World Masterpiece Theater

World Masterpiece Theater (世界名作劇場, Sekai Meisaku Gekijou) is a Japanese TV anime time block that showcased an animated version of a different classical book or story each year on Sunday nights on Fuji TV. This post covers World Masterpiece Theater’s adaptations of Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer, and A Dog of Flanders. If you’re interested in information about The Moomins, which technically also has TV anime series that were part of World Masterpiece Theater, click here.

In addition to being foundational entertainment to a generation of Japanese children, World Masterpiece Theater was a place where many important animators and directors got an early chance to develop their chops, like Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

Locations from A Dog of Flanders are based on Hoboken and Antwerp in Belgium. Peter Paul Reubens’ triptych (three panel) painting The Descent from the Cross can be found in the Cathedral of Our Lady and is prominently featured.

Heidi takes place in the Swiss Alps in the town of Maienfeld. Heidi superfans have been known to go on trips to Maienfeld and check out the Heidi-related attractions there like the Heididorf theme park. There’s also a Japanese theme park based on Heidi in Yamanashi called Heidi’s Village. Clara’s house is based on Goethe’s house in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens, was born in Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal has gone all-out to make monuments to Twain, by preserving his childhood home, running a steamboat ferry called the Mark Twain Riverboat, holding an annual carnival called Tom Sawyer Days, and installing several statues. Disney parks Disney World, Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland have an attraction called Tom Sawyer’s Island, which includes a steamboat, mock raft, and other destinations.

Anne of Green Gables‘ setting is based on a real home on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The house has since become a historic site called Green Gables Heritage Place. It is famous enough as a tourist location for a New York Times article. Canadian World Park was a theme park based on Anne built in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido that has been mostly abandoned.