Title: Twelve Months
Release Date: 1978
This was a joint production with a Russian studio and is based on a Russian Fairy Tale. – The only one I could find online was dubbed in Russian and had English subtitles. There are also Japanese and English voiced versions. The Russian one is not terrible though since the anime is “Set in Russia” and the characters themselves are supposed to be Russian.
Story: 10/10 I enjoyed the story immensely despite the age of the film and having watched it in Russian language. I think it’s an under rated and obscure anime. It is older than me, and probably older than most of my readers.
The story is about Anna, a young orphan girl whose step mother and step sister treat like a servant. One day, she meets a soldier sent from the palace looking for a Christmas tree (it’s called a new years tree, but similar to the western tradition of a pine tree at Christmas). She helps the soldier who tells her about the queen in the palace. It turns out the queen is just a child, and an orphan as well. The queen is very spoiled by her subjects and demands Snowdrop flowers even though her guards tell her it is impossible. The queen offers a basket of gold coins to whoever can find these flowers in the snow. Hearing this news, Anna’s stepmother sends her out to search for them. Cold and lost in a blizzard, Anna collapses. When she awakens she comes upon a bonfire with 12 strange cloaked figures. These figures represent the 12 months and each of them have a gift for Anna as they say she is a good girl and that they have been watching over her. In exchange Anna promises to keep their secret and returns home with her flowers. No one believes Anna and demands that she take them to the location where the flowers were picked. Anna bravely keeps her promise and as a result, magical things begin occurring within the forest.
Characters: 5/10 – The characters are very simplistic and basically cut/paste from nearly any children’s fairy tale. Wicked step mother and step sister, enslaved “good” child, woodland animals, princesses, and palace guards. Nothing terrible original or unique. The characters are charming but lack any depth beyond their stereotypical roles. This is not a very deep anime.
Artwork: 2/5 The artwork is cute in its own way but this anime is 40 years old now. This shows in both character style as well as animation techniques and even color palettes chosen throughout the film.
Music: 3/5 The music is just rather average and not bad nor amazing. It seems to fit well with the mood of the anime.
Actually both the artwork and the music are reminiscent of other animated films of the times back then, including the Lord of the Ring animated films.
Voice Acting: 3/5 – I watched the Russian version, I am sure the Japanese version is better – however, it wasn’t bad in Russian since it is based on a Russian fairy tale in the first place. The step mother and step sister had annoying voices, but I think that was intentional maybe since they were wicked.
Overall: 23 / 35 66% D “Average Anime For Girls”