Fantine and her daughter Cosette left Paris looking for a new start, but finding a job as a single mother proves impossible in 19th century France. Taking up the offer of an innkeeper couple, Fantine leaves Cosette in the care of the Thenardiers while she moves on to find work. Once Fantine is gone, however, the Thenardiers show their true colors, working Cosette mercilessly while pocketing the money Fantine sends for her support. Years pass and Cosette and Fantine dream of the time when they will be together again, but it seems the years only bring more hardships to both. What will become of little Cosette?
Art & AnimationOne of the things that made this anime stick out more in contrast with other World Masterpiece Theater series done decades ago is the modern usage of animation and art style. Les Miserables: Shoujo Cosette is a 2007 production that blends a sort of realistic art style that complements the historical aspect of the story. The drawings of buildings represents the 19th century France and it maintains the loyalty that the creators of the TV series have for the original novel. While not being as sophisticated as the modern futuristic or sci-fi shows that aired after the 2000s, Shoujo Cosette is a show that blends both the old with the new.SoundThe soundtracks featured in this television series were well chosen and blend well with the atmosphere and mood of the series. Because this show has a bittersweet tone and can tend to be very dramatic at some points, you just cannot stick with a rock song that would just destroy the entire atmosphere. The lyrics of the opening track , Kaze no Mukou are the ones that represent this series the most. The usage of rather simple motifs like description of events happening in nature (wind blowing, daisies blooming), bittersweet emotions makes it both attractive and endearing. While in terms of musical preferences I come from a more extreme background, I have to admit that this tune is relaxing and enjoyable; it's just another one of those songs that can make up for a stressful day at work. The ending track, Ma Maman (Watashi no Okaa-san) is not outshined by the opening though, as this one employs a more personal motif, the love a child has for her mother, which compliments the story perfectly.StoryIf there is one thing that I love about this show is that it stays loyal to the original story. Sure, there are moments when the creators wanted to lay some bits of originality, but those do not get in the way of the main events that are happening in the original novel written years ago by Victor Hugo. It seems like the creators of this show were very faithful to the original work and appreciated it so much that the transposition of the story from the novel onto the series was made with utmost care. Someone that appreciated the original work should have no qualms with this series, if we take out the language barrier or some prejudices regarding anime, though that would be a big shame. In terms of story, if I were to compare Shoujo Cosette with another anime show, I would look no further than Emma for the historical aspect (though this time, the setting is the 19th century France and not England) and Clannad for the family bonds that the characters share despite the fact that some of them are not related by blood.CharactersProbably the main reason why this series kept me entertained until the end. When it comes to character designs and development, this show just blew me off my chair. From young Cosette 'til old Jean Valjean, all characters have some realistic traits that represent their personality that the author portrayed in his original work. An innocent girl with an appropriate character design and image, a sturdy, tall, apparently scary, often misunderstood yet incredibly kind old man in his fifties, a caring yet beautiful mother that places the wellfare of her daughter above everything else, a police man that relinquished any kind of emotional trait who holds the rule of the law above everything else, Shoujo Cosette has some characters that you can definitely relate with. While most of the characters have tragic pasts that remain the cause for angsty moments, they also give that vibe of optimism or hope for a better and peaceful tomorrow. Because the show has a pretty long time span, we can see the evolution of pretty much all characters.Value & EnjoymentBeing a fan of the original novel since I was young, I hold this show very high in my eyes. It pays respect to the memory of Victor Hugo and it also pays respect to the characters that the author brought to life by writing this novel. It is an important lesson of moral and ethical issues in a society that seemed so decadent and in which good people could easily turn into bad people ireversibly, because of a simple mistake and the fact that they were not given the chance to atone for makes it even more depressing. The religious motif holds a deep meaning in this series and the christian concept of atonement holds a special place for many characters featured in this show. If there is one thing that makes Shoujo Cosette a valueable and enjoyable experience is the fact that it employs a rather simple story line with some complex and profound characters and turns it into a masterpiece that keeps you captivated until the very end. Another good thing about this show is that, unlike the majority of Japanese anime series, this one has probably one of the most complete and satisfying endings I've ever encountered; an ending that just leaves you without asking for more details. Despite all the sad moments of melodrama, at the end you are left with a big grin on your face, a proper result for the magnitude of such a show.OverallYou just can't demand more from this show. You do not feel the need for another season like most shows scream for today. It is not perfect, but it is probably the closest show to perfection that I encountered until today. Shoujo Cosette is a TV series that is solid in pretty much any aspect. This is the kind of show that is fit for all audiences and it does not discriminate by age. It can be watched by both kids, teenagers, adults and old people too, the feelings that it sends are the same. It is show that urges you to meditate. It shows you the nice side of life but also the cruel side of it without any limitations. But at the very end, there is a lesson that we all most learn from it and keep it in our hearts; even when we experience grief we must always have hope that tomorrow will be better. P.S: This has been my first review since a very long time. Originally taken from AniDB.
