Little Women (1987 TV series)

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This article is about the 1987 anime adaptation by Nippon Animation. For the 1981 anime adaptation by Toei Animation see Little Women (1981 TV series). For all other uses see Little Women (disambiguation)
Little Women
Little women.jpg
The March sisters, clockwise from upper left: Jo, Meg (in chair), Amy, and Beth.
(Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari)
Genre Historical drama
Anime television series
Directed by Fumio Kurokawa
Produced by Koichi Motohashi, Junzo Nakajima
Written by Akira Miyazaki (all 48 episodes)
Music by Kazuo Otani
Studio Nippon Animation
Network Fuji TV, Animax
English network United States HBO, Smile of a Child
Original run January 1, 1987December 27, 1987
Episodes 48
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Little Women, also known as Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari (愛の若草物語?, "Love's Tale of Young Grass") is a 1987 Japanese animated television series adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, produced by Nippon Animation.

A sequel series, Little Women II: Jo's Boys, premiered in 1993.


The animated series is loosely derived from the book and introduces new material and characters. The series begins with the introduction of the March family happily living near Gettysburg (the nearby town of York in the English version), until one day during a picnic, Mr. March notices Confederate scouts at a riverbank. As an officer of the Union Army on leave with a broken arm, Mr. March hesitantly leaves his family to inform his superiors and to prepare for the upcoming battle. Meanwhile, his family endures the Confederate occupation and even helps an escaped slave named John from being forcibly recruited to fight for the Confederacy.

Eventually, Union forces arrive and in the ensuing battle the March family home is destroyed and their investment (which had also been their savings) stolen. With no other options, the family leaves Gettysburg to Newcord, where they hope to be taken by an estranged aunt of father. Upon arriving in Newcord, they are coldly received by the old woman and even less so by David, an egotistical nephew who constantly asks for loans and antagonizes the family. Despite the reception, Aunt March allows the family to stay at home until they can get back on their feet.

Determined to have a sense of normalcy and persevere their hardship, Meg finds work as a Governess while Jo alternates between being a companion to Aunt March and Author. During a sales pitch to sell a short story to a local newspaper, her work and her character are presumptuously criticized by Anthony, a local reporter. Upset and resolute, Jo throws herself into her writing ultimately earning the respect of Anthony and forms an amicable relationship.

In time, the March family moves into a new home and the events that follow begin to reference the plot of the original novel: The 18th episode is based on Chapter 3 and follows the first part of the book. The storyline from Chapter 1 (Christmas 1863) begins in episode 21.


For more information on the main characters, including the March sisters, Laurie, and Marmee, see Little Women.

Writer Akira Miyazaki introduced several new supporting characters not in the original novel:

  • Anthony Boone is a Newcord reporter and friend of Jo's. He and Jo get off to a bad start when he criticizes her writing, but eventually become close friends, and Anthony helps her family find a new house in Newcord. He also encourages Jo to keep writing and improve. He leaves for New York in the second-to-last episode, and inspires Jo to do the same.
  • Henry Murdoch (possibly named after Rupert Murdoch) is the owner and publisher of The Newcord Times, and Anthony's boss. He has a high opinion of Jo's talents and reassures her whenever she is discouraged by Anthony's criticisms.
  • David is Aunt March's nephew, a money-grubbing gambler and ne'er-do-well who appears only to care for his aunt because she loans him money. He antagonizes the March family, and Jo in particular, out of fear that he will lose his place as her sole heir.
  • John is a runaway slave. In an early episode, the March family hide him in their house from Confederate soldiers. In a later episode, he returns and gets a job at the Newcord newspaper.
  • Milky Ann is the March family's pet kitten. She first appears in episode two, when Beth discovers the abandoned kitten half-drowned and nearly frozen to death in the rain. Beth and her sisters nurse the kitten back to health, and Milky Ann becomes a treasured member of the family.
  • Aunt March had several additional servants introduced in this anime in addition to Esther the maid, including Ben the coachman and Dorothy the cook (who appeared in only one episode). Also, in addition to her bird, Polly, Aunt March has a dog, a poodle named Harry.

