voice talent: nobuo tobita, toshihiko seki, yoko sakamoto, and yuri amano
REVIEWER: purdie jenkins
As he journeys back from Tokyo to his high school for a reunion, Taku Morisaki recounts his memories of his school days, focussing in particular on a love triangle that developed between him and two of his friends.
Studio Ghibli has rightfully earned a reputation as a source of exceptionally well-made animated films, with a wide range of subjects and intended audiences. Ocean Waves was a means of the studio allowing their younger team to make a film. This youthful touch really creates that authentic teen experience.
Ocean Waves is set in a small island in Japan, and follows a love triangle that develops between teenagers. Taku and Yutaka are high school students and best friends, their friendship is tested however when a new transfer student comes from Tokyo, Rikako. Like many other Ghibli films, Ocean Waves is a slice of life, a moment in time of these characters lives, spanning over a few years.
The focus on the two boys and their relationship is refreshing, and even though it’s a love triangle it’s not a fierce competition, instead it’s just about the awkwardness of dealing with new emotions. The ability to capture that confusing time of being a teenager works quite well in Ocean Waves. It might leave an older audience a little frustrated, why don’t Taku and Yutaka just talk about how they feel, why can’t Rikako realise that other people have feelings too, but it’s just what it is like to be a teenager. Trying to figure out life, emotions, trying to earn money to have fun, but also study hard to get good grades, and that transition from a self-centred child to an adult.
The simplicity of the story is made richer by the themes, the differences of wealth and class, expectations of others, the drive for better grades, success and happiness. The glimpse into this defining moment in these characters lives offers a rich personal experience. Lovers of the fantasy and magical elements of other Studio Ghibli might find this experience a little dull.
Ocean Waves brings the teenage experience to the big screen with the beautiful touch of Studio Ghibli.