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1 of 1 episodes seen
Ocean Waves is a story of similar impact; impacting only on three characters locked inside their own small little world. It's a story covering the journey towards adulthood of three high schoolers, where the friendship of two is damaged by the one thing besides hate that can destroy bonds - love.
Often over-looked because the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the director of many highly regarded Ghibli titles, had no role in the completion of the film, it's by far the most under-watched and under-rated of the Ghibli films I've watched thus far. Ocean Waves was an attempt at giving the younger staff members of Ghibli a chance to shine - a chance to come from under the shadows of the bigger names - and shine they did, though not as brightly as they would've hoped.
:: Story :: -- 8.5-9/10
In a nutshell, Ocean Waves is a romance, featuring a love triangle, without any supernatural elements whatsoever being included. There are black comedy and depressing sections of the story, leading to the ending being somewhat unpredictable.
Prior to a girl called Rikako transferring from Tokyo to a high school located in a small town by the sea, Taku and Yutaka shared a close friendship; one forged at the back-end of junior high when they were the only two in their school to persist in standing against the school's decision to cancel the school trip. From then onwards, despite being in different classes, the two remained close, inside and outside of school. But Rikako changed everything. Yutaka fell in love with her at first sight, starting with when he - as the class representative - showed her around the school. Yutaka also called Taku to the school on the same day, wanting to show the new girl to his best friend, and that's when their relationship started to become troubled; when Taku also became enchanted by her beauty.
The story is a simple yet moving affair. It's almost certain to be hard-hitting for anyone who has developed feelings for someone a close friend also has feelings for. Watching Taku attempt to sustain a friendship whilst being pulled deeper and deeper into the selfish world of Rikako, it was difficult for me not to get pulled into the world of the characters. Even for those who can't relate to the struggles of the characters, like myself, it'd be an absorbing experience.
The only real story negative is that it's too short, the film only lasting for around 70 minutes. Given that Ocean Waves was a 'youth of Ghilbli' project, with a small budget (which they ended up going over), it isn't shocking that one-third of the love triangle didn't get as much time as the other two-thirds. Likewise, it isn't a shock that the story ended right when it reached the good part; when the story reached its peak. But, viewed as it is, the story has enough quality to justify the 9/10 (rounded from 8.5) score I'm awarding it.
:: Characterization :: - 8.5/10
The main two characters (the two who get the most time - Taku and Rikako) are fleshed out well enough so that I was able to get an excellent understanding of their personalities. Taku is your typical nice guy, willing to help someone work through their problems without gaining anything in return, but he's also honest, being blunt where necessary. Rikako, on the other hand, is a spoilt child, blaming the break-up of her parents' marriage on her mother because she was forced to move away from Tokyo. Where as Taku shows consideration by thinking of the feelings of Yutaka, she thinks only of herself - lying to get money in order to return to Tokyo, deceiving her friend in an attempt to get her to go to Tokyo with her and many other things. But, as they say, opposites attract, and over the course of the story she starts to learn through experience.
My only issue with Rikako is that, because of the short length of the film, nearly all of it focused on her being selfish. Not enough was shown of her other side, or of her growth into a a more mature person - one not locked inside her own little world. If the film had been twenty minutes longer, with some scenes added just before and after the ending, I feel it would've improved the experience.
However, my main characterization issue doesn't lie with Rikako. The third part of the love triangle, Yutaka, quite simply didn't get anywhere near enough time for him to develop into more than a well-used plot device. Nearly all of the film focused on the developments of Taku and Rikako, Yutaka being excluded completely during the black comedy section in the middle. Yutaka being the friend of Taku and making him think twice about his feelings for Rikako made the story work, but it would've been more powerful if there had been three characters to care for rather than two.
On the whole, the characterization is very good. The realism of Rikako's personality in particular is worth noting. But I can't quite give the characterization side a 9/10 score when there could've been added development - development which would've increased my enjoyment.
:: Art / Animation :: - 8.5/10
As you'd expect of a Ghibli title, Ocean Waves is pleasing visually. The animation flowed (though, with it being realistic, there wasn't any fast-paced action or the like) and there were no obvious over-budget issues that caught my eye. The only negative that springs to mind is the trademark Ghibli facial artwork, which is the same except in the cases of certain types of characters. Having watched a couple of Ghibli titles in quick succession, I've noticed how the faces are often identical. What highlighted this to me in the case of Ocean Waves was towards the end, when I noticed that one of the supporting female characters with her hair like Rikako looked just like her (I thought it was her at first.)
To be fair, I'm probably nit-picking. What matters with regards to the faces is that the characters' emotions are conveyed, and the expression side had no issues whatsoever. When Rikako was pissed off and gave Taku the 'evil eye' feared by men worldwide, she looked convincing. When Taku lost his patience with Rikako because of her selfish ways, his feelings were etched on his face. Etc, etc. On the whole, the art impressed me, and I see no reason to mark a drama down because it had no action to be animated.
:: Sound :: - 8/10
The soundtrack has a good range of songs, ranging from depressing piano tracks to uplifting tracks, and the music fitted the mood well. After finishing the film, I couldn't recall an excellent piece I wanted to listen to over and over, but I did appreciate the soundtrack after downloading and listening to it away from the film, with no pretty images to distract me. There's music that sets the mood and music that's wonderful to listen to away from what it played alongside, and the Ocean Waves soundtrack is the former.
As for the voice acting, I felt whilst watching that the voices fitted the characters well enough. Like in the case of the music, I didn't end the film with any of the voices stuck inside my brain, but I didn't end with any negative feelings about the acting.
:: Overall :: - 9/10
To sum it up, Ocean Waves is something for anyone who can handle anime without supernatural elements distancing its story from reality. It's a must watch for fans of romance with a realistic edge.
Don't ignore it simply because of its unknown status compared to the other Ghibli titles. A lot of people go into anime to escape reality - to see something different - and I'm sure that has played a part in it being scored harshly compared to certain other Ghibli titles. It's more than worthy of a place in any Ghibli collection. Trust me when I say that Miyazaki not being involved doesn't make it any less of a film.