Nov 30, 2019
[Spoiler free review]
To summarise Makiba no Shoujo Katri, it's an anime about a diligent, precocious and endearing young girl, who takes it upon herself to face the many trials of adult life within an early 20th century Rural (and later Urban) Finnish setting - all so she can pull her own weight and help her family out during a pinch. You watch her overcome many tough obstacles through hard work and determination. Other well crafted and unique characters are gradually introduced, most of which fall in love with her zeal and dedication. You will likely resonate with these characters and develop a sense of paternal
love for the sweet girl who you watch over. The series may cause you to gasping in horror at the mere sight of her tripping once it has tapped into your paternal or maternal instinct. If you want an anime with the same mood as popular iyashikei anime (like Natsume Yuujinchou), but with significantly more progression and realism, this is the right anime for you.
After finishing Romeo no Aoi Sora I was ready for my endeavour into more older anime series, to find the gems that dwell within. I had a whole list of pre-21st century anime I wanted to try out, and Makiba no Shoujo Katri was the first one my list. I honestly just wanted something that I wouldn't binge watch or get too addicted to, something I could just watch on the train ride home for the next few months, but it became clear I made the wrong choice. It was very hard to resist the urge to watch next episode of the series, because there was always some intriguing progression forecasted in the next episode and my attachment to the main characters kept growing. The thing about this anime is that when it felt like the story would stagnate, it pulled a new rabbit out of it's had and and introduced something new into the story or completely changed the setting.
If you're anything like me, you would assume this anime was simply about a girl living in her home village, herding animals and playing with locals, but there's a lot more to it. Each episode introduces you to something new about early 20th century finish life, with mentions of their politics, customs, culture, hierarchical system, social norms and much more. It does all that and manages to spend a lot of time developing characters and deepening your feelings towards them. The only issue with the plot is how idealistic it can be, with the main character always being left in a recoverable position after facing a dilemma. Nonetheless, this aspect of the story is admitted to be a part of it's premise by the narrator, whom occasionally makes an appearance and explains some of the details of the plot from time to time. The problems the main character faces are not minor either, as I mentioned in my summary, she is exposed to many of the cruel aspect of adult life - despite being not even being in her pre-teens yet. There's a lot of realism involved in the plot, and not everything ends happily. But you get to witness the recovery after such an event, so the anime is never dark for too long. Through the cycle of dilemma and recovery, you get a lot of character development which further improves the immersion of the anime as you end having the same level of familiarity with the other characters, just as much familiarity as the main character has with them. Nearly every character is unique and has a quirk, so it's always interesting when a new character is introduced.
Nearly every episode begins with a show casing of Katri's current setting, with drawn images of the Finnish countryside, villages, cities, etc. The show gives you some time to admire the art, which isn't the usually computer generated backgrounds you see in modern anime. They're comparable to the hand drawn backgrounds in Ghibili's productions and have a good amount of detail present in them. The fine details shown in the backgrounds significantly improves your immersion. The way the characters were drawn are, again, comparable to a Ghibili anime, with the outlines and details being simple, but the physics and movements being above average. Considering this anime was made in the 90s, I was surprised by how little the art an animation bothered me. It was better than many older shows made after it, like the Black Jack TV series and even some modern series airing this season (at least when you forgive the fact that you have to watch it in a low resolution).
The music in the series was always a joy to listen to. It wasn't mind blowing, but it fit the setting and was well utilised to set the mood. I really enjoyed listening to the music on my train ride to work, it was chirpy and endearing and not at all as generic as some of the sound tracks for many of the anime I've been watching recently. However, I would say the music was of the same quality of most pre-21st century anime, with the standard array off quality autistic instrumental songs. The voice acting was also quiet pretty standard for the time this anime was made - albeit it void of static sounds that you can hear in some anime when a character starts talking without background music to hide the poor microphone quality. Nonetheless, the voice acting was convincing and not at all bad, even by modern standards.
All in all, I really enjoyed the series. The story was constantly engaging, the characters were interesting and lovable and the show really immersed me in the setting and plot. I would have happily scored this anime a 10/10 if the ending was rushed. I felt like there could have been more episodes dedicated to the ending and other sub-plots. As a result of the show being quiet progressive (with 3 years of Katri's live being portrayed through the whole series), there are many time skips, so as to avoid dwelling on something too long. I was fine with this for the most part, but on occasion, I felt like there was a missed opportunity to add a new sub-plot or expand on an on-going one. The show would introduce a lot of new topics and details that seemed interesting, but would on occasionally not address them future, which always felt like a waste. Nevertheless, I have to accept this was an enviable constraint, as series can't go on forever. Regardless of this issue, I think this Makiba no Shoujo Katri is a really good anime for those interested in other cultures before the 21st century, or those looking for a relaxing anime with progression. I enjoyed every episode and I hope to enjoy it again if I have time to re-watch it a few years later.
What did you think of this review?