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Anne of Green Gables – Episode 15

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to return to Anne of Green Gables, as we catch up on Anne in yet another moment of crisis. Having initially taken to her schooling like a fish to water, she was then blindsided by the arrival of the hated Gilbert Blythe, who had the audacity to not only stare at a strange woman, but also pull her hair! Clearly this would not stand, and so Anne swiftly commenced a retaliatory operation, refusing to engage with either the detestable Gilbert or her teacher Mr. Phillips. And now, her war has come to this: she will not be returning to school ever again, for her pride and very soul demand that she see this injustice righted.

Well, at least that’s presumably how Anne sees it. Marilla is currently tolerating this rebellion purely because she assumes it won’t last the week, and that seems like a perfectly sensible approach at the moment. This is essentially a battle between Anne’s pride and Anne’s curiosity, and though she is indeed fiercely proud, she is even more curious about the world around her. As far as the staff goes, this episode sees the return of the legendary Yoshiyuki Tomino on storyboards, so I’m looking forward to more evocative layouts reminiscent of that whole Marilla’s Brooch saga. Let’s get to it!

Episode 15

There’s really not a still frame within this OP, is there? Even though Anne is maintaining a steady posture throughout most of it, her journey is lent a vitality through the subtle details of the continuous redraws, her body rising and falling with the rhythm of the carriage itself

“The Coming of Autumn.” Oh my god, is Anne actually going to stick to her rebellion? My god this girl. Marilla has certainly chosen a grand trial for her later years

Gorgeous opening shot as we pan down over Prince Edward Island, a lovely painted backdrop that emphasizes the vast empty spaces of this farming community. Houses are arranged like tiny islands, scattered between grand expanses of fields and forests. It’s a shot that feels simultaneously overwhelming and cozy: there are infinite realms for adventures, but also warm homes to return to

It’s now been a week since Anne commenced her rebellion, and she still shows no sign of desiring a return to school

“As much as she hated Gilbert, she loved Diana, with all the love of her passionate little heart.” I’m always charmed by the narrator’s intrusions, the moments when he can’t help but condescend towards Anne’s outbursts as well

Ooh, fantastic cut as Anne’s poise breaks, and she shifts from wistful silence to open sobs. The subtlety of character acting in this show’s stronger moments is remarkable, and all the stronger for how straightforward in execution – no overwhelming filters or post-production effects here, just fundamentally excellent drawings

The Diana of her mind’s eye is of course dressed in a beautiful white gown, passing far beyond her into a world of romance and adulthood. She can’t stand it!

Always a great unspoken joke in the disconnect between Anne’s wild emotional outbursts and Marilla Just Staring At Her

“I love Diana so, Marilla. I cannot live without her.” Anne’s signature trick is that she has the feelings of a young child but the vocabulary of an old sage, so she’s constantly dressing up feelings like “I really love my first friend” in the cadence and word choices of a biblical tragedy

And Marilla always just gives her that same deadpan in response. Comedy gold

“I hate her husband. I just hate him furiously!” At least take a moment to get to know the guy, Anne. And also wait until he actually exists

“And me the bridesmaid, with a lovely dress and puffed sleeves.” Love that even in her nightmare of abject tragedy, she still emphasizes that she’s got fashionably puffy sleeves

Ahaha, Marilla just straight-up starts laughing at her. God I love this woman. Took her fifteen episodes to crack, but Anne is just too absurd even for her

And dear Matthew steps in, sees Marilla laughing, and quietly backs out the door. This family is amazing

“Even with sadness in my heart, I must learn to cook.” Truly an abominable tragedy. I imagine this is one of the great trials of parenting: listening attentively to your child’s inane worries, and putting on a good show of respecting them

But Marilla has just the thing to cheer Anne up, for today they are learning to bake a chocolate cake. Unsurprisingly, Anne immediately picks herself up from her storm of sorrows, the intolerable future forgotten in the face of chocolate cake

“You don’t have to think of anything else, just concentrate and do it.” A comment that echoes the tone of Marilla’s earlier “stop talking about nonsense” commands, but with a much softer intent behind it. Marilla knows well that Anne’s tendency to preoccupy herself with negative thoughts can be fought through guiding her focus, and smartly assumes that this cake-baking process will eventually take her mind off all the tragedies

