What They Say:
In Typhoon Noruda, an unexpected typhoon bears down on a small tropical island, and a group of students trapped at school find themselves forced to put aside their personal issues and work together. Not only to save themselves, but possibly the lives of everyone on the planet! Because there’s something very strange about this storm, and as the driving rain, hurricane-force winds and multiple lightning strikes threaten to tear their world apart, everything seems to revolve around a mysterious girl who appears as suddenly as the storm itself. Only hours before, Shuichi Azuma and Saijo Kunta were at each other’s throats over baseball; now they’ll have to join together to unravel the secret of the ultimate rider on the storm!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 along with the English language dub that gets the same treatment, both of which are encoded with the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show definitely works the surrounds well with the wind and rain effects to create an enveloping feel during key times and that helps to up the ante on what we’re getting here. Dialogue has some nice placement from time to time but is fairly straightforward otherwise. The overall mix is a solid one with the music swell standing out as well as just the sounds of the rain and wind in how they move throughout the production.
Originally released in 2015, the transfer for this short film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The single disc release works a solid bitrate while also including almost 90 minutes of extras. Animated by Studio Colorido, it’s visually a very appealing project that shows off some great quality with the backgrounds and character designs but also just in the flow of the of the animation and the kind of level they can achieve in blending the various effects. The result is a strong looking show that gets a strong encoding here to capture all of those details well. There isn’t a competition for space resources on the disc and it comes across very well with rich colors that have some very vibrant moments but also hold up well under the high motion sequences. Fans of it will definitely be pleased by it.
The packaging for the release sticks to a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc that we get. The front cover uses one of the familiar key visual pieces with the typhoon approach in the background as the class looks it while the three primary characters are all in the foreground. The color choices are great and it uses some solid darker tones along the bottom that gives it some nice weight against the brighter and more colorful elements. The back cover works more of the school landscape with a darker tone to it with the storm rolling in so it’s not terribly noticeably but adds a nice touch to it. The shots from the show work nicely even if they’re dark and we get a good breakdown of the premise of the project. The extras are clearly listed as well and we get a good rundown of the production credits before working through the accurately listed technical grid.
With a nice bit of instrumental music playing along to it, the menu for this release goes for a static image with an expansive look at part of the island that gives us lots of blue ocean and skies mixed in with some clouds. It’s a simple piece but it works well to showcase the area in which the project takes place and the rich colors are definitely appealing on a large screen. The navigation to the right uses a nice layout of boxed in selections that are all quick and easy to navigate both as the top-level menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
It always amuses me when the extras exceed the running time of a show itself. With this release we get a cute four minute short film from the studio with “Control Bear Wonder Garden” that shows off their style well and short films are always welcome. The release comes with a 45-minute talk event after the premiere of it with the team behind it, which has lots of audience questions to suss out more details and nuance of the project, as well as a 36-minute interview session with the main creative staff about it. All for a 26-minute show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Short films are few and far between in general in the realm of anime and of those even fewer get released overseas simply because of the problems of licensing, marketing, and actually finding enough of an audience for one. Sentai Filmworks may not have had as hard of a time with Typhoon Noruda as it got a lot of attention during its production thanks to Studio Colorido and their promotion of it, which got a lot of people overseas curious about it even if it is short clocking in at twenty-six minutes. Having spent enough time posting the previews and talking about the production it’s definitely good to finally see it in full and in high quality, even if it is just a short little standalone project without any meat to it. It’s a great looking show that’s about the promise of what the studio can deliver.
With it coming in at the length of a standard episode plus a couple of minutes, it focuses on some high school kids who are dealing with the problems of youth just as a sudden typhoon is looming over them. The primary focus is on Azuma and Saijo, two long-time friends that are in a bad spot because Azuma has quit baseball and that’s really upset Saijo who sees his friend as retreating from things that he loves. There’s a good story to work with within this as it’s more about Azuma realizing his limits and wanting to focus elsewhere as he feels that his friend will simply pull further and further away from him. That they spend their time fighting is certainly familiar to my own youth and it’s welcome to see a show focusing on school kids who actively get into an actual fight rather than the usual posturing we see.
The typhoon is part of a larger story, however, as Azuma sees something outside while everyone else is working on the culture festival. As the storm hits hard and everyone realizes that they’re stuck there, he heads out to discover a girl in a school uniform with a metallic necklace of sorts that’s cackling with energy that’s hurting her. It’s here that we get a sense of Azuma as he does his best to help her, even at pain himself, but it leads into the weirder part of the show as there’s a science fiction element to it. When she tells him to keep away in order to protect him, she reveals that she’ll become a pillar to help rebirth the world. That’s very open as to what it means, since it could be a cleansing of all life or something else, and as a longtime science fiction reader I’ve seen all manner of story work this. Leaving that unanswered is frustrating because Azuma helps her to escape this fate while not knowing whether he’s actually saving the world or dooming it as well.
While there are frustrating story elements to this for me, Typhoon Noruda is a pretty solid work overall as it left me wanting to know more. Visually, the money is all on the screen with great details, a fantastic flow of animation, and some highly appealing background work to create a rich world. The character material for the two young men is also well-handled compared to a lot of other shows and it left me wanting more when it came to the mystery girl and her real reason for being here. But the lack of answers, and knowing that none will be coming, makes it a bit more frustrating. I’m definitely glad Sentai grabbed this and priced it right because it’s the kind of thing I wish Japan produced more of in order to get more talents out there and expand the offerings from the staleness that permeates the industry.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, “Control Bear WONDER GARDEN” Short Animation Film, Talk Event, Zadankai Interviews, and Japanese Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Running Time: 26 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.