A Dog of Flanders

This article is part of the World Masterpiece Theater Production History series. Read the previous entry here

A Dog of Flanders is among the most well-known works in the World Masterpiece Theater canon, both in Japan and overseas; it is perhaps the most famous outside of the select list of Isao Takahata’s entries in the series. Such fame is not surprising when one considers Flanders’ tragic finale, and the fact that this ultimate episode reportedly reached the highest audience rating in the history of the World Masterpiece Theater – an impressive 30.1%. However, it is also questionable whether such fame is really deserved – indeed, Flanders is perhaps the most imperfect show among 1970’s World Masterpiece Theater entries. There is of course a sort of contradiction here – how is it that such a poorly made series became so popular? The aim of this article is precisely to answer this – to illustrate the elements that make Flanders a subpar work, and to understand how it could have been such a success nevertheless.

Any discussion of A Dog of Flanders must begin with two elements of context: its illustrious predecessor in the series, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, whose influence and looming shadow will be discussed below, and the major change that happened during its production – that is, as animation studio Zuiyo Video became Nippon Animation. The exact circumstances of that transition remain unclear and open to speculation; but it seems that it was itself partly a consequence of Heidi’s production.

According to some accounts, Zuiyo Video found itself in a difficult financial position after Heidi, which led to a split between two companies: the parent company Zuiyo, which would shoulder the debts (and keep rights to all previous Zuiyo Video productions, including those produced with Mushi Pro), and a new company named Nippon Animation, which would retain all the staff and facilities and keep producing TV series. However, there are some strange facts which trouble this account and make things appear as if what really happened was a sort of coup d’état inside Zuiyo Video. 

As mentioned, Nippon Animation was located in the same place as Zuiyo Video (in the city of Tama, inside the Tokyo metropolitan area), and kept the same limited in-house staff, freelancers, and subcontractors like Oh Pro; for many, the only thing that really changed was the official head of the company, as Shigeto Takahashi was replaced by Kôichi Motohashi, who had apparently been serving as Zuiyo Video’s president since its founding in 1972. While the exact sequence of events is not clear, it seems that Motohashi established Nippon in March 1975, just as he was appointed representative director of Zuiyo while Takahashi was gone on an overseas business trip – in other words, he took the company entirely into his own hands while his boss was away and couldn’t do anything. This happened just as three shows were airing or in production, namely Vicky the Viking, Maya the Bee, and Flanders: while Zuiyo Video continued to be credited on these shows for a time even after the transition had occurred (many of the episodes in question were produced before the switchover to Nippon), it was clear from Motohashi’s own prominent “seisaku” or production credit that he was now the one fully in charge.

This naturally leads to the question: why did this apparent coup d’état happen the way it did? What follows is mostly pure conjecture, but it is worth noting that, from the very first episode of Flanders, as in future Nippon Animation series, Motohashi’s name was always the first to appear in the end credits before anyone else’s, even Shigeto Takahashi himself in the first four episodes; this was a stark contrast with how he was previously uncredited in Rocky Chuck and Heidi. Given this, it would be reasonable to assume that, starting with Flanders, Motohashi was being allotted ever-greater responsibility over Zuiyo Video’s day-to-day operations as president, while Takahashi himself was busy dealing with other things; Motohashi and the other in-house staffers, in turn, may have become disgruntled with what they saw as Takahashi’s negligence of his own studio and his pretense of being its head even so. Indeed, it has been said that even Takahata and Miyazaki were involved with the coup, and afterwards kept their mouths shut about it with other staffers following suit; in any case, Takahashi was left in the dark as to why, upon returning from his overseas trip, he found himself booted out of the very studio he had helped to establish.

The mention of Takahata and Miyazaki is not a gratuitous one; while they were certainly not the ones behind the coup, it wouldn’t be out of the question if they had played a part in it. Indeed, even though Heidi had been an exhausting production, it was by all means a success – artistic, commercial and professional. Takahata had started to gather around him a team of experienced, trusted artists and was finally done with having to deliver individual episodes on series that did not interest him and on which he had no real influence, as had been the case since the failure of Hols, Prince of the Sun in 1968. By the end of Heidi, Takahata therefore found himself well established within two studios: Oh! Production, where he was starting to make Gauche the Cellist in collaboration with animator Toshitsugu Saida and studio leader Kôichi Murata, and Zuiyo Video. The latter in particular was quickly growing and promised him a bright future; therefore, it would have been normal for him and his closest comrades to want to change the studio from the inside, just as they had dreamed of doing years earlier in the Tôei Animation union. If Takahata played any part in all of this, it is also possible that something had happened between him and Takahashi; maybe the deal they had concluded before Heidi was no longer valid, and Motohashi offered better conditions to the director. In any case, the involvement of Takahata’s group would make a lot of sense.

