Remi is a boy living happily with his mother in the French countryside. But everything changes when his estranged father comes home and, in desperate need of money, reveals that Remi is adopted, and sells him. Heartbroken, Remi ends up with Vitalis, a traveling musician, and his troupe of animal entertainers. Together, they travel the country in search for Remi's real parents, along the way learning the harsh lessons of life. A deeply moving story about friendship, loss and the pursuit of happiness.
Ie Naki Ko is based on Hector Malot's novel Sans Famille (the English version is called Nobody's Boy). I saw part of the Japanese version and part of the French one (the latter on DVD - the French Canadian release). I am not familiar with the out-of-print U.S. version, so I cannot speak to its quality.
The story is great, and really heart-wrenching. Remi and his friends go through hardship after hardship, and at times the future looks very bleak for them. The adaptation is usually but not always faithful to the novel. I personally prefer the novel's ending to that of the show, but otherwise
I loved the story.
The art is great for the time. That is to say that the colors are not as clear as modern digital releases, even in the DVD version, but the level of detail is pretty good, the faces are expressive, and the scenery is sweeping. Many scenes are dreamlike, reflecting Remi's emotional state. There are some scenes with static images on moving backgrounds, and other shortcuts, but only as much as is common in anime. The colors are realistic - no pink-haired people in this show - and the thin lines and detailed linework is unusual, especially for the time.
There is a good deal of music, especially once the characters start performing for money. I enjoyed it as a rule, with the exception of the theme song in the French version, which was annoying and stuck in my head. The original theme music was better. The voicing was quite good in both versions and the music added to the mood of many scenes, meshing nicely with the art. Of course you're not going to get amazing surround sound on a show like this, and there wasn't a song that really stuck out to me as a favorite, but the music definitely added to the experience.
The major characters - from Remi to Capi, the leader of the dogs, to Vitalis, are endearing. I have to say it's unusual to see animals portrayed this well in anime. Some other characters are thoroughly detestable, but I found that even in the most emotional parts of the show, I kept watching for Remi's sake.
I had a few issues with the show in terms of historical accuracy. I can recall at least one instance of random English - "Coffee" on a sign in a tiny town in the middle of nineteenth century France? I also found the Japanese labels on the map of France distracting, especially once I switched to the French version.
I really liked this show and would recommend it to anyone who likes tearjerkers and older anime.
A couple notes on the Quebec release - it's called Remi Sans Famille (or just Remi) and I suspect the video is taken from the US version, because there are credits in English at the end of each episode. Also, the episode summaries reflect the plot of the book more closely than that of the show. This release is French-only, which is sad, because the French audio really is top-notch, as well as being the only version in print in the North America.
This anime was made in 1977. It's quite hard to believe that when anime was still in it's adolescence, the world of anime still had masterpieces for it's time. When you think of 70s anime, you probably think about Anne of Green Gables, 3000 Leagues In Search of Mother, Candy Candy, etc. But I believe that Ie Naki Ko belongs in that category too.
This story is based on the French novel by Hector Malot. I haven't read the novel (though I do have an interest in doing so, but I have no idea where to find it in English)l, but when I saw that it
was being streamed on Anime News Network, it really got me interested...and I'm glad I watched it! The story for this is just nothing short of amazing. Remi and his comrades endure hardships, receive few joys, and sometimes get totally crapped on by life. But even so, I couldn't help but both cheer for Remi and encourage him to go on as I was watching the saddest parts. This anime has made me cry more times than any other anime, and that has to mean something, right? There's no point in which the anime feels too fast-paced, too slow-paced (admittedly though it is, in fact, slow paced), and even though there's fillers, they serve their purpose and never deviate beyond that.
I feel the best thing about the anime were the characters. They're all endearing and unique, and they're portrayed as actual people instead of all the gunked out stereotypes you see in most modern anime nowadays. Remi is by far my favorite out of them all. His courage, strength, and determination really struck a chord with me, but even he understands his own limits (such as trying to get food for the animals by himself though failing miserably). The animals in the show were great too, though I admit I don't have much experience in seeing real life animals perform tricks like that, but I guess that's just me. I also liked Mattia. He was a cool guy and a great friend despite his slight complacency. There were a few characters who annoyed me a bit, but they were brief and didn't last long in the show.
