Tales of Little Women

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Tales of 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
Original network Fuji TV, Animax
English network
Original run January 11, 1987December 27, 1987
Episodes 48
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Tales of Little Women (愛の若草物語, Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari, "Love's Tale of Young Grass"), also simply known as Little Women, 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. In some episodes he appears to have feelings for Jo, who, in her single-minded quest to become a great writer, does not reciprocate or even seem to notice.
  • 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 11 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. Since Fall 2009, 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.

Voice Cast[edit]

Tales of Little Women English Cast[edit]

Voice actors


  • 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]

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

See also[edit]

External links[edit]