Ai SatouTakahiro SakuraiTomokazu SekiKinryuu Arimoto
Ocean Waves
Also known as: Umi ga Kikoeru
Medium: film
Year: 1993
Director: Tomomi Mochizuki
Writer: Keiko Niwa
Actor: Ai Satou, Aya Hisakawa, Hikaru Midorikawa, Jun'ichi Kanemaru, Kae Araki, Kan Tokumaru, Kinryuu Arimoto, Nobuo Tobita, Reiko Suzuki, Sumi Shimamoto, Takahiro Sakurai, Takeshi Watabe, Tomokazu Seki, Toshiharu Sakurai, Toshihiko Seki, Youko Sakamoto, Yuri Amano
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 72 minutes
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 7 February 2019
It's a little-known Ghibli TV movie, conceived as an opportunity for the studio's younger staff members to show that they could make a good film quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately it went over-budget and over-schedule. The experiment wasn't considered a success.
I enjoyed it, though. It's a simple, low-key story with no fantastical elements. Morisaki Taku is a conscientious, hard-working boy who even gets cross with his school when he disagrees with their judgements. (They cancelled a school trip because of bad exam results. I agree with the school, actually, although I'd admit they handled it boorishly.) He lives in one of the quieter bits of Japan and he has an accent.
Meanwhile Matsuno Yutaka is Morisaki's best friend, while Muto Rikako is a beautiful transfer student from Tokyo with a high-handed personality that might get her hated by her classmates if she doesn't look out.
It's gentle. You'll see people calling it slice-of-life, although personally I disagree. (To me, that implies something sleepier and more meandering. This film is driven by Muto, who's capable of looking like a potential crook, a bitch and a girl who's not great at perceiving the world as it actually is. It's also based on a novel, by one of Japan's most successful authors of the 1980s and 1990s.)
It's short, obviously. It feels like a bit of a fragment. It drifts from episode to episode, with the last one being set several years later once everyone's graduated. I'd say it's about its characters' development more than its plot, with a fat chunk of that happening between episodes. Muto gets the most, obviously, with Morisaka even realising when some of it happens. However there's some interesting examination of friends, most obviously with Morisaka and Matsuno but also with the more out-of-focus pairing of Muto and her only local friend, Yumi Kohama. (She also has friends back in Tokyo, but that's another story.)
The art is very Ghibli, which means it doesn't look much like most anime. (The film's age is also part of that, I suppose, but fortunately it stood well apart from the uglier fashions in 1990s anime.) The faces are realistic-ish, but you still can't tell that Muto's supposed to be one of the prettiest girls in the school.
To be honest, there's not much to talk about here. It's short and simple. Some people think it's undercooked, especially given its length, but personally I think it's just fine as it is and I wouldn't change it. Just remember while watching that it's a TV special, not a two-hour feature film.