This is going to be my third time to make a film review of a Studio Ghibli feature film. I think I’ve already watched the majority of their titles in their illustrious 20+ years of film-making ingenuity, especially the big names like Spirited Away (2004, the one that won an Oscar!), My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Howl’s Moving Castle. However there’s one glitch in the viewing experience (it’s not the language), all of them are so damn good they’re just too hard to describe. Look, my adjectives are limited but their imaginations are proven eternal. They always seems to hit some nerves inside our souls that leaves us gasping in awe, or salivating on the visuals or harmonizing with the fantastical flow of the story. You’ll hardly find a bad review or any negative comments in their titles BUT the 1994 film Ocean Waves did come and garnered some pissed-off audiences.
Damn it hurts. I’m a big fan of Ghibli and anything Hayao Miyazaki can offer. But one thing for sure, I have to see it and see why people hated it? Is it too dark? Violent? Boring? Lousy visuals? Crappy dialogues? Yatata yatata. Just watch it for yourselves, okay? But for the meantime here’s my review.
Two words: It’s Great! I like it a lot but I can see the movie does have a tendency to piss people off – storywise.
The story is told through the perspective of Taku Morisaki, a hardworking high school student in Kochi province (It’s like Leyte in Philippines), who is a good friend of Yutaka Matsuno, the smart-and- cool-kid every dad would love their daughters to date (hi Dad!). They have a good high school life until Rikako Muto came into the picture. Then it suddenly became a good love triangle, but Taku and Yutaka’s rivalry toward her is just the start of the troubles ahead. By the way, there’s no supernatural element in this one so expect some heavy and shitty sentimental moments. But it’s charming and a challenging puzzle to solve that got met interested to the end.
Rikako, a fairly attractive and intelligent transferee from Tokyo, suddenly evolved into a total bitch in the second act. She’s insensitive, she lies and even manipulate people to get what she wants. But we did get more than enough character development. Her character does not make the story stupid because there’s a deep reason for her behavior which unfortunately deeply cuts through the friendship of the male leads who cares her, and worse even affected the entire class.
It’s not an all-out love story straight out of Twilight, but it rather focuses on more subtle aspects in life like friendship, tolerance and respect that are often taken for granted (or even destroyed) because of people’s selfishness, lies and general lack sensitivity to the people around. That’s pretty much the very core of the story that most people didn’t saw coming. Well you can’t blame the high expectations for a Ghibli film. This is simply and seriou movie who just happen to have high school characters, and yes it’s made particularly for slightly mature viewers. It’s a big risk for them to make this movie, but I can see the timeless relevance of the story. It just need to be told whether the fans like it or not.
Somehow, I felt nostalgic watching this movie. I did not really have a great time in high school. Why should there be some jerks and idiots who can’t care enough, can’t respect enough the weakness of other people? I can only see bitterness when I look back in those turbulent years I wasted in that university. OK enough of that shit, that’s my problem. But I can’t help but connect the story to mine which nothing fancy by the way hehe.
There are meaningful scenes in the third act of the film especially that high school reunion scene
(something I cannot stomach to attend again) where scores are settled, characters got together even literally in a relationship thank to some untimely (beer-enhanced) confessions and them sharing those ‘what-ifs’ and ‘what went wrong’ in the past. But I’m glad the film ended in a good note where forgiveness and letting go of the bad-things prevailed that paved the way for a positive end to the story and a fascinating beginning to an unlikely love story.