Name and character changes[edit]

In addition to the town of Concord itself being renamed "Newcord" for the anime version (which carried over into the English dub), several characters also underwent name changes in this series. For example, the March parents, named Margaret and Robert in the original novel, are Mary and Frederic in this series, and Mr. Brooke is renamed from John to Carl in Japanese and some of the European dub versions (although the English dubbers changed his name back to John). Also, the March family's live-in help, Hannah, is African-American in this version instead of Irish and Caucasian, perhaps to draw more attention with Japanese viewers to the plight of black Americans in the 19th century.


Little Women aired on Fuji Television from 1 January 1987 to 27 December 1987 as part of Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater. The series features contributions from several well-known Studio Ghibli staffers, including co-character designer Yoshifumi Kondo and animation director Atsuko Otani. The chief director was Nippon Animation/WMT veteran Fumio Kurokawa with storyboard duties handled by various other directors, and Akira Miyazaki is credited with scripting all 48 episodes. Kurokawa, Otani, and character designer and chief animation director Toshiki Yamazaki had all been involved in the previous WMT series Princess Sarah, as had Jo's voice actress, Eiko Yamada. The series was broadcast aired across Asia by the anime satellite television network, Animax.

Little Women was first dubbed into English by Saban Entertainment and was broadcast across the United States by HBO in 1988 under the title Tales of Little Women, making it one of only three WMT serials to have been broadcast on television in the United States. Currently the series airs in the United States on Smile of a Child and in the Philippines on DZOZ-TV. Unusual for a Saban Entertainment dub of an anime series, the English dub version of Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari kept the original Japanese musical score by Kazuo Otani, although the theme songs were replaced with a new one by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, who also composed some additional music for the series itself. The series has yet to be released on DVD in the English language, although a compilation of two episodes was released on VHS in the United States in 1992 as Little Women's Christmas Story. It has long since gone out of print.

The series has also achieved a high level of popularity in Europe and Latin America.


  • Original work: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Executive producer: Koichi Motohashi
  • Producer: Junzo Nakajima (Nippon Animation), Taihei Ishikawa (Fuji TV)
  • Planning: Shoji Sato (Nippon Animation), Eiichi Kubota (Fuji TV)
  • Director: Fumio Kurokawa
  • Script: Akira Miyazaki
  • Storyboards: Yoshio Kuroda, Fumio Kurokawa, Norio Yazawa, Shinichi Tsuji, Kozo Kuzuha, Hiromi Sugimura, Shinichi Matsumi, Takeshi Yamaguchi, Eiji Okabe, Shigeo Koshi, Takao Yotsuji, Shin Namioka, Fumio Ikeno
  • Character Design: Yoshifumi Kondo, Toshiki Yamazaki
  • Animation Director: Toshiki Yamazaki, Takumi Koyama, Atsuko Otani
  • Art Director: Masamichi Takano
  • Layout: Shohei Kawamoto
  • Director of Photography: Toshiaki Morita
  • Recording Director: Etsuji Yamada
  • Music: Kazuo Otani
  • Production: Nippon Animation, Fuji TV


Opening Themes
  1. Invitation of the Young Grass (若草の招待状 Wakakusa no Shōtaijō?) by Eri Nitta (eps 01-14)
  2. Someday, for Sure (いつかきっと! Itsuka Kitto!?) by Keiko Han, Eiko Yamada, Mayumi Shō, Rei Sakuma (eps 15-48)
Ending Themes
  1. Sunset and Wind and Melody (夕陽と風とメロディ Sekiyō to Kaze to Merodi?) by Eri Nitta (eps 01-14)
  2. A Lullaby for Father (お父さまへのララバイ Otōsama e no Rarabai?) by Satoko Shimonari (eps 15-48)

Episode List[edit]

NOTE: With English titles, a translation of the Japanese title is listed first, followed by the title of the corresponding episode in Saban's English dub.

Toshiki Yamazaki is animation director for the first five episodes, for odd-numbered episodes 7 through 17, and for even-numbered episodes 20 through 48. Takumi Koyama is animation director for even-numbered episodes 6 through 16 and for odd-numbered episodes 19 through 47. Atsuko Otani is animation director for episode 18 only.

All episodes are written by Akira Miyazaki.

