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The Story of Perrine (ペリーヌ物語 Perīnu Monogatari, lit. "Story of Perrine") is a Japanese anime series by Nippon Animation. It is the ninth production in the World Masterpiece Theater series, based on the French novel En Famille (aka Nobody's Girl) by Hector Malot. The series aired from January 1, 1978 until December 31, 1978, spanning 53 episodes. It was dubbed and exhibited in many places like Philippines, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, etc.

Like the original book, it follows the adventures of the French-Indian teenager Perrine Paindavoine as she reaches for the northern village of Maraucourt, where her grandfather lives, and makes a life for herself there. It quite expands on the story, however, to make it last longer: it begins before Perrine, her Ill Girl mother Marie, their donkey Palikare and Perrine's puppy Baron's arrival to Paris (how the book began, save for Baron's presence) and follows the two there, before it more or less retakes the original plot...

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Aside of what the novel offers, these are the series' tropes:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: In the original novel, the Old Man at the Gates (called Grain-of-Salt in the book) is described as being one-armed, and Onnel (called "Father Ninepins" in the book) has a wooden leg. Neither is true in the animated adaptation.
  • Action Pet: Baron is not always reliable, but he's undoubtedly protective of Perrine, growling at and sometimes even attacking those who might threaten her safety.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Perrine is a blond in the novel, but a redhead in the anime.
  • Adaptation Expansion: As mentioned, it adds a bit more of "meat" to the story:
    • The book starts with Perrine and Co's arrival to Paris and is followed by Marie's death. The anime begins few after Edmond's death in Bosnia and spends around a third of the story showing how Perrine, Marie, Baron and Palikare got to the capital, with Marie dying a little before the second half.
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    • The incident where Perrine has her money stolen by a dishonest baker and then collapses of malnutrition is expanded and changed. Perrine is aided against the thief by two local people instead of La Rouquerie and Palikare and later buys food from a honest grocery person. She "properly" passes out after her meager supplies have run out, then Baron looks for help and manages to find Palikare and La Rouquerie, who take her to an hospital and then to Maraucourt.
    • In the book, Vulfran properly identifies Perrine as his granddaughter at the very end. In the series, it happens a little earlier.
  • Adaptational Timespan Change: In the book, Vulfran learns out about Perrine's true identity a whole year after she arrives in Maraucourt. In the show, he finds out by the end of the same year that she arrives.
  • Adapted Out: Rosalie's aunt Zenobie is not present in the show.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Downplayed: Marie is notoriously darker-skinned than her daughter, but it is mentioned that she's from India (and in fact, some flashbacks show her wearing a sari).
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Baron shows signs of understanding human speech beyond basic commands, but whether he listens is another matter entirely. He's certainly smart enough to help collect firewood, and to hand a starving, heat-stressed Perrine a water bottle unprompted.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Downplayed. Rosalie's younger brother, Paul, occasionally annoys Rosalie and Perrine by being Constantly Curious and a Tagalong Kid, but he is almost never intentionally obnoxious. In fact, he is actively helpful at times, bringing useful supplies while Perrine is living in the hunter's hut, and keeping Baron company when she is at work.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Marcel is likely based on a Circus Brat character who tells Perrine where to stay in Paris at the beginning of the book and never appears again. Here, he is a Guest-Star Party Member and a supportive friend to Perrine.
    • Much of the supporting cast in Maraucourt, like Rosalie and Fabry, receive additional focus and scenes that were not present in the book.
  • Back for the Finale: Both Marcel and Palikare return in the series finale.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After smuggling a Croatian rebel past some Austrian soldiers, Perrine and her mother are prevented from leaving town by the soldiers on the following day. They fear that they have been found out, but it turns out that the soldiers had stopped them because their captain wanted to get his photo taken.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Averted in episode 30: when one of Perrine's short boots breaks due to overuse, she doesn't go barefoot since she works in a factory and it'd be extremely unsafe. She first ties it up with a rudimentary cord, then makes a hemp sole for it, and after saving up some francs she gets enough supplies to make both a pair of shoes and a camisole.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Perrine is almost always kind and polite, but she does have her limits. When some rival photographers doubt Marie's photography skills in Episode 10, she pointedly identifies the flaws in their sample photo, and in Episode 15, she declares that she would have let some bullies have it if not for her injured foot. One of the very few times that she does anything remotely violent is in Episode 23, when she strikes Baron on the head because she thinks he has gone too far in begging for free food from a shopkeeper.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The series is dubbed in Japanese, but written text is shown in French or English as appropriate.
