If only Sara were here, she would have written an awesome review for the series. She would have probably written it in French as well. It's not that writing anime reviews is a part of Miss Minchin's seminary curriculum, it's just about me, a barely literate otaku boy, even a hundred years later, still having little chance to do it better.
`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 :)
Shoukoujo Sara, or A Little Princess Sara, is based upon the world’s classic book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and is part of the World Masterpiece Theater. As per usual when it comes to this collection, this work has the distinct traits of the main character(s) being played by the vicissitudes of fate and having to overcome multiple obstacles until finally a reward is at the end of their difficult journey.
The story revolves around Sara who was raised as a proper young lady by her father and later, being entrusted to a famous boarding school to obtain education of a higher level/quality. Soon,
of course, everything is ruined when the news of her father’s bankruptcy and death leave her alone surrounded by a pack of wolves that has no use of her anymore. While the premise and plot of the story are quite simple, World Masterpiece Theater always expands the original story in many directions to cover more of their daily lives and mainly, the cruelty of the world. And that is where my problem with the pacing lies.
From start to finish, we follow Sara’s life and how she copes with the people around her. There is a long start explaining her circumstances and how she makes friends, while gallantly silencing her jealous classmates. After that, there is a longer part of how mistreated she is and various adventures or incidents that happen along the way. That brings variety to the show undoubtedly, since we learn more about the people around her and we get more emotionally attached to them, but on the other hand it can get pretty redundant and tiring, as sometimes it feels like there is no real development and it is just repeating itself. Many of those adventures just keep recycling the same feelings and show more of the same behavior with no justice given, leaving one feeling rather impatient. Moreover, it (very) slowly builds up the story to its climax and by then, the viewer wants a form of divine retribution to all the cruel individuals but… personally, I felt unsatisfied and cheated by the ending.
Moving on to the characters, Sara is, more or less, a typical character of a series such as this: an adorable and smart girl who never lets herself give up and be defeated by the environment she ended up in. One can see that she was raised with love and care and she has learnt to be mindful of others and be generous. However she was abused and mistreated, she would always stand up and reply with a smile on her face, proving she was the bigger person, which of course made everyone be even crueler to her. One cannot dislike Sara, but like the pacing, sometimes it feels too much. Sometimes she is too good, sometimes she will put down herself for no apparent reason, sometimes she seems so much into her princess act that it gets annoying. Her behavior annoyed me a lot towards the end of the series and unfortunately, I enjoyed it even less that I expected. There was not much development either, she stayed the same girl with the heart of gold whatever the world threw at her.
The rest of the cast is pretty much a stereotypical cast of a classic story like this. There is a villain, Miss Minchin, who values money and finds a sadistic pleasure into indirectly torturing Sara, the young girl that had everything from her birth; there is a loyal friend, Becky, who is a servant at the boarding school and always tries to help in any way that she can; there is a jealous rival, Lavinia, who cannot accept anyone that is better than her and tries to humiliate Sara in every possibly way that she can think of and will always be there for a revenge plan; there are the jealous rival’s sidekicks, whose hearts are almost as black as Lavinia's, but will follow the one that has more power; there is the jack-of-all-trades friend, who knows all about the outside, poor world and will find solutions for almost any kind of problem she has.
I would lie if I said all of them or even most of them got a lot of development, but it is enough for this kind of story. Throughout all those adventures, we see a different character close to the center every time, giving us more insight to their personality and their thought process. Unfortunately, as the pacing recycles the same feelings, the characters get recycled in a similar manner, as we see the same kind of reactions and behaviors again and again and even though, there are some rare signs of change, they will fall into their usual pattern in the end. At least, each of them executes their role pretty well and makes you feel for them, either positively or negatively.
As for art and sound, I am not a proper judge of these, since I rarely mind them. I can say though, that the art is a pretty standard one for a ‘80s series with simple art, low variety of colors, toned down pallet and pretty common design. Apart from the cast that appears often, the rest are not so easily distinguishable. The animation is fluid enough and since there are no fast paced scenes, there is no real gap. The sound contains a lot of low tone melodies that fit this kind of story, but certainly nothing that will be remembered after one has finished the series.
All in all, I enjoyed it sufficiently and more people should watch this. I admit that first I was more excited and interested in it since I love these kind of classic stories, but along the way I could not help being discouraged by some elements and could not finish it with the same interest as before.
