This past week I was having a discussion about the TV series “Heidi” that flighted on the SABC/SAUK back in South Africa during the late 1970’s. It was dubbed into Afrikaans and ran for just under a year (52 episodes) and we all watched it because frankly TV was still a new fangled novelty. The show I watched back then was a Japanese anime production (Alps no Shoujo Heidi) and is probably the first anime that I ever watched.
Out of curiosity I rewatched the first episode on Wednesday (in Japanese with English subtitles) and visually it was familiar, but different. I was never a fan of the animation and neither do I recall the horrible yodelling song in the middle. The opening theme was very different from the one I recall from so many years ago too, which was in Afrikaans and sung by Carike Kreuzenkamp (it appears that an English version was sung by Peter Lotus).
Reading about the story is a whole different thing altogether. And thanks to the internet I found out that it was based on the novel Heidi’s Years of Wandering and Learning by Johanna Spyri (1880). Way back in 1978ish there was no way that I would have been able to read the story without finding the book in the public library, but given the usefulness of the internet I can download it at Project Gutenberg to my Kindle (I probably wont though). The story synopsis would make for an interesting exercise for the PC brigade, because if we look at it from a modern perspective it is about an orphaned 5 year old that goes to live with her social outcast grandfather in the Alps. She then ends up as a companion to a disabled girl and is severely traumatised by the housekeeper until she starts displaying symptoms of ptsd and has to return to the Alps (or something like that).
The funny thing about rewatching that first episode was that I was struck by how simple the story really was. No braincells were required and I can see part of the attraction. Bear in mind I was probably around 16 when I saw it, and for a small child this must have seemed ever more fantastic. I am pretty sure I saw it all back then, but I will not put my head on a block and get a Tee-shirt exclaiming “I watched 52 episodes of Heidi in Afrikaans!”
Thankfully I can watch what I chose nowadays and I wonder whether Heidi would still be relevant in our modern PC world? Thankfully many children don’t give a hoot about being PC and really just enjoy the show, and wish that they too could go live in the Alps and be close to nature. Personally I have to admit I wouldn’t mind doing that too. But then I remember that there will probably be no broadband or flushing toilets so I will really suffer.
Long live Heidi and the world of books, imagination and memories.
DRW 2020. Created 05/02/2020. Thanks to Kim for the inspiration (and who is able to sing the theme song in German).