  • Blind Seer: Vulfran, to a more down to Earth level. He suffered almost complete blindness from a stroke he had some time ago, but he's capable of identifying his staff by hearing their voices and footsteps. (Truth in Television, logically.)
  • Bloodless Carnage: Even when characters are said to sustain bloody injuries, blood is almost never shown onscreen. The main exception to this is that some bloodstains are visible on the operating table while Vulfran is having his eye surgery.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Perrine believes this is true of Baron, and tells Marcel that this is why Baron is difficult to train. Marcel does succeed to teaching the dog a few tricks eventually, which Baron remembers for the rest of the series.
  • Broad Strokes: Many plot points from the book are adapted into the series, but the details of how they come about are changed.
    • In both the book and the series, the candy man in Paris gives Perrine a pair of candies. In the show, however, he does this when they first meet, whereas in the book, he does so to comfort Perrine after her mother dies.
    • In the book, Perrine loses five francs to a dishonest baker. In the show, she gets her money back with the help of some local farmers, but she loses the five francs anyway in the next episode when she insists on paying back a flowershop owner for Baron's destruction of his stock.
    • Like in the book, Fabry is the first person in Maraucourt to learn about Perrine's true name and identity. In the show, however, he finds out her name by happenstance and later convinces her to tell him her full story, promising to be a Secret-Keeper. In the book, Fabry is sent specifically to investigate the possibility that Perrine is Vulfran's granddaughter, and confirms Vulfran's suspicions when he returns. This role is instead filled by Vulfran's lawyer in the series.
  • The Bus Came Back: Perrine encounters Marcel once and Palikare twice after parting ways with them, before reuniting with both of them again in the finale.
  • Canine Companion: Baron the dog is a Loyal Animal Companion who accompanies Perrine throughout her journey, and she considers him a close friend.
  • Canon Character All Along: Marcel seems to be a complete Canon Foreigner at first, like most of the other characters from the first 16 episodes. However, the original book did have a one-scene Circus Brat character who provides Perrine with some information about Paris when she first arrives there, a role that Marcel also ends up filling.
  • Canon Foreigner: Baron the dog, the foreigners from the first 16 episodes, Rosalie's father and little brother, and Vulfran's lawyer, Phillip, are absent from the book.
  • The Cavalry: In Episode 13, Perrine and her mother get stuck while crossing the Alps and are at a loss about what to do. They are saved when the father of Joseph (a stable hand who they'd helped earlier) shows up and assists them across the most difficult stretch of the mountain pass.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The photo of Perrine taken in the first episode is later given to Mrs. Bontempelli as a memento of her long-lost daughter, who apparently resembles Perrine.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Grandmother Françoise is the first person who notices that Perrine resembles her father Edmond. When she mentions this to Vulfran later, it sparks his realization that that Perrine may be his grandchild.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Perrine can drive a carriage due to having traveled in one on her journey to France. This comes in handy several times in Maraucourt when other characters need a coach-driver at short notice.
  • Christmas Episode: The second-to-last episode takes place mostly on Christmas Eve, and features Vulfran getting Christmas presents for Rosalie's family and inviting Fabry to his mansion for dinner.
  • Circus Brat: Marcel is a young man who lives and performs in a travelling circus.
  • Composite Character:
    • Vulfran has two nephews in the book, Theodor and Casimir. In the series, only Theodor is present, and takes up the roles of both.
    • In the book, Phillip the lawyer's role in the series was partly split between a banker (who informs Vulfran of Edmond's death) and Fabry (who reveals to Vulfran Perrine's true identity). In this way, Phillip and Fabry in the series can also be considered Decomposite Characters of the version of Fabry from the book.
  • Cool Old Lady: Duchess Caroline, La Rouquerie, and Grandmother Françoise are all older women who sympathize with Perrine and provide great help to her at different points of her journey.
  • Cute Bookworm: Although she doesn't get the chance to do much of it during her travels, Perrine enjoys reading, and many of the other characters consider her cute.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Edmond was by all accounts a kind and capable man, and Marie is also shown to be a Good Parent towards Perrine. Both of them are dead before the halfway point of the series.
  • Defrosting Ice King:
    • The Old Man at the Gates comes across as a greedy miser at first, but after getting to know Perrine (and being told off by Marcel), he becomes more helpful towards her. It is implied that this inspires him to start behaving more generously towards the other tenants on his property as well.
