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Ocean Waves
|     review    |     notes     |     availability     |

Ocean Waves was originally produced for Japanese television.
• Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, the creators synonymous with Studio Ghibli, only served as supervisors on the film.
Ocean Waves is reportedly not part of the Tokuma/Disney deal which gives North American rights of Ghibli's animated catalogue to Buena Vista Home Video. As such, the film will likely never be released in the United States.

DVD (Japan)
Region 2 NTSC
Buena Vista Home Video
2-Disc Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
Various extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

Find this at
  AKA: I Can Hear the Ocean  
Japanese: 海がきこえる
Year: 1993
Director: Tomomi Mochizuki
Producer: Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)
Writer: Saeko Himuro (original novel)
Voices: Nobuo Tobita, Yoko Sakamoto, Toshihiko Seki, Kae Araki, Ai Satou, Junichi Kanemaru, Kan Tokumaru, Yuri Amano, Tomokazu Seki, Aya Hisakawa, Hikaru Midorikawa
The Skinny: Shojo anime from the folks at Ghibli, who also brought us the animated masterpieces Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Kiki's Delivery Service. While not as stunningly successful as the studio's more celebrated works, Ocean Waves possesses familiar emotions and undeniable charm. Not for fans of Ghost in the Shell.

by Kozo:

Ocean Waves is somewhat unusual for an animated film from Japan's celebrated Studio Ghibli. Unlike their more popular works, Ocean Waves is not a fantastic fairytale adventure or a metaphorical epic on man's relationship with nature. Instead, it's exactly what it seems to be: a relatively simple story about a boy, a girl and a romance that develops out of nowhere. Based on a shojo novel by Saeko Himuro, it tells the story of Taku, a responsible, but somewhat clueless college student from the rural prefecture of Kochi. For the majority of the film, Taku recalls his final years in high school, where he became drawn into a fiery relationship with Rikako, a Tokyo transplant who enchanted many a Kochi resident with her urban mystique and undeniable good looks. Unfortunately, Rikako was also willful and seemingly stuck-up, and she and Taku exchanged many harsh words that perhaps were not entirely meant. At the same time, Taku had his own emotional issues, including burying them for the good of his buddy Matsuno, who fell hard and fast for the implacable Rikako. Why these threads of memory come to light now for Taku only becomes clear when you see where he's headed: a mini-high school reunion. Will Rikako show up? Is Matsuno still mad at him? Did Taku actually ever care for Rikako, and will he do anything about it? And, will this fluffy anime-for-girls be exciting for those who loved Ghost in the Shell?

The answer to the last question is a big fat negatory, but there is still much to like in Ocean Waves. Little nuggets about growing up, realizing one's feelings, and coming to terms with our mistakes all come into play in this seventy-minute charmer, which manages to seem simultaneously fluffy and deep—and neither quality is presented in a bad way at all. Director Tomomi Mochizuki was also responsible for the Here is Greenwood OAV series, which is regarded by some as one of the best shojo manga-to-anime translations ever. Ocean Waves has much in common with Greenwood, but muffles any silliness in favor of well-drawn characters, recognizable emotions, and an overwhelming feeling that can only be called youthful nostalgia. Ocean Waves manages a perfect balancing act between canonizing the rites of our youth and revealing them for the fleeting, mixed-up bag of emotions that they are. The shojo tendencies for overwrought exposition and glib platitudes are supplanted by incidents and emotions that actually seem to show something about the characters. Ultimately, the journey made by the film is not in any way original or new—and indeed, more cynical viewers may conclude that the film does nothing of any real value. Still, something about the clean animated style, whimsical music, and rural Japanese setting makes the overdone subject matter far more charming than it might normally be. With all that in mind, the feel-good simplicity of the film's final moments feels appropriate and earned, rather than tacked on or merely obligatory. There might be less kind things to say about Ocean Waves if one were to dig more deeply, but the pleasant manner in which Mochizuki relates his teen tale makes skimming on its familiar surface a welcome, pleasant experience. (Kozo 2003)

images courtesy of Studio Ghibli and Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen