Friday, April 6, 2007

Haikara-san ga Tōru/Smart-san


Haikara-san ga Tōru , also known as Smart-san, is a Japanese shōjo manga series by Waki Yamato, which was serialized in Kodansha's Shōjo Friend from 1975 to 1977, later adapted into a 42-episode anime TV series produced by Nippon Animation, which premiered across Japan on TV Asahi from June 3, 1978 to March 31, 1979. The anime series was also later aired across Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and NHK satellite channel BS2. The title literally translates into English as Here Comes Miss Modern, Here Comes Miss High-Collar ("haikara" being the Japanese version of the English phrase "high collar"), or Fashionable Girl Passing By.

The manga was serialized in Kodansha's Shōjo Friend magazine in Japan from 1975 to 1977. It remains a popular nostalgia item in Japan to this day, considered a classic work from the same 1970s shōjo manga boom that gave birth to such popular titles as Candy Candy, and copies are still in print. The anime adaptation of the story, which aired across Japan on the terrestrial TV Asahi network from June 1978 to March 1979, spanned 42 episodes, was directed by Kazuyoshi Yokota (Spaceship Sagittarius, Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics), and featured character designs by future Ranma 1/2 director Tsutomu Shibayama.

Due to disappointing ratings, Nippon Animation was forced to end the series early and craft an ending to the anime that was different from that of the manga, cutting the story off after the arrival of Shinobu and Lalissa in Japan. In the final episode, Benio finds out that the mysterious Russian count is not Shinobu (Lalissa has a photograph of their wedding day to prove it), and the episode ends with Benio imagining a reunion with Shinobu and refusing to give up hope that he is alive. Up until this point, the anime had been a very faithful adaptation of the manga, even incorporating redrawn stills from Yamato's original work (although the anime portrayed Benio with reddish-brown hair, and Yamato's colorized drawings often showed her as blonde).

The anime has been discovered by new audiences in the years since thanks to the enduring popularity of the original manga (as well as a live-action movie version of the story released in Japan in 1987). In 2005, Haikara-san ga Tooru was listed at #95 in a TV Asahi poll of the top 100 animation series of all time, based on a nationwide survey of Japanese of all age groups. The anime has also been aired across Japan by the anime satellite television network, Animax, and the NHK satellite channel BS2.

Both the manga and anime have also enjoyed considerable success in the European market. The manga was released in Italy in the late 1990s under the title Una ragazza alla moda (A Fashionable Girl). The anime was successful on Italian TV in 1986 under the title Mademoiselle Anne, and a French dub of the series, Marc et Marie, aired on French TV in 1995. Nippon Animation's official English title for the anime is Smart-san.


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