Parents' Guide to

Ride Your Wave

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Beautiful anime is too sad for young or sensitive kids.

Movie NR 2020 94 minutes
Ride Your Wave Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

age 13+

Very sweet but tragic

For those unaware, this film is from Masaaki Yuasa, the same director behind two films that hit North America in 2018, Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk On Girl. I loved both of these films. On top of being energized, surreal and creative, they were also surprisingly deep and thought provoking with the latter being probably one of the most relatable love stories I've ever seen. I mention this because one thing that really surprised me about this film is that while it still has that great art style I expect from Yuasa, it's surprisingly subdued and down to Earth. Even during the second half when it starts to enter the more strange territory, it's still very much ground in reality and not too over the top. But with that said, it's still a very good, touching, sweet and thought provoking film. The early scenes in the film are beyond precious. There's this particular song that comes up frequently throughout the film, one that's connected really strongly to the two leads (And when they reveal the reason why, it makes way too much sense) and there's actually a 3-4 minute music video set to this song that's just adorable. Granted, there was a part of me that felt like it should have just been 2 minutes tops, but still. And while the story takes a very dark and sad turn early on, it never loses that sweetness. That said, though, when the film does enter strange territory, at first it seems as if this side of the story is all in the main character's head. Then it's quickly revealed that all of this is really happening and that only she can see it. Admittedly, I found myself really questioning this, but thankfully, the ending takes this plot point in a very mature direction, preventing this from undermining the message. With all this said, I personally prefer Yuasa's other more surreal works more, but this is still a very nice and sweet film. And as I said earlier, it's now available on DVD (Not sure if it'll be added to Netflix soon. Promare got that treatment shortly after its DVD release, so it's possible), so if you're interested, I'd say check it out. Just know that this movie gets sad pretty quickly. I wasn't tearing up as much as I normally would, but just know that, without revealing too much, a major character dies 5-10 minutes before the halfway point. (Oh yeah, just a random note, it's a throwaway line, but at one point, they actually reference an anime from the 60's called Obake no Q-Taro/Little Ghost Q-Taro. As someone who has checked out fandubbed episodes of the show on Youtube, that made me smile)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Beautiful and gripping (if too sad for sensitive or younger kids), this anime film has a satisfying emotional arc and absolutely gorgeous visuals. The first notice viewers get that they're in for a unique love story arrives in the first few minutes, as Hinako swirls joyously through the ocean's waves while Minato watches wistfully from the top of his fireman's tower. When a friend asks what Minato is looking at, Minato replies dreamily that the woman out on the water is his hero. Wait, what? In American movies, women watch men admiringly, not the other way around. What a delightful romantic departure to see a woman providing the action, with a man responsible for the admiration. Minato does get his chance to play the hero, too, and then we watch as our leads, slowly, slowly spend more time together: cooking on the beach, going out for coffee or tea, stumbling through Minato's first surfing lessons.

Then something terrible happens, as it will, in life and in movies, and Ride Your Wave becomes something else: a portrait of a woman learning to live again after a tragedy, to pick up the pieces of her life and go on. Part of Hinako wants to look backward, where Minato was always there to hold her hand and keep her safe. But with time and the support of friends, both her own childhood ones and Minato's loved ones who rally around, Hinako starts to find her way. It's a sad but ultimately fulfilling story, shot through with incredible visuals. Yuasa seems to have a particular affinity for showing patterns of light: fireworks exploding in a clear sky, sun-dappled water, the shadows thrown by the revolving red light on the front of firetrucks. It's a fitting visual metaphor for Hinako's journey through a long, dark tunnel of grief and back into the light.

Movie Details

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