Creations of Chaos: ‘Ocean Waves’

On this edition of Creations of Chaos, it’s Studio Ghibli’s John Green novel, without the witty, sophisticated banter. It’s the made for television movie, Ocean Waves.

Ocean Waves Poster 2


Best friends, Taku and Yutaka begin their final year of high school. Yutaka is immediately smitten with the new girl in school, Rikako. Rikako moved to Kochi from the big city, Tokyo. She is smart, athletic, and mysterious. Although Yutaka works hard to win her affections, Rikako is drawn to Taku.

Ocean Waves triangle

Knowing of his best friend’s crush, Taku tries his best to avoid his mate’s love interest, but it’s impossible for him to avoid being drawn into Rikako’s web of drama. Over time, what starts out as Taku’s complete frustration with Rikako and her antics, evolves into love.

It’s a Large World After All

Based on a young adult novel, Ocean Waves was created as a made for television movie. The overall plot is nothing new or inventive. The story line could easily fit into any teen television drama past or present.

Ocean Waves crying

At the end of the film, the former high school classmates meet up for a reunion during a college semester break. The queen bee of the class talks about how she recently ran into Rikako and how glad she was to see and talk to her. One of the guys points out that queen bee never liked Rikako in high school and was mean to her, so why be happy to run into her. The queen bee explains that seeing Rikako flooded her with nostalgia for the old times. She also explains that for her, high school was a small world, her only world, so everything that happened was amplified and significant. As her world  has grown larger and expanded, she realized that the things in her small world were not that important after all. This was an excellent explanation for why people who you barely spoke to in high school  appear so happy to see you post graduation. It was definitely the most insightful part of the movie.

The Story Behind the Story

I found the behind the scenes making of the movie more interesting than the movie itself. The Blu-ray included a lengthier-than-I–thought-it-would-be documentary concerning the movie’s creation.

The Studio noticed that Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata the dominating, animation geniuses, were starting to show their age. The Studio feared that if the younger generation of animators/filmmakers were never allowed to grow and learn beyond being under the thumb of the two older men, the future of the Studio would be in trouble. Thus, Studio Ghibli decided to give a group of their younger employees in their 20s and 30s a chance to helm an entire project.

Ocean Waves was released in 1993. The documentary takes place ten years later. The documentary follows up with the producer, key animator, writer, etc… as they reflect on their experience being part of this Studio Ghibli experiment.

The team really wanted to make the project their own. They discuss breaking some of Hayao Miyazaki rules, such as not using location photos during background creation.

The key animator was brought into the project because he was the artist who did the art work for the Ocean Waves manga. He admitted that he did not want to work on the film whatsoever, but agreed for fear that if anyone else did the animation, they would completely screw it up.

For his part, producer Toshio Suzuki was able to keep the two domineering older men away. He laughed, admitting that he invented extra projects for Hayao Miyazaki to complete during that time to keep him busy and distracted.  Suzuki knew if Miyazaki even glanced over the shoulder of one of the Ocean Waves team for a second, he would immediately start to take over the project.

In the end, the young artists were able to make something that was overall a success, and  ten years later, they are still proud of what they were able to accomplish.

End Thoughts

Ocean Waves had everything a voracious consumer of young adult entertainment, like me, loves. A love triangle, a new girl that comes to town and shakes things up, and the good boy/girl, falling in love with the bad boy/girl. If you are a YA fan, anime fan, or Studio Ghibli fan, it is worth the watch.

One Reply to “Creations of Chaos: ‘Ocean Waves’”

  1. It’s really not the best Ghibli movie, but it’s special for me. It’s a blacksheep for the family friendly studio, and I heard they didn’t really have faith in it. But I like it, because it was something different from a studio with familiar flavors.

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