The most brilliant director in anime is back with a new production for children, the 52 episodes long Porphy no Nagai Tabi (ポルフィの長い旅), airing Sundays at 19:30 JST on BS Fuji.

As the 25th part of Nippon Animation‘s World Masterpiece Theatre collection, they’ve picked French author Paul-Jacques Bonzon’s novel Les Orphelins de Simitra from 1955. This may not excite you too much, considering Bonzon can’t even be found on Wikipedia, unless you dig into the French edition, but the really important part is the director they chose: Mochizuki Tomomi! Not only did he direct two of my favourite shows – the sad but wonderful Twin Spica and the delightful Fancy Lala – but he also wrote the script for 2007’s best anime Touka Gettan. He’s also been involved in classic anime like Kimagure Orange Road and Ranma ½. For Porphy no Nagai Tabi, the script is handled by Kunii Kei, who only seems to have been doing dramas and live-action movies, most recently Yuunagi no Machi, Sakura no Kuni.

The story follows a Greek boy named Porphy and his little sister Mina from the village Simitra, and is set right after the end of World War II. The first episode establishes that their childhood has been rather happy, with caring parents, and the siblings spend most of their days either at school or taking care of the family’s goats. Their father has moved to Athens temporarily to find the means to start a service garage, and following in his father’s footsteps, Porphy is crazy about cars, rushing after them like a yapping dog. Unfortunately for the children, and luckily for the viewers, this idyll won’t last. The novel’s summary informs us that a massive earthquake will leave Porphy and Mina orphaned, and they’re sent to a foster home in a different part of Europe. One day Mina goes missing, and Porphy embarks on a journey through various countries in search of his sister.

This anime has a peculiar look, setting it apart from what we’re used to thinking of as “modern anime”. It uses a simple character design, completely without any type of shading, making people look flat and, I must admit, quite dull. Instead they’ve painted very vivid backgrounds of beautiful Greek scenery, and they’ve been kind enough to broadcast in crisp HD. The visual style is unlikely to draw anyone’s attention, but perhaps it will work to let viewers focus on the plot. Music’s composed by Elfen Lied‘s MOKA, and provides a pleasant aural stage without really being noticed. Likewise, the voice work is functional without being dazzling, as Porphy is played by Kaida Yuki (Fuji in Prince of Tennis) and Mina by Fujimura Ayumi (Nene in Touka Gettan) in a fittingly irritating little sister voice.

Despite jizzing all over myself reading that Mochizuki would be directing Porphy no Nagai Tabi, I can’t really say it’s got me frothing at the mouth for another episode. This is aimed at a young audience, and I’m sadly not very young anymore. There’s a chance he’ll make something magical out of it in the end, but the prospect of following flatly animated orphans doesn’t appeal to me, no matter how beautiful the landscape. At 52 episodes it’s also quite a commitment.


  1. This type of anime is an adaptation of classics after all

    Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette is great, the first episode is far from code geass, but you have a real plot, a real character development, and something we call moral of the story.. not a fanservice galore or some crazy train-wreck animes that’s on the market right now

  2. The first episodes indeed will probably be very slow, but make no mistake: it’s going to be exactly like rev said, and a set-up like this will probably result in excellent characters. I seriously hope that people won’t let this series go unsubbed, like what happened with Les Miserables.

    PS. for christ’s sake: fix your spamfilter.

  3. It’s not because something isn’t loliish or moe that it’s bad. It’s actually quite the contrary.

    It it true that Japan has kids shows, but it is nothing like American kids shows, their kids shows look more like Les Misérables or Dennou Coil, or even Mujin Wakusei Survive, they’re brilliant and mature, even more than some “seinen” animes. Give them a chance, it’s not because it’s a kids show that it will be bad or silly or stuff. You can actually be sure that they WON’T be silly or bad.

  4. Bonzon is rather famous in Greece, especially his Six Companions series were my favourite books when i was a child.
    But i’ve never heard of this one before, which is strange considering the theme of the book.

  5. lol. @Windspirit
    I guess this kind of shows for kids are better than the ones aired in American television. But still, it is just that a lot of of people don’t have this kind of taste. I doubt that kids like it either. It is more like adult implying shows that contain morals on kids; while kids just want to watch fun shows teenagers or young adults watch. Well, i am talking of personal experience; so it might not be the same for everybody.

  6. I think the unique art direction of this show is quite great, having a style unlike pretty much everything on right now. I’m interested.

    I’ll watch a few episodes. I don’t know if the plot will hold me, though.



    Tensai Otaku
  8. You really should stick to this show. The stuff in this franchise tends to get amazingly good within 5 episodes. If you gave D.Gray-Man like…30 episodes? Why not give this show at least 5? If it’s anything like the book, it will have a beautiful story. Just because it’s a show aimed at a younger audience doesn’t mean it will pander to them, Gundam certainly doesn’t.