What makes the situation even more complicated to parse is that the change in studio appears to have corresponded to a change in the timeslot’s name: the Calpis Manga Theater became the Calpis Children’s Theater in the middle of Flanders’ airing. The two events may very well be completely unrelated: after all, the sponsor Calpis didn’t change the name of the program when the animation production switched from Mushi to Zuiyo Video. But they seem to have happened almost simultaneously, making the credits of Flanders difficult to read: the first mention of Nippon Animation is on episode 21, aired on May 25, but then Zuiyo reappears between episodes 24 and 26 (that is late June), and from episode 27 onwards it is Nippon. Things are harder to verify in detail for the program name, as recent releases have either plastered the Calpis Children’s Theater card on all episodes or removed it entirely; but it has been said that the Zuiyo-credited episodes, including 24-26, were originally broadcast under the Calpis Manga Theater branding, while Calpis Children’s Theater initially appeared only on the early Nippon-credited episodes 21-23 before becoming the permanent name from 27 onwards.

All this upheaval probably didn’t change much for the team that was working on those series – as mentioned, the facilities stayed the same, and there was no change in the roster of freelancer and subcontractors; this is confirmed by Yôko Gomi (an Oh Pro in-betweener at the time), who mentions that very little of what was happening in Zuiyo Video/Nippon transpired, and that Oh Pro just delivered their work as usual. However, under Motohashi’s lead, Nippon began expanding its activities, producing more adaptations of literary classics that did not air on the Calpis-sponsored timeslot and even subcontracting entire series to different studios, such as the 1976 sports anime Dokaben (mainly animated by Tsuchida Pro) or the mecha Blocker Gundan IV Machine Blaster (co-produced with Ashi Productions).

The absence of major changes in WMT entries is notably visible in Flanders’ animation credits. Indeed, while the animator roster is not exactly the same as Heidi’s, it largely confirms the trends that the previous show had set and would remain consistent for all subsequent series. Except for one episode, Takahata and his closest followers (Miyazaki and Kotabe, but also Oh Pro’s Toshitsugu Saida) are absent – Takahata and Saida were notably busy on Gauche. However, just like Heidi, Flanders confirmed that WMT entries would no longer feature rotations between in-house staff and various subcontracting studios (as has always been the standard in the anime industry, especially on long-running series) but a consistent staff made up of two teams working alternatively on one episode each, or both on the same episode, plus some more exceptional staff on the early, pre-animated episodes. The first of those was made up of the previous Zuiyo-associated freelancers (its core members were Yukiyoshi Hane, Shun’ichi Sakai and Michiyo Sakurai), and the second of Oh Pro’s ex-Zuiyo team (led by Kôshin Yonekawa and Jôji Manabe). 

What is striking is that there seems to have been almost no evolution in terms of staff between Rocky Chuck and Flanders: it is as if Heidi hadn’t happened. There is, however, one major exception to this: Toshiyasu Okada’s almost constant presence. As mentioned in the Heidi article, Okada was by all means an exceptional animator who had already contributed to Mushi-Zuiyo series in the early Calpis Manga Theater and whose craft reached its peak on Takahata’s 1974 show. However, possibly exhausted by its difficult working conditions (he suffered from intense back pains), he left the production early on. It seems that he regretted leaving such an exceptional work, and as if to repay this debt, he tried his hardest to stay on Flanders, animating on 8 episodes and acting as animation director on 19. However, just like many others on the show, it seems that he exhausted his talents pretty quickly, presumably as his physical condition grew worse and worse: his work as animator on the early episodes is undoubtedly exceptional, as good as if not sometimes better than what he had done on Heidi; but in the middle and late episodes, as he was promoted to animation director, his presence seems to fade as the animation grows more monotonous and less impressive.

Overall, Flanders’ production followed the exact same pattern. It was, in a way, the same as Heidi’s; except it collapsed much faster. Or rather, it’s more like Flanders had been exceptionally elevated during its pre-animated episodes, but as soon as the schedule started becoming tighter, the weaknesses started showing. In short, the less talented animators were not pushed to incredible heights by the immense pressure created by Takahata and his team; while the more talented ones, notably animators and animation directors Okada and Yukiyoshi Hane, received no encouragement and support to demonstrate their real abilities. It is also possible that Flanders simply bored them – at least, that is how Yôko Gomi describes things, noting how relieved Oh Pro’s workers were when the show stopped airing, finally giving them the opportunity to move on.

