Ocean Waves: a beautiful aberration and a testament to loyalty
AHR asked me to comment on his analysis [more intensive stuff than mine, honest!] on the Ocean Waves film. It made me realize it’s been two years since I’ve watched the movie: it was high time for a re-watch. I’m glad I did, because I was also finally able to figure out the previously quizzical parts of the movie and contextualize it within the film. I am very slow sometimes, especially when the movie appeals more to my emotions than to my head: this was the case with Ocean Waves, and this was the reason that despite previous re-watches, I couldn’t understand some parts near the film’s end.
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of the film, however, let me first elaborate on the film’s history. It was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, director of House of Five Leaves. He was an upstart back then, and the film was done to showcase the ability of the animation students. While it spent more than its budget and went past its deadline, the result (at least to me) is a brilliant departure from most Studio Ghibli films: unlike the imaginative realms and worlds of Spirited Away or Totoro, the film was founded and grounded on human reality. This was a story devoid of the ostentation of other Ghibli offerings: it was down-to-earth, minimalistic, and realist in perspective. In other words, it was an aberration, a deviation.
It is beautiful because of its masterful execution and a working policy of its minimalism: more often than not, it shows, not tells. Morisaki never explicitly voices out how he takes his friendship with Matsuno seriously, but it shows in one of the earliest scenes of the movie: when Matsuno told him to come after he’s finished with his work, he instead immediately rushes to him with little regard for his employer’s and co-workers’ perceptions. One can always tell one’s friends when one is in trouble as to whether they are fair-weathered or true friends. I think the same occurred with Morisaki: when he stood up against an unreasonable decision by the school, only Matsuno was there with him. The rest of his friends didn’t come along.
The same principle of minimalism is followed when Morisaki quips on how irritated he was that Matsuno was interested in Rikako, or on how he’s actually fond of Rikako with the very first time he saw her. It is only as the film unfolds that the viewer is actually presented not only with a coming-of-age story, but a story of sacrifice. The viewer sees insight on how Morisaki feels towards Rikako throughout the film, but it is only confirmed near the very end. This was due to Morisaki’s utter loyalty towards Matsuno. Once one realizes how much he held himself back for Matsuno’s sake, especially later on in the film, one will realize that Morisaki is the kind of friend one will be lucky to have. He is the kind of friend who will actually die for one’s sake: I just realized that his actions of confronting Rikako in front of anyone, as well as avoiding to engage in dispelling Rikako’s bullying were all for the sake of Matsuno. Even though it was obvious how much he cared for Rikako (being brought and dragged into her schemes), he nevertheless held it all in for the sake of Matsuno. I think that it was also the turning point for Rikako in the film, however: she wanted to be saved by Morisaki. Her violent outburst after their previous confrontation against one another was simply her feelings pouring out: ‘why didn’t you save me when you could?’ spoke through her tears.
Hindsight, however, being 20/20, allowed her to figure out that it was all for Matsuno’s sake. After time has healed their wounds, what really remained with her was his behavior toward her whenever she needed help. He never hesitated to help her despite her personality and behavior, and even slept inside a bathroom for her sake. He did not hesitate to escort her when she had her period, and he was there at her most trying times. I think it hurt her when he did not help her during that incident because I think that despite her bad attitude she had seen how great a guy Morisaki was; I think that was only intensified when he saw the lengths he went through to protect his friend. It wasn’t something I realized back then, but now that I’ve pieced the movie together I can only say that it’s all the more awesome, and that it really does deserve a spot in my top five anime.
If you haven’t watched it, please do!