1990’s TV Anime – I and Myself: The Two Lottes Episode 1 (1991)

Is there a story that has had as many different titles via adaptation than Erich Kastner’s Das doppelte Lottchen? Even the wikipedia page immediately switches between Lottie & Lisa and Lisa & Lottie. You (and I) are probably more familiar with the story as The Parent Trap, from either the 1961 or 1998 Disney live action films.

The final show to run in the World Masterpiece Theatre aping slot “Fudosan Anime World” (1989-1992, NTV), The Two Lottes was produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and directed by Kenji Kodama (City Hunter, Detective Conan). It is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. The story is relatively faithful, albeit expanded upon to fit 29 episodes.

The character design noticeably avoids the then current trends of Toriyama angularity, Nintendo SD and retro manga. The animation feels recognisably from TMS. Comparing it to the other TV anime I’ve looked at from 1991, it would be hard to argue that the animation isn’t well above what was merely competent TV animation of the day.

When you are dealing with a plot where two characters are meant to look alike, you don’t want to fall in the trap of “same face, different haircut” that some anime do. The Two Lottes avoids that handily and the other girls who aren’t Lisa or Lotte can be distinguished from them and each other. Similarly, the performances and animation distinguish the twins’ different personalities well.

Shuichi Seki (aka Junichi Seki) was the character designer. He’d worked on the previous show in the slot, The Mischievous Twins, as well as the then recent WMT shows such as Trapp Family Story and Daddy Long Legs. He’d been a big part in establishing the 80s WMT look designing on shows such Perrine Story (1978), Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1980) and The Swiss Family Robinson (1981). In the UK we got to see his design work on Vicky The Viking, Dogtanian and The Wizard of Oz.

From the first episode, the impression is that it suffers a little from the attempt to stretch out the book. In this episode that is mainly evidenced in the long time it takes for the twins to meet and it becomes clear we’re not really going to get going until episode 2. I’m curious if they have to make characters stupider later on to keep the twins’ deceit going for 29 episodes. It’s entirely possible that parents are stupid in the book too, I have never read it, but based on this episode, you get the impression of them as fairly appalling human beings, even though they never appear on screen.