Umi Ga Kikoeru
Review by Charles Peklenk
Taku Morisaki is a college student flying back to his smallish hometown for a high school reunion. In flashback, he recalls his buddy Matsuno, the class president, who introduced him to Muto, a transfer student from Tokyo. While an excellent performer academically and in sports, Muto is a social outsider, partly because she is a transfer student, but also because she hates the country town she now lives in and refuses to associate with her peers. So cold is she that even Matsuno, who took it upon himself to ease her transition, is rebuffed.
In their last year of school, the class takes a trip to Hawaii. When Muto's money is stolen, she asks Morisaki for help. Matsuno remains polite, but an invisible wall divides the two young men after that. Muto seems to favor Morisaki, and the movie begins to center around this potential relationship, but her motives are selfish, and soon friendships are strained and manipulated.
In their inexperience and immaturity, the students live somewhat oblivious to the situations they are in, coping as well as possible at the moment. When they convene for a first-year reunion, we see that they have learned from their experiences. This is presented so naturally that the viewer may be able to forget that the movie is animated, and may even feel the discomfort that characters go through at times. A satisfying, open-ended conclusion rounds out the show.
This one-hour TV movie, Studio Ghibli's first, compares well with live-action dramas and outshines most televised anime, both in an artistic sense and in quality of story and characters. This movie is plainly Japanese and several nuances of the story will be lost on those who know little or nothing about Japanese school, social and family relationships.
Parent's Guide Rating:
green (suitable for family viewing)
Good movies about the bridge between adolescence and adulthood are rare; this is one. As a relationship story, it will have little meaning to anyone under eleven. It has some "adult situations": some graduates drink (and get drunk) in one scene, and in another one girl ends up in a hotel room with a guy (although "nothing" happens). There is some foul language and some punches are thrown.
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