The art and animation isn't the best, as it was made in the 80s, but it is very quaint and fits in well with the story and adds to the feel of the show.
The music is pretty good from what I was able to hear. It is mostly classical music for the background and again fits in well.
I'm not sure how well they have portrayed the characters from the book, having only seen a small amount. They seem to have made Sera more of an average girl and downplayed her intelligence. I was annoyed at this, as she makes a couple of speeches demonstrating her
intelligence during the first chapters of the book that were not seen in the anime.
Overall I highly enjoyed it. It is a more faithful adaptation than the 1995 movie. I have only been able to get a hold of the first two episodes of this, but if you're a fan of the book A Little Princess, I highly recommend hunting down as many as you can.
This anime is basically the slowest something could be in the first place, and the plot after the first 10 episodes of everyone jizzing over the mc is her being tortured after that. The plot is mostly the other workers telling them (the 2 poor tortured girls) to work hard as those other workers slack off and large amounts of time being spent for the other characters to say yes to working harder even though they were already working hard, or the headmistress making some unreasonably bitchy complaint accusing someone of doing something they did not do that the headmistress knows that other person did
not do, followed by a large amount of time being spent for the character to say yes and "accept" blame. Seriously that is the entire core plot, and it is so slow and takes so much time (if you have a brain in your head but still decide to watch this based on the relatively high rating, please keep that finger on the fast forward button).
But what makes this quite simply the worst something could be is when MCmctorturedgirl is EXCITED to see the girl who spent the entire anime torturing her the most (ep 33?) and then calls her, and not just to not get into trouble, her fucking friend (ep 34?). Like I get that the point was to make her a messiah figure but this was the biggest, most poorly written stretch of all time.
(the music is great when not being badly repeated, usually is badly, relentlessly repeated)
Absolutely awful. Let me start off first by saying that I've read the book several times and watched several of the other more popular versions. They are some of my favorites. There is so much wrong with this adaptation that I could go on and on but I'll keep it short. The characters are characterized as weak and stupid. Sara herself is basically purity sue. She is perfect and all the others either lover or hate her. Aside from that, she is an incredibly passive version of her book self. She spends much of the series crying,
given a limited amount of dialogue which consists of mostly "Yes, Headmistress." The other characters always come to her rescue. The whole point of the book was how she overcame her struggles through her incredible imagination, which we see very little of in this version.
The villians in this all don't seem to have lives. They are never shown doing any work despite living in a huge establishment with a skeletal staff where there would be a TON of work to do. They only seem to exist to make Sara's life miserable. Miss Minchin was a credible, shrewd villain in the book. She hated Sara but knew that she could be quite useful as an instructress as well as a help in the kitchen, a maid and errand girl, after she loses all her fortunes. This Minchin is incredibly shallow. Furthermore she is given a five minute Freudian Excuse for her behavior during a later episode. And at the end we're supposed to just forgive her nasty behavior for 20+ episodes because of it.
Lavinia was barely a side character who occasionally made trouble for Sara, not the front and center bully like she is in this. She also wasn't American in the book. None of the cast was.
There's also a potential love interest whose existence throws in a major plot hole to the whole plot.
The animation is weak even for 1980's standards. The characters make strange expressions and you can't tell what they're feeling half the time. It's also incredibly redundant. I don't need to see Sara ironing and washing dishes for eons in each episode before the head housemaid comes in and screams at her.
Please skip this and watch any of the other versions. If you're a diehard fan, then watch it, but don't expect much. The 1986 version with Amelia Shankley is the closest version to the book imo and way better than this version which, I don't think even tried.
[Spoiler free review]
I'm going to keep this review short, because there's not a lot to say about this show. It starts off pretty weak with more than 10 episodes of build up before the actual premise is reached and then it suddenly gets good. The thing about it though is you could always see where the plot was taking you well in advance, and it just turned into an observation of a constant cycle. It was a loop of witnessing the main character's unconditional kindness, followed by a harsh dose of cruelty and finally a few tears shed and determined vows are made before the
reset button is pressed. However, this doesn't mean it didn't have enjoyment to offer, it just didn't surprise me often.
