As far as I can remember, this was the first anime that I decided was worth rewatching 4 years ago. From the very beginning I felt that there was something very comfortable in it, common but comfortable, although I don’t remember actually understanding what went on in the movie. I remember even showing it to my parents – they said it was ‘okay’. I didn’t think so, and I still don’t think it’s an ‘okay’ movie, even though it did go over the deadline and budget.
The art is distinctive and can be immediately attributed to the movie. In fact, barely 4 days ago I caught someone playing a low quality version of Ocean Waves in Low Yat Plaza, the scene where Matsuno and Morisaki are talking in the classroom. The next day they were playing Nausicaa… but no more. The music is really nice too, I especially love the song when they’re flying on the plane. It’s nice, but it does take a back seat to the characters and story, in which this movie shines brilliantly. Remember how all love anime inevitably starts with a loser protagonist in order to help the otakus identify? Taku is not a loser. He’s an ordinary guy. And that helps me identify with him more closely than any comedic loser would. His friend Matsuno resonates even more within me, because I had pretty much the same experience that the movie dealt him. Just looking at the characters, you can see that this movie is only for adults. People who understand nostalgia, people who need only a quiet nod of acquiescence to recognize Matsuno’s feelings, people who have experienced growing up. All the subtleties that an adult might notice are crammed into this movie, and the art manages to carry these subtleties out successfully too, which is something I always marvel at, because I don’t think it’s particularly attractive. It is pretty endearing, though, although that might be just the characters.
And when you step out of the numerous, detailed flashbacks, you realize that all that just happened in a few hours as Taku’s flight lands in Kochi. Then suddenly it all hits you… it’s just a small detail in the grand scheme of things. As they later agreed upon in the dinner party, they realized, all of a sudden, that their worlds were so small. Thus you simply gain the experience of growing up by watching Ocean Waves. This is a very refined, mature take on the subject coming from the Studio Ghibli noobies (at the time).