Well, here’s the first Ghibli film thus far that you’ll find me fairly unenthusiastic about. I’ve seen Ocean Waves twice now, and for some reason each time it’s left me underwhelmed. Granted, this was a made-for-TV movie, and as far as I can tell neither Miyazaki, Takahata, nor Hisaishi were involved in any way. So, the story is less awesome, the direction is less awesome, the music is way less awesome. You get the idea.
I watched this subbed — as I said, it was made for TV, so it didn’t have a big Disney US release, and I don’t think it has ever been dubbed into English. The animation style isn’t as crisp and beautiful as what Ghibli usually produces. The story is … well, the only word I could think of to describe it is “Meh” (insert lackadaisical shoulder shrug).
It’s effectively a slice-of-life high-school drama (which, tastefully done — as in some of Ghibli’s other films — doesn’t necessarily bother me) … but Ocean Waves borders on soap opera. In fact, one of the characters comments at one point that the events transpiring do indeed resemble a soap opera. There’s a love triangle, a cheesy-sad sob story about some high school girl whose parents divorced, that whole oh-man-I-never-realized-how-much-I-liked-you-until-now moment thing. It’s all stuff that happens, that could be handled in a meaningful way, but here it’s over-dramatized and not bolstered by any substantive undercurrent of meaning or genuine character development or symbolism or … anything, really. And the music!?!? Augh, so, so, so sappy. Awful.
So, yeah, I’m not a big fan of this one:
Pros: It’s Ghibli, so that’s something. Its faults are fairly innocent — could be worse … could be about male raccoons with awkward abilities (Sigh … Pom Poko is next Monday … yikes!)
Cons: Horrible music, utter shallowness, kinda boring, trite and under-developed characters, soap-ish-ness, etc.
So, not a big fan, but I’m reserving the lower rating for next week: ** out of *****