When the anime gives you a bone, to makes you think subsequent progression is finally on it's way, it violently tugs it away from you to remind you that there is nothing idealistic about the main character's position. It reminds you that only at the end will you get to savour the bone. And that it did. The ending was no surprise, but I feel like it would be unfair to fault it based on the ultimate outcome as apposed to rating the execution of it. I was prepared to see how they would execute the end and progress towards it and. While the execution was unexpected, it made me feel more disappointed than I had been in a while. The ending, metaphorically speaking, was like seeing an oil drum, filled with all the liquid idealism that the other episodes were starved of, pierced sharp by a pickaxe from a quarter bellow the top of the container - leading to it's contents uncontrollably gushing out until the level of it's contents quickly fell bellow the hole and thus stopped spilling. This ultimately meant that the built up was wasted as no one really got their just deserts. In fact, the ending pretty much excused all the heinous cruelty we witnessed and essentially touted forgiveness on the basis that it all worked out in the end anyway. This would be fine if it were not for that fact that the moral of the story ended up being "don't mistreat people that seem like they have nothing to give, or else they might just not give you loads of money in the future" - with an emphasis on the word "might", since all the antagonists in the plot were spared a serving of revenge and rewarded...
I think it's clear that I was deeply disappointed by the ending and felt betrayed for investing time into the plot. I was especially annoyed by the fact that the most hate worthy antagonists were portrayed as good people void of maliciousness, when the complete opposite was the fact. It's impossible for you to think that the the character who spent the whole series bullying most the other characters in a disgusting fashion did not despise the main character, simply because she said it - but was in fact her ally in disguise who did nothing to aid her. I was extremely confused by the character who fit this descriptions having an immediate transition from antagonist to ally.
Nonetheless, I chose to give this anime a 7/10, because as much as much as the ending disappointed, I enjoyed the majority of the series. I got to see Victorian era London is action, and was immersed by the environment. I was impressed by how much detail went in building the atmosphere and I enjoyed witnessing the main character discovering new things about working class London life during that era. Although the cycle I previously mentioned was sometimes damaging to my enjoyment, I don't think many episodes felt repetitive in terms of their content and there was still some progression that remained after the rest button was pressed every few episodes. Although the music was pretty mediocre (even for the standards of anime made during that time), I thought the voice acting was well done and the anime was pretty decent. The paintings of London used in the backgrounds were great too, and as a Londoner, it looked familiar to what I see everyday when I pass or go into old houses and buildings. And finally the characters (apart from a few) were very consistent and were somewhat unique - with my main issue only being the fact that some of the characters didn't seem to retain emotions spawned from previous episodes. Therefor I think it's deserving of an above average score, especially considering how much more enjoyable it was watching it compared to the majority of the other anime I've watched.
I love the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, so upon finding an anime for that story I had to watch it. For the most part I found it enjoyable and faithful to the original source material.
The story follows Sara Crewe, the young daughter of a rich widower, who enrolls in an English boarding school. For the first fourth of the anime, Sara is praised by everyone both in the school and outside for her manners, kindness, and how pretty she looks in her fine clothes. By episode eleven she receives the news that her father has died bankrupt making her lose
The majority of the rest of the anime follows Sara's new life as a hard-working, unpaid maid for the seminary. She is tormented and mistreated by everyone save two faithful previous classmates, the other young maid, and the child who used to be her driver.
This anime has an intriguing story that is meant for children, but people of all ages can enjoy it. There are good themes and messages such as: holding on when everything looks bleak, showing kindness to everyone (including your enemies), and forgiveness. Sara (and Becky) face a lot of hardship and abuse-physically, verbally, and emotionally-and through it all Sara still remains the bigger person by not stooping to their level.
As mentioned before, for the most part I feel that the anime stays true to the book. Almost all of the important plot points are present (although they do sometimes occur in a different order, or different times than they do in the book).
However I do feel that there are a lot of unnecessary filler episodes. I think about ten of these episodes could have been omitted and the story would have been the same. They're not bad episodes as they do include character development and show details of Sara's life as a servant in more detail that wasn't in the book. I just think that this story didn't need forty six episodes when thirty five to forty would've sufficed.
Also, I feel the need to mention the ending. I was surprised to see how the ending of this anime differed from the one in the book. Having watched it I can understand why the creators of this anime went with that ending instead of the original. While some may not like it for obvious reasons that I can't explain without spoiling anything, I think it actually works in Sara's favor. Considering what she could have done (and what many people would have in her shoes) it shows the strength of her character with the decision she makes. I can't go into any more detail without revealing spoilers. In all I actually was satisfied with how the anime ended.
