When I first saw the promo art for this theatrical feature from the relatively obscure Studio Colorado, I was pretty excited. I mean, it was beautiful (the subsequent trailers even more so), it had a mixed-gender cast and an interesting premise, and all systems seemed “go”. What I didn’t realize then is that the film would be a short – only 27 minutes in fact, effectively a single anime episode. Finding that out lowered my expectations considerably, and as it turns out not unjustifiably.
If your reaction (like mine) to Taifuu no Noruda was that it plays as a hybrid of Ghibli and Shinkai Makoto, you won’t be surprised to learn that director Arai Yujirou worked on both Karigarushi no Arrietty and Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo. It reminds me a lot of the latter film, in fact, as that one felt like Shinkai’s attempt to do a Ghibli film. And Taifuu is a lovely movie to look at – not Shinkai-level, but gorgeously drawn and nicely animated. The character designs are very Ghibli but the look of the film itself – weather asserting itself against a rural island landscape – is quite Shinkai in nature.
The thing is, though, that Shinkai in his early days was better able to come up with a story that resonated in a 25-minute window of opportunity. Taifuu no Noruda just feels unfinished – there’s a very traditional anime premise here, but the format forces Arai-sensei to rush through it. In the process he really loses any opportunity to find something original in the stoy of a middle-school boy named Azuma Shuuichi (Nomura Shuhei) who stumbles on a naked girl named Noruda (Kiyahara Kaya) in his classroom. Azuma also has a best friend named Saijou Kenta (Kaneko Daichi) who he’s fallen out with because of his decision to quit baseball.
Everything here feels underdeveloped, unfortunately. Why did Azuma-kun quit baseball? Why did Noruda’s people send her to Earth to make it “reborn” – and what does reborn mean exactly? Even the culture festival threatened by the typhoon feels as it it has potential to be interesting, but there’s just no time. Was this movie originally intended to be longer and the funding ran out, or was this the plan all along? I have no idea, but it’s a real shame either way, because there’s a lot of talent on display here and Taifuu no Noruda could have been so much more, given a little more time to tell its story.