Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Ocean Waves

Coming out late and overbudget, The Ocean Waves was an attempt in 1993 on Studio Ghibli's part to allow their more junior staff to make a film on the cheap. It was released on TV and not widely distributed for the home market, so it (along with Only Yesterday) remains as one of Ghibli's two "Lost Films" in the regard that it is basically unknown. Despite all these shortcomings, it was a rather interesting tale.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!

The film concerns two high school friends who eventually become rivals over the attention of a new transfer girl. It follows their lives for about 2 years over the course of high school and a short time beyond. Though there are fights, misunderstandings and hurt feelings, at the end of the day they grow up, realize how petty they were being, and the friendships heal.

When you age out of the social pressures of it, suddenly all the things that were so important in high school aren't all that important anymore.

Ocean Waves stands out from the Ghibli herd in that it is about the most regular film they have ever produced. Along with Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and From Up on Poppy Hill, Ocean Waves features relatable characters in everyday situations, experiencing universal emotions and struggles, such as the pain of rejection and the somber yet nostalgic feeling one gets when they look back on their former life. One could argue that it's even more normal than those films, since the most extraordinary things that occur in the film are 2 trips, one to Hawaii, and the other to Tokyo.

Truly, he is a gentleman.

Though this may make the film sound boring, when it's compared to other Ghiblis, it holds its own solely in its contrast. It's less like a film and more like an OVA for a longer series, perhaps because it was made for TV. To its benefit, it has another defining trait from others of the Ghibli lot: it is the most violent Ghibli film I have seen to date. Sure, we've seen sword fights and shootouts in Ghibli films in the past, and there have been magic duels and the like, but up until this point I had never seen anyone in a Ghibli film get punched square in the face, just like that. No lead up, no anticipation, just suddenly a guy's fist next to another's jaw. There were a couple startling moments like this in the film, which was great for keeping me engaged.

Stuff like this happens a couple times.

Though it will likely never receive widespread release or recognition, and frankly, it feels a bit like Ghibli themselves want to just forget it exists, I will regard it with a quiet sense of satisfaction and nostalgia for having seen it. It's the type of movie you wouldn't have in a big, popcorn-filled movie night with all your friends, but more on a sleepy summer evening when there's nothing on. With that in mind, I'd reccomend this for middle schoolers and older, as the younger crowd might miss some of the nuances of the plot.

Like the obligatory Ghibli cameo.

The Ocean Waves is available from various torrent sites, such as Kickass Torrents, BakaBt and Nyaa Torrents. According to the Wikipedia page, Disney holds the rights for international distribution, but i have never seen or heard of it being put on DVD. It goes on to say that it is available on DVD from Aurum in Spain (with a Spanish audio track, how cool!), Madman Entertainment in Australia, and various other distribution companies in Europe.

Green is not a Creative Colour~

3.5-4/5

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