Ocean Waves (film)

  (Redirected from Ocean Waves)

Ocean Waves, known in Japan as I Can Hear the Sea (Japanese: 海がきこえる, Hepburn: Umi ga Kikoeru), is a 1993 Japanese anime television film directed by Tomomi Mochizuki and written by Kaori Nakamura based on the 1990-1992 novel of the same name by Saeko Himuro. Animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten and the Nippon Television Network, Ocean Waves first aired on May 5, 1993 on Nippon TV. The film is set in the city of Kōchi, and follows a love triangle that develops between two good friends and a new girl who transfers to their high school from Tokyo.

Ocean Waves
Umigakikoeru poster.jpg
Japanese release poster
(Umi ga Kikoeru)
Serial novel
Written bySaeko Himuro
Illustrated byKatsuya Kondō
Published byTokuma Shoten
Original runFebruary 1990January 1992
Anime television film
Directed byTomomi Mochizuki
Produced byNozomu Takahashi
Toshio Suzuki
Seiji Okuda
Written byKaori Nakamura
Music byShigeru Nagata
StudioStudio Ghibli
Licensed by
Original networkNippon TV
ReleasedMay 5, 1993
Runtime72 minutes
I Can Hear the Sea II: Because There Is Love
Written bySaeko Himuro
Illustrated byKatsuya Kondō
Published byTokuma Shoten
PublishedMay 31, 1995
Television drama
Directed byMasahiro Nakano
Produced byTetsuya Kuroda (TV Asahi), Masayuki Morikawa (Horipro)
Written byYoshikazu Okada
Music byToru Hasebe
StudioTV Asahi
Original networkTV Asahi
Original runDecember 25, 1995

Ocean Waves was an attempt by Studio Ghibli to allow their younger staff members to make a film reasonably cheaply. However, it ended up going both over budget and over schedule. In 1995, a sequel to the novel, I Can Hear the Sea II: Because There Is Love, was published. In the same year, a TV drama was produced mainly based on this work starring Shinji Takeda and Hitomi Satō.


At Kichijōji Station, Tokyo, Taku Morisaki glimpses a familiar woman on the platform opposite. Later, as his flight to Kōchi Prefecture takes off, he narrates the events that brought her into his life. The story is told in flashback.

Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade is a frequent film backdrop.

In Kōchi, two years prior, Taku receives a call from his friend, Yutaka Matsuno, asking to meet at their high school. He finds Yutaka at a window, watching an attractive female transfer student whom Yutaka was asked to show around. The boys discuss their upcoming school trip to Hawaii. At the school gates, Taku is introduced to the new girl, Rikako Muto. She thanks Yutaka for providing directions to a bookstore. Taku teases Yutaka about his infatuation.

Rikako is academically gifted and good at sports, but also arrogant. Taku believes she is unhappy about leaving Tokyo. His mother learns from gossip that a divorce brought Rikako's mother to Kōchi. In a phone conversation with Yutaka, he discovers that Rikako is living away from the family house.

The school year ends, heralding the Hawaii trip. Taku, suffering from an upset stomach, is stopped in the hotel lobby by Rikako. She explains that she has lost her money and asks to borrow some. As Taku has a part-time job, he lends her ¥60,000. Promising to repay him, she warns not to tell anyone. As she departs, Taku sees a stern Yutaka and feels compelled to explain. Later, Rikako admonishes him for telling Yutaka about the money, saying that he also loaned her ¥20,000.

Back in Kōchi, the third year begins with Rikako making a friend, Yumi Kohama. Rikako has not returned Taku's money and he wonders if she has forgotten. Out of the blue, a distressed Yumi calls Taku, explaining that Rikako had tricked her into coming to the airport on the pretence of a concert trip, only to discover that their real destination is Tokyo, tickets paid for with Taku's money. He races to the airport, sending Yumi home, saying that he will accompany Rikako.

Upon arrival, it appears that Rikako has not forewarned her father, interrupting his planned trip with a girlfriend. Her father thanks Taku, repays the loan and arranges a room at the Hyatt Regency. Later, Rikako explains that when her parents were fighting, she had always sided with her father, but had now discovered he was not on her side. Comforting her, Taku offers his bed and attempts to sleep in the bathtub. The next morning, Rikako seems back to her normal self and kicks Taku out so that she can change clothes to meet a friend for lunch. Taku wanders around the city. After catching up on sleep at the hotel, Taku receives a call from Rikako asking to be rescued from former boyfriend, Okada, who is not as she remembered him.

