When I first decided to write about Miss Marple, I just knew that there would be some animated version out there. I have yet to encounter any halfway famous classic story without one. In this case, the series is named Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple. And to be honest, I didn’t really expect much of it. But what I got was a fairly faithful TV adaptation, which worked even better for me than some of the more critical acclaimed ones – for multiple reasons.
Full disclosure: I don’t think that Miss Marple is really made for a TV-show. For one, she is not a particular active character. Reading about someone listening to the problems of other people and figuring them out can work, but on screen this is more or less the worst form of narration possible. But where most TV adaptations fail is when they try to stretch a fairly simple short story to 45 minutes or more screen-time. It’s like trying to furniture a manor with the contents of three room apartment. The result will always look empty.
This anime manages to avoid both problems. With the usual 25 minutes running time per episode, no story ever overstays its welcome, and whenever more time is needed, the plot is simply spread over multiple episodes. And in order to give the stories a little bit more dynamic, the anime invents a new character, Mabel West, daughter of Miss Marple’s nephew Raymond West, who also works for Hercule Poirot.
I am normally not one for adding new characters, especially not new characters which take the place of the protagonist. But in this case, the concept works. Mabel West allows the TV-show to alternate between Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple stories seamlessly, depending on Mabel being at work or visiting her great-aunt (the two detectives never meet each other during the whole series). Similar seamless is her inclusion in the story, since the actual plot is barely altered. Mabel usually just replaces one of the minor characters in the original, and the actual deductions are always done by Poirot or Miss Marple. And Mabel herself is not that bad of a heroine either, considering that she decides to go her own way in life, defying the wishes of her father.
Her pet duck is a little bit out of place though…thankfully it is barely noticeable in most episodes. But otherwise the episodes are very faithful to the source material and the period they are set in, which makes it easy to overlook the anime-typical details. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every story they brought on screen, which were sadly only a couple, since the anime had only one season and only eight of the Miss Marple stories were adapted.
Best Miss Marple Episode: 1.04 The faultless Maid
Best Mable inclusion: Playing the maid in 4:50 from Paddington
Quote: “If you lived in the country as long as I have, you know about human nature.”
If you are a Miss Marple fan (or a Poirot fan for that matter….*pointly not mentioning a certain reliable commenter of my blog*) the series is certainly worth a look. Though it might be a little bit boring if you either already know the solutions from reading the books, and a little bit grating to look at if you are not into anime style at all.