Before all the depressing news (caused by the pandemic) spread through social media, I’ve been fortunate to lay my eyes upon good commentaries on Ghibli films. I got intrigued by Spirited Away when I saw the scene with the character No Face. I watched it the next day and, indeed, I wasn’t disappointed!
Since then, I tried to watch several more like My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Whisper from the Heart, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and From Up On Poppy Hill.
Each one of them was really entertaining. Plus, you know there’s a deeper meaning or wonderful realization somewhere in the film.
It was all together an amazing experience proving how Ghibli films are gifts to humanity until… I watched OCEAN WAVES.
To start with, it has one of the worst female protagonists. Rikako is the typical problematic teenager who has attitude issues. She’s a rich Tokyo girl who transferred to Kochi (a province in Japan) due to family issues.
Being an attractive city girl, a lot of boys from Kochi like her. Academic-wise, she’s doing very well. The other students tried to be friendly but she always preferred to stay alone. Moreover, she explicitly shows her unwanted attitude to other students.
But here lies the problem: Her bad character was worsened because of the wonderful boy named Taku.
This was the part where Taku voluntarily accompanied Rikako to Tokyo. Abide his kindness, she still didn’t treat him well. Mind you, before that incident, she borrowed $300 from him, saying that she lost her money. Also, this was his hard-earned money from working in a restaurant. She said that she won’t be able to pay him back for a time. Later on, he realized that she lied about losing the money. She was simply saving it because she wanted to go back to Tokyo where her father lives.
Rikako’s father paid the money and asked Taku to stay in a hotel during his time in Tokyo. Later that night, Rikako barged in Taku’s hotel room, crying. The worst part of it all, she barged in, proudly saying that her dad’s paying so she can stay there anytime she wants! As if it wasn’t her fault in the first place that Taku was dragged there. How ungrateful was that?
Being the “nice guy”, Taku slept in the bathtub that night.
The next day, she entertained a visitor in the hotel cafeteria. Apparently, it was someone she dated before transfering to Kochi. However, the guy’s dating her friend now. Rikako called Taku saying that he needs to rescue her. When Taku sat on the same table with them, Rikako and the boy kept talking.
Fortunately, Taku expressed this time how much of a bore they were!
To be honest, this was the only part where she expressed something that has sense. And so, let’s ponder on it for a bit. In my opinion, maybe:
Sometimes, we are blinded by infatuation. We make this ideal and perfect person in our head, and then dream that the person we like has those wonderful characters. We then fit every single act he/she does that aligns with this image in our head. Only when we step back a little, we may see that the person in front of us is very different from who we had in mind.
Back to the story, Rikako completely ignored Taku at school after their little trip in Tokyo. However, news still spread at school. To this, Taku got really angry and so she confronted her. Rikako, being the ungrateful lady that she was, slapped Taku.
But here comes my favorite scene: TAKU SLAPPED HER BACK.
I was surprised though after a second, I almost cheered loudly for him! And don’t get me wrong, I hate violence, of all things, but I also believe that one should not just let others bully or belittle them.
Also, please allow me to open a little concern:
Please stop the norm that it’s okay to slap guys. Or scratch, or pull or punch them when you’re annoyed. C’mon, violence isn’t cute. Men don’t deserve to be hurt, just like women. You see, violence is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Whether man or woman, it is never okay to harm others.
Going back, aside from this unwanted heroine, the film also showcases one of the worst best friends. His name’s Yutaka, a member of the student council. He has a big crush on Rikako. On the other hand, Taku knows this from the start and so, he does not want to get in the way of his best friend’s love life.
There was a scene where Rikako did not want to cooperate in a student activity and so, the girls confronted her. She said something bad to one of them while arguing and inevitably, the girls got mad at her. Taku heard everything as he was passing by.
When the girls left and Rikako was left alone, she learned that Taku heard everything. He said that she’s brave for standing up for herself. Then… Rikako gave her another slap! A few seconds later, his best friend Yutaka appeared and asked why he didn’t meddle to protect her. And then, he punched Taku! And left. Without any explanation.
Talk about the best crush and best friend ever!
Yutaka and Taku did not speak with each other until they graduated from high school. To be honest, it’s better that way (what type of friend punches and then walks away, anyway?).
For college, Taku went to Tokyo, Yutaka to Kyoto, and Rikako stayed in Koshi. The opening and closing scenes showcase their high school reunion.
Surprisingly, Yutaka picked-up Taku from the airport and drove him home. They went to see the wonderful view of the ocean where Yutaka apologized for punching him (finally!). Also, he said that he only realized later that Taku liked Rikako and that he’s just holding back because of him. I find it quite frustrating that Taku didn’t respond because to be honest, I didn’t see that he was falling for her. Or maybe I was just too overcome by the hatred for Rikako’s attitude?
Anyway, that’s the surprise. TAKU REALLY FELL FOR RIKAKO.
Honestly, I tried hard to think of a possible deeper meaning anywhere in the film. I also did some research to validate my realizations, only to find out that my initial reaction was valid: That’s… a Ghibli film?!