Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru) 1993
Ocean Waves is a teen romance with a love triangle, which is where much of the drama comes from, though there are a few comedic moments too (like the bathtub-as-bed offer).
Compared to other Ghibli films it’s perhaps a little slight, being a bit shorter (as most TV movies are) and having a fairly narrow focus in terms of its story, but it’s still quite lovely visually.
Usually that’s enough for me to really enjoy an animated work on at least some levels but I can’t help but think of Rikako as a villain in most ways, which marred my enjoyment. Sure, it’s a story about teens and the things that hold them back from being honest… but still, I didn’t end up seeing her as someone Taku or Yutaka should have fallen for.
Having said all that, Ocean Waves is by no means a poor film and many folks regard it as an underappreciated part of the Ghibli catalogue. I guess it is in a way, since fewer people tend to mention it and I don’t believe it’s had a dub just yet. The ‘fathers’ of Ghibli were looking to develop successors in the early and mid 1990s and they had Tomomi Mochizuki in to direct Ocean Waves, and I recently learnt that other studios were involved in the actual production too.
Definitely worth a look for completionists perhaps, or maybe folks interested in 1990s Japan as there’s a bit of slice of life detail too.