Region 2 DVD cover.
(Umi ga Kikoeru)
|Genre||Drama, Romance, School life|
|TV film anime|
|Released||May 5, 1993|
|I Can Hear the Sea II: Because There Is Love|
|TV film anime|
|I Can Hear the Sea: Because There Is Love|
|Released||December 25, 1995|
Ocean Waves, also known as I Can Hear the Sea (海がきこえる Umi ga Kikoeru ), is a TV anime movie made by Studio Ghibli. It was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki and was based on the novel of the same title by Saeko Himuro.
This film 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.
At Kichijōji Station, Tokyo, Taku Morisaki, glimpses a familiar woman on the platform opposite boarding a train. Later, her photo falls from a shelf as he exits his apartment before flying to Kōchi Prefecture. Picking it up, he looks at it briefly before leaving. As the aeroplane takes off he narrates the events that brought her into his life... The story is told in flashback from this point.
In Kōchi, two years previously, we find Taku working in a restaurant, where he receives a phone call from his friend Yutaka Matsuno asking to meet at their school. He finds Yutaka at an upper classroom window, looking out upon an attractive girl talking with a teacher. She is a transfer student from Tokyo who Yutaka was asked to show around earlier. Taku's interest piqued, he tries unsuccessfully to view her. Leaving together, the boys discuss their upcoming high school trip to Hawaii, and the cancellation of the earlier junior high school trip.
Taku retrieves his bicycle and meets Yutaka at the school gates, where he is introduced to the new girl, Rikako Muto. She smiles before leaving, but thanks Yutaka for his help. Taku teases Yutaka about this, but he explains that she was asking for directions to a book-store. Walking home, Taku, suspecting the distracted Yutaka's reason for phoning him, teases him about his infatuation.
Rikako proves to be gifted academically and at sports, but is arrogant and remote. Taku believes she is unhappy at having to leave her home and friends in Tokyo... a view reinforced during a conversation with his mother, who has learned from the local gossip network that a divorce brought Rikako's mother and her to Kōchi. In a later telephone conversation with Yutaka, he also discovers that Rikako is living alone, away from the Muto family house.
The school year ends, heralding the Hawaii trip. Taku, suffering from an upset stomach, is heading through the hotel lobby where he is stopped by Rikako. She explains that she has lost her money and asks to borrow some of his, remembering that Taku had a part-time job and could afford to make such a loan. Knocking back his astonishment at her carelessness, she persuades him to lend her ¥60,000 instead of the dollar equivalent. Promising to repay him, she warns that it may take a while and not to tell anyone about this arrangement. As she departs, Taku sees a stern Yutaka and feels compelled to explain her predicament. During a party later that night, Rikako searches out Taku and admonishes him for telling Yutaka about the money she borrowed. She then tells him that Yutaka has also made her a loan of ¥20,000 and, once again, insists that he does not tell anyone about it.
Back in Kōchi, the third school year begins with Rikako making a friend, Yumi Kohama. Rikako has not yet returned Taku's money and he wonders if she has forgotten it. Then, one day 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, the tickets paid for with Taku's money. He races to the airport to rescue the situation, sending Yumi home, saying that he will accompany Rikako.
Upon arrival, it appears that Rikako has not given her father any notice of her intent, interrupting his planned trip with a new lady-friend. Her father thanks Taku for accompanying his daughter, repays the loan and arranges for a room at the Hyatt Regency hotel. Later that evening a dejected and upset Rikako turns up. She explains that when her parents were fighting, she'd always sided with her father, but had now discovered he wasn't on her side. Comforting her, Taku offers up his bed for the night and attempts to sleep in the bath tub. The next morning, Rikako seems back to her normal self and kicks Taku out of the room so that she can change clothes to meet a friend for lunch. Taku wanders around the city before heading back to the room. After catching up on sleep back at the hotel, Taku receives a phone call from Rikako asking to be rescued. The friend she met for lunch turns out to be a former boyfriend, Okada, who is not quite the person she remembered him to be.
Returning to Kōchi, Rikako ignores Taku, but doesn't hide from others that they spent a night in a hotel room together. Taku discovers this from Yutaka, who had earlier confronted Rikako for confirmation of the rumour. He had also admitted his feeling for Rikako to her, and had been shortly rebuffed. Upon hearing this, Taku confronts Rikako in class for hurting the feelings of his best friend, calling her "The worst!". She responds by slapping him hard across the face and he returns the favour in equal measure.
The autumn school cultural festival arrives and Rikako, who has been avoiding rehearsals for the mass dance, has become even more distant from the other girls in her class, many of whom openly dislike her. They confront her behind the school building, but Rikako stands firmly against their criticism. One girl believing that Rikako was flirting with her boyfriend attempts to strike her, but is held back by her classmates who then walk off. Taku, who has seen all from a corner, approaches Rikako and comments that he is impressed with the way she handled herself. "You're quite something else" he sums up, at which point she slaps him while shouting "Idiot! You're the worst!" before storming off. Yutaka confronts a somewhat stunned Taku, who tries to explain the situation. Yutaka punches him hard and then walks away, leaving Taku to pick himself up from the trash. The two boys do not talk to each other for the remainder of the year.
In the present, Taku's plane lands and while looking for a taxi he is offered a lift home by Yutaka, who explains the reason he punched Taku was because he realized Taku held back his feelings for the sake his best friend (Yutaka). At a later class reunion, the alumni reminisce, and some confess their crushes. Former student-body president, Akiko Shimizu, mentions to Taku that she had seen Rikako in Tokyo, much to his surprise as he thought she'd gone to Kōchi University. He now realises that Rikako was the woman he'd seen at the train station. Walking home, Yumi tells Taku that she too had met Rikako, explaining she couldn't make it to the reunion. Recounting their conversation, Rikako said she wanted to meet a person she knew, but wouldn't say who it was... saying only that he slept in bath tubs.
Back in Tokyo, Taku once again sees Rikako across the station platforms, but this time runs through the underpass to find her. The train pulls away and he looks disappointed in having missed her again, but he suddenly notices someone to the right of his vision. Seeing her again, he realises that he had always been in love with her.
This film was 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.
The website Animé Café gave the film 4/5 stars, noting this to be "A graceful and mature offering from Ghibli's younger generation".
In 2008, distribution company Wild Bunch announced that it had licensed the film to a number of European releasing companies, including Optimum. It will be released in the UK under the title Ocean Waves on January 25, 2010 alongside the theatrical release of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, as part of the Studio Ghibli Collection, carrying a PG rating from the BBFC. As with the film Only Yesterday, it will be released with subtitles only.
In Spain the film is distributed by Aurum and was released on DVD in November of 2008. The DVD includes Japanese and Spanish audio tracks and Spanish subtitles. It was titled as Puedo escuchar el mar (in English translation I Can Hear the Sea).