World Masterpiece Theater
World Masterpiece Theater (世界名作劇場 Sekai Meisaku Gekijō ) is a Japanese TV anime staple that showcased an animated version of a different classical book or story each year on 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. It originally aired from 1969 to 1997 then resumed in 2007.
The first several series were produced by Mushi Production and then by Zuiyo Eizo, and then by Zuiyo's successor Nippon Animation, which was officially established in June 1975 during the run of A Dog of Flanders. In both cases, the series originally aired primarily on Fuji Television. Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata both worked on several of the series. World Masterpiece Theater as produced by Nippon Animation lasted for 23 seasons, from A Dog of Flanders in 1975 to Remi, Nobody's Girl (家なき子レミ, Ie Naki Ko Remi, Sans Famille) in 1997. Nippon Animation restarted the series in 2007 with the release of Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette, which premiered on BS Fuji on January 7, 2007, with Porufi no Nagai Tabi (The Long Journey of Porphy) subsequently airing on the same network beginning on January 6, 2008, making it the 25th World Masterpiece Theater series. The most recent and 26th series is Kon'nichiwa Anne 〜 Before Green Gables (lit. Hello Anne ~ Before Green Gables).
To date, only three series were ever dubbed in English for the American market: Tom Sawyer (1980), Swiss Family Robinson (1981), and Little Women (1987). The anime satellite television network, Animax, who also aired numerous installments of the series across Japan, later translated and dubbed many of the series' installments into English for broadcast across its English-language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia, such as Princess Sarah (小公女セーラ, Shōkōjo Sēra), Remi, Nobody's Girl (家なき子レミ, Ie Naki Ko Remi), Little Women (愛の若草物語, Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari), and others. The serials also found success in Europe, with Anne of Green Gables (1979, Miyazaki's last work for Nippon Animation before leaving the studio), Heidi, Girl of the Alps as well as the aforementioned Princess Sarah.
The series has been known by various names over the years (as shown below), but "World Masterpiece Theater" is the name most commonly used by viewers. Nippon Animation's official English name for the series is "The Classic Family Theater Series".
Before Nippon Animation - Calpis Comic Theater (1969–1974) 
- Dororo and Hyakkimaru (どろろと百鬼丸 Dororo to Hyakimaru , 1969)
- Moomin (ムーミン Mūmin , 1969 - 1970)
- Andersen Stories (アンデルセン物語 Anderusen Monogatari , 1971)：Adapted from several stories of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish fairy tales writer.
- New Moomin (新 ムーミン Shin Mūmin , 1972)
- Rocky Chuck the Mountain rat (山ねずみ ロッキーチャック Yama Nezumi Rokkī Chakku , 1973)：Adapted from the stories collection of animal-themed children stories writer, Thornton Burgess.
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps (アルプスの少女ハイジ Arupusu no Shōjo Haiji , 1974)：Adapted from Johanna Spyri's novel, Heidi.
Nippon Animation - Calpis Children's Theater (1975–1977) 
- A Dog of Flanders (フランダースの犬 Furandāsu no Inu , 1975)：Adapted from the same name novel by Maria Louise Ramé (aka Ouida).
- Marco, 3000 Leagues in Search for Mother (母をたずねて三千里 Haha o Tazunete Sanzen Ri , 1976)：Adapted from a small part of Heart, the chapter named From the Apennines to the Andes, written by Italian author Edmondo De Amicis.
- Rascal the Raccoon (あらいぐまラスカル Araiguma Rasukaru , 1977)：Adapted from Sterling North's novel, Rascal.
Calpis Family Theater (1978) 
- The Story of Perrine (ペリーヌ物語 Perīnu Monogatari , 1978)：Adapted from Hector Malot's novel, En Famille.
World Masterpiece Theater (1979–1985; no title sponsor) 
- Anne of Green Gables (赤毛のアン Akage no An , 1979)：Adapted from the same name novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (トム・ソーヤーの冒険 Tomu Sōyā no Bōken , 1980)：Adapted from the same name novel by Mark Twain.
- The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island (家族ロビンソン漂流記 ふしぎな島のフローネ Kazoku Robinson Hyōryūki: Fushigi na Shima no Furōne , 1981)：Adapted from Johann David Wyss's The Swiss Family Robinson.
- Lucy of the Southern Rainbow (南の虹のルーシー Minami no Niji no Rūshī , 1982)：Adapted from an Australian novel Southern Rainbow by Phyllis Piddington.
- Alps Story: My Annette (わたしのアンネット Watashi no Annetto , 1983)：Adapted from the English children book, Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John.
