Club Ghibli #17 - Ocean Waves (1993)

Did it rock your boat?

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Diddy

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We go from one of the most sumptuously decadent (and long) Ghibli movies, to one of its shortest and lower budget efforts. It's time for a deep cut with one of Ghibli's lesser-known TV movies, "Ocean Waves" ("Umi ga kikoeru" - I can hear the sea).

Picture it - it's 1993 and Ghibli is a studio on the ascendant. After their big breakthrough movies in the late 80s, Ghibli was trying to keep its momentum up. This film comes in the middle of the studio's 5-year period of annual releases, a pace that has never been matched in their canon. Looking for a way to make a Ghibli movie on a limited budget, this TV movie was handed to Ghibli's younger staff, and we get the first one-shot director at the helm - the first woman too, Tomomi Mochizuki - and two first-time screenwriters adapting the source novel. So this is not going to be your usual Ghibli house-style.

The story follows a pair of high school boys, Taku & Yutaka, in Kochi, a cute coastal prefectural capital on Shikoku island. Despite being a large town the area, the pace of life is slow. At least until Tokyoite Rikako joins their school under mysterious circumstances. What's her deal, and will she disrupt the best friends' simmering bromance?

This film was received well enough, despite its fairly tangential connection to Studio Ghibli - and the fact that it was made for TV means it's one of the least well-known of the canon. No box office stats to speak of, since it was a TV movie, although it did get a very limited run in the US in 2016.




HOW THIS WORKS

In a semi book club format, the films will be announced, and over the course of about 2 weeks we can watch it and let everyone know what we thought. We are in the last third of the movies now, so I have decided to curate the last run and not pick the last big ones too soon - we've been really restrained I think so far, so thank you!

I was thinking 2 weeks should be enough time for most people to fit in a viewing at some point, but it's not strict so please come back when you have a chance, no pressure!
@Christian @Gangsta Nancy Lam @jivafox @COB @Haiku @ZenGiraffe @Lucille @KindaCool @Eyes @Queen of the Bay @RaspberrySwirl @RJN @Beverley @big ron @ButterTart @Mats (let me know if you don't want to be tagged any more)
 

Diddy

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I guess the biggest thing I can say is that it didn't really feel much like a Ghibli movie. The art style was less distinctive, and felt like it could've been any manga adaptation.

It went by pretty quickly even though I hadn't exactly been looking forward to it, but it didn't really change my mind on another viewing the way something like Poppy Hill did.

It was lovely to see a setting that I recognise, Kochi is a cute city, and definitely a massive contrast to Tokyo, so storywise things felt quite believable with the different characters in their different paces of life.

Morisaki and Matsuno were a great pair, I liked their chemistry a lot, and feel like the film was let down by not having much interaction between them for large stretches of the film, seeing as we are led to believe it's a love triangle.

But that love triangle was a sticking point for me, I just didn't find any redeeming features in Rikako, oh AT ALL. Selfish, manipulative and we are supposed to swallow that everyone's in love with her? That just felt a bit reductive and I saw no evidence for it apart from them being nice to her even when she was horrid. I had to laugh at the last flashback sequence after the reunion when Morisaki was thinking back on his memories of her, and it was ALL her saying shitty things to him :D what a catch!

Though the main premise of the love triangle ran totally hollow for me, I did like some of the artistic choices - that weird thing where it would show flashes of the next scene before the last one had finished, or those mini-postcard versions of the scenes, it felt like a music video or something. And that sparse soundtrack was quite interesting in its unique way too.

I think it's doomed to end up near the bottom of my final ranking, thank god it was only 72 minutes.
 

Peekaboo

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I watched this a million years ago and enjoyed it because it was very different from other Ghibli fare. It felt a lot more like a drama that could have been acted out by real actors. And I remember thinking I should visit Shikoku!

Sorry I can't give a more insightful take on it. It wasn't bad, and I probably missed a lot of stuff, but it's not something I would include in a Top 10 Ghibli.
 

Diddy

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I watched this a million years ago and enjoyed it because it was very different from other Ghibli fare. It felt a lot more like a drama that could have been acted out by real actors. And I remember thinking I should visit Shikoku!

Sorry I can't give a more insightful take on it. It wasn't bad, and I probably missed a lot of stuff, but it's not something I would include in a Top 10 Ghibli.

Yes to visiting Shikoku but maybe Kochi is not the one :D
 

Peekaboo

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I had forgotten there was a love triangle in this and now that you mention it, yes I seem to remember it was one of those odd "is this a man writing what they think a woman acts like?" moments - surprised to hear it was a female director, but who knows maybe she was a for-hire and didn't have much choice especially if she was part of the younger staff.
 