    • Vulfran is strict and unforgiving, and his employees all live in fear of him, but it is shown early on that he is not without sympathy for others. Perrine convinces him to be more considerate of his workers' welfare, and he initiates several construction projects to improve their quality of life.
  • Demoted to Extra: Perrine's tutor in the book, Mademoiselle Belhomme, is not shown or mentioned in the show, though her presence is implied in Episode 51, where it is mentioned that Vulfran has arranged a private tutor for Perrine.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Out of provisions, exhausted, and suffering from illness during her solo travels, Perrine makes her way into the woods to die. Fortunately, Baron gets help from Palikare and La Rouquerie, who rescue her.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Extremely tame compared to most examples, but the scene in the opening where Perrine blows on a dandelion and she and Baron then fly off by grabbing onto its seeds stands out, as such fantastical imagery is not seen at all in the rest of the show.
  • Doomed by Canon: The animated story starts off before the point at which the novel begins, so Marie's death more than 20 episodes in comes as less of a surprise to those familiar with the original work.
  • Downer Beginning: The first episode begins peacefully, with Perrine talking cheerfully to some Bosnian men... and it cuts to a local graveyard where Marie is tearfully mourning for the dead Edmond, and Perrine has to comfort her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After enduring an arduous journey, losing both of her parents, nearly dying from starvation, living alone on little money and resources, and adopting a fake name out of fear of rejection, Perrine finally gets to live a happy, luxurious life as herself with a doting grandfather.
  • Easily Forgiven: Perrine doesn't seem to harbor much of a grudge against Talouel and Theodor despite all the trouble they gave her during her time as Vulfran's secretary (which includes Talouel causing her to fall and injure herself as well as Theodor shooting her dog). Vulfran makes a point of mentioning this to Talouel, and it's implied in the final episode that Perrine continuing to treat them with kindness and respect causes them to put aside their remaining animosity towards her (similar to how Perrine's mother had dealt with the rival photographers during their travels).
  • Extremely Protective Child: Perrine often has to provide emotional and physical support for her ailing mother. She later shows similar care towards her grandfather, especially when he is grief-stricken by the news about his son's death.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Marcel joins Perrine and her mother on part of their journey, as they help him catch up with his family.
  • Guile Hero: Perrine relies on her wits more than once. In Episode 4, she comes up with a convincing lie on the spot to prevent some Austrian soldiers from searching her family's carriage (where they are sheltering a Croatian rebel).
  • Hate Sink: The baker who steals Perrine's money not only inflicts a crushing setback on Perrine when the latter is at her most alone and vulnerable, but also stands out among the antagonists of the series in that she is not shown to have any redeeming qualities or sympathetic motives for her actions. Even her baking is implied not to be that great, as one of her loaves of bread on display is hard enough to break a window when thrown.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Perrine becoming an orphan garners sympathy from both the other characters in the story and the audience. It doesn't hurt that she works hard to earn her happy ending and that her presence ends up changing the community in Maraucourt for the better.
  • Heroic Dog: Although he sometimes causes trouble, Baron is a loyal companion to Perrine and even saves her life when she falls unconscious from malnutrition.
  • Hey, Wait!: Perrine and her mother are stopped by Austrian soldiers after having helped a Croatian rebel escape them, but it turns out that the soldiers' captain had simply wanted to get his photo taken.
  • His Story Repeats Itself: Both of Perrine's parents pass away from illness, with Perrine helpless to prevent their deaths despite her best efforts. When her grandfather nearly dies from grief, however, it's her care for him that saves him.
  • Honor Before Reason: While traveling alone with minimal provisions, Perrine gives the owner of a flower shop nearly all of her money to partly compensate for Baron's destruction of his stock. When he realizes how poor she is, he actually tries to return her money, but Perrine insists that he keep it, even though she lacks any means of earning more. She is notably shown regretting this decision afterward.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Independent and capable though she is, Perrine's deepest desire after reaching Maraucourt is to be loved and accepted by her grandfather. This is one of the reasons she resolves not to reveal her true identity to him—she fears that she will lose his affection if he finds out that she's his granddaughter.
  • Image Song: The ending theme is a tribute to Baron and his status as a Loyal Animal Companion.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Fabry is an adult man, but is on friendly terms with the teenage Perrine and Rosalie. One episode even focuses on the three of them hanging out together on a Sunday.
  • Just a Kid: Perrine tries to keep the photography business running in Episode 16 when Marie is bedridden, but fails to attract any customers because she's seen this way. Later on, some people doubt her skills for similar reasons when she becomes Vulfran's secretary.
