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Ocean Waves, also known as I Can Hear the Sea (Japanese: 海がきこえる Hepburn: Umi ga Kikoeru), is a 1993 Japanese anime television film produced by Studio Ghibli. Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki and written by Kaori Nakamura, the film is based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Saeko Himuro. Ocean Waves first aired on May 5, 1993 on Japanese television.

The film is set in the city of Kōchi, on the Japanese island of Shikoku. It concerns a love triangle that develops between two good friends and a new girl who transfers to their high school from Tokyo.

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.

An English dub version with D.A. Nichols and Abbey Thickson directing was released on May 23, 2008 by NicThic Productions.

In December 2016, GKIDS announced that the film would be remastered for a limited theatrical release, beginning on December 28, 2016, with a home video release in Spring 2017.

On January 2, 2020 Fredbear Studios completed it's acquisition of NicThic Productions, which also resulted in all of their films being part of FBS. Currently Ocean Waves is the only anime film distributed by FBS as well as the only Studio Ghibli film to be distributed by them.

Plot Edit

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.

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 hasn't 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 hotel. Later, Rikako 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 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 doesn't 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. Yutaka confronts a somewhat stunned Taku, who tries to explain. Yutaka punches him to the ground and walks away. They do not talk 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 couldn't make it to the reunion and that she wanted to meet someone, but wouldn't 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.

Voice Cast Edit

Japanese Version Edit

  • Nobuo Tobita as Taku Morisaki
  • Toshihiko Seki as Yutaka Matsuno
  • Yoko Sakamoto as Rikako Muto
  • Kae Araki as Yumi Kohama
  • Yuri Amano as Akiko Shimizu
  • Jun'ichi Kanemaru as Okada
  • Hikaru Midorikawa as Tadashi Yamao
  • Ai Sato as Taku's Mother
  • Kinryu Arimoto as Rikako's Father
  • Takeshi Watabe as Principal

English Version Edit

  • Chris Carmack as Taku Morisaki
  • Ryan Reynolds as Yutaka Matsuno
  • Alexis Bledel as Rikako Muto
  • Kylie Minogue as Yumi Kohama
  • Keiko Agena as Akiko Shimizu
  • Thomas Jane as Tadashi Yamao
  • Brian Donovan as Okada

More coming soon!

Additional Voices (English) Edit

  • Carlos Alazraqui
  • Bob Bergen
  • Rodger Bumpass
  • Townsend Coleman
  • John Cygan
  • Jennifer Darling
  • Debi Derryberry
  • Sheena Easton
  • Paul Eiding
  • Crispin Freeman
  • Jess Harnell
  • Sherry Lynn
  • Mickie McGowan
  • Colleen O'Shaughnessey
  • Jan Rabson
  • Tara Strong
  • Fred Tatasciore

Production Edit

The film is based on Himuro's novel which was first serialized, with illustrations by Katsuya Kondō, starting from the February 1990 issue of Animage magazine. The monthly instalments were collected in a hard cover book published in February 1993. 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.

English dubbed-version Edit

According to Saeko Himuro, D.A. Nichols and Abbey Thickson saw the film and decided to do an English-dubbed version. On May 23, 2008, the film was released, with NicThic Productions distributing the film.

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