CHECK : Ocean waves (1993)


Ocean Waves is one of the few Studio Ghibli films I’ve not only never seen, but never heard of. Ocean Waves, directed by Tomomi Mochizukima, was released as a TV movie in 1993 and was the first Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, and Mochizukima’s only film made at the studio. This film served as a kind of experiment for the young animators and directors of the studio, the motto of the production – fast, cheap, good. The film is based on the novel I Hear the Sea by Seko Himuro, an important Japanese writer, essayist and playwright. Ocean Waves is also notable for having several English titles, including the title of the source material, and for being Studio Ghibli’s shortest film at 72 minutes. Ocean Waves was also the first Studio Ghibli film to be broadcast live on television, and it remained the only film until Ervig and the Witch earlier this year. Is Ocean Wave a forgotten masterpiece, or is it better off forgotten? Immersion. (See what I did there?).

The ocean waves follow a young Japanese man named Taku Morisaki. When he returns to his hometown of Kochi for his high school reunion, he remembers his big school trip to Hawaii, his best friend Yutaka Matsuno and Rikako Muto, the girl who changed his life and tore two friends apart.

The format of Ocean Waves, with its staff story, reminds me of yesterday, though I prefer it here for different reasons. There aren’t many scenes at this point, and they all revolve around the ending. Taku’s misadventures in high school are the main focus, and while that probably has more to do with lack of time than anything else, I think it works well. Just yesterday, I found the flashback sequences frustrating and wanted to see more of Taeko’s modern life and her relationship with Toshio. Conversely, Ocean Waves chooses one of the time slots and commits. It can be said that movies can make good use of split timelines. It’s not unheard of, and I don’t hate the idea in principle, but I haven’t seen many good examples lately. I also don’t find Taku’s high school life as frustrating as Taeko’s childhood, although Rikako and everything around her gets on my nerves. But I’ll get back to you on this.

Ocean Waves is almost as good, if not as impressive, as a standard Studio Ghibli cinema release. The animation is sleek and fluid, the character animation has beautiful details, not to mention something Ghibli has always excelled at: landscapes and the beauty of nature. Ocean Waves isn’t Ghibli’s most brilliant film, but – at least in my experience – it’s rare for a TV movie to be this good before the advent of streaming services. The original music of Ocean Waves was written by Shigeru Nagata and is beautiful. For the most part, the score is as simple as the story itself, but it’s entertaining and fits well with what we see on screen. The editing of Ocean Waves is pretty standard, not great and not bad. The cuts in this movie don’t stand out, which is what I usually find.

One aspect of Ocean Waves that really impressed me was the voice acting. It’s the only Studio Ghibli film that doesn’t have English dubbing, and the Japanese cast is great. You can clearly hear in Nobuo Tobita’s voice that Taku usually holds back. even when he realizes he loves Rikako, he doesn’t go after her or even talk to her about it, for fear of hurting his best friend. Toshihiko Seki and Yoko Sakamoto are both very good as Yutaka and Rikako respectively. The rest of the characters don’t amount to much for the most part, but all the actors are completely absorbed in their roles. That’s one of the simple joys of animation, especially when it’s done by professional actors rather than well-known talent. Sometimes great actors can do that too, but sometimes you can feel the difference when someone lives to do the voice-over. While I generally prefer the original Japanese with subtitles when it comes to anime, the two big exceptions are Cowboy Bebop and anything produced by Studio Ghibli. Ghibli still has an impressive cast of characters and big names like Christian Bale and Liam Neeson. Sometimes it’s easier for me to watch the dubbing because I don’t have to concentrate as much, but I’m really glad I got to see the ocean waves this way. I plan to watch some of the other films with subtitles to see what the difference is, although in many cases I doubt they are better than the English versions.


I liked Taku as a character and especially his friendship with Yakuta. I do have to say that for me, the only major problem with Ocean Waves is Rikako’s character. I don’t like her at all, and I honestly don’t understand what those two guys see/saw in her. She is antisocial, impulsive, dishonest and sometimes downright cruel. I’ve often seen this in movies and television, where a woman’s behavior is erratic and just plain unethical, but one or more male characters manage to charm her again and again. I don’t know what it’s about, and if they changed the floor, there would be a moral about domestic violence or dealing with toxic masculinity. they explain the strange heroics of Rikako when she travels to Tokyo to visit her father, who clearly doesn’t care if she’s there or not. At the beginning of the film, it is explained that Rikako’s parents are divorced and that she is angry with her mother. But when she travels to Tokyo (with her poor Taco, whose money she fraudulently used to buy the tickets), it becomes clear that her father is no angel. a new woman lives in his house, he has redecorated Rikako’s old room, and he doesn’t seem to want to visit his friend (another lie served up to Taku). Looking at Rikako’s personal life, some of her behaviors make sense, especially her dislike of social activities at school. But she is so disgusted with Taku, and when Yutaka tells her that he is in love with her, she calls him rude and discourages him. She’s just a mean girl, and I don’t understand why they like her. the sad thing is that at the end, when Taku and Rikako meet again as adults, it’s really well done. At a high school reunion, Taku reveals that Rikako wants to meet someone in Tokyo who likes to sleep in the bathroom, referring to the trip they took together to visit her father. Taku was sleeping in the bathroom because Rikako had fallen asleep in her hotel room. knowing exactly what this means, Taku rushes to the bus station and sees Rikako at the last minute. He says something like: In that moment, I realized that I’ve always loved her, and the movie goes dark. This is such a well put together, scripted and animated scene! It is so cathartic and joyful! I really wanted to love Rikako and feel attached to her and Taku throughout the movie. It’s a delightful ending to a relationship that seems dysfunctional and full of lies. The most exciting relationship in Ocean Waves is the friendship between Yutaka and Taku, and I wish that relationship was more present, honestly. Studio Ghibli has some excellent novels that I’d like to review.

Overall, I liked the ocean waves. The music, animation and actors are excellent. My only problem with the film is Rikako and her status as the main character’s love interest, and unfortunately that’s a big problem.

Location – 7
Action – 10
Control/Assembly – 8
Music/Sound – 10
Romance – 4



Overall, I liked the ocean waves. The music, animation and actors are excellent. My only problem with the film is Rikako and her status as the main character’s love interest, and unfortunately that’s a big problem.

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