Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, Ocean Waves is not your typical Ghibli film. It’s a slow-paced, romantic drama set in the coastal town of Kochi, where young student Taku sees his normal life disrupted by the arrival of beautiful Tokyo girl Rikako, who’s been forced to move as consequence of her parents’ divorce.
Sadly, despite the beautifully crafted traditional animation, Ocean Waves is far from what we’ve come to expect from Ghibli. The story feels incomplete, with almost every character underdeveloped and with a plot that never takes any leaps of faith, making everything predictable and, at times, tedious.
On the other hand, the always impressive art direction and visuals of the film deserve their own praise, as well as a beautiful soundtrack by Shigeru Nagata.
Overall, Ocean Waves is unable to live up to the expectations we have of a Studio Ghibli film. However, in its defence this is a film that was only released in Japan as a TV movie back in 1993, and we should be grateful to finally be able to see any “forgotten” and very mature Ghibli film.