Dec 9, 2009
bubble (All reviews)
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.