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Anime / Ocean Waves

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No wonder they can hear the Ocean

A 1993 made-for-TV animated film from Studio Ghibli, Ocean Waves (海がきこえる / Umi ga Kikoeru, translated as I Can Hear the Sea) was based on the novel of the same name by Saeko Himuro and directed by Tomomi Mochizuki.

The movie concerns Taku Morisaki, a young man from Kochi, Japan, looking back on his high school days and recalling the Love Triangle between himself; his best friend, class president Yutaka Matsuno; and beautiful transfer student Rikako Muto. During a class trip to Hawaiʻi, Rikako cons Taku out of a large sum of money so she can go visit her father in Tokyo, but Taku unexpectedly gets mixed up in her plans and goes along with her. There, he learns that there's a lot more to the troubled young woman than he thought. Back at home, Taku's clandestine trip with Rikako causes friction between him and Yutaka, who's had feelings for Rikako ever since he met her.

Ocean Waves was the first Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. It was conceived as a test run for Ghibli's younger staff members to prove they could make a quality film quickly and cheaply. However, it went both over-budget and over-schedule, and was not considered a success. The film was released in Europe in 2008 and Australia in 2010 with English subtitles. It was not picked up for release in North America, until 2016, when GKIDS announced that they would release the film in theaters in that same year with a home release the year later, albeit subtitled only.

This film contains examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: The other girls in Rikako's class harass her for not fitting in. The main girl who gave her a hard time turns over a new leaf by the class reunion.
  • Alpha Bitch: Rikako acts like this to hide her frustration at her life.
  • Book Ends: The film opens with Taku catching a glimpse of Rikako at the Kichijoji railway platform in Tokyo. It ends at the same railway platform where Taku and Rikako reunite and exchange smiles.
  • Class Representative: Yutaka. He falls in love with Rikako while performing his duty of helping her acclimate to her new school.
  • Class Reunion: The last act of the movie takes place several years after Taku graduated, when he's preparing to go to his class reunion, where he fixes his relationship with Yutaka and becomes friends with him again while hoping Rikako will show.
  • Company Cross References: A poster for Porco Rosso is seen at one point late in the film.
  • Covers Always Lie: Many of the film’s posters, including the one featured on this page, showcase Rikako and Taku hanging out at the beach …yeah… that doesn’t happen in the movie.
  • Cry into Chest: Upon finding out her father has been having an affair, Rikako returns to the hotel room Taku is staying in and promptly does this, asking him to let her stay with him at the hotel instead of with her father. He agrees.
  • Daddy's Girl: Rikako mentions she was one before the divorce, but discovering her father with another woman deeply shook her faith in him.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Rikako downs three rum and Cokes at one point. She acts more like a younger version of a Lady Drunk, though.
  • Informed Attractiveness: A whole big deal is made about how attractive Rikako is.
  • In Vino Veritas: At the class reunion near the end, one of Taku's old classmates, Yamao, gets drunk off his ass and confesses his love for Rikako's friend, Yumi. She's embarrassed, but they get together.
  • Last-Name Basis: Rikako is only ever addressed with 'Muto' throughout the film. (For some reason, the Swedish DVD subtitles keeps changing this to "Rikako;" possibly because the last-name basis would sound strange to Westerners.)
  • Love Triangle: Though it takes Taku a while to realise he has feelings for Rikako.
  • Maybe Ever After: The film ends with Taku and Rikako reuniting at the Kichijoji railway platform in Tokyo where they exchange smiles. The closing credits ends with a watercolor image of them walking along the beach in Kochi.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Taku.
  • Product Placement: A can of Sprite is shown prominently in one scene, the text on the can proclaiming its genuine "lymon" taste.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rikako and Yumi, with Rikako as the tomboy and Yumi as the girly girl.
  • Tsundere: Rikako is a Type A one towards Taku, which he finds confusing.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When Rikako and Taku have a big fight at school, she slaps him and seemingly on instinct, he slaps her back.