All episodes are directed by Fumio Kurokawa, who also drew storyboards for episodes 2, 3, and 48. Other storyboard artists included:

  • Yoshio Kuroda (1, 28, co-storyboard duties on episode 31)
  • Norio Yazawa (4, 7, 9)
  • Shinichi Tsuji (5, 8, 12, 14, 18, 22, 26, 29, 32, 35, 38, 42, 44, 47)
  • Kozo Kuzuha (6, 11, 15, 17, 20, 25)
  • Hiromi Sugimura (13, 19, 30, 34, 37, and co-storyboarded episodes 10, 23, 31)
  • Shinichi Matsumi (co-storyboarded episodes 10 and 16)
  • Takeshi Yamaguchi (co-storyboarded episodes 16 and 23)
  • Eiji Okabe (21, 24)
  • Shigeo Koshi (27, 33, 40)
  • Shin Namioka (39, 41)
  • Takao Yotsuji (36)
  • Fumio Ikeno (43, 45, 46)
# Title Original air date
01 "Papa Came Home!! / The March Family"
(パパが帰って来た!! Papa ga kaette kita!!
January 11, 1987
02 "Milky Ann Has Been Found / The War Draws Closer"
(ミルキー・アンを拾った Milky Ann o hirouta
January 18, 1987
03 "Watch Out! Escape Quickly!! / The Deserter"
(あぶない!早く逃げて!! Abunai! Hayaku nigete!!
January 25, 1987
04 "The Battle Begins! / The Gift of Freedom"
(戦争がはじまる! Sensou ga hajimaru!
February 1, 1987
05 "The Town Burns Down! / The Friendship Pin"
(町が燃えてしまう! Machi ga moete shimau!
February 8, 1987
06 "Goodbye Hometown! / Running from the War"
(さよなら ふるさと! Sayounara furusato!
February 15, 1987
07 "Auntie is Ill-Tempered!"
(おば様はいじわる! Obasama wa ijiwaru!
February 22, 1987
08 "A Loan for a House, Please!"
(お家を貸して下さい! Oie o kashite kudasai!
March 1, 1987
09 "Short-Tempered Jo! / Nice Work if You Can Get It"
(怒りん坊のジョオ! Okorinbou no Jo!
March 8, 1987
10 "Praise and Critiques"
(ほめられて けなされて Homerarete kenasarete
March 15, 1987
11 "Aunt Martha is Pitiful! / A Heart to Heart Talk"
(マーサおば様はお気の毒! Martha obasama wa okinodoku!
March 22, 1987
12 "I Hate Thunder!"
(雷なんて大嫌い! Ikazuchi nante daikirai!
March 29, 1987
13 "Our Strange House / A Home at Last"
(私たちの変な家 Watashitachi no hennaie
April 5, 1987
14 "Amy and Bad Friends / New Friends"
(エイミーと悪い友だち Amy to nikui tomodachi
April 12, 1987
15 "The Strange Boy Next Door!"
(お隣からのぞく不思議な少年! Otonari kara nozoku fushigina shounen!
April 19, 1987
16 "Terrible! Meg is Not a Thief!! / Meg's First Dance"
(ひどい!メグは泥棒なんかじゃない!! Hidoi! Meg wa dorobou nanka jinai!!
April 26, 1987
17 "Jo and President Lincoln's Speech!"
(ジョオとリンカーン大統領の演説! Jo to Lincoln daitouryou no enzetsu!
May 3, 1987
18 "Meg and Jo's Debut at the Ball!? / Invitation to the Dance"
(メグとジョオ舞踏会にデビュー!? Meg to Jo butoukai ni debut!?
May 10, 1987
19 "The Burnt Dress and the Nice Gentleman / A Formal Affair"
(おこげドレスと素敵な紳士 Okoge dress to sutekina shinshi
May 17, 1987
20 "Vigorous Jo's Visit!"
(ジョオのお見舞いは元気いっぱい! Jo no mimai wa genki ippai!
May 24, 1987
21 "Announcement! Jo's Enthusiastic Work of Self-Confidence"
(発表!はりきりジョオの自信作 Happyou! Harikiri Jo no jishin saku
May 31, 1987
22 "A Hungry Christmas"
(おなかのすいたクリスマス Onakanosuita kurisumasu
June 7, 1987
23 "Beth! The Great Joy of an Unexpected Gift!! / A Grand Offer"
(ベス!思いがけない贈物に大喜び!! Beth! Omoigakenai okurimono ni ooyorokobi!!
