Ocean Waves is a Ghibli produced film, Not by Miyazaki, which was made for t.v. in 1993. As a made-for-tv animated movie, the target audience is not only kids. This, is not a normal approach.
As such, what is going on here, is not a normal anime made for kids. It is rather, a made for t.v. film that happens to be animated. In fact, there is straight-faced mention of periods, divorce, multiple adult themed connotations not to mention minors drinking.
Because of this, I believe there have been misconceptions regarding the interpretation of the film.
Story and Characters- 10
Morisaku Taku is a fairly popular student at some unimportant school. When his school announces their trip is cancelled, he complains. In this process, he meets the chief other complainant. This boy, Matsuno Yutaka, becomes his best friend. Time passes, and then a transfer student arrives at their school- Muto Rikako. This girl becomes the object of both boys passions. Different events occur, but there are no more simplified plot details. The way this story is told is very important. One aspect is, if you had watched it, you may not have heard the characters first names. Although use of last names is rife in Japan, Yutaka and Taku would most likely address eachover as Taku/Yutaka kun. The reason this doesn't happen, is because this film is pandering to adults. Addressing people by their first names apart from family members is mostly a pipe dream for anybody over 30, and that's why first names are not used here. It starts us on the theme of the movie- which is rites of passage. The aloof Morisaku is drawn into this immature girls actions and learns from the negative impacts. He loses his love interest, his best friend, his money, his pride, and morals over the course of the film. Muto is a scheming and jaded girl, who is internally damaged by her parents divorce. A quality of detachment is present in Rikako, but it is not voluntary. This abject malevolence manifests a supercilious demanding arrogance- is this is not sated, Rikako becomes either sad, or angry. She shows the typical signs of a bi-polar depressed youth. Ironically, it is both the brashness and the hidden agendas that Morisaku translates as maturity, or at least what he wants to gain maturity. Matsuno is more reserved and repressed than either of the others. His true spitefulness is revealed slowly through the film- in fact it may be somewhat hard to ascertain. However, he is the most polite and cordial of them as well. This harkens an interesting result when we watch him chase after Rikako but tries to maintain his relationship with Morisaku. In time, Morisaku develops his relationship with Rikako, leaving behind Matsuno. Matsuno later confesses and is denied, and more blunders cause the trio to split up. The extremely interesting end of the film features the reunion of their year, and issues are resolved. The characters are shown to have matured, including side characters that while not being consumingly interesting, do offer food for thought. The ending scene shows Morisaku and Rikako meeting, and their love for each over is realised- however not in some horribly kitsch way. Ocean Waves is a breath of fresh air in its frankness and intricacy, that nowadays can easily be overlooked, as we want something more frigidly cliché.
Art and Animation- 8
This was a project made predominantly by younger Ghibli workers, and was supposed to be a low budget production. Although they went over budget and time limit, you can see the effect that this has had on the anime. Major use of stop-frame is evident, throughout all of the film. The use of it is so marked that it draws attention to the few scenes where there is moving background. This use of stop-frame backgrounding does draw light to the age of the animation, but does make for interesting flow throughout the film, as the characters are moving through an environment, not an environment being passed through- by this, I mean it emphasises the backgrounds and also the characters within it, which is why although a more modern anime will have more moving backgrounds, it is still predominant to have stop-frame background scenes/vignettes. As for the actual backgrounds, both photos and 2d pictures are used, and to be honest, after having just watched it, I can't remember the ratio. This is because it is so well integrated into the work. The scenery in the anime is both beautiful and realistic, contributing to the theme of the anime. The resolution of the anime is very poor, I mean it was 1993, however, the composition and art of the anime more than makes up for it. The character designs used are so generic it is very satisfying. The minor characters that show for a few seconds each have more individuality than the main characters. This again is done very purposefully to add to the theme of the anime.
Voice Acting and Sound- 9
Tobita plays Morisaku, and while his voice immediately strikes discord to the initial opening scenes, we soon settle into his voice. Without Seki's corresponding smoothness, this film may have been kept in a harsh experience. The accents are... ok. "Sakamoto, Youko", the Seiyuu for Rikako, has less of a performance. 35 At the time, I don't think there was enough hysteria or emotional youth in the portrayal. Also, this is her only apparent appearance. I don't recognise the voice, so I do not know if this is an alias, and if it isn’t, why she was picked for the role. Other voice acting in the anime seemed very competent. There were however background recordings that were repeated. In an off-note, it was funny in the Hawaii part with background engrish. The sound, was competent background music. There was no distraction from the content of the anime. It seemlessly integrated. In some scenes, it did have a small impetus into the atmosphere, however, while excellently done, there is not much to say or remember about the music.
Overall, this is a wonderfully mature, competent, and realistic narrative, and is truly a shining example of anime in its time.