Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I am eager to return to the animated classic that is Anne of Green Gables, as Anne and Matthew finally arrive at the gables in question. I say “finally,” but I should clarify that I am actually delighted by this show’s pacing. Modern slice of life anime frequently present life as a sort of shimmering snow globe, a place outside of time or context, presumably to help the audience feel distanced from their mundane concerns. In contrast, Green Gables simply presents the world as a whole at a meditative pace, allowing for the moments of rest, reflection, and even boredom that define life as it’s truly lived. It is delightful to me that we are following an episode named “Matthew Cuthbert is Surprised” with an episode called “Marilla Cuthbert is Surprised” – after all, it clearly takes at least forty to fifty minutes to properly convey two people processing a slight shock.

Of course, the actual reason this show’s pacing works so well is because the world it portrays is so lovely. Simply spending time in Takahata’s imagination is a gift, and given he both scripted and storyboarded Anne’s first four episodes, I imagine this episode will be just as charming as the last. With World Masterpiece Theater mainstay Ken’ichi Ishibashii subbing in on background art, it seems we’re in great hands as we return to Green Gables. Let’s start the show!

Episode 2

This OP sets up the show wonderfully, presenting a literal journey into Anne’s fantastical world, buoyed up by a song promising comfort and security

And the lyrics directly illustrate Anne’s passage. A welcome change from the modern system of whatever record producer funded the show picking a track to promote

I will try my best not to be an old man about all of this, but it’s hard not to notice all the ways modern anime have been artistically compromised when I’m watching something like Anne. I just have to remind myself that we associate all artistic eras with their peaks, regardless of the surrounding valleys

Anne’s expectant smile is too dazzling. You cannot disappoint this child, Matthew

A general continuity between the first episode and this one’s beautiful painted backgrounds, though Ishibashii’s shapes seem to drift a bit more towards impressionism than realist form

Oh wow. Beautiful shot as they stop on a bridge over a lake, with their reflections below creating a sense of symmetry in the composition, and the blossoming trees to the rear guiding our eyes forward. The overall composition creates a sense of expectation and solemnity at once, emphasizing that they are on the start of a great journey

A lovely moment of peace, as we scan the houses on the lake’s edge, and follow some ducks in the water. As I said, this show’s pacing is validated by its beauty; Anne is incredibly adept at seeing the beauty in the everyday, and through the remarkable work of this show’s background artists, she lets us see it too

And then several cherubs brush the water, sending glimmering ripples down the lake. The boundary between Anne’s real and imagined world is very thin, letting Takahata engage in consistent flourishes of magical realism. We need no explanation for this impossible event; the world is suffused with magic, full of wonderful things that will forever evade our full understanding. I love stories that presume the world is too mysterious to be fully quantified or contained, and for a precocious, imaginative child, that actually is what the world feels like. Thus the world we see is the world as Anne sees it, full of possibility and wonder

“I say good night to my favorite things, because I feel it would make them happy.” Anne says almost everything in a cheerful tone, but her words betray a childhood that must have been lonely and lacking in stimulation. She’s been forced to make up her own stories, and her own friends

Matthew informs her that her “Lake of Shining Waters” is actually known as Barry’s Pond. She prefers her own name

“When I hit on a name that suits exactly, it gives me a thrill.” She also seems like a born writer

Mr. Barry actually has a daughter Anne’s age, named Diana

As Anne correctly guesses their home, Matthew has a look of fond pride in his face. He’s already been won over – and I’m impressed by how much expressiveness this production draws out just a few lines on the face

“As soon as I saw it, it felt like home.” At this, Matthew immediately sinks into himself, frightened of the storm to come. Excellent character acting on the whole

Both the music and dialogue fade as we approach the house, letting the persistent clop of hooves build a sense of anticipation as we reach the critical moment

Yeah, the animation of Matthew is all quietly impressive, with the weight of years adding a subtle but noticeable sense of exertion to his movements. There’s also a sense of timidity in his actions, which feels appropriate for his personality. In contrast, Anne’s movements jut forward, reflecting her energy and eagerness to engage with everything

Anne’s look of shock at learning there was supposed to be a boy is already breaking my heart. DON’T YOU DARE HURT THIS GIRL, EITHER OF YOU!

