Studio Ghibli‘s first television series is based on Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren‘s 1981 novel of the same name, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, and it doesn’t want you to forget it. The dub script is taken almost word-for-word from Patricia Crompton’s 1983 translation of the text, to the point where you can almost read along with Gillian Anderson‘s narration. It’s an interesting choice, and it certainly speaks to the fidelity with which this adaptation is made – not a single thing from Lindgren’s 176-page book is left out.
While this is certainly impressive, and relatively unusual as far as anime adaptations go, with Studio Ghibli’s own work bringing Mary Norton‘s The Borrowers and Joan G. Robinson‘s When Marnie Was There to the big screen being no exception, it does have a marked effect on the pacing of what is clearly supposed to be a children’s show. Because of the need to draw things out and to fill in with action what Lindgren previously narrated, the story moves very slowly, particularly in the opening episodes before Ronja and Birk meet (or before Ronja grows up enough to have adventures), which risks losing its intended audience. It’s definitely a little strange, because