Miss Marilla Cuthbert and Mr. Matthew Cuthbert, middle-aged siblings who live together at Green Gables, a farm in Avonlea, on Prince Edward Island, decide to adopt an orphan boy from the asylum as a helper on their farm. Through a series of mishaps, what ends up under their roof is a precocious girl of eleven named Anne Shirley. Anne is bright and quick, eager to please but dissatisfied with her name, her pale countenance dotted with freckles, and with her long braids of red hair. Being a child of imagination, however, Anne takes much joy in life, and adapts quickly, thriving in the environment of Prince Edward Island.
Can you believe it? Not only is there an old 1979 anime of Lucy Maud Montgomery's famous book, Anne of Green Gables, but a MANGA too! Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite stories and World Masterpiece Theater anime (though it still doesn't beat Ie Naki Ko, Little Princess, Les Miserables, and especially Dog of Flanders) mostly for it's pleasant atmosphere, charming characters, sweet setting and nice messages. I only have the first three books (ironically, all of them are adapted into mangas!) and the prequel, Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson, but I love the book franchise and their anime adaptations. Strangely
enough our favorite red-haired, freckled, incessantly talky and verbose girl Anne Shirley is quite famous in both Canada and Japan. Anyway, onto the review!
The story's about two middle-aged siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who live on Prince Edward Island, near Nova Scotia (a province of Canada off the eastern coast). They're getting up in years so they decide to adopt a boy from an orphanage. But some mis-interprets their message, thinking they wanted a girl, so they end up being adopted parents to a red haired, freckled girl named Anne Shirley who's well known for talking for hours and hours upon end and endlessly about anything she can think of. The poor girl's had a hard life, but she's full of imagination, and this mistake might be good for both the Cuthberts and the little girl they're stuck with.
This manga was first published in 1997, so it's rather old in terms of today's standards, and this being sort of a shoujo (in terms of anime/manga standards) shows with detailed eyes and pretty looking girls and such. But what great artwork it is! It's beautiful, and really sets itself apart from other mangas because of how it makes the characters look and the things around them. Even small things like the food on a table or the windows on a building are extremely detailed. I love how it makes everything look.
In terms of the presentation and the adaptation...I'm pleasantly surprised! Mostly at how the mangaka managed to cram 30 something chapters of an entire book into three manga volumes while keeping the most important parts of it (like Anne's saving Diana's sister, Anne with the amethyst pin, Anne dying her hair green, Anne giving Mrs. Allan cake with some kind of powder in it whose name escapes me, etc.). It's surprisingly faithful to the original book! It did take some liberties by cutting down Anne's excessive dialogue, but that didn't hurt it at all. Plus I love how she made the characters look. Each character has their own distinct appearance, so nowhere in this book will you find characters that are drawn the same but with different eye and hair colors, unlike most shows nowadays. Also, this mangaka has CLEARLY done her research as she managed to capture the entire 19th century countryside feel extremely well! It really feels like you're in a different time with the way the characters dress, talk, present things in school, play games, etc. I love stories like this so you can believe I was impressed! Plus even though this is a slice-of-life manga, I love how the artwork managed to make the intense moments look dramatic and add a little WHAM! to it all, especially with the scene where Anne PWNS Gilbert over the head with a slate. AWESOME! In terms of the scanlation...yeah, the scanlators CLEARLY used lines from the book and put them on the manga, but I didn't find that much of a problem.
And the characters! They're soooo awesome! I can't help but LOVE little Anne and her whimsical ramblings and her random thoughts on anything and everything around her. The way she overreacts to everything is LOL funny. Plus I've got to admit I think she looks cute with short hair (reference to her dying her hair green). The other characters are awesome too, and I thought they were fine with the small bits of development they got. Nobody's impoverished or caught in some kind of big conspiracy or anything. They're perfectly normal little kids living normal lives in Victorian era Canada (Yes, I know, Victoria ruled England, but you get the idea). I also can't help but love the way Gilbert looked. Awesome!
Of course, I didn't find many flaws so I love it either way, but I do want to confess something: I am NOT a fan of Yumiko Igarashi, the mangaka who drew this manga. Not because of her artwork. No! I'm glad she made a manga adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and I'm grateful, and so are a lot of people. Plus she did the artwork for Kyoko Mizuki's popular shoujo manga, Candy Candy, which was inspired by Anne of Green Gables! But I say I'm not a fan of Igarashi mostly because of the fact that she tried to wrongfully claim ownership of various manga she illustrated from their original owners, including Candy Candy, for her own personal gain, even going as far as to make a statement claiming so. I don't know why she would want to do this. It also surprises me that she's related to Satsuki Igarashi, who's part of CLAMP! I wonder how she thinks of all of her relative's legal feuds with various manga writers? While I do think Igarashi's behavior is very inappropriate and uncalled for, I am grateful that she made a manga for Anne of Green Gables, and wouldn't ask for anything better (though I wouldn't mind making my own little doujinshi if I were ever to improve my art skills). Also...did anyone else know that she has a transgender child who's becoming a mangaka? I wonder if she knows about the legal battles? I'm just hoping her mom doesn't influence her into claiming ownership of someone else's titles just for being an illustrator.
So yeah, even though I sort of dislike the mangaka, this manga adaptation of Anne of Green Gables is wonderful and beautiful. I wish someone would publish it in English!