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This work is one of the most well-known works in "the World Masterpiece Theater", the story describes an orphan girl who endures persistent bullying in the dormitory. Negative factors such as orphan, poverty and child abuse are fully adopted. It is one of the most well-known Japanese mangas/animes on the theme of "bullying" of the juvenile world, the highest audience rating marked five eighteenths. The series has also been selected as one of the best 100 Japanese anime series of all time by viewers of TV Asahi.
It was also later aired across Japan by the anime television network, Animax, who also later broadcast the series across its respective networks worldwide, including its English language networks in South Asia and Southeast Asia, dubbing and translating the series into English under the title Princess Sarah. Animax's adaptation was the series' only English translation and the series has yet to be commercially released in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In the year 1885, the story follows Sarah Crewe, the young daughter of, Radcliffe Crewe, who is extremely wealthy due to running a diamond mine in British-ruled India. She starts attending an all-girl's seminary boarding school in London, where she excels in her studies and is loved deeply by many of her friends and classmates.
Tragedy strikes when Sarah's father passes away and her family goes bankrupt, leaving her to become a poor orphan. The school's headmistress, Miss Minchin, takes advantage of this situation and makes her an unpaid maid in the school, trying hard to make her life as miserable as possible. However, Sarah, with the help of her friends, perseveres and tries to endure all her hardships until redemption comes at last.
When Miss Minchin continues to mistreat her further, Sarah befriends Mr. Carmichael who wanted to rescue her from Miss Minchin's mistreatment until she meets her father's lifelong friend Tom Carrisford who lives next door to the seminary. Tom decides to adopt Sarah to redeem himself over his guilt for the loss of her father and to restore her status as a diamond princess. Miss Minchin angrily confronts Tom to get Sarah back to the seminary but to her dismay Sarah has already been adopted, causing her to return to the seminary in shame as her younger sister Amelia angrily berates her for the mistreatment she had put on Sarah by making her a maid and forcing her to stay at the horse stable, making Miss Minchin emotionally regretful for her actions.
Sarah waved goodbye to her friends in the dormitory as she and Becky return to the British-ruled India for 4 months to finish the necessary formalities regarding her dad's inheritance and to visit her parents graves by travelling in the cruise ship. But she does not forget when she was poor, she gives money to people on the street, maybe Sarah and Becky will return to London again after 4 months.
The story's protagonist, the daughter of Captain Ralph Crewe, who runs a diamond mine in British-ruled India, therefore she was nicknamed as "Diamond Princess". Brought to Miss Minchin's seminary in London to learn how to be a proper lady, after being raised in India.
At the age of four, she lost her mother. Due to being pampered and doted on her entire life, Sarah's knowledge of the world is limited, but she is still a very friendly girl.
After her father died and she was left destitute, Miss Minchin forced Sarah to work as an unpaid servant in the seminary, but Sarah instead feels like that she is a princess inside. She refuses to lose hope and remains thoughtful and compassionate. After persistent bullyings, she was falsely accused of arson and expelled from Miss Minchin's seminary, where she was taken over by Peter's house. Eventually Sarah was taken over by Tom Carrisford, and her father Ralph's bankruptcy was cancelled and she became rich again.
The main antagonist is severe headmistress of the seminary where Sarah is sent to.
Minchin established the seminary from the plebeian birth, she hated Sarah due to the wealthy birth. Minchin was swayed by the selfishness of Sarah's father Ralph and was forced to prepare a servant, a horse and a special room for Sarah.
Minchin hid hatred to Sarah due to Ralph's vast fortune and the appearance of her seminary and herself. When Sarah was reduced to poverty and an orphan, Miss Minchin stopped masking hatred and persistently maltreated Sarah.
The secondary antagonist. A daughter of a petroleumnew rich of the United States, and a prideful and very manipulative girl.
Lavinia was originally the most popular student at Miss Minchin's seminary, and thus becomes madly jealous when Sarah begins to get more attention than her. Even when Sarah was reduced to a servant, Lavinia continued to make her life miserable. The reason why she hated Sarah is "calm even if she has fallen".
