Ocean Waves comes from the reliable and beloved stable of Studio Ghibli, home of the great anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazki and famed for producing the 2001 Oscar-winning Spirited Away. This smaller-scale and very short Ghibli film, based on the novel by Saeko Himuro, is something of a curiosity however.

For one thing it is a late DVD release from Ghibli’s back catalogue, having been originally aired in Japan in 1993. The film was also not directed by Ghibli stalwarts Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, instead being helmed by Tomomi Mochizuki, who was 34 years old at the time. The film was also something of an experiment - a Ghibli project produced solely by the younger staff members.

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Whereas Miyazaki films are usually boldly fantastical, this anime is essentially a straight teen drama; a small, slight tale told with a warm, soft animation style. The story centres on Taku, whom we meet as he leaves Toyko by plane to head for his hometown for a high school reunion in K?chi - a prefecture of Japan located on the south coast of Shikoku island. Spurred on by a glimpse of a young woman at a train station, Taku finds himself looking back at the events of his teenage years with affection and some regret.

He remembers a time at school when new girl Rikako transferred in from Tokyo, smart but distant from her new classmates. A school trip to Hawaii and a even stranger trip to Tokyo to see her estranged father gradually conspire to bring the fiery and unpredictable Rikako and Taku closer, but at the risk of damaging his friendship with best friend Yutaka.

The film plays out as a flashback, the atmosphere one of a pleasant memory. The standard of animation is perhaps a bit more basic than the more exotic Miyazaki fare, and in terms of dramatic punch the film is very low-key. Nevertheless at just over an hour it hardly outstays its welcome, and anime fans should find it an interesting look at earlier Ghibli output.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2010
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Anime movie in which a young japanese student recalls a love triangle he was caught up in at high school.
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Director: Tomomi Mochizuki

Writer: Saeko Himuro

Starring: Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Sakamoto, Yuri Amano, Kae Araki

Year: 1993

Runtime: 72 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Japan


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