For many of us, happiness is an emotion we feel very often in our lives. It's undeniably a very important emotion. It's so important that you could say this is the emotion that keeps us alive. How does one define happiness though? Konnichiwa Anne is the first anime I've seen to attempt to answer this question.
Konnichiwa Anne is about a young girl called Anne Shirley who’s trying to find happiness in life. She’s an orphan who's been adopted by a family where no one really gets along. She doesn't let either of these two things get her down though. Out of all the characters I’ve
seen in the medium called anime, very few characters show the level of goodness Anne displays. She rarely gets mad at anyone, does her best to get along with everyone, and tries to find the good in utterly miserable situations. She's such an innocent character that it's nearly impossible not to like her. Not only that, but she actually cares about the welfare of those around her. She's someone who gives up her own needs to meet the needs of those around her. The amount of goodness in her is amazing, especially when you consider how her life is far from perfect.
What separates this anime from other slice of life anime is the level of emotion it conveys. It's nice to see an anime that puts a smile on your face out of sheer happiness, but seeing an anime that makes you cry out of sheer happiness is something else. This is the second anime I've seen to make me cry out of sheer happiness, with the first being Monster. While these two shows might seem completely different to most people, there are two notable similarities present. Firstly, they depict the lives of unbelievably kindhearted protagonists. Secondly, they acknowledge the fact the world's not perfect. It's a sad truth, but we live in a world where bad things do happen to good people.
Anne, despite being the good person that she is, lives a very difficult life. What makes her life so difficult is the amount of conflict within her family. At times her family's situation becomes so bad that the viewer may actually cry out of genuine sadness. During these situations, Anne isn't moping around. She does the opposite, she tries her best to keep her family from falling apart. It's during these situations that this show is no longer heartwarming; it becomes something that is very heartbreaking instead.
Anne’s family aside, it’s also worth mentioning her classmates. When she first began her education, everyone seemed to dislike her. This didn't last very long though, her classmates eventually grow to like her because she helps change their lives for the better. Even though this show is about Anne finding her own happiness, she spends most of her time helping those around her find happiness.
If in the unlikely case you don't feel anything towards Anne, there's very little chance you won't feel anything for her adoptive father, Bert. Out of all the characters in this show, Bert is the one that truly deserves the viewer’s sympathy. From the start of the show, he has one major problem: his heavy consumption of alcohol. It's because he's an alcoholic that he ends up doing a lot of awful things, and sometimes they’re against the people in his own family. In spite of the misdeeds he commits, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
Although the animation is nothing special, the soundtrack more than makes up for it. The anime’s soundtrack plays a prominent role in conveying the emotions the show aims to convey. Take the opening for example. It always put a smile on my face. Usually when I smile during an anime's opening, it's out of the anime's sheer stupidity. This show is different though. It has an opening that put a smile on my face out of happiness.
As for the ending theme, it's just as lighthearted as the opening. There's one issue with it though. Several times in the series something serious occurs towards the end of an episode, and a lighthearted song essentially ruins the mood. After episode 26, the transition between the first and second half of the episode changed. It's a shame the ending theme didn't change as well, especially when you consider how different the last 13 episodes are from the first 26.
The rest of the soundtrack consists mainly of melodies. As you hear these melodies, you'll feel all kinds of different emotions. Some will make you feel relaxed, some will put a smile on your face, and some may make your eyes water out of happiness. During the show's tragic moments, the sound drastically changes though. It somehow manages to fit those tragic moments perfectly. I wouldn't have smiled (or cried) nearly as much if it wasn't for this show's soundtrack.
Like every other anime, Konnichiwa Anne is not a show without flaws. This show’s greatest flaw is its final thirteen episodes. Those thirteen episodes are so different from the first twenty-six that it would've made much more sense to end the show at twenty-six episodes and make the final thirteen into the second season.
In these thirteen episodes, the show's focus shifts from happiness to tragedy. It's no longer all about putting a smile on the viewer's face; it's now about making the viewer shed tears. After each episode, Anne's situation seemed to get worse and worse; it's literally one bad thing after another. These thirteen episodes didn't evoke many tears from me. The reason for this is because this show isn't moving because of the tragedies alone. It's moving because of the perfect blend between moments of happiness and moments of tragedy. This is what made the first twenty-six episodes so great.
By the end of the series, the show has two things to say about the human condition. The obvious one is finding happiness isn't always easy. For some, the search for happiness may be a long and arduous one. More importantly though, the show does answer the question of what happiness is. It suggests that there is no definition for happiness, no universal definition anyway. Happiness is different for everyone. No single person can come up with a definition and force that definition upon you. Happiness is whatever you want it to be. For Anne, happiness is knowing that others care about her and being able to care for others. For Anne, happiness is essentially love—maybe this is all any human being needs to be happy.
It's hard to sum up this anime with one word. Many would call it relaxing because the emotions being conveyed are comparable to those of the Aria series. Although it’s relaxing, at the same time it's much more. Whereas Aria focuses primarily on the good things in life, Konnichiwa Anne isn’t afraid to focus on the bad things. The result? A show that depicts both the joys and miseries of a young girl growing up.