Youjiro Arai, an ex-Studio Ghibli animator, opened his directorial debut, Taifu no Noruda, in Japan today. The film concerns a group of middle school students as they experience a massive typhoon on the island in which they live. It opens in 22 theaters across Japan for a three week period. There is no American release date yet.
Impressively, Arai is only 26 years, an incredibly young age to direct an animated film. He previously worked as an in-between animator for Ghibli’s 2011 film, From Up on Poppy Hill, and on a few other of the studio’s films. Of course, losing a young talent is not the best news for Studio Ghilbi and its fans, but it is great to see that some ex-Ghibli employees are not deterred from pursuing the craft.
The plot of Taifu no Noruda does not sound groundbreaking by any means. However, slice-life anime films (which this film sounds like), can be very charming and emotionally resounding pieces. Examples include From Up on Poppy Hill and Whisper of the Heart (a 1995 Ghbli film).
Regardless, the fact that Arai is directing a film at 26 is very promising for his future career. Studio Ghbli legend Hayao Miyazaki did not direct his first film until he was 38, The Girl Who Leapt through Time director Mamoru Hosoda, 40, and the late, great Satoshi Kon was 34 when his first film was released.
Best of luck to Arai on a long and successful career. Anime film directors are a rare breed.