June 14, 1987
24 "The Beginning of Meg's Little Love? / Lost in the Music"
(メグの小さな恋のはじまり? Meg no chiisana koi no hajimari?
June 21, 1987
25 "Novelist Jo's $2 Masterpiece! / Jo Shares Her Fortune"
(小説家ジョオの2ドルの傑作! Shousetsuka Jo no kessaku!
June 28, 1987
26 "Shy Beth and the Old Gentleman Next Door / It's Downright Upright"
(怖がりベスとお隣の老紳士 Kowagari Beth to otonari no oi shinshi
July 5, 1987
27 "Amy is Punished at School! / Forbidden Sweets"
(学校でお仕置されたエイミー! Gakkou de oshiokisareata Amy!
July 12, 1987
28 "Amy! What Are You Doing! / Amy's Revenge"
(エイミー!なんてことするの! Amy! Nante koto suru no!
August 2, 1987
29 "Don't Die! Amy Has Fallen in the River! / Skating on Thin Ice"
(死なないで!エイミーが川に落ちた! Shina naide! Amy ga kawa ni ochita!
August 9, 1987
30 "I Wish I Could Say I'm Sorry! / Forgive and Forget"
(怖がりベスとお隣の老紳士 Gomen ne to iietara ii no ni!
August 16, 1987
31 "Meg is Not a Doll! / Out of Character"
(メグはきせかえ人形じゃない! Meg wa kisekaeningyou ja nai!
August 30, 1987
32 "Aunt Martha is a Worrywart / Jo's Spoiled Plans"
(困ったマーサおばさんの性格 Komata Martha obasan no seikaku
September 6, 1987
33 "A Fun, Fun Outdoor Party! / Laurie's Lake Party"
(楽しい楽しい野外パーティだ! Tanoshii tanoshii yagai party da!
September 13, 1987
34 "Amy Had a Bad Dream! / Amy's Nightmare"
(エイミーは悪い夢を見た! Amy wa nikui yumewomita!
September 20, 1987
35 "Meg, So That's Love!! / Meg Falls in Love"
(メグ、それはやっぱり恋なのよ!! Meg, sore wa yappari koi na no yo!!
September 27, 1987
36 "Jo's Story is in the Newspaper! / Jo in Black and White"
(ジョオの小説が新聞にのった! Jo no shousetsu ga shinbunninota!
October 4, 1987
37 "Father is Dying... Jo Sells Her Hair! / A Small Price to Pay"
(チチキトク…ジョオが髪を売った! Chichi kitoku... Jo ga kami wo utta!
October 11, 1987
38 "The Telegram of Bad News! / A Sign of Hope"
(悪い知らせの電報がきた! Warui shirase no denpo ga kita!
October 18, 1987
39 "Letters, Letters, Letters We All Wrote / Letters from Home"
(みんなが書いた手紙、手紙、手紙 Minna ga kaita tegami, tegami, tegami
October 25, 1987
40 "Beth Caught the Scarlet Fever! / Scarlet Fever"
(ベスが猩紅熱にかかった! Beth ga shokonetsu ni kakatta!
November 1, 1987
41 "Mother, Come Home Quickly!"
(お母さま早く帰ってきて! Okaasan kaette kite!
November 8, 1987
42 "God, Please Save Beth! / Shout for Joy"
(神様、どうかベスを助けて! Kamisama, douka Beth o tasukete!
November 15, 1987
43 "Go to New York, Jo! / In Search of a Dream"
(大都会ニューヨークへ行こう!ジョオ Daitokai New York e ikou! Jo
November 22, 1987
44 "The Case of the Fake Letter - Who's the Culprit? / The Case of the Forged Letter"
(ニセ手紙事件・犯人は誰か? Nise tegami jiken - hannin wa dareka?
November 29, 1987
45 "Grandfather Hit Laurie! / Laurie Pays the Price"
(おじいさまがローリーをなぐった! Ojisama ga Laurie o nagutta!
December 6, 1987
46 "An Unexpected Christmas Present"
(思いがけないクリスマスプレゼント Omoigakenai kurisumasu
December 13, 1987
47 "Goodbye, Anthony! / The Proposal"
(さよなら!アンソニー Sayounara! Anthony
December 20, 1987
48 "Springtime! Everyone Sets Out / The End and a Beginning"
(春!それぞれの旅立ち Haru! Sorezore no tabidachi
December 27, 1987

See also[edit]

External links[edit]