And I haven't even started talking about the production values yet! Osamu Dezaki really knows how to direct and pick the right company because the way he made the setting (France) come to life is just unbelievably great! Even though the show was produced in 1977, it doesn't look like that at all! The budget for this series was pretty gosh-darn high for it's time. It almost looks modern, though constant multi-plane animation was used for this anime instead of computer generated animation, and the former animation was commonly pioneered by Disney when they produced Snow White in 1937, but no anime used it until Remi came along, which was probably a big achievement in the anime world.
Of course, there are some things in Remi that did seem to irk me a bit. I remember in one episode Remi and Mattia dressed up as girls with really heavy make-up in order to escape from people who were chasing them. I absolutely hated how they looked, and I didn't think they actually did that to anime characters in the 70s (except in maybe budding shoujo manga like Rose of Versailles or anything of the like). A lot of people are gonna hate me for saying this, but I also felt the music was a little passe too. I mostly hate the ED sequence for the show. It sounds way too bouncy and cheerful for such a dark and vivid series! Even the World Masterpiece Theater version of Ie Naki Ko had better music that caught the atmosphere while not trying too hard to get all preachy about courage and survival! There's another thing that irked me, but I don't feel like saying it in fear of getting yelled at.
But despite it's minor flaws, Ie Naki Ko is an absolutely wonderful 70's anime series. It really shows you first hand that life is tough, harsh, and even cruel at times (which Disney always tries to hide from it's audience practically 99.8% of the time), but it also encourages you to believe that once you overcome those obstacles, they'll all be worth it and you do, in fact, achieve happiness in the end. It tells us that life is meant to be lived, not wasted, especially if you have something to live for. I thank this anime for teaching me that!
The thoughts of being sold off to a stranger can instill in those fear and uncertainty, especially when considering that the one that is being sold is a mere happy (and unknowingly orphan) child, oblivious of the harsh conditions of the 19th century of France. Ie Naki Ko, or No Man's Boy Remi, narrates a sad, yet heartwarming tale of Remi and the hardships throughout his life as a travelling entertainer, learning valuable lessons about life itself. Although it is a beautiful anime, it suffers from some issues, the most notable one being the pacing of the story.
The story of Ie Naki Ko is pretty
straightforward, audiences being presented with an accurate historical representation of France and a simple lifestyle of some villagers, whose sudden average life is torn apart. Remi is sold off by his supposed father to a travelling entertainer by the name of Vitallis for monetary reasons, much to his wife's horror and the child's pain. However, it soon becomes apparent that the old, broad-shouldered man only has good intentions with the boy, saving him from his wicked foster father and poor life. This is visible through subtle characterization, which is shown, rather than narrated.
Throughout Remi's long and arduous journey, viewers are presented with a very realistic portrayal of France. Examples such as the wonderful rustic views of the french countryside, or the harsh conditions of that time, and with that, society itself. Other aspect to consider is the fact of being thrown in a job as an entertainer: it comes with both good and bad sides to it. The social standing of such people are lowly viewed and looked down upon by society, as well as the difficulties of the troupe, such as their income: searching for a place to stay, closely following their monetary balance are such examples.
As mentioned earlier, the anime generally suffers from some pacing issues in all the different arcs: most events could have been solved/displayed without dwelling on it that long, whereas there were instances where it was actually desired. Some examples, such as Remi learning to read or living on his own, could have been extended upon and used its time to portray how french society was faring in that period. Other thing that could have been displayed are the difficulties of the different classes. Nevertheless, those were just minor things. Surely enough, most of said events are very mundane, which added to the immersion of the story, in addition to creating a well-balanced drama within. Naturally, the whole journey of Remi may seem ultimately a very convenient one (especially in the last part), but it seemed to be the goal the anime was working towards to, that of happiness, and in that regard it executed it well.