The main problems the writing of the series suffered from were monotony, repetition and, in the late episodes, overly heavy melodrama. The first possible reason for that lies in Flanders’ very nature as an adaptation: the original work, by English writer Marie Louise de la Ramée, was but a short story, which was where it took most of its impact. Taking this novella for a 52-episode show forced the writers to extend the plot and to add original episodes to fill in the blanks. In the hands of a better director and team of writers, perhaps this may have worked, but here it didn’t, resulting in a pale attempt at imitating what had made Heidi so great. Indeed, Flanders borrowed the “daily life” aspect, but the anthropological, physical and psychological realism was not there. Moreover, without the strong sense of thematic and narrative coherence that Heidi had enjoyed, Flanders failed to construct an appealing story and characters.

Part of this was certainly due to bad luck – after all, it would have been almost impossible for another, less talented team to replicate Heidi. But there was also a clear lack of unity at the scriptwriting level, which may have been caused by the Zuiyo/Nippon transition. Indeed, Flanders credits no less than 3 people under “series composition”, and not at the same time. Episodes 1 to 8 credit Hideo Rokushika, an otherwise minor writer who doesn’t seem to have done any other work on a major series. Episodes 9 to 11 credit both Rokushika and Isao Matsuki, who had been the head writer for Heidi, and then Matsuki was credited alone until episode 23. He then left (presumably for the early episodes of Arabian Nights: Sinbad no Bôken, which appears to be his last series composition work for Nippon) and was replaced until the end of the series by Rûzô Nakanishi, an ex-movie screenwriter for whom Flanders was the first major anime work. Such turnover at the level of series composition, which is the one supposed to maintain unity at the overall writing level, is already very unusual. Things get even stranger when looking at the scriptwriters of individual episodes.

Except for 1973’s Rocky Chuck (which was in any case an episodic show), almost all 70s WMT entries produced by Zuiyo/Nippon featured a small rotation of up to 3 scriptwriters. Such is not the case for Flanders, which had 9 scriptwriters on a much more irregular rotation. The early episodes were marked by the presence of Yoshiaki Yoshida, who wrote the first 6 and stayed more irregularly until episode 21. He had been working on WMT entries since Moomin; but Flanders was his last work on the series before he began working on shows like Tokyo Movie’s Ganso Tensai Bakabon and Group TAC and Tsuchida Pro’s Huckleberry’s Adventures instead. Later on, Flanders started featuring many other names, some famous, other completely unknown; in any case, their profiles were very diverse and most of them had never worked with Zuiyo Video beforehand, and would not collaborate with Nippon later on: for most, the few episodes of Flanders that they wrote (often just a couple) were just a one-off thing. With such diversity at both the series and episode level, there was only one result to be expected: severe lack of unity, or even chaos. At least, the writing was not incoherent and characters remained consistent; but for most of its run, the show reverted to an almost-episodic pace – it was as if Heidi had never happened.

Such instability at the writing level seems even stranger when one looks at the storyboard credits, which are surprisingly regular and without rotation. Indeed, a whole three-fourths (39 episodes, to be precise) of A Dog of Flanders were storyboarded by a single man, Seiji Okuda. The single most prolific storyboard artist in anime history, Okuda had originally been a member of TCJ (Nippon’s distant origin studio) and active since 1963’s Tetsujin 28-Go. While he did some animation on one episode of Rocky Chuck, the real start of his association with the World Masterpiece Theater was on Heidi, for which he storyboarded 8 episodes. Just like fellow prolific storyboarder Yoshiyuki Tomino, Okuda was probably appreciated more for his efficiency than his creative talent, but the daunting responsibility of the majority of Flanders’ episodes probably proved to be too much: his early storyboards are often strong and manage to maintain Takahata’s style of direction, but their quality and individuality quickly deteriorates.

In any case, the fact that Okuda had to shoulder most of the show by himself only furthers the theory that, while Nippon’s roster of animators didn’t change, the transition at the higher creative levels was much harder. The studio visibly had a hard time keeping staff attached: writers came and went, and there was probably nobody else than Okuda willing to stay on Flanders for any durable length. Yoshiyuki Tomino’s case is perhaps a good example of this. As Flanders was airing, Tomino was busy directing his first work for Sunrise, Brave Raideen; however, he was still willing to stick with Zuiyo Video, storyboarding a few early episodes under a pseudonym. However, he quickly disappeared, even as he was taken out of Raideen mid-show to take over another Sunrise show, La Seine no Hoshi. He probably quickly realized that, as unstable as they were, these were more profitable endeavours than the uninteresting Flanders; he then bid his time, waiting for Takahata to direct another series before coming back to the World Masterpiece Theater.

