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  Stormy Night It's Brokeback Mountain - for kids!Buy this film here.
Year: 2005
Director: Gisaburo Sugii
Stars: Hiroki Narimiya, Shidou Nakamura, Kouichi Yamadera, Maya Kobayashi, Riki Takeuchi, Shōzō Hayashiya, Eiji Bando, Kaba-chan, Tetsuya Tanagihara, Yoshiyuki Hirai
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Animated, Fantasy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Seeking shelter from a terrible storm, a little goat named Mei wanders into a dark mountain cabin, where a ravenous wolf called Gav is also hiding. Unable to see through the gloom, the pair strike up a friendly conversation and help each other through sickness and bitter cold. When the storm breaks, the newfound friends agree to meet for a picnic, but are horrified when they do. Mei has a lifelong fear of wolves, while Gav can’t understand why he can’t bring himself to eat lunch. Somehow, this unlikely pairing blossoms into an enduring friendship, but then Mei’s fellow goats learn about their secret meetings and the wolf pack discover Gav can help hunt down the herd…

This gentle, endearing fable is the latest offering from anime auteur Gisaburo Sugii, a figure who may not be as well known as Hayao Miyazaki but is just as influential. Over a long career, Sugii proved his range with art films (Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985) and The Tale of Genji (1987)), action fare (Streetfighter II (1994)), and sports drama (Nine (1983)), but Stormy Night marks a return to his roots. The zany, Warner Bros style humour harks back to his feature debut, Jack and the Beanstalk (1974) and his groundbreaking collaboration with Osamu Tezuka, Goku’s Great Adventure (1967), a humorous retelling of the Monkey King legend so potty-mouthed and off the wall it fell afoul or irate parents.

A steadfast animation team render beautifully fluid visuals, while the design work is pleasingly idiosyncratic and imparts a real sense of character lacking from computer animated fare. Takashi Miike fans should listen out for Dead or Alive (2000) star Riki Takeuchi in a rare, family-friendly role as a hungry wolf. Story-wise, this is a warm and uplifting tale about friendship, tolerance and delving beneath surface impressions, but carries a minor flaw in that Mei’s devotion isn’t tested as hard Gav’s. The poor wolf nearly starves himself to death after swearing off meat, but draws little sympathy from Mei, who rather smugly intones: “I won’t condone what you do.” Nonetheless, youngsters are sure to be swept up in the heartrending camaraderie and selfless gestures that figure in the rousing climax, even if Mei’s campy male voice and the lingering glances exchanged between him and Gav make this strangely close to being Brokeback Mountain (2006) for kids…
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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