Characterwise it could be lacking it the eyes of some, as the show focusses mainly on the main protagonists, Remi and Vitalis. Both are well-developed and fleshed out through the series, in addition to their motives. There is Remi, a good-natured boy who develops significantly alongside the story in a satisfying manner. Then there is Vitalis, who seemed to be at first a simple device to push the story forward, yet is the exact opposite: both mentor and like a father to the boy, whose ultimate motive is a very noble one. What is curious is how this character is developed: instead of being narrated and directly told to the viewer, it is carefully displayed and shown through his actions and images. This was very refreshing and worked significantly in favour of the anime.
However, the little background story regarding Vitalis could be seen as a bit lacking and disappointing, yet the sheer amount of fleshing out of his character was surely more than enough to compensate for it (besides of being interesting on its own). There are quite a lot of side characters shown throughout the anime, which hinders the expansion upon those a bit (which would have been nice to see it included), but this is ultimately due to the vastness of Remi's journey. For the most part, they are well presented to the viewer, serving their purpose.
Regarding the animation of this work, it is dated as expected with some rather rough motions, or still frames. Nevertheless, the art style compensates this issue significantly, with great hand drawn pictures of the wonderful french countryside or just the characters themselves. Occasionally, still frames are used to portray different atmospheres the anime is trying to portray with different colors, be it very vivid or raw. It must be said that for new comers to the `old school` visuals may be taken aback by it, yet I cannot stress that this is actually a very pleasant change to nowadays art style and direction.
Concerning the soundtrack used, it is at times wonderful and befitting of the situations, yet at times it felt a bit off, breaking the immersion within, yet as a whole was above average. This does not include some wonderful male vocals, which was a joy to listen to. As for the voice actors, these had their up and downs as well, sometimes either being too forceful in their interpretation or unconvincing; this was however a small drawback. The opening and ending were very suited with the use of simple instruments of that time, such as a harp violin, you name it
Ie Naki Ko was overall a beautiful anime, portraying the beauty and difficulties of life, yet sadly suffered from pacing issues as well as a bit of progression issues in the story. The art style was a very pleasant change to the current ones, as well as the great characterization of the main cast. It shows audiences the struggle of life, the hardships, and how one should always push forward no matter the situation. I can recommend this anime to viewers interested in drama, or interest in the a character driven story; the dated animations and sounds can be off-putting, yet it is certainly worth the try despite this.
I saw almost all of the World Master Piece Theater anime series and longed to see an anime with such quality and at last i found it. I saw 'NOBODY'S GIRL REMI' when it was telecasted in ANIMAX ASIA so i hoped that Ie Naki KO is the same. But no i am wrong it is far better than that.
The story starts with a poor boy Remi, living with his foster mother at chavanas without knowing that she is not his real mother. Everything changes when his father (i.e., husband of foster mother) Jerome comes after 8 long years to visit. He
sells him to a travelling entertainer Vitalis who later found to be a famous opera singer. But this story proceeds very smoothly and makes you know about the sufferings of poor people for whom daily living is essential if not they had to starve. What i amazed is the boldness and endurance of this 8 year old boy who never seems to complain any pain to Vitalis as far as he is with him. But in the later portions he seems to enjoy the hardships.
Characters: Character wise Remi seems to mature in a more visible format. But never loses his purity in understanding others pains. But i must admit that Vitalis character is strong and he teaches an important lesson not only to Remi but also to the viewers that 'never depend upon others but march forward in life irrespective of troubles'. Mrs. Milligram who showers motherly affection to Remi once asks Vitalis to give Remi to her but the response he gives brings tears to all. Later on we too accept his decision as right. Another character i can not stop mentioning here is 'Mattia' the mischievous boy, who was considered violin genius. Actually he knows well how to live in this crooked world well. He is prudent in social living and like a detective he spontaneously makes acts to make the kidnappers to reveal the truth. I strongly assert here that all who watch this anime will agree that without Mattia it would have been difficult for Remi to complete his journey. He guides Remi in the right path.
Art is not so good as today's anime but the story dominates everything.
LONDON episodes were exciting very much as they made you empathize with him. Overall it gives more than enough satisfaction and drives you to make independent decision in your live for your life.