The final creative figure worth mentioning is the great animator Yasuji Mori, for whom this was his last WMT involvement before he was relegated mostly to designing Nippon’s non-WMT literary adaptations. But, as had been the case with Rocky Chuck and Heidi, his involvement proved to be disappointingly minor. On previous shows, it was possibly overwork and unknown health problems which made him unable to participate in full capacity; by 1975, Mori was only 50 years old, but he had started suffering from eye problems which would end up making him almost blind.

Mori’s character designs, especially for the two main characters of Nello and Alois, are perhaps among the strongest aspects of the show. However, it is perhaps an inherent weakness of Mori’s style that its simplicity sometimes came at the cost of personality: many other characters look bland or like pale imitations of their Heidi counterparts. This is perhaps most obvious in the case of Alois, even though she is also one of Mori’s most appealing designs: her face and braids are surprisingly close to Mori’s initial design of Heidi, with the addition of traditional Flanders clothing – which were unsurprisingly very difficult for the animators.

Besides this, it seems that Mori wasn’t involved in Flanders past the four pre-animated early episodes. On those, what he did exactly cannot be ascertained, because he isn’t credited on them. Yôko Gomi mentions that he did animation direction, although it is Shun’ichi Sakai who is credited; however, he may very possibly have done the layouts for those episodes, even though there is no credit. If there is such a confusion, it is perhaps because, in the way Mori did them, there was little difference between the work of an animation director and that of a layout artist. A slight evolution in the role of layouts between Heidi and Flanders may be indicated by the change in credit: the task was no longer referred to as “screen composition”, but simply “layout” in katakana.

On paper, Flanders had many good elements, which may have made it at least a memorable entry in the WMT, if not Heidi’s rival. But when looking at the actual show, it quickly appears that all these good parts didn’t make up a satisfying whole, either because of lack of enthusiasm on the artists’ end, or poor production conditions. The question then is: how could it become such a success? The first explanation may simply be built-up popularity: Heidi’s audience remained for its successor, and only brought in more people to watch this new show. The other factor, just as simple, is the one favored by Hayao Miyazaki and Yôko Gomi: the melodrama, which would also guarantee new spectators. If the melodrama did bring in new audiences, it may paradoxically be what led the writers to extend and water down the plot, or to remove many layers of subtlety in comparison to the original work, especially in the later episodes.

However, these lower-level evaluations run counter with testimonies from the top of the production. In a 2017 interview, both Seiji Okuda and director Yoshio Kuroda expressed that their goal was not to make a “dark story” or a “tearjerker”. Instead, much like Heidi, their goal was to depict daily life in a positive way, and ultimately make the main character Nello an example of cheerfulness and perseverance through adversity. Doing so, they completely changed the focus of the original story (which was more about fate and the nature of artistic genius) even more than what Heidi had done, which would stay relatively consistent in future WMT entries. This was, as with Heidi, a good decision, making the story more accessible to Japanese audiences and perhaps ensuring its success; it is unfortunate, then, that the results in this case were lackluster compared to just about every other show that aired on Fuji TV’s 7:30pm Sunday timeslot in the 1970s.

Episode highlights

Episodes 1-2

#01

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Yoshio Kuroda (黒田昌郎)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Shin’ya Takahashi (高橋信也), Akemi Ota (大田朱美), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#02

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Osamu Shibata (?) (柴田一)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Shin’ya Takahashi (高橋信也), Akemi Ota (大田朱美), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Kazuo Iimura (飯村一夫)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

Following what had become and would remain the World Masterpiece Theater’s standard, the early episodes of Flanders were animated well in advance, before the show started airing. There is less information about Flanders’ production than about Heidi’s, but it seems that the former had 4 pre-animated episodes. We can presume this mostly from the fact that they are the only episodes to credit Shigeto Takahashi, as well as the only episodes without a “layout” credit and in particular the only ones to have a certain person as animation director: Shun’ichi Sakai. For the rest of the series, he would never occupy the position again, instead being credited for layouts. As mentioned above, this could mean one of two things: either Sakai did animation direction and layouts under the same umbrella, or he was assisted by an uncredited Yasuji Mori in one or both tasks.

