I still start by saying that it is impossible for me to give a completely unbiased review of this series, given my efforts in the English dub of the original movie that preceded the series.
"Arashi no Yoru ni: Himitsu no Tomodachi" is another realisation of the story based on the original series of childrens books written over fifteen years ago now. The story is basic enough: A goat and a wolf befriend each other whilst taking shelter from a storm, and due to the dark environment and lack of ability to smell each other, they resort to having a conversation that sees them discover they have a lot in common. They only discover their differences in species when they meet again the following day, but the choose to pursue their friendship rather than let base instinct get the better of them.
Where the series differs from the books and the movie is that Mei, who was originally cast as male in the movie and always seen as male by the author of the books, has now become May, a female goat. This was probably done for marketing purposes to appeal to a larger audience, as well as to quash the more homoerotic undertones that the original story suffered from (through no fault of the story or movie itself, morseco thanks to the attention it received from people who wished to see such in the story, most notably in the furry fandom.) I find this a disappointing change, as it actually leaves the interpretation of May and Gabu's relationship as being more a romance than a friendship, particularly in the way some episodes depict interaction between the two.
The visuals are bright, cheery, and appealing to younger audiences; all the characters have a very neotenic style, especially the goats, though even Ghiro looks quite tame compared to his movie counterpart. The backgrounds are beautifully rendered, but the animation at times can be stilted, the goats' anatomy lookng downright weird at times.
The series is also clearly aimed at a much younger audience, with the English dialogue very slow and simplified, likely to assist with youngsters wishing to learn English. Whilst the voices are acceptable, it lacks the flow and greater expression of the Japanese dub, even though the animation is tailored to synchronise with the English dub. The soundtrack also re-uses substantial amounts of the orchestral soundtrack written for the original movie, with other incidental music sounding much cheaper for the rest of the time.
The series, running at 26 episodes, only covers the original story up to about book 4 of the original 7-book series, and re-writes certain scenes from both the books and the movies, using elements of the later books but in reference to other characters. Why this was done is unclear, as the current series has an extremely open ending and feel incomplete as it stands, with no resolution to the actions of certain characters. Whether or not this indicates there will be a second season of the show is unknown, but as it stands the conclusion to the series is quite unsatisfying in its attempt to wrap things up.
Overall, I give it a 6 out of 10. It has its heartwarming moments, and the story is still touching, but it is lacking in a great many ways compared to the original story books and movie adaptation.read more