  • Kick the Dog: In Episode 40, Baron is shot outside the hut by Theodor. Fortunately, he gets well.
  • Limited Wardrobe: For more than half the series Perrine wears only the light yellow blouse/brown vest/red skirt/brown short boots combo seen above (and she adds the Nice Hat later). She switches to a dark blue dress while working as Vulfran's secretary, occasionally donning her original outfit when she has time off.
  • Little Miss Snarker: She rarely shows it, but Perrine certainly has the wit to turn on the snark when she's feeling playful or especially annoyed.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Both Baron and Palikare are very devoted to Perrine, which saves her life when she collapses from hunger and exhaustion.
  • Mean Boss: The head manager, Talouel, shows little concern for the well-being of his employees and often lords his authority over them.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The show often alternates between hopeful and sad moments. One of the most jarring examples may be the end of Episode 15, in which Perrine and her mother finally reach France after a narrow escape from wolves, only for her mother to almost immediately fall unconscious from illness.
    • The cheerful ending theme about Baron is played after every episode, no matter how sad or bleak.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Perrine is nice and respectful to almost everyone she meets. The main exception to this is when she taps into her Little Miss Snarker side towards the rival photographers in Episodes 9 and 10, but she is chastised by her mother for it afterward.
    • Marie is unwaveringly kind even to those who antagonize her, and is the one who imparts to Perrine that "you must love others before they will love you", a lesson that stays with Perrine throughout the series.
    • Fabry is a Reasonable Authority Figure who soon becomes one of the most supportive and trusted adults in Perrine's life after she arrives in Maraucourt.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Perrine is unfailingly polite to Vulfran's servants. She even insists on doing several chores herself, much to their consternation.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Baron has a noticeably more cartoony design than the other characters in the show, including other dogs. In a possible case of Lampshade Hanging, many characters consider him strange-looking.
  • Not So Above It All: Although she is Wise Beyond Her Years, Perrine is not entirely above childish behavior sometimes, like teasing Marcel about yelling for his mother in his sleep. She is shown joking and playing around much more as she becomes more comfortable living with Vulfran, especially after her true identity is revealed.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The normally kind and patient Marie bluntly rejects Perrine's idea to write to Vulfran and have him send someone to pick them up in Paris. It's only on her deathbed that she reveals that Vulfran and Edmond are estranged, and that Perrine should not expect a warm welcome from her grandfather.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: The hardest part of Perrine's journey and her Despair Event Horizon occurs after her mother passes away, and she also endures plenty of other hardships in Maraucourt as a result of losing her parents.
  • Parental Substitute: Marcel starts seeing Marie this way as they travel together, and is honored when Marie refers to him as one of her children to some rival photographers. (She'd decided that explaining the full story to them would have been needlessly complicated.)
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Baron's antics are a constant source of levity throughout the show.
  • Plucky Girl: Nothing short of collapsing from starvation and illness stops Perrine from reaching Maraucourt, surviving there on her own for some time on a meager wage, and eventually earning her grandfather's affection.
  • Precious Puppy: Baron is the cutest thing ever!
  • Right in Front of Me: While being unaware of Perrine's true identity, Vulfran declares right in front of her that he despises her mother and doesn't care for his grandchild.
  • Savage Wolves: Wolves are shown to be a threat to Perrine and her family when they travel through wooded regions.
  • Secret-Keeper: Fabry is the first person in Maraucourt to find out Perrine's real name and the fact that she's Vulfran's granddaughter. He agrees to keep this knowledge a secret, though Rosalie eventually suspects that he knows more than he lets on.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Zigzagged. The show takes an abruptly darker turn after Perrine and Marie part ways with Marcel, as the following episode has them nearly dying while trying to cross the Alps and the next few have Marie's condition gradually deteriorating. However, Perrine reunites with Marcel while they're staying in Paris, during which Marie passes away. He even realizes that Marie is going to die before Perrine does. Furthermore, Baron is present for the entire series, even in the darker episodes.
  • Shout-Out: Les Misérables is mentioned several times. Fabry introduces the book to Perrine and lends her a copy, and Perrine is later shown reading it to Vulfran. Jean Valjean taking on a pseudonym is specifically brought up, forming a Plot Parallel with Perrine hiding her identity while living in Maraucourt.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Marie is a gentle, frail woman who hardly ever raises her voice, but she also firmly refuses to acquiesce to the demands of rival photographers, and her kindness is ultimately what gets the other photographers to leave her and her family alone.
