fact that it is aimed at children. There are many works of fiction that target a young audience but can be enjoyed by adults without seeming too childish. This anime succeeded partially in that, but at times I was taken out of the drama by little things that made me think "Oh yeah, this is for kids." The original story makes you think a lot, and allows you to make inferences on your own based on what you read. This show however leaves nothing to the imagination as it has a tendency to try to drill something into your head and make absolutely sure that you understand. Some of it was overkill, even for children. (WE GET IT. PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.)
There were also some changes to the plot that I found a bit unnecessary, especially toward the end. I always had an open mind to changes from the novel, as the show in general was already way more faithful than I ever expected it to be, but some changes to make it "happier" seemed a bit cheesy. I won't spoil anything, but I was disappointed when silly reasons caused certain characters not to die.
That being said, for the vast majority of the series I was able to ignore those things. In fact, there were parts where I felt like they probably got as dark as they possibly could with a G rating. Sometimes I would think, "This is rated G, so I wonder if /that/ is going to happen? Oh look, it did. Cool."
But I digress. It may seem like I didn't like this series very much, but in actuality there were a lot more things that I liked than didn't like. I definitely enjoyed it, and sped through it in 4 days. (I'm on break with a lot of free time.) It kind of made me wish that there was a really dark anime adaptation with really good animation, but I'll take what I can get. This was a good series that I would suggest to any fan of Les Miz, and still a good watch even if you're completely new to it. I'm really glad I found this.
This is my first ever review! I actually never really thought I'd ever write one! Please be nice!
I rarely see any anime adaptations of famous novels and I often wondered how it would be like. My first guess was that it may steer away from the novel's original story but after reading how it was faithful to the original novel, I decided to try it. (Plus, seeing little Cosette was really what attracted me, she's so adorable!)
Do note, I have not read the original novels so I cannot help but be biased about it. but despite that, I will try to keep it as unbiased
as possible. I also tried my best not to spoil anything!
I did a bit of research and found out that the anime adapted from the second half of the first volume to the last one with hints of flashbacks for the first half of the first volume.
According to many, the anime adaptation of Les Misérables was very faithful which I had mentioned above which is a plus for me. I like well adapted animes that follow their source work as much as it could. And in my opinion, the story was amazing to me! It was gripping, emotional, and had a lot of hidden valuable messages about life.
There's no plot holes, or none that I could find that would deduct any marks. The only thing that I could think of that didn't feel right was the pacing. As much as I know that most of it was alright, some parts felt really...Slow...And repetitive even. But even though it was slow at some parts, the story was excellent nonetheless.
And thus I give the story a 9/10.
The art was simple and nice. I didn't mind it so much and plus, some of the character designs were really nice in my opinion. Especially little Cosette, she was just so adorable!
The animation was average at best though, but I guess it wasn't so bad during its time. But from the looks of it, Nippon Animation seemed to have a really limited budget when it came to making the adaptation. I might be wrong though.
The use of coloring and shading for different scenes were done nicely. When there's a happy and uplifting scene or a sad and depressing one, the coloring and shading will adjust according to it!
So with all that, I gave the Art an 8/10.
There aren't many soundtracks that stood out for me in this show but despite that, the music would fit with the events that would happen in the show.
Those that caught my ears were the ending theme and the lullaby that was sung by Cosette.
I really like the voice acting for this show(Japanese) as they acted out their characters very well. I have not tried any other dubs yet though so I can't compare to any other dubs.
With that, I gave the Sound and Music a 7/10
There's a decent amount of characters in this show and there were definitely a few that stood out the most.
First would be one of the main characters of the story, Jean Valjean. Through out the series he had shown nothing but kindness and selflessness. If I had more room in my favorites list, he would be in there! He's such a good person!
Secondly, there's the eldest daughter of the innkeeper Eponine. She was a selfish little brat at first but by some point in the show, I saw her in a new light and I could sympathize with her some times...
Cosette was adorable at first but despite more development in her character throughout the series, I still can't help but find her a bit plain. But she was a good character nonetheless!
There were also characters that I find tiring. One such character was the innkeeper himself. He was your typical bad guy really. There wasn't much development from him and throughout the series, he continues to try and ruin our main characters' lives.
But overall, all the characters were well portrayed and so I gave the Characters a 9/10.
I love this show as soon as I started it! There were plenty of sad scenes which could pull my heartstrings and even make me cry and there were plenty of times where I feel happy for the characters.
There was very little that I could say I did not enjoy and thus I give it a 10/10 for Enjoyment.
Overall, I rate this show a 9/10 and it could definitely end up in my favorites if I had room on my list! It is rated G for everyone but some parts of the show makes me doubt if it's actually suitable for all ages...
but even so, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys adaptations of famous historical novels(If there's any) and those who like western-themed animes!
If you enjoy the classics like a true lit geek, then you'd be happy to know that there are several anime series that are inspired by stories written in the unforgotten past by authors that would forever live on.