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Anime / Himitsu no Hanazono
aka: The Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden (アニメひみつの花園; Himitsu no Hanazono) is a 1991 anime series. It is an adaptation of the 1911 novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is mostly faithful to its source material apart from a few liberties. The anime ran from April 19, 1991 to March 27, 1992, ending at 39 episodes. Koukawa Tameo served as it's director.

Nine-year-old Mary lives in British India and has never known her parents, who don't consider her a priority. Instead she is left to the care of their various servants. After losing her parents to cholera, Mary has to move to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven. While she's initally selfish and strong-willed, after she discovers the secret garden of the mansion, she takes an interest in it and starts working to bring it back to life. Mary slowly changes as a person, and starts warming up to the servant boy Dickon, the butler Pitcher and the garden caretaker Ben Weatherstaff.

Mary discovers a sickly boy named Colin, who cannot walk and lives at the back of the mansion. He is just as headstrong as Mary, and the two constantly clash because she finds him insufferable. However, her infectious attitude rubs off him and he, too, becomes a sweeter person.

Little by little, both Mary, Colin and Dickon learn about the life of the mansion before they moved in, and the various friends and associates of Lilias Craven and the Craven household. And they set out to change it, just as it has changed them.

Not to be confused with the 2007 rom-com Himitsu no Hanazono (2007).

