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AKA: Umi ga Kikoeru, I Can Hear the Sea
Genre: Slice-of-life drama
Length: Television special, 72 minutes
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: PG (mild violence, mature themes)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended:
Notes: Based on a novel by Himuro Saeko. The novel and its sequel have since been adapted into a live-action movie.

This review refers to this work under its fansub title, "I Can Hear the Sea". However, Ghibli has made the title "Ocean Waves" official, which is why it is listed as such.
Rating: Five StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive Stars
 

Ocean Waves

Synopsis

Memories can be a funny thing sometimes, offering new perspectives on things you've experienced before. Sometimes, a particularly vivid memory or set of memories will manifest itself as a mini-epiphany of sorts, making you wonder, "Now, why didn't I notice that before??"

For example, Morisaki Taku, now a student in college, has never quite shaken from his head the memories he has of his life in middle and high school. Back then, he was best friends with Matsuno Yutaka, the student body president, and enjoyed a relatively quiet life in his small home town of Kochi. One day, though, a new student is transfered to Morisaki and Yutaka's school: Muto Rikako, a Tokyo city girl.

Muto didn't quite fit in with the others. For starters, she was a city girl and was already supposed by everyone else to be more sophisticated (read: snobby) than the rest of the Kochi kids. It didn't help much that she was also a star student, easily out-ranking even the best students. Most of the time, she kept to herself, not talking to anyone and not being talked to.

Yutaka took quite a liking to Muto, and since Morisaki was his best friend, he found himself compelled to be nice to her as well. But after a class trip to Hawaii and another incident involving Muto that happened after that, things became a bit ... complicated between Morisaki and Yutaka. Sitting a plane flying back home now, Morisaki has to ask himself: what price friendship?


Review

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I present to you a wonderful treat in the world of animation: I Can Hear the Sea. Story-telling simply does not get much better than this, and what a delicious little story this title has to offer.

Yes, this is a Studio Ghibli production, and yes, I'm well aware of my bias towards titles that come from Ghibli. However, I think that I Can Hear the Sea truly stands out as one of the most outstanding titles Ghibli produced yet, even though it's scarcely over an hour long, and even though it's _not_ by Hayao Miyazaki (gasp!).

As in the case with most Studio Ghibli productions, the plot synopsis above doesn't do the title justice. The whole is once again much more than the sum of its parts, and the immediate story actually is just one of many elements that sum up to an overall viewing experience that will be sure to delight. Not that the story is anything to sneeze at, either -- the character conflicts and plot developments that unfold during the hour arrive subtly with a grace and believability that will immediately draw you into the lives of the characters. You will swear you went to school with these folks.

The whole flavor of this title is that of a wistful memory, and the soundtrack with its little snippets of piano melodies serves to enhance the vignette-ish quality of the story. As usual with Ghibli, the backgrounds and landscapes are simply lovely, although the character design and artwork are a little on the simplistic side. But after ten minutes into the title, you won't even notice.

This is an excellent anime with story and characters far beyond typical cliched "Giant Robot" fare. It's just too bad it's not being translated by Disney...

Raphael See

Recommended Audience: The character conflicts are a bit more intense than in your standard Ghibli feature. There's a scene of underaged drinking, and some of the talk among the boys is a bit off color. There's really nothing there, though, that you couldn't find on a typical episode of The Wonder Years.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Ocean Waves © 1993 Studio Ghibli
 
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