For the most part I think the characters were portrayed accurately.
To begin with Sara is a kind, cheerful girl who tries to find the best in any situation no matter how miserable it may be. She has a lot of courage, strength, and faith not to break after all she endures in the length of this series. She is a good role model for many children in terms of her kindness, generosity, and not seeking revenge. If I do have one complaint I do wish she would have defended herself more when she was in the right. Due to one episode concerning the doll Emily, I feel that the other students would have rushed to her aid had she stood up to Minchin more often.
Next is the character Lottie. I didn't have much of an opinion on her in the book, but I liked her much more in this anime. She is given more of a role, and I love how loyal she stays to Sara-the one person who treated her kindly and with understanding. What more I like how on several occasions she is the only person to stand up for Sara. Lottie is given a lot of development in this anime and she is one of my favorite characters in the series.
This version showed Minchin to be the cruel and loathsome person any human being could possibly be. I felt so bad for Sara everytime Minchin showed up to ruin things, and how she took pleasure in torturing Sara. However this anime did give a little backstory for her that was not present in the novel-although I don't think it excuses her for all the horrible things she did.
I also like the extra characterization given to Lavinia. While she wasn't too fond of Sara in the book, this anime expanded a lot on this girl showing her to be as cruel and much of a bully as Minchin. It added more to the story of Sara's suffering as well as Sara's character by how she still remains kind to her despite all that happened.
Lastly, I like the original character of Peter added in this story. It's nice for Sara to have another friend and someone to count on. At times I do feel like he is a dues ex machina character as he comes up with the solutions to many of the problems. Nonetheless he does add some good and comedic moments in this show.
One complaint I have is I feel that Ermengarde is downplayed in this version. So many times I got annoyed with her for not speaking out on Sara's behalf. I know she is supposed to be timid, but I find it hard to believe she would just let the girl who is supposed to be her best friend get treated so horribly without speaking a word. The same could be said about the other girls in the seminary.
The art in this anime is pretty good considering it was made three decades ago. I especially love the backgrounds. So many of the locations such as: the park, the church, the marketplace/town, the interior of Sara's first room, and the attic all look real; they're very detailed. It's clear what city and time period this story takes place.
The character designs aren't bad. Sara does look the way she's described in the book. Each of the main characters have their own distinct look. Even the minor and unnamed characters don't look lazily designed. The costumes look beautiful (especially Sara's birthday dress, and the clothes Lavinia's mother wears).
The animation is not the best. There are plenty of times it looks choppy. What more there are a lot of background characters. What I mean by that is that the unnamed characters in the background rarely move, if at all, so they look painted on. There's one scene in particular where Sara and Peter are at the dock, and for over a minute a woman has her head turned to the side and doesn't move from that pose during the entire time.
I do like the animation used for the ending where one horse-drawn carriage is followed closely by another. I just like the steady movement of those coaches. That's all that happens in the closing credits, but it's calming to watch.
The sound is good. I like the voice actors chosen for each character. Not a single voice sounds out of place. The actress assigned for Minchin is byfar the best. The shrieking used when alarmed or angered is done well. All the voice actors did well with portraying emotion.
The music is good. I like the opening and ending songs. They both sound cheery with a hint of sadness thrown in the lyrics, which I feel fits the tone of this story well.
The instrumental score fits both the scenes and the time period of this story.
For the most part I found the story likable. There are some scenes that are hard to watch knowing how much suffering this character has to endure. On the other hand there are a lot of warm, endearing scenes that make up for the harsh ones.
I like the sense of hope given throughout. Everytime Sara has something else taken from her, at times just because one of the other characters just wants to be mean, she still keeps her head high. It's actually pretty inspirational.
This is a good, heartfelt story that will play with the audience's emotions throughout. Most of the characters are developed (even if some are deplorable). The art is decent, the animation is not the best, but it's not the worst either. The soundtrack is good. Above all there are important themes and morals in this one.
I would recommend A Little Princess Sara to anyone.
"Princess Sara" is, according to a list someone posted to Reddit, the least popular top 1000 rated anime on My Anime List. It is a 46-episode 1980s shoujo without any adventure themes, and much of the content concerns the depressing mistreatment of the protagonist, who falls from wealth and into the hands of a cruel boarding school headmistress. It's no accident that this anime isn't very popular with modern audiences, but its ranking is actually a bit lower than I think it deserves, and I think many modern viewers might enjoy this.