Matthew immediately wilts in the face of his sister’s questions, mostly just asserting that it’s not his fault

“I might have expected it. Nobody ever did want me.” Once again, highly effective character acting in spite of an economy of animation, with Anne’s trembling lip expressing the fullness of her despair

“Neither Marilla nor Matthew knew what to do.” The narrator betrays this story’s literary origins, frequently offering a light garnish of context for the characters’ feelings

“Well well, there’s no need to cry over it.” “Yes, there is need! You would cry too!” Anne is so good. I love her confidence in dueling with these adults; she’s never afraid to state her case

Love Marilla’s look of exasperation as Matthew states he doesn’t even know her name

Anne wants to be called Cordelia, which she describes as a “perfectly elegant name.” So Anne’s already read her Shakespeare? That’s ridiculously impressive, given how much variant English he employs; I suppose that goes some distance in explaining her expansive vocabulary

Anne’s grief is real, but her expression of it is still couched in the melodramatic language of her favorite stories, emphasized by her desire to be named after a Shakespearian tragedy

“Anne is a real good plain sensible name.” Clearly Anne and Marilla have vastly different systems of name evaluation

“Please call me ‘Anne’ with an E.” That’s so her, as well. At the time of this story’s publication, narratives about young orphans named Ann without the E were actually very popular, and Lucy Maud Montgomery named her own heroine Anne to help her stand out. But of course, as a voracious reader, Anne the character would probably also be reading these “orphan Ann” stories, and see the name as mundane in much the same way as her author. So Anne-the-character’s understanding of the author’s literary forebears inspires her to make the name change her author decided on. Quite an amusing interplay between author and creation

Anne saying “it looks so much nicer” also reflects how much value she places in the written word. Her world has largely been the world of books, and thus how her name looks is even more important than how it sounds

“When you hear a name pronounced, can’t you see it in your head all spelled out?” Yeah, she has an entirely typographical mind, which tends to happen if you read a lot of books as a kid. The ways we see information conveyed tends to influence how we ourselves process information, and a lot of that is set early on

“I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.” I believe in you, Anne. Her way of speaking is so charming, simultaneously fully earnest and caught up in literary pretension, because literary pretension is just normal speech to her

“I couldn’t sleep all last night for joy.” How can you disappoint this girl, Marilla

Asked for more answers, Matthew retreats to tend to the horse

A nice shot of Anne through the window, with the narrow frame emphasizing her sense of hopeless entrapment

“You’re not eating anything.” “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair.” I wish I could pull off lines like that as effortlessly as Anne seems to

“Can you eat when you’re in the depths of despair?” “I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I wouldn’t know.” Anne and Marilla’s dynamic is wonderful. Marilla is just as practical as Anne is fantastical, so she meets all of Anne’s literary ramblings with blunt, efficient answers

“I had one chocolate caramel two years ago, and it was delicious. I’ve often dreamed since that I have a lot of chocolate caramels, but I always wake up just before I get to eat them.” Marilla please, how can you be mean to the saddest girl that ever lived

Matthew’s nervous little expression shifts continue to be great. As before, an impressive economy of linework conveys a great deal of emotion

“I hate skimpy night dresses. But you can dream just as well in them as in lovely trailing ones with frills about the neck.” The story of Anne’s life; everything she wants, she can only have in stories or dreams. But given that reality, she has become a fantastic dreamer

The reality of the situation really, truly hits Anne only when Marilla leaves, and a shiver of grief runs down her whole body. Her getting into her nightgown is one of the most energetic, erratic cuts in the entire episode, clearly conveying the feeling of sorrow hitting her body. In a moment like this, you are consumed with a nervous unhappiness that feels almost like a physical chill, and I can relate to her violent motions as she stabs at her clothes. She wants something to impact, something to express her sorrow on, but she can only do that by pummeling her clothes and diving violently beneath the covers

“It’s kind of a pity to send her back when she’s so set on staying here.” Matthew is as timid as ever, but he still fights for Anne once she’s gone to bed

It’s a credit to Matthew’s fondness for Anne that he keeps pushing back in his mild way, even in the face of Marilla’s certainty and scorn

“We might be some good to her”

“I don’t like children who have so much to say.” No, you wouldn’t, Marilla. You’re an entirely practical person, with no romance or patience in you. Even in the case of adopting a boy, it was a pragmatic choice, to help Matthew with the farm

Marilla lets her exasperation show after Matthew leaves the room. This show is very careful about demonstrating the ways each character changes their affectation in the presence of various company

And in the end, Anne returns to the flowering passage in dreams, the tears of the day forgotten

And Done

That was awful! Well, awful in a good way, I mean, in that this show is already breaking my heart. Anne is a dynamic, vivacious, and profoundly curious young girl, and just like Matthew, it only took an episode for me to be certain she deserves the world. Watching her hopes be dashed on the rocks of Marilla’s expectations was heartbreaking, with even Anne’s grief reflecting her distinctive character. The background art here was as sumptuous as ever, but I was particularly impressed by this episode’s subtly expressive character acting, both in terms of overall posture and expression shifts. Anne’s dramatic dive into the bed was a knife in the heart, and I pray the next episode offers some hope for our young heroine. Either way, Anne of Green Gables continues to be a beautiful, thoughtfully written, and generally enchanting experience.

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By admin