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This anime is based on the same work as the famous American live-action TV series Little House on the Prairie. Curiously enough, it was not part of Nippon Animation`s WMT, even though based on a famous work of western literature, but aired on TBS while 3000 ri, the second WMT, was airing on Fuji TV in ... More 1976. In fact, an examination of the staff will reveal there is little connection between the two. Overall, this series is far inferior to the WMT series from that era, being rather simplistic and clearly aimed at a lower age-group than the WMT, but nonetheless is a good daily-life drama with a leisurely pace and story. The series, while not told from Laura`s POV, focuses on Laura, and does a good job of getting into her mind. Indeed, the series feels at times like a sort of second-rate Heidi; the latter, which finished airing on TV less than a year before Laura started, was clearly an influence on Laura. The main characters (the father, mother, Laura and her older and younger sister) are individualistic and well fleshed out by the script. In the final count the characters are the series` greatest asset. They come across as real human beings, and hold your interest from beginning to end. As far as the technical aspects are concerned, the art direction shows great attention to detail with the trappings of the era, the BGM perfectly complements the story, and the character animation is lifelike, although not very fluid by today`s standards. The character designs by Mori may take some getting used to, being typically round and simple; but the sign of a great animator is that he can convey the most nuance in the fewest strokes, and Mori succeeds in this eminently. The story pacing is also good, letting you get a feel for the family`s daily rituals without letting the story lag too much (remember that this series was only half the length of the WMT), and the story itself is compelling, telling of a family that strikes out west to begin a new home on virgin territory. Episodes are episodic but this narrative thread is never lost. Finally, the overall feel of the series is very warm and memorable, making it greater than the sum of its parts. While not quite a buried diamond, this is definitely a good series in its own right that any WMT fan should consider watching, and an interesting side-note to the WMT that deserves to be more well known, especially considering this was one of only a handful of TV series in which Yasuji Mori was animation director. Episode 1 shows him at his best, creating a thrilling atmosphere right from the beginning with his trademark style of animation directing, and the backgrounds are quite beautiful; in all respects, this is a fantastic episode. Unfortunately, the rest of the series goes a bit downhill after this promising beginning, without the mark of genius that had made episode 1 so thrilling to watch. Yasuji Mori drew Heidi`s character design for the Heidi pilot film in late 1973, but these designs were abandoned for the series, and Yoichi Kotabe took over as character designer and animation director, and presumably Laura was the logical continuation of many of those ideas, a sort of Heidi mk. II or Heidi a la Mori. Less
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