Inessential Ghibli: Ocean Waves [Umi ga Kikoeru] (Tomomi Mochizuki, 1993)

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Ocean Waves is a little known Studio Ghibli film, made for television, that has no particular flaws but also few strengths. It’s a slice-of-life drama set in Kōchi, a city on the coast of Shikoku. The protagonist is Taku (Nobuo Tobita), a schoolboy who finds himself in a love triangle involving Matsuno (Toshihiko Seki), his best friend, and Rikako (Yoko Sakamoto), a transfer student from Tokyo who causes a stir at their school with her bad manners.

If Ocean Waves were not an animation with a certain amount of Ghibli style and charm, it would seem still more insignificant. It’s low key in a way that will only make much of an impact on viewers who feel a personal connection to the situations the characters experience. It’s pleasant enough to watch, but the Shikoku setting (the biggest draw for me) isn’t used to its best advantage and the whole film is markedly unambitious. One for Ghibli completeists only, perhaps.

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