Returning home, Rikako ignores Taku, but does not hide from others that they spent a night together. Taku discovers this from Yutaka, who had earlier confronted Rikako to confess his feelings toward her, but had been rebuffed. Taku confronts Rikako in class for hurting his best friend, calling her "The worst!". She responds by slapping him and he slaps her in return.

The autumn school cultural festival arrives and Rikako, who has been avoiding Yosakoi dance rehearsals, becomes more distant from the other girls, many of whom openly dislike her. Confronting her behind the school, Rikako stands firm as one girl, believing that Rikako was flirting with her boyfriend, attempts to strike her but is held back. Taku, who has seen all, approaches Rikako and comments that he is impressed with the way she handled herself. She slaps him but runs away with regret. Yutaka confronts a somewhat stunned Taku, who tries to explain. Yutaka punches him to the ground calling him an idiot before walking away. None of the three talk to each other for the rest of the year.

In the present, Taku's plane lands and he is offered a lift home by Yutaka, who explains he punched him because he'd realized Taku had held back his feelings for his sake. At a class reunion, former student president Shimizu mentions she had met Rikako earlier. She explains that as Rikako was attending Kochi University, she had flown to Tokyo for her school break, missing the reunion. Taku realizes that Rikako was the woman he'd seen at the station. Walking home, Yumi tells Taku that she too had met Rikako, explaining she could not make it to the reunion and that she wanted to meet someone, but would not say who, just that he slept in bathtubs.

In Tokyo, Taku again sees Rikako across the platforms, but this time runs to find her. As the train pulls away, he finds Rikako and realises that he had always been in love with her.


Main charactersEdit

Taku Morisaki (杜崎 拓, Morisaki Taku)
Voiced by: Nobuo Tobita
Main protagonist. Taku, needing money for the school's trip to Hawaii, took his restaurant busboy job to offset the expense, at the cost of falling grades and his teachers' disapproval. Principled and trusting, Taku often gets himself into trouble.
Yutaka Matsuno (松野 豊, Matsuno Yutaka)
Voiced by: Toshihiko Seki
Taku's friend and rival for Rikako's affections. Yutaka is a standout student and a class leader. Yutaka and Taku became friends when they jointly campaigned against the cancellation of their junior high school trip due to the school's low test scores.
Rikako Muto (武藤 里伽子, Muto Rikako)
Voiced by: Yōko Sakamoto
Taku and Yutaka's love interest. From Tokyo, Rikako now lives alone in Kochi after her parents’ divorce, and resents the town. Though sensitive and intelligent, she can be antisocial, and it becomes clear that her family life is troubled.

Supporting charactersEdit

Yumi Kohama (小浜 裕実, Kohama Yumi)
Voiced by: Kae Araki
Rikako's closest friend in Kōchi.
Akiko Shimizu (清水 明子, Shimizu Akiko)
Voiced by: Yuri Amano
Female student-body president.
Okada (岡田)
Voiced by: Jun'ichi Kanemaru
Rikako's ex-boyfriend. While in Tokyo, Rikako heads to a restaurant in the hotel to meet with Okada. Over the course of the meal, she discovers that he is not the type of person she once thought he was. He has also started dating Rikako's best friend. During the meal, Rikako telephones Taku to ask him to rescue her from the situation. When Taku met him, he thought Okada was really handsome.
Tadashi Yamao (山尾 直, Yamao Tadashi)
Voiced by: Hikaru Midorikawa
Taku's large friend, who has a crush on Yumi. He confesses this love to everyone at the class reunion prior to Yumi's arrival, before collapsing into unconsciousness due to excess alcohol consumption.
Taku's Mother
Voiced by: Ai Satō
Rikako's Father
Voiced by: Kinryū Arimoto
Voiced by: Takeshi Watabe