The Secret Garden (アニメひみつの花園; Himitsu no Hanazono) has examples of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Archibald Craven's business fails and he ends up losing most of his wealth to Max Hawkins. Archibald is Driven to Suicide, but backs out last-minute. Max then comes to speak with him and Camila recalls how he acted to her in his rage. They decide to give him a chance to pay them back under different circumstances, but only for the sake of the children. Archibald sheds tears of joy from their forgiveness and strives to let go of the past and become a better person, his first act of kindness helping out in the garden.
  • Adaptational Diversity: Martha and Dickon are Ambiguously Brown, and we're also introduced the Canon Foreigner Camila.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime series runs through 39 episodes, so it has to stretch the story quite a bit: more emphasis is put on Mary's initial difficulties to adapt herself to the mansionnote , the rest of the Sowerby family is given more spotlight, Colin is actually ill rather than spoiled and hypochondriac, some canon foreigners join the cast and turn out to be vital to the last parts of the story. Some minor details of Mary's life are also expanded on here, such as her birthday being January 6.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song:
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Mary's friends include a pink cat, a blue crow, and purple squirrels.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of an English novel written 80 years earlier; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  • Angry Mob: The racist English villagers that blame Camila for Lilias Craven's death. At one point they surround her house, ready to burn it down, until Mary rushes to defend her and stands in front of it to bar them. This manages to slow them for some time, until Susan Sowerby also comes forwards and asserts that Camila is innocent.
  • Britain Is Only England: Averted. While most of the anime focuses on England, it also mentions various other British territories. However, it is set in England, specifically Yorkshire.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The anime adds many new staff to the Craven House - the butler Pitcher, the tutor Helen, the coachman Sam, the accountant Max, the servant Tom, the cook Hannah and the nurse Natalie, amongst others.
    • Lilias has a best friend in Camila, a kind-hearted Romani woman who is shunned by the other people because of her racial heritage.
    • Mary has a cat, Paddy, who she brings with her to England.
    • Similarly to Mary's cat, Dickon has a whole slew of animal friends not present in the book.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The buried key that Mary finds. It belonged to Lilias and is used to open the garden.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • Both Mary and Colin are ill-tempered snots, but they were failed by all the adults around them and severely neglected during the developmental stages of their childhood. Once they have a Jerkass Realization, they strive to be better people.
    • The entire village is racist to Camila and excludes her. Mary doesn't, and welcomes her as a friend.
  • Coming of Age Story: Of Mary realizing that her upbringing was actually not normal and that she has a lot of work to do to change as a person, as well as breaking the cycle of her Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • Culturally Sensitive Adaptation: In the book, there was a scene where Martha stated that "There are a lot of blacks [in India] instead of respectable white people"note , and she also accidentally offended Mary by assuming that she was one of them.
    Mary sat up in bed furious.
    “What!” she said. “What! You thought I was a native. You—you daughter of a pig!”
    Martha stared and looked hot.
    “Who are you callin’ names?” she said. “You needn’t be so vexed. That’s not th’ way for a young lady to talk. I’ve nothin’ against th’ blacks. When you read about ’em in tracts they’re always very religious. You always read as a black’s a man an’ a brother. I’ve never seen a black an’ I was fair pleased to think I was goin’ to see one close. When I come in to light your fire this mornin’ I crep’ up to your bed an’ pulled th’ cover back careful to look at you. An’ there you was,” disappointedly, “no more black than me—for all you’re so yeller.”
    Mary did not even try to control her rage and humiliation.
    “You thought I was a native! You dared! You don’t know anything about natives! They are not people—they’re servants who must salaam to you. You know nothing about India. You know nothing about anything!”
    • The anime removes this entirely, and also makes Martha and her family Ambiguously Brown (to the point Martha looks a bit like Casca).
  • Cute Kitten: Paddy is an adorable kitty with pink fur.
  • Downer Beginning: We don't see it since it's mentioned by other characters, but Mary's parents have just died, and she has to leave her old home to live with her remaining relatives.
  • Flowers of Nature: Mary is amazed by how beautiful the flowers of the garden are and it kick starts her Character Development into a nicer person.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: A little robin leads Mary to a key buried in the soil, which unlocks the door to the garden.
  • Foul Fox: Inverted, the fox is a friendly animal who's more akin to a Big Friendly Dog.
  • Gratuitous English: In the opening of the original Japanese version, the title is written in English, "The Secret Garden", rather than in Japanese.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary" is briefly used in the anime, where a boy taunts Mary with it in the first episode.
  • Irony: Like the book, Mary's terrible personality is a result of her parents never being there for her. However, if they had, she would have caught cholera from them and similarly died.
  • Official Couple: Max has been in love with Camila ever since they were very young. They eventually end up together.
  • Phenotype Stereotype:
    • Mary's servant is Indian and has dark skin. She also has a bindi, implying she's Hindu.
    • Camila is Romani and has tanned skin and unkempt, wild black hair.
  • Private Tutor: Mr. Craven hires a tutor for Mary Lennox after she moves to Yorkshire, England, with Mrs. Medlock also acting as a substitute educator. Mary tries to question her about the garden, but gets little to no answers.
  • Public Domain Character: The novel is in the public domain since it was published before copyright laws. The anime features them, alongside some Canon Foreigners.
  • Scenery Porn: Unsurprising for a show centered around a garden - if you like seeing flowers and greenery, this anime's for you. Many episodes are about Ben Weatherstaff teaching Mary how to properly care for the titular Neglected Garden so it can be beautiful again. Especially prominent in the Grand Finale, where are there are so many pretty shots of the titular garden's flowers that it can rival a wedding. The anime's openings and E Ds also prominently feature roses centering around Mary.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The anime portrays Mary with blonde hair, like in the book (many adaptations change it to brunette).
    • The anime also has her parents die of cholera (many adaptations change this to an earthquake occuring in India at the time).
  • Show Within a Show: In the anime's ending, Mary and the other main characters are shown portrayed as puppets with Mary pulling the strings. At the end, the camera pans to show that the theater is called The Secret Garden.
  • Something about a Rose: The anime opening begins with roses falling into a blank white screen, before cutting to Mary. Roses are frequently seen blooming during it and it ends with Mary surrounded by them.
  • Neglected Garden: The garden Lillias died in has been neglected for nearly a decade when Mary arrives at the Craven mansion.
  • Token Trio: Mary (white, female), Dickon (Ambiguously Brown, male) and Colin (disabled, white, male).
  • Wealthy Ever After: Max Hawkins lends a large amount of money to Mr. Craven. Craven is unable to pay it back, so he has to forfeit a lot of his possessions to him. Max takes pleasure in this, because Mr. Craven was horrible to him and his fiance Camila when they were his employees. However, Camila asks him to be lenient because Mary Lennox is her friend, and even the Craven staff ask him to think of the children even though they don't like Archibald. Seeing that Archibald is a broken man and that Mary was genuinely kind to his fiancee, Max agrees.
  • Woodland Creatures: Outside of the titular garden, Dickon also befriends the forest's deers, sheep, squirrels and all sorts of birds.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Tom, one of the Craven mansion's servants, is scared of heights.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Secret Garden


Mary Lennox's upbringing

Martha Sowerby learns that Mary has never had to dress herself. Mary explains that she grew up in India, where it was customary for servants to wait on children hand and foot, and she had a personal maid servant of her own. Martha comments that Mary was spoiled as a child.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpoiledBrat

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