In any case, if we want to get an idea of Flanders’ production calendar, Sakai is probably our best indicator. An animator on Heidi, he disappeared from the show’s credits after episode 37, aired in September 1974. Although he may have been unable to handle the worsening conditions on Takahata’s series, he was doubtlessly soon transferred to Zuiyo Video’s next production. Early work on Flanders beginning at that time is further supported by the fact that the series director and episode 1 storyboarder Yoshio Kuroda made his last storyboards for Heidi on episode 35, and writer Yoshiaki Yoshida left just after him, on episode 36. Perhaps Yasuji Mori, who was free, had already started working on his designs and possibly a pilot film: if that is the case, we can presume that the actual production of Flanders began around October 1974.

Perhaps fueling Takahata and Miyazaki’s distaste for the series, Flanders episodes 3 and 4 probably diverted resources from the late episodes of Heidi: these were Oh Pro animators Kôshin Yonekawa and Jôji Manabe, and Zuiyo-associated freelancer Michiyo Sakurai. Although not the most talented animators around, their presence was still probably essential given the desperate situation of Heidi’s late run. The fact that they had no time to rest between the two productions probably also explains the mediocre quality of Flanders’ animation: the animators were already exhausted when the show began.

It is therefore the first two episodes which really warrant close attention, because they featured the most non-Heidi staff, and especially the exceptional presence of Akemi Ota. Alongside Reiko Okuyama, Ota was one of Tôei Animation’s most promising artists in the 60’s, and one of the first notable Japanese female animators. Her first work as key animator was on 1965’s Gulliver’s Space Travels, the same year she married Hayao Miyazaki. Their careers advanced in parallel for 6 years, both contributing significantly to Hols, Prince of the Sun, Puss’n Boots, The Flying Phantom Ship and finally Animal Treasure Island while taking care of their two sons Gôro (born in 1967) and Keisuke (born in 1969). However, when Miyazaki left Tôei, the transition to TV anime work meant that he couldn’t honor the promise he had made to his wife years before, that they would both equally care for the household: after a last contribution to the second Puss’n Boots movie in 1972, Ota quit animation. 

While she may have done small, uncredited work here and there (a rumor claims she contributed to the early episodes of Heidi), her presence here is by all means exceptional – especially considering that this was still during Heidi’s production, not when Miyazaki could have had more time at home. We must probably thank Yasuji Mori’s progressivism, kindness and perseverance for insisting that his student contribute to his latest series. And he was right to, as Ota’s animation is no doubt one of the brightest spots of the early episodes, if not of the entire show. Indeed, she was the only really prominent animator of the first two episodes: while Shin’ya Takahashi surely outdid himself here, he was by no means an exceptional artist, and Oh Pro’s Tsukasa Tannai was still a relative novice. What is harder to explain is the presence of Za In animator Kazuo Iimura, probably a remnant of Rocky Chuck’s animation team which had not worked on Heidi.

Sadly, we do not know of any scene confirmed to have been animated by Ota. However, on those two episodes of Flanders, it may be possible to make reasonable guesses: she may have animated the scenes involving Alois, that is on the B part of episode 1 and the A part of episode 2. This guess rests on two elements. The first is that they are by far the best-looking moments in already very well animated episodes; had not someone with Ota’s portfolio been there, it wouldn’t have been too far-fetched to presume that Mori himself had a hand in them. The other, perhaps less conclusive, would be the possibility of a gendered division of labor, where women would dominantly handle female characters: while far from systematic in the anime industry, it wasn’t unheard of and may have been practiced in some of the Tôei films Ota had worked on.

In any case, Flanders’ opening episodes are very promising: animation-wise, they come close to Heidi’s best moments. Direction and story-wise, they already show less focus but are still delightful evocations of children’s daily life, with the darker backdrop of the dog Patrasche and his violent master.

Episode 5

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Megumi Mizuta (水田めぐみ), Noboru Takano (高野登), Masayoshi Ozaki (尾崎正善)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

This episode is worth noting because it was most probably solo animated by Flanders’ best artist, Toshiyasu Okada: judging from the credits, all the other people credited under “animation” would have been lower-ranking animators in 1975, and probably only doing second key animation or in-betweens. Okada had already largely contributed to episode 3’s best moments, and since he didn’t work on episode 4, he probably had a comfortable amount of time to dedicate to episode 5, explaining the probable solo work. He was also assisted by two people he probably knew well from Heidi: animation director Yukiyoshi Hane, who would be the principal animation director in rotation with Okada, and layout artist Shun’ichi Sakai.

