In case you’re one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t already know of Anne Frank, she was a young Jewish writer—born 10 years before the start of World War II—who was forced to live in a cramped hiding area with her family to avoid persecution by the Nazis. During her stay there, she documented her life in a now famous diary, which has since been adapted into movies, plays, and even an anime.
Anne no Nikki was brought to my attention by a fellow MAL user. I was surprised to hear that an anime of Anne Frank’s diary had been made—by Madhouse, nonetheless, one of my favorite studios. I’d known about Anne Frank’s story for awhile, but I avoided it because I feared it might be too depressing for me to handle. However, as a Madhouse fanboy, curiosity regarding this version got the best of me, and I relented and watched it.
As expected, this movie was difficult to watch, and often stressful. Even the peaceful moments had a melancholic undertone that keeps you from feeling completely happy about anything. The presence of the Nazis encroaching the lives of Anne and her family is always felt even when they’re not seen.
On the visual front, the animation—which wasn’t rotoscoped—was outstanding. Character movements were nicely detailed, and most inbetween frames were done on twos resulting in a fluidity not common in the typical anime. The character designs matched their real life counterparts, and the soundtrack beautifully complimented the imagery. A lot of care was put into this production.
The characters had realistic and subdued personalities, and little was exaggerated or played up for dramatic effect. I appreciated the subtlety of the directing, but the sedate pacing may be trying for less patient viewers. It’s not a perfect movie, and there’s an occasional tinge of melodrama, but its heart more than compensates for its flaws.