Ocean Waves (1993)
Dir: Tomomi Mochizuki
Teen romance Ghibli style!
Studio Ghibli decided to let their younger staff have a go at taking the lead on making a film, with the aim of it being made quickly and cheaply, to give them practice and have an outlet for creativity, and this is what they produced.
A young man, Taku, recalls his high school romance as he returns to his hometown for a school reunion after his first year away at university in Tokyo. He remembers how Rikako transferred to their school in the final year, but how both he and his best friend were interested in her, leading to them falling out, and neither one knowing quite what was going on with her and her complex and difficult home situation.
This was made as a straight to TV movie, intended to be produced quickly and cheaply, however it ran overtime and over-budget. Still, there are a few nice little elements, such as the lovely way it goes into and out of flashback scenes with frames of the scene that get bigger or smaller in or out.
With a different view of life, the younger staff made a film that really captures a good sense of teenage life and romance, many aspects of which seem to be universal and can be related to regardless of the Japanese setting. This film also shows a more urban view of Japan than many other Ghibli’s which is interesting to see animated in this way.
Overall, this shows that the studio really trains its staff very well, the animation is beautiful as always, and the story works, so while somewhat different from the Miyazaki and Takahata films that have made Ghibli so famous, this is not a film they need to be ashamed of in any way.