Okada’s animation cannot be described with any other words than admirable. Flanders’ early episodes are still light in their tone and the character interactions haven’t yet gotten too tired: the amount of detail and care put into their acting is therefore not wasted, but instead given a great opportunity to shine. The most delightful moments are no doubt those involving Nello’s two friends Georges and Paul as they go on to their daily lives and activities.

Episode 14

While Heidi’s shadow looms all over A Dog of Flanders, one of the most regrettable aspects of the latter is that Isao Takahata’s influence can be hard to spot. This is not the case for this specific episode, which shows that, when in good form and accompanied by good writing, Seiji Okuda could put to brilliant use all that he had learnt on Heidi. As the dog Patrasche is starting to become a familiar presence for the characters and viewers, this is the occasion to get acquainted all over again with people and places, creating a strong sense of spatial and narrative cohesion. But the most Takahata-inspired and beautiful aspect is no doubt the insistence on dreams and Nello’s imagination, as he turns his everyday sights (people on the road, birds, the stars) into drawings. It all culminates into the beautiful final scene, showcasing unusually detailed animation and superb morphing sequences.

Episode 15

This episode is notable, and probably among the best of A Dog of Flanders, because it was the only one made by the core Heidi team: storyboards by Takahata, and animation mostly handled by Miyazaki and Kotabe. It is therefore unsurprising if it looks much better than most other episodes, whether in its animation or storyboards. Every scene is incredibly elevated by Takahata’s characteristic spatial compositions and the excellent character acting – especially in the B part where emotions become more extreme as the usual conflict between Alois and her father about Nello reaches a climax.

Moreover, this episode isn’t just the usual monotonous Flanders story with a visual sheen: instead, it is one of the few episodes (especially in the early part) to take Nello’s circumstances seriously, that is, both his desire to become a painter and his poverty. Indeed, the conflict is a natural outcome of the contradiction between these two elements: Nello wants to draw, and is shown doing so throughout the episode, but cannot afford the paper which would allow him to really improve his artistic skills. It is then that Alois intervenes, trying to help Nello by using some of her father’s old papers, incurring his anger in the process. Nothing there feels forced, especially not Cogez’s hate for Nello – which simply appears irrational and gratuitous throughout most of the show. This is an example of the series’ poor adaptation: in the original short story, Nello is a teen, and Cogez fears that this unknown boy might seduce his daughter. But here, Nello and Alois are too young, while the former’s extreme poverty is never actually insisted on until the very end. Perhaps already aware of those problems, Takahata pushed writer Yoshida in a direction that was closer to the original, or at least more consistent.The three episodes between 14 and 16 are probably the best in the entire show; this is perhaps less due to their storyboarders (even if Takahata is among them) than to the fact that they are the last in Yoshida’s regular contributions. Indeed, there is no better way to see how much the quick scriptwriter rotation harmed Flanders than to compare these three episodes with the following ones, in which the quality of the storytelling simply plummets.

Episode 19

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

Episode 19 is perhaps the last truly good episode storyboarded by Okuda, in that it is the last to showcase a real identity – one dominated by Takahata-isms. Indeed, each shot is more meticulous and features better compositions than usual, making this a pleasure to watch in spite of the unremarkable animation. Story-wise, this is also one of the more dramatic moments, as Patrasche’s original owner, who had abandoned him, now wants him back and forcefully takes him away from Nello and his grandfather. This makes for great moments, especially in the melancholic final scenes.

However, taken together with the entire series, this plot development seems to only further demonstrate Flanders’ weaknesses, especially those related to its titular character, the dog Patrasche. Although supposedly central to the story, the dog is a surprisingly uncharismatic figure, a simple backdrop presence in Nello’s day-to-day life. Besides the young boy’s kindness, there is nothing clearly explaining or justifying his love for Patrasche. In the long run, this naturally harms the core of the series’ storytelling, as Patrasche’s death alongside Nello in the finale doesn’t have any specific meaning, nor does it manage to create especially powerful emotions.

Episode 33

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

At its core, A Dog of Flanders is about extremely poor people living precarious lives; the show rarely follows on the consequences of this premise, but the few episodes that do, like 33, are among the most notable. Although it is as difficult to define as its exact causes are to pinpoint, there is a pervasive sense of melancholy in this episode, making it a very different experience from the recurring conflicts between Nello and surrounding characters. Nello’s own personality and life start taking a definite direction (which the episodes afterwards will often fail to build on), as he trains to become a woodcutter all the while refining his skills as an artist. There is a worry for who or what Nello will become, as showcased in the beautiful final scene of the A part of the episode; but it comes at the price of the realization that, while Nello is growing up, all the surrounding adults are getting old and finding it increasingly difficult to take care of themselves. Had the show been a more cohesive whole, this episode may have been the beginning of the end, the moment when things and characters start declining, to culminate in the grandfather’s death – but, as sadly as unexpectedly, the series fails to live up to that promise.