  9. Based on the first episode, this show is going to be at a very high level. The slow and artistic build up is still continuing. The music is excellent, the voice-acting outstanding. The delicate emotions are well drawn. I myself usually end up not being able to follow such a long series, but the fact is that it is esthetically much superior to most of the more popular anime, despite the simple character design. This show is on at 7:30 Sunday evenings, so perhaps it is more a family show than a pure kids show.

    I agree that Mochizuki Tomomi has been a very good director. The shows of his that I like best are YKK and Zettai Shounen.

  10. I will probably pick up this show. Only one problem I have is the character design…I don’t mind of colouring but the protagonists look way too Asian =w=ili I have to keep reminding himself that he is greek

    Jellyfish Marine
  11. Before, I wasn’t really up for seeing this since it didn’t look that interesting nor have I ever read the book. But after seeing a few screenshots, I’m more tempted to look into it. It’s something different from all the other anime airing this season so I’ll give it a shot. So I’m hoping somebody at least subs a few episodes of this.

  12. “Mochizuki Tomomi! Not only did he direct two of my favourite shows – the sad but wonderful Twin Spica and the delightful Fancy Lala – but he also wrote the script for 2007’s best anime Touka Gettan”

    I thought Random Curiosity picked Code Geass as the best anime of 2007? And what is Touka Gettan anyway?

  13. It’s no big thing if this isn’t blogged. Shows like this are not usually to everyone’s taste and that’s fine. I for one am highly intrested in watching this (I actually like the art style kind of ^^;)So my big worry is if anyone will even bother subbing it and even so how long I’ll have to wait between eps. It doesn’t have to be weekly or even 2 weeks but a month and some change or more for one or two eps (Snow Queen am looking at you)…

  14. Funny that you mentioned Mochizuki Tomomi, but picked two shows of his that I haven’t even seen, rather than my two or three favorites of his– “Yokohama Shopping Log”, “Zettai Shonen” and the Ghibli TV film “Ocean Waves.” Perhaps Twin Spica and Touka Gettan are very different, but the two I mentioned above are slow, character focused productions with a lot of emphasis on mood and atmosphere. The fact that he’s got 52 eps for this one seemed to imply to me that we’d get a very leisurely pace with lots of time for beautiful scenery and interesting new characters.

    As for the art and the character designs– that’s the other main half of why I was interested in the show. Although they’re somewhat “flat” in a retro kind of way, they’re also very detailed and relatively life-like in proportion and detail, which seemed to go with the very detailed backgrounds I was seeing in the screencaps.

    I hope it gets blogged by someone. And yes, World Masterpiece Theater has a history of making very good anime with long, big plots that almost always go 52 eps. It’s an investment of time, but they’re often very good. I can’t vouch for the opinions of young Japanese kids, but these shows have generally been considered much beloved classics, so the pacing and lack of adreline inducing events doesn’t seem to have been a deterrent for their viewing experience. To each their own though.

    Steve Berry
  15. Steve Berry – It seemed wrong to list every single production he’s worked on, so I kept to the ones I liked most. Zettai Shounen was certainly a joy to watch, but the second half isn’t quite as strong as the first, and it pales a bit in comparison to the emotional power of Twin Spica, which I urge you to see ASAP. I’ve only seen YKK once, ten years ago, and it put me to sleep, literally. Of course I’d been awake 36 hours at the time, but I’ll be reading the manga instead.

    My main issue with Porphy is that it’s based on a novel with 170 pages, leaving 3-4 pages per episode. With the protagonist travelling around a lot, I’m assuming we’ll only see glimpses of characters other than Porphy himself, resulting in one single properly developed person, and a lot of “meetings”. I simply don’t feel intrigued by that at the moment. I also get depressed watching poor orphans scrounging for food.

  16. “This is aimed at a young audience, and I’m sadly not very young anymore.”

    I think this is not a pure kids show. Since it is based on a novel whose target were not only kids, this anime is for all ages.

  17. It looks great! I mean, it’s not like the other animes where all people look like super models. It’s a classic (the character design, the setting, the “feel”) that’s why I like it.

    Once in a while it’s fun to watch slice of life rather than “impossible-to-happen” shows.

  18. Hi guys,
    do you know where i can find an english fansub of it? -it does exist?- or a raw one is ok too… )tnx( —amIallowedtoaskthisinthisblog?ifIamspammingSOoRRY—

    -anyway… i ADORE the Nippon Animation masterpiece classics blahblah, maybe shoujo cosette is the one i really can’t appreciate dued for that character design…
    andy, italy


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