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DVD Review

DVD cover

Ocean Waves


Starring (voice): Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki and Yoko Sakamoto
Optimum Asia
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 25 January 2010

During a trip back to his high school reunion Taku Morisaki reflects on his time there, the people he knew and especially his feelings for Rikako Muto. As they come to the end of their high school days in a provincial town, the friends must soon depart to the city to find work or attend university, but they will always have the memory of the sound of the ocean waves to remind them of home...

Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru. 1993. 1 hr, 12, min, 06 sec) is a made for television film from Studio Ghibli. The film was based on a novel by Saeko Himuro, originally serialised in Animage, and directed by Tomomi Mochizuki. As such the level and style of animation is more simplistic than other Ghibli films. Previously the film was only available in Japan and represents the studios only television movie.

Japanese anime is awash with high school stories, usually concentrating on the joint elements of humour and romance, so what makes this film so different? The film is really a realistic contemplation of high school life, with its emphasis on friendship and romance, and as such the pace of the movie is quite languid, so don’t expect any humorous faces being pulled for the audience’s amusement. The feeling of contemplation is heightened by the music which is delicate and a little melancholy.

On first glance the story is a simple one. Taku and his best friend, Matsuno Yutaka, lead unremarkable lives before Muto moves from Tokyo to their small college in Kochi. Yutaka soon takes a shine to Muto and, because of their friendship, Taku also feels the need to be friendly towards her. This all changes after a school trip to Hawaii, where feelings start to grow and places the two friends on an emotional collision course.

The anime weaves a complex narrative of love and friendship, free from the usual clichés, around this seemingly simple plot. Characterisation of the three protagonists is spot on as is their problematic three way relationship. As such it may not appeal to those used to the complex fantasies of the movies

The disc only contains the original trailer (1 min, 33 sec) as an extra. The film is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The film is in Japanese with burned in English subtitles.

The film is a little short for a movie, presumably due to the requirements of a television movie, but its length takes little away from this touching story, full of charm.


Charles Packer

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