Episode 36

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboards: Wataru Mizusawa (水沢わたる)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)


This episode is worth pointing out mainly because, in one of Flanders’ most intriguing and unfortunate moments, it is the one most clearly inspired by Heidi. Alois, recently returned from England where her father had her travel to take her away from Nello, is gravely sick – but it is in fact just a sort of homesickness and longing, as her father doesn’t allow her to see her friends. The very nature of the illness and its cure (going back to her friends and to nature) are suspiciously close to Heidi’s own troubles in the Frankfurt arc. But nothing about it works here, as the root causes of Alois’ sickness aren’t quite as well established or even that important: indeed, Alois is already back home, and not removed from it. When all this is taken into consideration, the striking fever dream sequence appears even weaker: not only is it just a few cycles of animation over monochrome abstract backgrounds, but it’s also a pale copy of Heidi’s heartbreaking nightmare and breakdown scenes.

Episode 44

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

It has already been mentioned many times here how Flanders seems to lack unity in narrative and purpose. This episode puts a relative end to that, as it makes us enter into the last and tragic arc of the story: the death of Nello’s grandfather is the beginning of the end. The death scene, at the beginning of the B part, is very instructive about the direction the show would take: that is, a strongly melodramatic one. In this case, it is useful to make a comparison with two parental deaths in following WMT entries – namely, that of the mother in 1978’s Perrine Monogatari and of Matthew in 1979’s Anne of Green Gables. In Anne, death is an unexpected event, a fateful moment that changes the course of Anne’s life; but it is in the continuity of her growth and the occasion to showcase Anne’s strength and ability to endure grief. Perrine is similar to Anne in that regard, although she is much more passive; but her mother’s death is expected, the result of an illness she contracted many episodes before. Although decidedly sad, both events are handled with subtlety and distance, listening to the characters’ grief rather than drowning the viewer in it like Flanders does, spending the entirety of the next episode showing us characters grieving.

By far the strongest moment of this episode, therefore, is not the death scene proper, but what immediately follows it – the contrast between the simultaneous burial of the grandfather and Alois’s birthday party. This scene, which shows Nello’s isolation and how much even daily life can be invaded by death, is melodrama well handled and one of the most powerful moments of the series.

Episode 47

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

Decidedly one of the darkest in the series, this episode is also by far the most spectacular, thanks to a single scene that occupies most of the B part: the fire of the mill, a major incident that will cause Nello to be excluded from the farmers’ community. The WMT, and Nippon-associated animators at large, are anything but famous for their work on effects: on the contrary, they were considered the realm where character animation thrived. It is even more surprising, then, that the fire scene is an awe-inspiring and very original display of effects animation, which was still largely in its infancy in Japanese TV animation by 1975. The movement and texture of the flames are irregular and impressive, but it is nothing when compared to the thick grey smoke coming out of the mill, darkened and made even denser by dark brush touches and black outlines. The entire scene is pervaded by an apocalyptic atmosphere, as the villagers desperately try to stop the fire, all illuminated in red, or as the character drawings themselves become incredibly more detailed and gain an unprecedented sense of volume and presence. Here, Okuda delivered one of his finest storyboards on the show, but one of the greatest mysteries of Flanders’ production remains the identity of the animator who handled this scene.

Episode 52

Screenplay: Ryûzô Nakanishi (中西隆三)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

The last few episodes of Flanders, the ones where the tragedy culminates, are also the ones where the adaptation hits the weakest. The final sequence of events, in which Nello saves Alois’ family by giving them back the money they just lost and sacrificing himself, could have easily fit into a single episode. Instead, it is spread over two, weakening the overall impact of each moment. It makes sense when considering the weekly airing schedule, as it allowed for a strong cliffhanger between episodes 51 and 52, but watching the show now, it really seems unnecessary and spread a bit too thin.

