12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Tender slice of life from Studio Ghibli.,
This review is from: Ocean Waves [DVD] (DVD)
Although this is an early `90s film, it's taken 17 years for it to be released on DVD - but it was certainly worth the wait.
I've seen many anime films and series where the central element is teenage romance, and they are often predictable and follow a similar formula. I was worried that Ocean Waves would fall into a similar trap but through use of retrospective narrative and seen alongside a friendship under threat, this makes for a compelling story.
Instead of being a cutesy, predictable tale of 'boy meets girl' we are presented with an awkward and slightly odd relationship. Rikako is an attractive girl, but she's an outsider from the city who doesn't seem to integrate well. Her anti-social behaviour doesn't endear her to the other students at school and she seems to be making every effort to not mix with the others. The only connection she seems to make is with Taku, a male student who seems to be resisting his own feelings towards Rikaki through loyalty to his friend who has taken quite a shine to her. We see how the two boys became friends after being the only ones protesting against the cancellation of a school trip, it's a moment which brings them together and cements a relationship which gives a history to their friendship.
The synopsis for the film is simple and sounds almost flimsy, but through excellent character development this animated feature turns a frequently told story into an original piece of work which grabs you from the beginning. It's almost difficult to like Rikaki initially, she maybe beautiful but she's also petulant and self-centred. At times she appears quite dishonest too and you see how she is causing cracks in a friendship which deserves better, but she is human and has flaws as we all do. As you slowly start to understand her past and empathise with how she is feeling you come to realise that she isn't a hard-edged, rich townie - she is as fragile as anyone else. Her growing relationship with Taku is handled in a realistic way, instead of portraying a shallow relationship with an obvious direction it is complex and you never really know how things are going to turn out between them, or between Taku and his best friend.
The quality of animation on this DVD is superb. I know you expect nothing less from a Studio Ghibli production - but after watching a few other animated titles recently it easy to forget how vibrant and detailed such films can be. The style is much more realistic and it's clear that a lot of effort has gone into making the environments feel like real places. There's no English dub here, but that's not something which concerns me as I prefer to listen to the original soundtrack, but I know that some prefer a dub.
In a nutshell: This film spans a couple of years and as it is told through flashbacks we are given the story from a more mature perspective, as a result this teenage romance isn't limited to just a younger audience. Instead this slow paced film develops the characters and uses a small cast to create an interesting insight into the lives of three young adults whose lives are impacting on each other in ways they don't even realise at the time. Another solid offering from Studio Ghibli which doesn't over-simplify teenage lifestyles as so many other Japanese films do.