Let’s start by talking about the plot. A girl from Tokyo named Rikako moves to the far smaller town of Kochi with her mother after her parents divorce. She creates quite a stir with her high grades, athletic prowess, and general distant attitude. Morisaki Taku gets caught up in her affairs when his friend, Yutaka, tells her all about him. The story isn’t bad, but it’s not anything special. It certainly isn’t one of Studio Ghibli’s more imaginative or interesting tales. The main problem with the story is that the ending is very trite.
One of the big themes is divorce. Honestly, the fact that the story comes from Taku’s perspective really helps with this. Seeing him as an outsider piecing everything together is more effective at showing the subtle impact of divorce than Rikako’s more personal perspective could. The problem with this theme is Rikako’s reaction. She acts like a petulant child over the whole thing and, honestly, she’s too old for this reaction I could understand it coming from someone who’s thirteen or so, but she’s supposed to be sixteen, seventeen when the main action takes place. She should have a better understanding of the situation than that. Maybe there are some people who react that immaturely to a divorce at that age, but it certainly doesn’t make you feel sorry for her. The love triangle aspect is actually handled pretty well. The infatuation is played up very subtly and the characters react pretty realistically to it. They also avoid the whole melodrama problem that you frequently get from this sort of story.
Morisaki Taku and Matsuno Yutaka are both pretty good characters. I especially like Taku’s snarky personality and willingness to call Rikako out on her bollocks. You can probably guess that the problem is Rikako. As a character she’s not very compelling. She’s either acting like an anti-social snob, whining about the divorce or acting like a spoiled brat. I’ve already been over how she doesn’t have the excuse of being young, so does she at least have the excuse of being in a bad situation? Not really. She’s from an upper class family and her peers try to reach out to her several times only to receive the cold shoulder. Yes, moving is difficult but she doesn’t even put in an effort to make friends or get to know people. As a result I just can’t empathise with her. Everyone has problems and she actively makes hers worse.
The art is great. The only problem I have with it is that, during a few scenes, the proportions go askew for no reason. These scenes usually involve someone getting punched or slapped. But that’s a pretty minor complaint and the art is good aside from that one factor.
The music and voice acting are both downplayed, but I honestly think that adds to the atmosphere and helps highlight the importance of the scenes that do showcase the music or voice acting. Very clever, Studio Ghibli.
This is another anime with no yuri earning it a yuri factor of 1/10.
My final rating for Ocean Waves is a solid 7/10. It’s good overall, but it’s certainly not Studio Ghibli’s best work.