Gav and Mei, the lead characters of Arashi no Yoru ni
("Stormy Night" Production Committee)
It's a stormy night. A goat named Mei and a wolf called Gav find themselves seeking refuge in the same dark shed. Both have caught colds. Soon, without realizing it, they become friends.
It's an odd friendship, as the two animals are natural enemies: wolves usually like to eat goats. Still, it's a friendship that thousands of kids throughout Japan know well, thanks to the animated movie Arashi no Yoru ni (Stormy Night). The hit movie, released at the start of 2006, portrays the budding friendship between Mei and Gav.
Many of the estimated 1.5 million people who have seen the move in Japan are children. A lot of these kids read the illustrated book on which the film is based before going to see the movie. That was the case with three sisters: Kyoko, a first-grade elementary school student, third-grader Nanako, and sixth-grader Natsuko. They already knew the story, and all three said they cried while watching the film's emotional scenes.
"The wolf Gav's stomach was groaning. Even though it must have been tough on him, he never ate Mei, and put up with his hunger instead. That was great," says Nanako. "It was sad, but it's something I remembered."
Takamatsu Miyuki of Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. believes the film's success among kids is due to its powerful yet simple approach. She says: "A lot of recent animated films use full computer graphics and have complicated plots. Yet with Arashi no Yoru ni, the story of the friendship between Gav and Mei is very easy to understand, and it contains a strong message."
After becoming a hit in Japan, the film opened in Taiwan in January 2006 and in South Korea in February. Soon it will arrive in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, and moviegoers in Europe will also get their chance to see Arashi no Yoru ni: it is scheduled to open in Russia, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, among other countries.
Soon the strong bonds between Gav and Mei will be familiar to people not just in Japan but around the world.
(Updated in March 2006)