Ocean Waves (Umi ga kikoeru) (Studio Ghibli Collection) (1993)

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Released 28-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 72:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tomomi Mochizuki
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Nobuo Tobita
Toshihiko Seki
Yoko Sakamoto
Yuri Amano
Kae Araki
Jun'ichi Kanemaru
Ai Satō
Aya Hisakawa
Tomokazu Seki
Hikaru Midorikawa
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $29.95 Music Shigeru Nagata
Katsuya Kondō
Katsuya Kondō


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     There are perhaps two types of Studio Ghibli films - those of master Hayao Miyazaki ... and the rest. That is not a reflection of the quality of this or the other non-Miyazaki films in the studio canon. Rather it is a tribute to the way in which the great man has dominated modern animation, creating works that are exciting, bittersweet and profound.

     For Miyazakiphiles be warned; Ocean Waves, directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, contains none of the fantastic characters of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke. Instead, it is a gentle coming-of-age story about two teen guys and the girl they both fall for.

     The Japanese title of the film Umi ga Kikoeru translates as I Can Hear the Sea , undoubtedly a more romantic title.Ocean Waves can be seen as the "lost" Studio Ghibli. Whilst every Miyazaki directed film has made its way to these shores and the other Ghibli films like Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbours the Yamadas and Only Yesterday (the film to which Ocean Waves is closest in tone) have scored local releases, Ocean Waves has lingered since 1993 before finally making it to Region 4 DVD. There are probably a couple of reasons for this delay. The film was apparently made by Ghibli as a chance to let its young animators flex their creative muscles and was intended for television broadcast rather than cinematic release. Finally, it is a "little" film with no show stopping scenes or even greatly dramatic plot turns. It is a teen romance tinged with nostalgic disappointment. Yet, for all those limitations Ocean Waves is still a worthy part of the Ghibli canon. What it does have is the power of simple storytelling through thoughtful animation.

     Ocean Waves was based on the popular novel by Saeko Himura. It tells the story, essentially in flashbacks, of Taku, a high school student living on the island of Shikoku. When we first meet Taku he is at a train station and spies a beautiful woman. Is it, could it be, Rikako? In flashback we see how Taku and his best friend Yutaka are entranced when Rikako arrives as a new student from Tokyo. She is beautiful, clever and good at sports - in short, perfect. Yet love doesn't run smooth and Rikako is at times prickly, difficult and mean. So begins a giant life lesson for Taku. Will his love for Rikako drive him and his friend apart? Will he ever truly understand her wilful ways? Is she really worth it?

     Ocean Waves has less plot than any Ghibli film I can remember and perhaps has a limited appeal due to its "teen romance" tag. Its prime audience will be teens; my test audience of 13 year old girls found it took a while to get into its rhythms but once inside the film was compelling. At 72 minutes it does not outstay its welcome. Teen Ghibli fans should lap it up and completists will find some things to enjoy in this tale.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Ocean Waves was made for television but carries an original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced within a letterbox.

     The animation style in Ocean Waves is clean, clear and uncluttered. It is also rendered simply. So although it has that Ghibli hand-painted look it is basic in its images and pretensions. As a result this will never be a demonstrator DVD. The lines are a little too basic and the colours a little on the pastel side, a little wan, without any striking images.

     Having said that, this is a pretty good transfer of a 1993 anime. There are no defects in the source print.

     There are subtitles in English which are burned into the print.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The sound for Ocean Waves is a fairly basic Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 256Kb/s.

     Those who like to watch anime with an English dub be warned that no dub track exists. The voice actors all speak clearly and I doubt a Japanese speaker would have much difficulty understanding the dialogue.

     The score is a suitably emotive romantic accompaniment to the film.

     There are no technical problems with the soundtrack unless you count the incessant cicada drone as a defect!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The only extra is the brief trailer. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has been released in Region 2 in the same format. It is yet to be released in Region 1.

Summary

     Ocean Waves is lesser Ghibli but that doesn't make it lesser anime. Those after an addition to their Ghibli collection will buy it outright but those who like teen romance will also get some value out of the release.

     The transfer is nothing special in either sound or vision but it is no disgrace. Some extras would, however, have been nice.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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