The biggest complaints from the reviews seem to be that the protagonist is too
perfect, and that the anime is painstakingly slow and uninteresting. I definitely hear both complaints, and at times Sara does seem to be annoyingly good at everything, and yet she is definitely given a human portrayal, we really see how much she is struggling at times in her ordeal. It is not easy at all for her to be so perfect, or later on for her not be broken by experiences, and she does have a specific motivation and logic to why she behaves as she does.
As for the length and tedium, I felt like the individual episodes all had some sort of story to tell, and most were pretty entertaining by themselves. They really worked well though because they were clearly all building toward the conclusion, the viewer can't help but become emotionally vested in the story because of the strong portrayals of what Sara goes through. Those slow, unpleasant episodes all get you more and more amped up for Sara's eventual revenge, which you will probably wish would be something out of a Tarantino movie, but as this is an upbeat children's story at its core, that just couldn't have happened. In fact it is remarkable that the anime makes you feel so emotionally connected to Sara's plight even though none of her abuse is over-the-top violence, most of it is just unpleasant and emotionally degrading. I'll put it this way, and this shouldn't be a real spoiler, but there's a scene about halfway through where one of Sara's tormentors unexpectedly gets a small but delicious taste of what she deserves... I shouted and cheered with real emotion, and I think anyone paying attention would do the same. This anime really will make you care, if you let it.
So, who will actually like this show? If you like shoujo at all, I think you probably will. It has a lot of the classic shoujo elements - the good girl protagonist and her struggles, the hapless best friend, the evil social enemy girl, etc. I'd also consider this a masterpiece of what people call the "slice of life" genre as most of the episodes just concern a day or two in Sara's life, usually with nothing of great importance happening, and yet by the end it feels like you've experienced quite a sweeping story. Finally I think people who just enjoy good anime drama in general might like this, sure it's slow and plodding, but if you can bare it for 43 episodes, it really does deliver the payoff you've been longing for.
This is going to be my first ever review so it’ll probably be a bit confusing, but I’ll try my best.
Well, this was obvious. This anime is one of the most saddest and heart-warning things I’ve ever watched! From when Sara’s father died to all the cruel things the people at the academy did to her, she was still strong and continued to be kind hearted. Even before losing everything she was still extremely kind. I love how this anime didn’t just jump straight into tragedy but actually let us see the rich but kind girl Sara is.
This one was a bit
hard to judge. This anime was animated in 1985, of course you’re not expecting high quality animations and beautiful artwork. However, I thought it was still decent for that time period.
The opening was a nice “ball room dancing” kind of song. It was very classical like the anime itself. Most openings I’ve been seeing are loud and energetic pop songs, though catchy, it’s always nice to see light sounding openings from time to time. The OST were also classical and sounded just like a fairytale, emotional and beautiful.
Sara’s character is amazing! Her backstory isn’t overly tragic, like others I’ve seen. She didn’t live in an abusive household and she wasn’t poor or anything, a perfectly great life. Like I’ve mentioned before, even when tragedy struck, she still tried to keep her head up and continue to be kind. She didn’t complain, but instead thankful for the things she has. The other characters such as the headmistress also have good backstories, but for the sake of spoilers, you’ll have to find out yourself what her backstory is.
Oh heck yeah I enjoyed that anime. You can probably tell why from everything I’ve said so far.
This anime is a masterpiece and will forever be carved in my childhood. Sara’s taught me to be kind and thankful for everything. Even to the people who don’t share kindness with me.
You can cut this anime series down to 30 episodes (mostly from the middle of the series) and STILL display enough of Sara's suffering to make a point - that it's a hard-knock life, for .... uh, ahem...that song does stick doesn't it?
It's dragged out way too long and I ended up skipping through part of several episodes just to get to the conclusion.
It started out as something interesting, but became something rather painful and aggravating to watch. The balance is off. Extremely cold-hearted, evil people all congregated under one building and supportive characters that lacked voice and power to make much of a
difference during most of the anime. The ending is not satisfying. I understand the important message where "we can all get along" but there's a point where you draw the line to certain people.
It's a decently made anime, but it has too many 'stressful' scenes to watch. I didn't enjoy this anime. The anime itself is a 6.5, but I got to give it a 4, it was more pain then pleasure.