As a die-hard, French-speaking fan of Les Miserables, I was obviously immediately drawn to 'Les Miserables: Shoujo Cosette', and proceeded to spend about three days doing nothing but watching it. Although I am an absolute purist when it comes to most forms of literature and I believe that everyone who enjoyed the musical version of Les Mis should go and read the book to get a proper feel for the story, and though I am usually dubious about anime adaptions of pretty much all Western stories, I was rather pleased by 'Shoujo Cosette'. First, the story. Most adaptations of Les Mis focus around the Jean Valjean/Javert story, but this version centred almost completely around Cosette. That's not to say, however, that other characters became unimportant, but I'll touch on that when I get to it. The story was rather close to the original novel, including pieces that happened in the novel but weren't in the musical, turning Cosette into a more 2-D character than most other adaptions. The story was long enough for the audience to get attached to the characters, and you do kind of wince when Mme Thernardier is beating Cosette with a broom (albeit off-screen), but there are other elements of the story that were a little irritating. For example, why is it that all anime producers feel the need to put in cute puppies? Although Chou Chou the dog was cute, it was unnecessary to the plot, and wasn't in the original. Some parts of the story, especially early on, do come across as filler if you haven't read the book (a lot of which feels like filler) but the action really does pick up, and the plot develops in almost every episode. I have come across a couple of criticisms that said that 'Shoujo Cosette' toned down the adult themes of Les Mis; yes, it did. Fantine never becomes a prostitute, and a couple of characters don't die, but it didn't affect the plot too horribly. I feel a little bit ambivalent about the changes made in this adaptation, and I'm not sure that it conveyed the very serious subject matter in absolutely the correct way, but it was mostly adequate. The animation was pretty typical, especially at first glance. Typical big anime eyes, typical solid-block colours, typical unrealistic hair. Then I looked again; some of the character designs are actually quite stunning (looking at you, Enjolras) and the backgrounds and attention to detail are fantastic. I don't know much about animation, but this show was very aesthetically pleasing. English is my first language, but I also speak French fluently. As a result, the attempts of the seiyuu to pronounce various French words and names was quite painful. 'Fleur' was particularly memorable. My Japanese is of the standard that I can pretty much tell what is going on without a lot of dependance on subtitles, but I found I had to read the subtitles just to work out who was who because I didn't understand their attempts at French. Mostly it was just names (Cosette becomes Koh-Zeht-To, Valjean becomes Ba-Lu-Jo-N), but one episode when Cosette and Gavroche were learning to read was really painful. The music was stunning. The opening and closing themes were gentle and fit well, and the piano music set to certain scenes was so pretty. It wasn't particularly memorable, but it was nice. The characters were arguably the best part of 'Shoujo Cosette'. As I mentioned before, most versions of 'Les Miserables' focus on Jean Valjean, who, in 'Shoujo Cosette' comes across as the most lovely, kind, generous, nice and wonderful person to ever walk the Earth. This is pretty much completely in character according to the book, so I won't complain. Cosette, the main focus of this version, is actually a well-fleshed out character. When I orginally saw the stage musical, I didn't really get why Marius would choose Cosette over Eponine; Cosette was very 2-dimensional, boring and generic, whereas Eponine actually had a personality, even if it was somewhat...stalkerish. Even so, the anime gave Cosette a better personality, though it stuck pretty well to the book. Eponine was also pretty much perfect, starting out as the irrationally jealous and greedy girl, morphing into the less-greedy yet still kind of jealous girl who redeems herself via death and is one of the characters who still manages to die. Javert's characterisation was pretty much on, although he didn't have the same kind of absolute overwhelming obsession with catching Jean Valjean that came through in some productions, possibly because it was more about Cosette. To spoil it for you, in the musical and the book, after Javert's life is spared by Valjean, he kills himself. In the anime, he doesn't. Although I preferred it when he did kill himself (probably because it fits with the story's overwhelming kill-em-all attitude), it wasn't really unsatisfying. I though the characterisation of most of the characters was accurate and effective, and their character designs were all pretty excellent. My only criticism would be that evil characters, like the Thenardiers, were so obviously evil from how they looked that you wanted to shout at Fantine not to leave Cosette with them because it was so obvious they were crooks! And certain characters (i.e. Javert) didn't seem to age, but that was possibly just the art style. Overall, if you liked 'Les Miserables' but wanted to see what it would be like if a bunch of Japanese guys got their hands on it, this is the show for you. If you can bear with the almost childlike character designs (we don't need to be shown who is evil through appearance! We can deduce that from their words and actions!) and the awful French (even if you don't speak French it still sounds abysmal), you'll like this. It sticks close to the original story, characters are more interesting than in the musical, and it still has some tear-jerking moments in it. Go ahead and watch it!
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