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Anime / Heidi, Girl of the Alps

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Heidi, Girl of the Alps is a 1974 Anime series that ran for 52 episodes based on the famous Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning Swiss classic children's novel by Johanna Spyri, which was created as part of the World Masterpiece Theater series.note  The anime featured the talents of Yoshiyuki Tomino (storyboards), Isao Takahata (director) and Hayao Miyazakinote  (animator). Also, the character designs were done by Yoichi Kotabe, likely best known in the West for his later work with Nintendo.

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It tells the tale of Heidi, a five-year-old orphan who is pretty much dumped by her aunt on her grandpa, a gruff man with a bad reputation who lives alone in the mountains. Heidi quickly melts the old man's heart and makes a friend in Peter, a goatherd six years older than her, and Grandpa's huge St Bernard dog, Joseph (renamed in many foreign dubs for some reason as some variation on the word "fog"). Just as she has gotten cozy in the Alps, her aunt comes back and tricks her into leaving the mountains for Frankfurt to become the companion of a lonely, rich Ill Girl bound to a wheelchair, Klara Sesemann. Once again, she makes friends with the whole household (except for uptight old hag Mrs. Rottenmeier), but she gets increasingly homesick, to the point that she starts sleepwalking. For her sanity's sake, she's allowed to go back to the Alps, with the promise that Klara will be allowed to visit her there. Which just happens to be exactly what Klara needs for her health...

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First telecast on Fuji TV, Heidi was a big success, and it is still fondly remembered in Japan and many foreign countries, particularly in Europe and Latin America. Not so much in English-speaking countries, as only a movie-length edited version of the show (put together without Takahata and Miyazaki's input) made it to home video in UK and USA; the edited version also aired in the early '80s on HBO. Canada was more fortunate, getting the entire series in French on Radio-Canada television. Video game players (especially those who may have never heard of this version of the story) may recognize part of the opening theme from the arcade game Froggernote .

In 2014, Belgian animation company Studio 100 produced a CGI remake that trims down the number of episodes (from 52 to 39) and makes slight changes to the story (for example, Heidi's aunt comes to live with her at Clara's house instead of just leaving Heidi there and dissapearing, even falling in love and becoming engaged to Sebastian, Clara's family butler).

Do not confuse with Heidi's Song, although both are based on the same novel.


A lot of the tropes in this series are already covered at Heidi. Tropes exclusive to Heidi, Girl of the Alps include the following:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Although Peter is a bit annoyed at how much attention Heidi pays to Klara, he doesn't go as far as destroying Klara's wheelchair as he did in the book. It's actually Klara herself who does that; she had asked Alm-Uncle to put the wheelchair away so she could be more motivated to walk, but in a moment of weakness she tries to retrieve it and ends up accidentally pushing it down the mountain.
  • Adult Fear: Parents may fear this if they see their children standing at gunpoint even if they're not aiming at them, they still could get hurt.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song:
    • The opening theme was changed for South African TV to the famous German Heidi song. Also, the Italian version has a different ending theme.
    • The Spanish language versions (for both Spain and Latin America), and (at least) the Brazilian Portuguese version use an adapted version of the original Japanese opening theme.note 
  • Anachronism Stew: Heidi and Klara's grandmother often play rock-paper-scissors during the Frankfurt Arc. "Jankenpon" (as the game is known in Japan) was brought to the West in the wake of the 20th century; the story is set in the early 1880s.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Downplayed with the Saint Bernard Joseph, who's aloof to people initially, including Heidi. He warms up if they prove to be good people, though, and he misses Heidi greatly when she leaves for Germany.
  • Butt-Monkey: Rottenmeier, in the last episodes. Seeing her being comically unable to adapt herself to the Alps life is freaking cathartic.
  • Canon Foreigner: Josef, the St. Bernard dog was created just for this series.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Heidi sometimes qualifies for this, but it's probably due to her young age despite her incredible intelligence.
  • Country Mouse: Much like in the book, Heidi doesn't like the life in the city to the point of falling ill from missing her dear mountains.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Heidi's grandfather starts off being a gruff and misanthropic man, but soon ends up softening up and cherishing Heidi's presence in his life.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Or in this case, "Do not call me Adelheid". At least one scene in one episode has Heidi doing this to Miss Rottenmeier.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Like most other adaptations of her story, Heidi often goes barefoot whenever she has the chance.
  • Doting Grandparent: Like in the novel, Heidi's grandfather, in spite of his aloof nature, adores Heidi, to the point of going back on his plan to sell their newborn goat to rent a house for the winter in Episode 37, "Goat's Baby", after seeing Heidi fall into grief. The narration, at least in the Cantonese dub, explicitly says that this moment shows how much Heidi's grandfather loves her.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Peter is named Pedro in both Spanish dubs. Justified, since most Spanish (and Portuguese) translations of the book would use this name. The French version would also call him "Pierre".
    • Josef (the St. Bernard that lives with Heidi's grandfather) is often renamed in many other versions, including Niebla in both Spanish versions, Nebbia in the Italian version, Hercule in the French version, and Bernard in the English compilation film.
  • Help Mistaken for Attack: Heidi adopts a baby bird. She thinks Joseph wants to eat it and forbids him from doing so. Then later the bird gets into trouble and Joseph lunges at it, catching it in his mouth. Heidi thinks Joseph has eaten it and cries and hits Joseph, but then he opens his mouth to show the bird safe and sound and Heidi realizes he was just trying to protect it.
  • Insistent Terminology: As with the book, and most other adaptations, Miss Rottenmeier insists on referring to Heidi by her full Christian name of "Adelheid" (or "Adelaide", depending on the translationnote )
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: While the Japanese pronunciation of Heidi's name ("Haiji") is understandable, in both Spanish versions, her name is pronounced "HEY-dee" for some reason. Subverted with Tinette, the maid, whose name is pronounced "Tinett-eh", also in both Spanish versions, but would be closer to the German pronunciation.note 
  • Little Miss Badass: In Episode 13, "Return to the Meadows", when a goatherd falsely accuses Peter of stealing his goat (when it ran away in the storm) and beats him up, Heidi tries to stop him—at first by shouting at him, and when that doesn't work, by biting him in the arm.
  • Never Learned to Read: Much like in the books, Heidi didn't learn to read until she was taught how to in Frankfurt. By the time she returns to the Alps, she can read on a basic level and is still continuing to learn new words through reading books.
  • Redubbing: One of only a handful of animes to be dubbed in Afrikaans during Apartheid.note 
  • Solid Clouds: The intro shows Heidi lying on a cloud and gazing at the landscape below.
  • Thwarted Escape: In the episode "A Hectic Night", Heidi almost manages to escape the Sesemann's house, but as she was about to cross the street one of the servants notices her and is forced inside the house against her will.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Though debatable... since Heidi doesn't know too much about guns, but in the scene where the hunters were about to shoot a deer, you'd think that she's afraid... but she's not. She then stands up for an argument and ends it by sticking her tongue out.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Heidi and Peter often get into fights over different things, usually due to Heidi's love for nature, but they always eventually reconcile.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After witnessing Heidi's sleepwalking, and learning from Rottermeier that she forced Heidi to forget about her mountains and stop crying for the sake of Klara, Mr.Sesserman angrily calls Rottenmeier out for giving such cruel orders and directly says to her that is her fault that Heidi's health deteriorated.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: From the get-go, Heidi is a 5-year-old orphan yet she seems to talk like an 8-year-old.note 
  • Yodel Land: Provide the trope picture. To be fair, it's based on a novel that thrives on Yodel Land to the point of more or less being its Trope Codifier.

Alternative Title(s): Heidi

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