Diddy

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I had forgotten there was a love triangle in this and now that you mention it, yes I seem to remember it was one of those odd "is this a man writing what they think a woman acts like?" moments - surprised to hear it was a female director, but who knows maybe she was a for-hire and didn't have much choice especially if she was part of the younger staff.

Tbh I found her actions more believable, they gave her a reason for them.

Maybe the director was like “men love this kind of messy bitch” :D
 

Peekaboo

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I mean there is a bit of precedent with my female quibbles in Ghibli, because I found that moment towards the end of Only Yesterday when the main character is
slightly COERCED by the old lady into staying in the countryside and marrying that guy
a bit odd for a film that is supposed to be exploring a female protagonist taking control of her own life - and a Ghibli film at that!

Maybe when it comes to ROMANCE there is a CULTURAL DIFFERENCE that I am missing.
 

Queen of the Bay

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Spent most of the film thinking this is one my favourites
cause of the cursed triangle where Taku loves Yutaka, Yutaka loves Rikako and Rikako loves Taku, then Yutaka comes to pick him up and I think hallelujah 🙌 he's seen the light, and then the stupid reunion happens leading to that horrible ending where they've turned Taku straight. I am disgusted and pissed. Zero points.
 
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Eyes

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I watched it yesterday. I will say that I love seeing settings where characters just wander around Japan and involve themselves in daily life and the INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE of the high school calendar so there was that.

Other than that, this made every single misstep that anime romantic comedies generally make to a set of bad characters. Which is well below the line of quality that I expect from Ghibli, not that this feels like a Ghibli film in the slightest. More like a proto-Shinkai film but with half the graphic quality and one-tenth of the story chops. Not that most of the characters did much wrong, there's only like 3 who get any attention at all, and the guy with glasses barely even counts, most of his relationship and apparent love with Rikako is done offscreen so I've got no idea if him making his grades suffer because he was thinking about her is legit or not. Main guy is pretty standup but gets walked all over or gets treated horribly for standing up for himself.

And then there's fucking Rikako. I like a good tsundere, don't get me wrong, but you tend to need the actual dere, the soft side of it, to make it work. She spends most of the movie hating everyone around her except for this one poor girl who can apparently stand her. Perhaps it's trauma from her parents' divorce but that's the only thing I can find to excuse her. Everyone else in their school hates her, except the boys find her pretty at the start. She manipulates and lies to the only ones among her peers who give her the time of day in order to get what she wants and she badmouths Kochi as a town of country bumpkins at the slightest provocation. She treats Taku awfully on that Tokyo trip, from getting her dad to reimburse him, to taking over his hotel room, to showing him off as a 'boyfriend' to her ex to make him jealous. Then when returning she starts getting into slapfights with Taku because she treats his friend awfully rather than letting him down... gently... as a normal person would.

I can sort of see what they're going for, that sharing many significant high school trials together would make them closer but they went way too hard on the trials, any of the softer moments that would indicate why these two might actually like each other were either very muted or didn't even happen. If that's how their school life ended I think most people in Taku's position would have forgotten about anyone like Rikako very quickly into college life.

The worst part was the ending, 'looking for a boy who liked to sleep in bathtubs' (bitch you MADE him do that and kicked him out of his hotel room on little sleep right after), all those recaps of the horrible things Rikako said that Diddy noted too, and then it doesn't just end on the confession like so many bad anime romcoms do, it ends BEFORE the confession. We don't even know if she'd say yes, maybe she dropped that little nonsequitur hint so she could prank him into coming to Tokyo and slap him again.

I wasn't bored watching it I guess :D , if only to see what that HARLOT would do next.
 

Diddy

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Spent most of the film thinking this is one my favourites
cause of the cursed triangle where Taku loves Yutaka, Yutaka loves Rikako and Rikako loves Taku, then Yutaka comes to pick him up and I think hallelujah 🙌 he's seen the light, and then the stupid reunion happens leading to that horrible ending where they've turned Taku straight. I am disgusted and pissed. Zero points.

As for this, I remember thinking “ooh they would be a nice gay couple” before when I watched it, but not so much this time. I think it was mainly because I couldn’t bear either of them ending up with HER!
 

Queen of the Bay

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As for this, I remember thinking “ooh they would be a nice gay couple” before when I watched it, but not so much this time. I think it was mainly because I couldn’t bear either of them ending up with HER!
Oh yes, I never wished any of them to end up with her either. Was just hoping Yutaka would realise how Taku felt about him and he'd ditch HER 🤗
 

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