My Daddy Long Legs is an anime series based on Jean Webster's novel, Daddy-Long-Legs. It shares the central premise of that novel: a poor orphan is educated by a mysterious benefactor, about whom she knows nothing except what his shadow looks like. She is required to write to him and inform him of her progress, and she does so, developing a one-sided relationship with the mysterious figure who becomes the closest thing she has to a parent or guardian. Over the course of the series, she develops into a strong writer, becomes more confident about her place in the world, makes friends and finds love. In other words, it's a classic Coming of Age story focused on the development of a writer.Despite sharing the main characters and many plot events, the anime series differs significantly from the novel in many ways. Most notably, Judy is aged down. In the novel, she is a college student; in the anime, she is a high school student. The setting is roughly the same in terms of geography, but the time period changed from the Pre-World War I era to The Roaring Twenties. The plot is also fleshed out with additional story arcs and characters, which was necessary in order to transform a relatively short epistolary novel into a 40-episode series.
This show provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Although the original novel could probably have easily been covered in a one-season series (11-13 episodes), it had to be padded out with new characters, new incidents, and new arcs in order to make a 40-episode series.
- Anonymous Benefactor: See the plot summary, above! This is pretty much the lynchpin of the plot.
- Apology Gift: Jervis shows up with flowers after he criticizes Judy's novel.
- Bad Date: Episode 31 depicts a truly terrible group date with three couples. Everything starts off badly in that at least one of the men is confused about which of the three girls (Sallie, Judy, and Julia) he is supposed to be escorting. The second young men is terminally clumsy, at one point spilling orange juice all over his date. And the third man is so late that he nearly misses everything. Throw in some Love Triangle tensions, and you've got a bad date to remember!
- Coming-of-Age Story: This is one of the central themes/plots of the anime, combined with a robust Romance Arc and a related plot about Judy's development as a writer.
- Cool Big Sis: Judy is this to Emily.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Judy may be one for the audience, but she keeps her orphan status a secret from the other characters, since she's ashamed of it.
- Ill Girl: Leonora Fenton. It looks like "consumption," because she coughs up blood; actually, it's a heart condition. She gets better after surgery.
- Love Triangle: Between Judy, Julia, and Jimmie, but also between Judy, Jimmie, and Jervis.
- Underdressed for the Occasion: This is averted early in the anime, when Daddy's gift of clothing helps Judy dress properly for dinner at her new high school. Later, it happens in one of Judy's nightmares: she dreams that she encounters Jervis and a fashionable date of his while wearing her old orphanage clothing.
- Where Are They Now?Epilogue: The series ends by jumping ahead four years. Judy plays the role of narrator as we watch her wedding, bringing us up to speed on what's happened to some of the other central characters.
- Wife Husbandry: Some of Daddy's seemingly-arbitrary orders to Judy make more sense once you realize who he is. See YMMV for more on this.