Twelve Months or The Forest is Alive

“Soon it’s New Year’s,

The world will celebrate,

but for me, nothing changes.

Like the stars in the heavens,

each day is just the same,

all alone with my thoughts

over a life that doesn’t change.

So the day goes,

always chores that must be done,

but for me, love’s a stranger.

But for me it’s a life without a happy home,

But for me it’s a life of working all alone.

What is the New Year to bring?

Will there be a change for me?

What is the future to be?

Oh if I could only see…”

Anya sings at the beginning of the English version of Twelve Months, also known as The Forest is Alive. At home, my husband hates when I sing this woeful self-pitying tune.

I love this anime rendition of the fairytale Twelve Months. My father taped this movie from a Canadian station when I was a kid, and I watched it over and over again.

Twelve Months is the story of Anya, an orphan beloved by the forest creatures for her kindness.  (When I was a kid, I loved stories about orphans. They had less protection and more adventures than I did. Anne of Green Gables, Annie and Pippi Longstocking were some of my favorite heroines. I definitely romanticized the plight of an orphan.)

In Twelve Months, Anya lives with a cruel stepmother and stepsister who mistreat her. One day, the stepmother hears the royal announcement that the Queen has offered a basketful of gold to anyone who can bring a basket of Galanthus flowers in the dead of winter.  The Queen is a spoiled naive girl the same age as Anya.

Anya’s greedy stepmother sends Anya out into a snowstorm on New Year’s Eve to search for the flowers, knowing that it is impossible for Anya to fulfill this quest. Anya wanders through the forest with an empty basket, wrapped in a tattered shawl. Just as she is about to freeze to death, she discovers a bonfire circled by twelve hooded men.

These men are the Twelve Months, and they know Anya for her benevolence towards the forest creatures. They invite Anya to their fire, and she tells them about her impossible quest. The Twelve Months decide to help Anya. Within a small space of the forest, they change the season to spring, to the month of April when the Galanthus flowers bloom. The month April also gives her a magical ring that she can use to summon them should she find herself in danger. (April is a younger guy. I had a crush on him when I was little). In turn, Anya is supposed to keep the Twelve Months a secret.

Anya returns home with the basketful of flowers, but the story is far from over. Her stepmother, and later the Queen, wonder how she has achieved the impossible and threaten Anya. I’ll stop there, before spoiling the rest of the tale.

Unfortunately, the movie I watched, the anime Sekai meisaku dôwa: Mori wa ikiteiru, hasn’t been released on DVD to the best of my knowledge. VHS copies are hard to come by. Here is the into:

Happy New Year!

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