Ocean Waves

Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Ocean Waves Movie Poster Image
Simple, slow anime tale about teen relationships in Japan.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 72 minutes

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie ultimately promotes the importance of integrity (standing up for what you believe in), empathy (helping others in need), and hard work (doing what you need to do to get ahead). But characters also manipulate each other and aren't always honest about how they're feeling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Taku is a good friend to Yutaka. And Taku helps Rikaku when she needs a friend (and money). But Rikaku lies to Taku, manipulates him, and then insults him. She's also cruel to Yutaka and often irresponsible (she takes off to Tokyo without telling her family). On the other hand, she's an excellent student and athlete and doesn't let her personal troubles get in the way of that.


Rikaku slaps Taku a couple of times, and at one point Taku slaps her back. Yutaka punches Taku and sends him flying into a pile of garbage. Girls surround Taku and taunt her.


A rumor goes around about Taku and Rikaku (that they were together in a hotel room), but nothing happened. Boys talk about a girl's breasts and legs.


Insults include "stupid," "idiot," and "jerk."


Characters are seen drinking a Sprite.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several characters smoke, including the school guidance counselor. Two young characters drink until they pass out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the anime drama Ocean Waves, originally released in Japan in 1993, is in Japanese with English subtitles. It follows two high school boys who get entangled with the new girl at school. She's quite selfish and manipulative, conning one of the boys into a loan and to accompany her on a trip to Tokyo. Characters smoke and drink, and there's some innuendo and use of insults like "stupid." Not much really happens, but parents and older kids might enjoy a look back on what teen years were like before cell phones and social media, while also getting a glimpse of everyday life in Japan.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written bySophie Hatter October 27, 2020

Didn’t Blow Me Away, But It’s Ok

This is one of the lesser known Studio Ghibli movies. It is definitely quite a watchable movie, that contains some likeable characters, like Taku and Yukata who... Continue reading

What's the story?

In OCEAN WAVES, during a trip home from college, Taku (voiced by Nobuo Tobita) looks back on his high school days and the girl who got in the way of his relationship with his best friend. When Rikaku (Yoko Sakamoto) arrives on the scene, Taku and Yutaka (Toshihiko Seki) are both interested -- but it's ultimately Taku she turns to for help (of course, it turns out she's manipulating him, but he doesn't always care...).

Is it any good?

Originally released as a TV movie in Japan in 1993, this simple, nostalgic, but slow anime drama is making its way to American audiences decades later. The animation is good, but there's not all that much to Ocean Waves' story. Rikaku is talented and smart; the reason she doesn't have many friends, the film tries to explain, is because her parents moved her out of Tokyo when they divorced.

That's regrettable for her, but she's also selfish and manipulative, and it's frustrating that Taku and Yutaka are both infatuated with her even though she treats them terribly and creates a rift between them. Frankly, it's not at all clear why the boys like her or why we would want to see their relationship play out screen. Fans of Studio Ghibli or the novel Ocean Waves was based on might enjoy it, but other audiences are likely to find it disappointing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that Rikaku treats Taku and Yutaka in Ocean Waves. She thinks only of herself and her own pain when she lies to Taku and manipulates him. Have you ever been treated that way? How did you feel, and what did you do?

  • How do anime movies like Ocean Waves compare to more mainstream U.S. animated fare? Which do you prefer? Why?

  • Have you ever had a girl or boy you liked come between you and a good friend? What should friends do when they both like the same person?

Movie details

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For kids who love anime

Themes & Topics

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