In spite of all this, the final scene of the show deserves its iconic status. But when digging into it, there are a few elements which illustrate how makeshift and uncertain it was. A rumor goes that the addition of angels who take up Nello and Patrasche to Heaven (not in the original story) was the idea of a Fuji TV executive, Fujio Dokura, a devout Christian who used the opportunity to do some evangelization – a move which looks strange considering the complete absence of religious imagery in the show prior to this, and seems at complete odds with the active elimination of Christian elements Takahata had undertaken in Heidi. These angels appear even more out of place when you look closely at the sequence: for a few seconds, their faces appear suspiciously similar to Heidi’s – this was perhaps just an in-joke, or maybe the only way an exhausted and bored Oh Pro animator (the studio’s animators were behind the finale) or even animation director Toshiyasu Okada could express their relief at this show’s ending.

Credits transcription

#01

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Yoshio Kuroda (黒田昌郎)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Shin’ya Takahashi (高橋信也), Akemi Ota (大田朱美), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#02

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Osamu Shibata (?) (柴田一)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Shin’ya Takahashi (高橋信也), Akemi Ota (大田朱美), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Kazuo Iimura (飯村一夫)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#03

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Shûji Yamazaki (山崎修二)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖); Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二),Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#04

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Shûji Yamazaki (山崎修二)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真),Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司); Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Kazuo Iimura (飯村一夫)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#05

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Megumi Mizuta (水田めぐみ), Noboru Takano (高野登), Masayoshi Ozaki (尾崎正善)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#06

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Minoru Yokitani (斧谷稔) (pseudonym for Yoshiyuki Tomino)

Animation Director: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二)Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司); Kazuo Iimura (飯村一夫)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#07

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二),Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Kazuo Iimura (飯村一夫), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#08

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之)

Storyboards: Minoru Yokitani (斧谷稔) (pseudonym for Yoshiyuki Tomino)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#09

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#10

Screenplay: Tsunehisa Itô (伊東恒久)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#11

Screenplay: Tsunehisa Itô (伊東恒久)

Storyboards: Minoru Yokitani (斧谷稔) (pseudonym for Yoshiyuki Tomino)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#12

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation:  Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#13

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#14

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#15

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Isao Takahata (高畑勲)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿), Yôichi Kotabe(小田部羊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Masayoshi Ozaki (尾崎正善), Katsuzaki Akiyama (?) (穐山昇)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#16

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#17

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#18

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Kazuyoshi Yokota (横田和善), Masahiro Sasaki (佐々木正広)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#19

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#20

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#21

Screenplay: Yoshiaki Yoshida (吉田義昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#22

Screenplay: Akihiro Matsushima (?) (松島昭)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#23

Screenplay: Kôshi Kase (?) (加瀬高之) 

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#24 

Screenplay: Ryûzô Nakanishi (中西隆三)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#25 

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#26

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#27

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#28

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#29

Screenplay: Yukiko Takayama (高山由紀子)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Michiyo Sakurai (桜井美千代), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#30

Screenplay: Yukiko Takayama (高山由紀子)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#31

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#32

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Storyboard: Hideo Nishimaki (西牧秀雄, misspelling of 西牧秀夫)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#33

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#34

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#35

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

#36

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboards: Wataru Mizusawa (水沢わたる)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#37

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Episode Director: Kazuyoshi Yokota (横田和善)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#38

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#39

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#40

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#41

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#42  

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Osamu Shibata (?) (柴田一)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#43

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#44

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#45

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子), Noboru Takano (高野登)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#46

Screenplay: Toyohiro Andô (安藤豊弘)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#47

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#48

Screenplay: Michio Satô (佐藤道雄)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#49

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#50

Screenplay: Shun’ichi Yukimuro (雪室俊一)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#51 

Screenplay: Ryûzô Nakanishi (中西隆三)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Yukiyoshi Hane (羽根章悦)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)

#52

Screenplay: Ryûzô Nakanishi (中西隆三)

Storyboard: Seiji Okuda (奥田誠治)

Animation Director: Toshiyasu Okada (岡田敏靖)

Layouts: Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一)

Animation: Oh! Production, feat. Kôshin Yonekawa (米川功真), Tsukasa Tannai (丹内司), Jôji Manabe (真鍋譲二); Shun’ichi Sakai (坂井俊一), Masako Shinohara (篠原征子)

In-between check: Hidemi Maeda (前田英美)


For those of you who actually read this far into an article about the Dog of Flanders: yes, we’re sorry about it too. As a consolation prize, have an actual good adaptation of the story, created by the legendary trio of director Osamu Dezaki, animation director Akio Sugino, and art director Shichirô Kobayashi for Madhouse’s Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi in 1976 – less than a year after this misbegotten adaptation stopped airing!

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