An interesting one this, Ocean Waves is an old TV film made by Studio Ghibli’s younger staff. It was meant to be cheap but went over budget as what happens usually with these things. Ocean Waves is a film made on reality, it is much like a soap opera in animated form as it tells the tale of high school life and a troublesome girl.
Much like another Ghibli film ‘Only Yesterday’, Ocean Waves is a mature offering from the studio with a film grounded on realism (no transforming raccoons here) and telling a believable and heart warming tale. Taku the main protagonist is a cool guy who works hard and looks out for others. He is instantly likable thanks to his casual attitude which doesn’t show any signs of pretentiousness or cockiness. Unfortunately for him, his best friend Yutaka ends up involving him with some girl. This girl called Rikako, is manipulative, pretentious and a complete bitch though with a bunch of family problems stopping her from being totally hated. Once the two talk the adventure begins and we are on a journey of life which shows how the two react to each other.
It’s a nice film too, full of smart little character details. Taku won’t just sit in a chair, he’ll fall into it and slide down over time. The way he taps his foot during a cafe meeting shows how little he wants to be there without him and the Tv shows which go on in the background gives a sense of realism, despite it being an animation. One smart touch is how flashbacks are presented, when the clock shifts back and we see the past the picture of the film gets small surrounded by a white background. The relationships between the characters are interesting too even if it only really concentrates on three of them with any depth. Taku remains cool, Yutaka starts to fall apart and Rikako stays a stuck up lady. A timeskip into the future slightly undermines some of the film as it insists this film needs a romantic happy ending but it is still far better than most of the indie romance films I’ve seen. This is thanks to likable characters and nothing really kooky going on.
Ocean Waves is a very good romantic drama I felt. Not a lot may happen but the relationships between the characters are great and it really draws you into how the characters will react to certain events and conversations. It feels like the sort of story you could fall into once leaving the house, a form of escapism which has a sense of actually happening around it. Simple stories are sometimes the best. I’d like to be dragged to another city for two nights and I’d certainly like to be as great a guy as Taku.