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Sep 24, 2012

Quick Takes: Studio Ghibli Marathon (Only Yesterday - Ocean Waves)


Only Yesterday (1991)


Voice Cast:
                        Miki Imai, Toshiro Yanagiba, Yoko Honna, Michie Terada, Masahiro Ito, Chie Kitagawa, Yuki Minowa and Yorie Yamashita.

Director:
                    Isao Takahata.


Review:

                Coming back to my Studio Ghibli Marathon that i did back in June, here i am with yet another delightful movie called Only Yesterday. This is the sixth movie directed by the impressive Isao Takahata. What i loved the most about this movie is that it has some mature, adult themed, dramatic subjects that are based on the real lives. It is one of those Ghibli movies that have no fantasy themes at all, they sweep your heart away with their whimsical and nostalgic tone and are very much entertaining the way their usual animated movies are. The name suggests that this movie is based on a character dealing with his/her (in this or any other Ghibli movies its always Her) memories and they chases her wherever she go.

               The story is of a girl named Taeko living in Tokyo and working at a company there. The year is 1982 and she is unmarried and 27 years old. To get out of the city life, to fulfill her own wish of visiting countryside and to help her elder sisters-in-law with their safflower harvests, she decides to take another trip to rural countryside. While traveling via train, she begins to recall her childhood days, when she was in fifth-grade 1966 and how much she wanted to go on holiday outside of her city just like her friends and classmates used to do. Taeko's stay in the village is filled with the increasing memories of her childhood, the nostalgia, the goods and the bads. Slowly she starts battling with her adulthood, the issues of love, affection, relations, work etc. This trip just doesn't proves to be a getaway from the city life but while doing so provides her ample of time, a clear mind to scrap up her past memories, a breather in her life right now and to see if she has been true to her childhood self, her dreams and wishes. And by the end, she gets a hold of herself, realizes what she has to do and what she wants to be. The scenes of her childhood self might be a tad bit uninteresting to watch as they slow down the movie, you might have to build up the interest in her life by yourself. But slowly as the movie progresses, it becomes more interesting as the back and forth shift proves very effective and it gives you a closer peak in the character's life.

             The detailed and impressively visualized animation style proves to be amazing as it provides you with some amazing visuals and much needed beauty. From Tokyo and the offices, traffics and train stations to her past in the town, the school and growing up, puberty, boys and studies to the village and its natural beauty and earthiness, there is constant sense of underlying beauty and nostalgic energy that bursts out every minute or so. I always love Studio Ghibli for not shying away from tackling subjects like growing up in a real world minus the fantasies and all the regrets and pain involved in the process. How brilliantly the childhood insecurities and innocence is shown here in contrast to the adulthood while holding on to the past and eventually setting yourself free is amazing. The use of music have always been an important feature in Studio Ghibli movies, the folk music used in the village scenes is impressive. Its a mature drama for adults, mostly for female audiences but i would recommend it to everyone because you will feel like you have been there at some point.

Grade: B+


Ocean Waves (1993) (TV Movie)

Voice Cast:
                        Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Sakamoto, Kae Araki, Yuri Amano, Jun'ichi Kanemaru, Hikaru Midorikawa, Ai Sato, Kinryu Arimoto and Takeshi Watabe.

Director:

                    Tomomi Mochizuki.

Review:

                  Ocean Waves is a TV anime movie made by Studio Ghibli that involved mostly their younger staff on the production. The movie is basically about a love triangle that develops between a girl and two friends in a high school in the city of Kochi. Movie starts at a Station in Tokyo when Taku watches a familiar face on the opposite platform, he is about to take a plane to Kochi and as it takes off, he starts narrating his story. Taku is shown two years ago working in a restaurant as he receives a call from his friend Yutaka to meet him at their high school. A new transfer student from Tokyo is there and they look at her, she is very attractive and Taku's interest in her seems to be rising. The new girl is Rikako who later on proves herself as a very smart and brainy student who is not just good academically but also in sports. Her only flaw is that she is very arrogant and distant. She lives alone here away from her family, later on we discover that her parents got divorce. The end of their school year marks the trip to Hawaii, one day, Taku is stopped by Rikako who explains him how she lost her money and wants to borrow some from him. He gives her but informs Yutaka about it even though she asks him not to tell anyone. He discovers that she took money from him too. Her plan later on is for a trip to Tokyo where she drags one of her friend Yumi but Taku offers to accompany her instead. The reason of her trip is to visit her father whom she loves very much and always sided him during her parents fights. What she discovers is a very changed man, who is caught off guard while planning for a trip with his new girlfriend.

         
     What follows after that is Rikako being disturbed and depressed with all this, seeks Taku's shoulders for help while finding something in the city to which she can identify with but is disappointed as everything is changed. After their return, they don't talk but Rikako tells everyone how she spent a night at hotel with Taku even to Yutaka who she rejects after he confesses his feelings for her. Taku doesn't actually realizes that he is in love with Rikako but he do understand that he has some feelings for her. Also that his best friend Yutaka loves her too and he always cares for him and tries not to come in between them.

       
      Ocean Waves is an interesting story of first love between grown up teenagers in High School in contrast to the middle school story of their previous movie "Only Yesterday". Its a clever look at teens and their problems, the friendships that counts, the feelings that matter, the jumbled hidden thoughts that exists and the rights and wrongs one do during those years. It has a beautiful score, very high school TV show tone and is unlike the other two reality based Studio Ghibli offerings. Its about the age when one goes through many things, its a start for a new life and one is not very clear about things. The characters in this movie are not very likable, they have numerous flaws and they do things that really feels weird and awkward, but that is how it is and that is what makes this movie so appealing and realistic. A bit underwhelming than the previous movie that also dealt with a character looking back at his/her life and realizing what they want to do with their life right now. Here when the movie ends, you know that he realizes everything. The scenes that takes place during the High School reunion, which is the reason he is going back to Kochi for is amazing. How suddenly you feel the sense of nostalgia that the character himself does. An interesting thing here is that the main character of the movie is a boy, which is rare in Ghibli movies. Its a lesser known Studio Ghibli movie but its very much watchable and lovely.

Grade: B