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(The prompt for Day 3 of NaPoWriMo was to create a “Personal Universal Deck” of self-descriptive words, so I tried to come up with some word impressions for the characters of a lesser Ghibli film.)

Waves on the beach,
Wisdom to teach,
Woman and leech,
Scorning my speech.

Waves on my mind,
Wicked and kind,
Who she maligned
Is no longer blind.
__________________________

MPA rating:  PG-13 (for thematic material, very little objectionable)

I love so many Studio Ghibli films, but there are a few gaps I’ve been trying to fill, lesser-known works that have slipped through the cracks. Ocean Waves is one of them, an early ‘90s TV film based on a novel that was meant to give the younger animators a chance to show their stuff. It’s one of those subdued high school stories with a melodramatic love triangle that isn’t bad but can’t escape an overall dullness.

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Told largely in flashback, the tale follows Taku as a high schooler who learns his friend Yutaka has a crush on a new girl named Rikako, and Taku is soon pulled into her life and drama more than he expected or wanted. My mom initially didn’t like Forrest Gump because of the way Jenny treated Forrest, and Rikako is in a similar mold. She manipulates, lies, uses people, and barely shows any remorse, yet her actions are eventually viewed with fondness. A high school reunion near the end hits some excellent nostalgic poignancy, but the main two characters aren’t exactly typical romance material, to the point that some have said the two male friends have more chemistry than the central “couple.”

Again, Ocean Waves is well-animated and not terrible, but it’s low-tier Ghibli with very little personality of its own and many tropes that have been done much better elsewhere. In fact, my favorite Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart has a lot of the same ingredients (high school love triangle, boy and girl who dislike each other at first) and yet has so much more character and passion to it. Perhaps Ocean Waves was just the warm-up.

Rank: Honorable Mention

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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