  • Smug Snake: Talouel is a Mean Boss who regularly rubs it in others' faces that he is too important to the operation of the factory to ever be fired. However, he is genuinely shocked when Perrine tells him in the final episode that Vulfran does trust him to run the factory when Vulfran can't be there himself, indicating that Talouel is not as confident as he tries to make himself look.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In the book, Rosalie has lost both of her parents, whereas her father is still around in the series.
    • An odd example: in the book, Perrine comes across some wild duck eggs while living at the hunter's hut and collects a few as food. In the show, she finds some as well and considers eating them, but decides not to out of sympathy for the parent ducks.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Perrine is kind, courteous, and familiar enough with societal expectations to avoid making faux pas while dining with Vulfran (despite the worries of Vulfran's servants). At the same time, she is also highly independent and intelligent, and doesn't hesitate to voice her displeasure when she perceives injustice. When Perrine first arrives at Vulfran's mansion, it is noted that she feels more comfortable lying in a bale of hay than being in her fancy new bedroom. She additionally enjoys reading, has or develops multiple non-domestic skills (including coach-driving, fishing, whittling, and bilingual interpretation), and at one point expresses aspirations to become a doctor.
  • Spoiler Opening: The fact that Marie only appears in the first part of the OP sequence implies that she dies midway through the story. Other scenes show Palikare nudging the passed-out Perrine (which happens some time later) and Perrine living in a hut (in the Maraucourt days). The fact that Perrine and Baron are the only ones shown overlooking Maraucourt also hints at how they're the only ones in their traveling party to make the initial journey to Maraucourt (though Palikare comes Back for the Finale).
  • Spoiler Title:
    • The title of Episode 21 translates to "Last Words". Although it does not directly say whose last words, it's easy to guess from the context of the story that this is the episode where Marie dies.
    • The title of Episode 25 translates to "Palikare! My Palikare!", spoiling his reunion with Perrine. Furthermore, as the episode deals with Perrine hitting the Despair Event Horizon, the title also strongly hints at how she will be rescued.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Perrine inherited Marie's features and Edmond's red hair and pale complexion. Grandmother Françoise immediately notices her resemblance to Edmond upon first seeing her, which ultimately leads to Vulfran suspecting and discovering Perrine's true identity. When Vulfran regains his eyesight, he comments that he would have instantly recognized Perrine as Edmond's daughter had he been able to see.
  • Stubborn Mule: Palikare usually averts this trope, being very cooperative throughout Perrine and Marie's journey. However, he steadfastly refuses to enter the horse market when Perrine tries to sell him.
  • Supreme Chef: Rosalie's father is the chef at their family restaurant and his cooking is highly regarded by their customers.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Perrine knows how to sew and sometimes makes her own clothes.
  • Thicker Than Water: Even though Perrine is given a couple of opportunities to live a potentially happy lifestyle and knows that her grandfather might not welcome her with open arms, she still presses onward to Maraucourt to honor her parents' wishes. When she gets there, she does everything she can to appeal to Vulfran without giving away her identity. Her devotion to him, along with Grandmother Françoise mentioning how much Perrine resembles Edmond, is what eventually leads Vulfran to suspect that Perrine is his granddaughter.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Despite her poor health, Marie is a kind, intelligent, and loving parent towards Perrine... so she naturally passes away before they reach Maraucourt.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Perrine has to sell nearly all of her family's possessions (including their beloved donkey), loses both of her parents, nearly dies a couple of times, adopts a fake identity out of fear of rejection, lives for some time in poverty during which she has to make most of her own provisions, is faced with her grandfather unknowingly insulting her mother in front of her, gets embroiled in adult politics and responsibilities, relives the grief of losing her father when her grandfather eventually learns of his death, and fears losing her dog and her grandfather as well (but fortunately does not) before she earns her happy ending.
  • Unknown Relative: Perrine keeps her identity as Vulfran's granddaughter a secret from him and most of the other people in Maraucourt, even after she becomes his secretary and starts living with him at his mansion.
  • Villain Team-Up: The businessman Talouel and Vulfran's ambitious potential heir Theodor collaborate to take over the Pandavoine factory.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Perrine is very mature and resourceful for her age, providing critical emotional and physical support for her mother and later her grandfather. This also serves her well during the period of time that she lives and travels alone.
  • You Just Told Me: Phillip confirms Perrine's true identity when he mentions Palikare to her and she both recognizes the donkey's name and identifies his current owner as La Rouquerie.
  • Youthful Freckles: Rosalie has them in this version.
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