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Studio Ghibli’s Unreleased Teenage Drama Film Ocean Waves Coming to Theaters


Studio Ghibli fans in the United States will soon get the opportunity to see Ocean Waves, a 1993 feature that was previously unreleased in the United States.

Adapted from a best-selling novel by Saeko Himuro, Ocean Waves often gets overlooked, likely due to the fact that it was made for television and was the first film by the studio not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Instead, it was the work of director Tomomi Mochizuki, writer Kaori Nakamura, and a staff of younger employees. While it captures a subtle and nostalgic coming-of-age story reminiscent of the studio’s other movies like Only Yesterday or From Up on Poppy Hill, Mochizuki fully embraces a slice-of-life that, from what I remember, oftentimes feels like a live-action drama.

Here’s the synopsis:

Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.

I watched Ocean Waves when I was a child, and while I don’t remember much about the story, I remember it having a big impression on me. I’m curious to see if I’ll react to it differently as an adult. That was definitely the case for Only Yesterday, which similarly got its first U.S. theaterical release earlier this year.

The film will play starting December 28th at IFC in New York and one night is Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theatre in a 4K restoration. After that, you can watch Ocean Waves on home video formats Spring 2017. Are you going to check it out?

(Image via GKIDS)

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