World Masterpiece Theater - this could be translated to "the world's greatest stories" (for children). In my opinion this applies for this particular story like no other. Therefore the narrative element is predominant and that is just as well. Story-telling is one of the direction's major concerns.
But how do you accomplish this? Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no magic formula for it. You must make some important decisions concerning the whole look and feel of the final result. In the end the way the decisions which have been taken are surely characteristic for the respective director. Now I will give an overview of how I think, how the arising questions may look like. The screenplay gives a rough description of the action.
As I have said there is no method to find answers to this questions systematically. If there were a method, directing would not be an art anymore indeed. The nice thing about all that is that many of these answers happen to reveal themselves without any effort. You just need the right spirit and some inspiration. If you do not have any inspiration, well then better not become an artist. ^_^
So there is no initiation into the mystic arts of directing, but what I can do, is to relate how Fumio Kurokawa developed some scenes in this particular series.
Certainly you have seen this picture before you have read up to here. It is somewhat typical for this series to tell such little anecdotes every once in a while. Another example could be seen at the top of the introductory page. Something like this is already sufficient to find out some interesting details. Such scenes are not merely thought as gags you know. Did you ever notice that our everyday life is full of little stories like this one? Well, it is true. Everything gets a bit more realistic and intimate this way. And there is another thing. Note, how the punch line is implemented in this example. Sara looks down, with a surprised expression on her face. The viewers learn the reason for this reaction not immediately. The important information is delayed for a while, which builds up a sort of tension which is resolved by presenting the solution. This is a way to tell stories with pictures.
Now to the first bigger example. The two following examples are not new, they were in a seperate section at first. I have integrated them now and partially wrote new text for them.
In this scene Sara just arrived at the Seminary with her father. Right now Miss Minchin leads them around, relates some general information and finally shows them Sara's room. Isn't it boring just to watch people climbing stairs and listening to Miss Minchin? You could cut this scene drastically and for example show the door to Sara's room from the inside until Miss Minchin opens it. But the director uses this chances to concentrate on Sara.
A window can be fascinating, especially if you're a little child. Perhaps there's anything interesting out there?
Sara is no exception. Of course she would like to look out of the window, but . . .
. . . the others are ahead and Sara must hurry to not to lose them. (She has already mounted the steps halfways anyway.)
But there is another chance. Sara must climb on more flight of stairs to get to her room.
And this time she is going to take it.
Of course this is not the end. Sara soon breaks away from the window to see her room at last. In the room the camera still stays with Sara a little because her father and Miss Minchin continue for a while to discuss boring grown-up topics. So this is a lively demonstration of a child's view. The dialogue of the adults, partly heard only in the background, form a contrast to the very visual experiences of Sara. Everything is somewhat unimportant for the plot itself but definitely inportant for the atmosphere and the characterization.
You can learn from the second example how the plot can be visualized in an attractive way and how to do actually more than that.