- Katri, Girl of the Meadows (牧場の少女カトリ Makiba no Shōjo Katori , 1984)：Adapted from the Finnish novel, Paimen, piika ja emäntä, the author is Auni Nuolivaara.
- Princess Sarah (小公女セーラ Shōkōjo Sēra , 1985)：Adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, A Little Princess.
House Foods World Masterpiece Theater (1986–1993) 
- The Story of Pollyanna, Girl of Love (愛少女ポリアンナ物語 Ai Shōjo Porianna Monogatari , 1986)：Adapted from Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up, both were written by Eleanor H. Porter.
- Little Women: Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari (Love Story of the Young Grass) (愛の若草物語 Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari , 1987)：Adapted from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.
- Little Prince Cedie (小公子セディ Shōkōshi Sedi , 1988)：Adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, Little Lord Fauntleroy.
- Adventures of Peter Pan (ピーターパンの冒険 Pītā Pan no Bōken , 1989)：Adapted from Peter Pan, the famous story by J. M. Barrie.
- My Daddy Long Legs (私のあしながおじさん Watashi no Ashinaga Ojisan , 1990)：Adapted from Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs.
- Trapp Family Story (トラップ一家物語 Torappu Ikka Monogatari , 1991)：Adapted from the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp, which also inspired the musical The Sound of Music and its film version.
- The Bush Baby (大草原の小さな天使 ブッシュベイビー Daisōgen no Chiisana Tenshi Busshu Beibī , 1992)：Adapted from William Stevenson's story The Bushbabies
- Little Women II: Jo's Boys (Tale of Young Grass: Nan and Miss Jo) (若草物語 ナンとジョー先生 Wakakusa Monogatari: Nan to Jōsensei , 1993)：Adapted from Little Women's sequel, Louisa May Alcott's Little Men.
World Masterpiece Theater (1994–1997; no title sponsor) 
- Tico of the Seven Seas (七つの海のティコ Nanatsu no Umi no Tiko , 1994)
- Romeo's Blue Skies (ロミオの青い空 Romio no Aoi Sora , 1995)：Adapted from Die Schwarzen Brüder by Kurt Held (published under the name of his wife Lisa Tetzner).
- Famous Dog Lassie (名犬ラッシー Meiken Rasshī , 1996)：Adapted from the short story Lassie Come-Home, the author is Eric Knight.
- Remi, Nobody's Girl (家なき子レミ Ie Naki Ko Remi , 1996 - 1997)：Adapted from Hector Malot's novel, Sans Famille.
House Foods World Masterpiece Theater (2007–2009) 
- Les Misérables: Girl Cosette (レ・ミゼラブル 少女コゼット Re Mizeraburu Shōjo Kozetto , 2007)：Adapted from Victor Hugo's novel, Les Misérables.
- The Long Journey of Porphy (ポルフィの長い旅 Porufi no Nagai Tabi , 2008):Adapted from Paul-Jacques Bonzon's The orphans of Simitra.
- Kon'nichiwa Anne 〜 Before Green Gables (こんにちは アン, lit. Hello Anne ~ Before Green Gables, 2009)：Adapted from the first version of Anne Shirley's story, Budge Wilson's Before Green Gables.
Series length 
- Dororo - 26 episodes
- Moomin - 65 episodes
- Andersen Monogatari - 52 episodes
- Moomin (1972) - 52 episodes
- Fables of the Green Forest - 52 episodes
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps - 52 episodes
- Dog of Flanders - 52 episodes
- 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother - 52 episodes
- Rascal the Raccoon - 52 episodes
- The Story of Perrine - 53 episodes
- Anne of Green Gables - 50 episodes
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - 49 episodes
- The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island - 50 episodes
- Lucy of the Southern Rainbow - 50 episodes
- Story of the Alps: My Annette - 48 episodes
- Katri, Girl of the Meadows - 49 episodes
- Princess Sarah - 46 episodes
- The Story of Pollyanna, Girl of Love - 51 episodes
- Little Women - 48 episodes
- Little Lord Fauntleroy - 43 episodes
- The Adventures of Peter Pan - 41 episodes
- My Daddy Long Legs - 40 episodes
- Trapp Family Story - 40 episodes
- The Bush Baby - 40 episodes
- Little Women II: Jo's Boys - 40 episodes
- Tico of the Seven Seas - 39 episodes
- Romeo's Blue Skies - 33 episodes
- Famous Dog Lassie - 26 episodes
- Remi, Nobody's Girl - 26 episodes
- Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette - 52 episodes
- Porphy no Nagai Tabi - 52 episodes
- Hello Anne - Before Green Gables - 39 episodes
See also