When Sarah became rich again, with Lavinia telling Sarah that "When you become the Diamond Queen, I will be the wife of the President of the United States."
In "bullyers" in Japanese mangas and animes, she is the second most well known after Gian in "Doraemon".
A street-smart boy who becomes Sarah's carriage driver when his father cannot accept the job.
He was fired when Ralph died and Sarah fell to a penniless, after this he was employed in another workplace. Peter thinks very highly of Sarah, and continued to call her "ojōsama" (princess) even after her fall to hired help and harbours a crush on her.
Servants & Students of Miss Minchin's seminary
Ermengarde St. John (アーメンガード・セントジョン, Āmengādo Sentojon)
Voiced by: Maki Yaosaka
A plump girl who becomes one of Sarah's friends after Sarah defends her from Lavinia's abusive treatment towards her.
Ermengarde frequently does poorly in her studies, while her father, a university professor, pushes her to excel. She has an aunt, Eliza (イライザ, Iraiza), who is somewhat absentminded, but is quite skilled in herbalism, which proves pivotal in curing Sarah when she becomes seriously ill.
The youngest student at the seminary who is four years old. At first, Lottie acts contrary, but the little girl calms down significantly after Sarah becomes her surrogate mother. She is a crybaby, and screaming as "Sarah Mom" every time a certain thing.
One of Lavinia's friends. She and Gertrude are initially somewhat in awe of Sarah, much to Lavinia's consternation. But once Sarah is demoted to live-in help, they willingly join in Lavinia's tormenting of Sarah.
The Miss Minchin seminary's French teacher. He is impressed by Sarah's aptitude at speaking French from the start and is the only member of the faculty who continues to treat Sarah with unqualified kindness and civility after her demotion. He was expelled from the Miss Minchin seminary's due to Lavinia's dissatisfaction that "He patronizes Sarah who has fallen to a servant".
A corporate lawyer at Miss Minchin's seminary. He invested in Ralph's diamond mine, and is more obsessed with Ralph's diamond mine than Miss Minchin's seminary. When the diamond mine went bankrupt and Ralph died of fever, he confiscated Sarah's property and personal belongings.
Lavinia's father, a petroleumnew rich of the United States. He is basically generous to his daughter Lavinia, but strict about terrible behavior. When Lavinia tried to make Sarah a servant, he slapped Lavinia and blocked it.
A lifelong friend of Ralph Crewe who convinced him to invest in the Indian diamond mine. Believing himself guilty for Ralph's death, Carrisford makes it his mission to find Sarah and reinstate her wealth. At the end, he took over Sarah.
The anime was remade into a live-action film by Star Cinema in the Philippines under the title Sarah... Ang Munting Prinsesa ("Sarah... The Little Princess") in 1995 starring Camille Prats as Sarah Crewe. The movie was also dubbed in several languages and subbed in English. In 1996, Camille Prats was nominated for Best Child Actress at the FAMAS Awards. The movie was digitally restored and remastered by ABS CBN Film Restoration Project (which to date are restoring old damaged classic Filipino films) to a more high depth 1080p HD format, and was also released back into the cinemas along with a Red Carpet premier. The movie is also set to be sold on DVD by ABS CBN.
The anime was remade in 2007 into a television series, also titled Princess Sarah, by ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Starring Sharlene San Pedro as Sarah Crewe, the drama was aired on ABS-CBN's Primetime Bida evening block and worldwide on The Filipino Channel from November 12, 2007 to December 21, 2007. The series was shot in Camp John Hay in Baguio City and the Coconut Palace in Manila. Unlike the 1995 Filipino film and the Japanese anime series it was based from, which in turn was based on Burnett's original novel, the "teleserye" adaptation took further creative liberties from the original story, with Lavinia as Miss Minchin's daughter, Ram Dass being depicted as a female sorceress, and fantasy elements being introduced in the story.