In the dark days before World War II, an amnesiac young girl, Jeudi, survives a plane crash, and is tended to by a boy from the nearby countryside, Lundi. As they grow up together, they find themselves embroiled in the struggle between Nazi sympathizers and those who would prefer France and Switzerland to remain free. And in the middle of it all, they come to realize the true extent of their relationships with those around them ... and with each other.
Though perhaps too slow-paced and stylized for most, Blazing Alpenrose is a well-executed shoujo drama that plays out more like a novel than a conventional anime. Even though this is a Tatsunoko production, much of this series emulates or recalls everything than 1970s and 1980s Nippon Animation productions are famous for: a grand, sweeping plot with a huge cast of characters who interact amid turbulent times. Improbable coincidences abound. It's very Les Miserables in that sense, but fortunately for us, the characters and plot are far from miserable - in fact, they're pretty good.
Many aspects of this series have a certain sense of quality to them. For example, the famed Takada Akemi slightly alters the manga character designs for an appealing, beautiful cast that is generally well acted by the voice actors. Of course, with a few notable exceptions, the portrayal of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers owes a lot more to Hogan's Heroes than to actual historical fact. But even then, several scenes of this anime do have moments of intense danger, with assassins and war profiteers threatening the lives of the lead characters and those close to them.
But if you don't like angst, stay well away from this series. Tearful reunions, tearful departures, and tearful soliloquies - there's a whole lot of crying going on here. Not that it's unexpected, but at times the melodrama does go way overboard. Not helping things is the music, which oscillates between grandiose orchestra and chintzy synthesizer - and I've rarely heard a more inappropriate landing place for J-pop than the opening and ending to Alpenrose.
Still, if you can get past the aging animation and the sometimes overdone tropes of the genre, Blazing Alpenrose is a solid show that may find an audience among fans of classic anime. It certainly doesn't deserve to be ignored, and it's very well worth a watch, especially if you're sick of the endless parade of "conscientious" mecha anime, cutesy monster vehicles, and inane harem shows that litter our modern airwaves.
Though it's aged just as much as its contemporaries (if not a bit more so), Alpenrose still has a very good story to tell for those patient enough to sit through it. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: This might be too slow for today's children and teens, but there's only a little bit of violence (mostly threatened), and no sex whatsoever. It is, however, very intense, though not quite to the point of Brother Dear Brother.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS compilation edit, digital source, courtesy of animeminers.com
Review Status: Partial (8/49)
Blazing Alpenrose © 1985 Michiyo Akaishi / Tatsunoko Productions
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