Anne is dazzled by Marilla’s whisking faculty. A lovely scene of bonding here that barely requires words – just the quiet transference of long-mastered proficiency to the next generation, a process of discovery and mutual trust. Scenes like this crop up all across Takahata’s work; he seems to see the essence of humanity as residing in repetition of practice like this, honest labor and intimacy shared with the people close to you. I’m reminded of the scene of the father coming home after work from My Neighbors the Yamadas, or the scene of Kaguya building a new garden with her mother from Princess Kaguya

“Don’t worry about the taste. This was overseen by the famous chef Marilla Cuthbert.” Storytelling is generally constructed around actions and responses, which in terms of character growth means things like two people growing close is often framed as the result of some grand act of mutual connection. But in truth, closeness is often a passive, long-term result of shared experiences like this, moments that don’t necessarily involve challenges or misunderstandings to overcome, but which simply, through their consistency, lead to a growing sense of mutual trust. Slice of life stories embrace this style of relationship building, and Takahata is one of the greatest slice of life storytellers

Even Anne can appreciate the delight of learning to bake with her own hands, for once saying she’d actually prefer this not to be a magical oven, for then she wouldn’t know how well she did

Oh, to enjoy some tea and cake with the Cuthberts after a morning of harvesting potatoes. This is a wonderful place to visit, and I’m beginning to agree with Anne’s rejection of school

“Although it’s a little dry, it’s the first time you did it, so I’ll give you a seventy.” Marilla is harsh but fair. She also clearly loves having an apprentice, but is of course too proud to say so

Diana then stops by, and relays her terrible trial of sitting next to Gertie Pye, who constantly squeaks her pencil. I can imagine a room full of children writing on individual blackboards would be absolutely intolerable

Meanwhile, Ruby has discovered a magic pebble that banishes warts. A great victory for Ruby

Lovely late afternoon colors as the two walk along the Lake of Shining Waters. The care taken into conveying all the distinct moods of Green Gables is greatly appreciated; for a story about how your environment shapes you into a young adult, it couldn’t be more crucial

But then, a confrontation: Gilbert Blythe has blocked their passage across the bridge!

They approach like opposing gunslingers, a slow march to confrontation. And once again, Gilbert’s apology is ignored by Anne. C’mon, Anne!

Anne is in fact so put out by Gilbert’s attempted apology that she doesn’t even hear Marilla’s directions regarding the pudding sauce

The next morning, Anne makes a brave effort of covering for her mistake, scooping out the film that has developed on the pudding sauce and flinging it out the window

Stepping outside into the predawn morning, the chill is her first indication that autumn has arrived, followed by a pair of falling leaves. Her excitement is nostalgic; it’s been a long time since the change of the seasons carried much of an inherent thrill for me, but I can still recall the excitement of looking forward to each season’s unique pleasures, back before the reality of time’s passage carried so many difficult expectations alongside it

Lovely, Fantasia-reminiscent scenes of Anne’s “frost fairies” changing the leaves to beautiful oranges and golds. Fantasia didn’t actually do well commercially, but I imagine it must have had a profound effect on animators worldwide, as you can see in the abundant similar imagery that followed it. Sort of a sad fact of artistry; the most revolutionary, inspirational works of art are generally going to be a bit too out there for general audiences, meaning the work of inspiring the next generation of creators will always be somewhat thankless. It is a rare thing that a landmark work like, say, Evangelion is enjoyed equally by both general audiences and creators

Later that day, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Ross visit. More delightful roasting from the narrator – “Anne was determined to be a polite girl, because she wasn’t very pretty”

But then, the dreaded pudding sauce! Oh god, a mouse actually drowned in it. A disaster for Anne!

And Done

How dare that Gilbert Blythe! Even now that Anne has forsaken school all to avoid him, he appears in memory to torment her, his handsome features leading her to forget the cover for the pudding sauce! Well, at least her current scholastic rebellion is offering us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors, as well as more charming scenes of Anne and Marilla managing the home together. Their dynamic is so funny that even Marilla herself couldn’t help but laugh this time, and as I said, scenes like that cake-baking fall in a long and proud tradition of Takahata venerating the everyday moments and small struggles that are the essence of our shared humanity. Anne of Green Gables continues to delight at every turn.

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