Jul 3, 2022
“Sekai Douwa Anime Zenshuu” is a 10-episode series of fairy tales which was originally sold as a box set either in 1986 or 1990 (sources vary on this). Each episode had an English dub and sub version, and came with a corresponding cassette tape and booklet with the script in both Japanese and English, as well as coloring book pictures. The idea was for this series to be used as English educational material for kids.
I watched the Japanese version (with English subs), and while it’s nothing groundbreaking in any respect, it’s still decent if you consider it as a primer on some classic fairy tales,
or a “Fairy Tales 101” of sorts.
Each episode is roughly 10 minutes long and features a different story. Most of the stories are included in Grimms’ Fairy Tales, but there are a couple of non-Grimms’ ones as well, namely “Little Black Sambo” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” Some of the stories progress rather strangely, and have considerable leaps in logic in them. However, when I researched the original tales, I found them to be very similar, so bizarre as some of these stories may be, they are relatively faithful to the traditional versions.
The animation and voice acting are consistent throughout the series. They’re nothing special, but they get the job done. There isn’t really any music other than the background music (which isn’t memorable), or the bonus “ABC Song” video, which is just the ABC Song, which is okay but doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Although this is made for kids, there are some potentially troublesome instances in most of the stories (although I wouldn’t go as far as saying explicit). Of note is the inclusion of “Little Black Sambo,” which is considered a controversial tale due to how it visually depicts Africans. There is also an odd scene in “Snow White” where the prince, coming across Snow White and thinking that she’s dead, lifts her body out of the casket to kiss her. Some of the lessons the tales espouse are questionable (like in “Puss in Boots,” where the moral seems to be “lying to everyone will bring you success in life”). There are also scenes where death and suicide are portrayed positively.
Overall, I’m not sure if “Sekai Douwa Anime Zenshuu” is particularly effective at its original purpose of helping kids learn English, but it’s certainly a good introduction to various fairy tales, since the stories are similar to the originals. It’s visually and aurally average, and there are strange scenes and questionable morals promoted in some of the tales, but on the whole it’s not bad. Recommended if you’re interested in learning about fairy tales.
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