The film is based on Himuro's novel which was first serialized, with illustrations by Katsuya Kondō, from the February 1990 to January 1992 issues of Animage magazine.[1] The monthly installments were collected in a hardcover book published on February 28, 1993, with some episodes omitted. Both the book and its sequel were republished as a paperback in 1999, with some pop culture references updated. Kondō served as the character designer and animation director for the adaptation. Production of Ocean Waves was controlled by Studio Ghibli, but much of the animation was produced with the assistance of J.C.Staff, Madhouse Studios, and Oh! Production, who had worked with Ghibli on past projects. This film is the first Ghibli anime directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Tomomi Mochizuki, who was 34 years old at the time, was brought in to direct. The film was an attempt to make anime solely by the young staff members, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Their motto was to produce "quickly, cheaply and with quality", but ultimately it went over budget and over schedule,[2][3][4] and Mochizuki claimed he developed a peptic ulcer because of stress.[5]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10.[6] On another aggregator Metacritic, it has a score of 73 out of 100 based on 4 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7]

The website Animé Café gave the film 4/5 stars, noting it to be "A graceful and mature offering from Ghibli's younger generation".[8] On the other hand, Otaku USA criticized the film, describing it as "[Ghibli's] most lackluster film in comparison to everything else they'd done until Tales from Earthsea".[9]

Release and home mediaEdit

Japanese DVD cover

The film was released on Nippon TV on May 5, 1993. It was released on Blu-ray July 17, 2015 in Japan by Walt Disney Studios Japan.[10]

Disney originally had the rights of distribution of Ocean Waves in United States,[11] but they never released the film onto any home media platform. In 2016, GKIDS announced a release Ocean Waves in limited North American theaters starting on December 28 of that year and expanding during early 2017.[12] It was later released on US and Canada from January 3, to March 24, 2017.[13] The film earned US$12,039 upon its screenings on December 28, 2016.[14] In 2008, distribution company Wild Bunch announced that it had licensed the film to a number of European releasing companies, including Optimum.[15] It was released in the UK under the title Ocean Waves on January 25, 2010[16] shortly before the planned theatrical release of Ponyo,[17][18] as part of the Studio Ghibli Collection.[19]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by GKIDS on April 18, 2017, with only the Japanese audio with English subtitles.[20]


  1. ^ "ジブリの「海がきこえる」が7月Blu-ray化。ジブリ長編全22作のBD化完了". April 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Saeko Himuro (February 10, 1990). Illustrated by Katsuya Kondō. "海がきこえる" [I Can Hear the Sea]. Animage. Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten (140): 41–48.
  3. ^ "海がきこえる" [I Can Hear the Sea]. Animage. Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten (177): 26. March 10, 1983.
  4. ^ Toyama, Ryoko. "Umi ga Kikoeru: Frequently Asked Questions". Nausicaa.net. Archived from the original on August 20, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "十二指腸潰瘍の記・前編" [Account of duodenal ulcer]. Ameba (in Japanese).
  6. ^ "Ocean Waves (Umi ga kikoeru) (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  7. ^ "Ocean Waves (1993) Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Wu, Jonathan (January 24, 2001). "Umi Ga Kikoeru: café rating (english subtitled)". Animé Café. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
  9. ^ Surat, Daryl (April 20, 2013). "Studio Ghibli's I Can Hear the Sea". Otaku USA. Archived from the original on April 26, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "{title}". CDJapan. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Disney-Tokuma Deal". Nausicaä.net. Archived from the original on December 29, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
  12. ^ "GKIDS to Release Ghibli's Ocean Waves in N. American Theaters". Anime News Network. December 14, 2016. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  13. ^ "GKIDS Announces Additional Theaters for Ocean Waves". Anime News Network. January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  14. ^ "Ocean Waves Earns US$12,000 in 1st 6 Days at U.S. Box Office". Anime News Network. January 4, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  15. ^ Hopewell, John (February 19, 2008). "Wild Bunch blazes sales trail". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
  16. ^ "Ocean Waves". Optimum Releasing. Archived from the original on October 10, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  17. ^ "BVA". Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  18. ^ "Nausicaa.net". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  19. ^ "Ocean Waves". Film Ratings. British Board of Film Classification. July 13, 2009. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  20. ^ "Ghibli's Ocean Waves Listed for BD/DVD Release on April 18". Anime News Network. February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2021.

External linksEdit