Umi ga Kikoeru

Have you always experienced that feeling where the coach for your darling sports team decides to rest the best actor for an authoritative match ? The team is performing well enough to stand on their own and keep the game leveled, but cipher is there to advance the score or awe the hearing with their brilliance. The players are competent enough, performing what they are supposed to perform and following the tactics to a tee, but it all feels then otiose since their work does not translate into a sum victory.

This is what this movie feels like. The two biggest players in Studio Ghibli history : Hayao

Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, are not to be found here at all, and that of course decreased immensely from the quality of this film. So, what is this film even about? It is essentially a mundane premise about love and romance between two students. Knowing Isao Takahata, he managed to turn a mundane concept similar to this one into one of the greatest Anime movies ever made – Only Yesterday. Here, Takahata is nowhere to be found so that he can show us his magical directing, which is why a trivial concept such as high school love turned out to be such a disappointing product at the end of the day. Without Takahata’s directing to save the day, there isn’t much merit to this film at all.

Similarly, the concept of this film needed Miyazaki. His brain is imaginative, he creates some of the most imaginative, fantastical and surreal works ever put to the animation medium, and he would have created a movie that would be remembered for years to come and given endless amounts of praise if he were to take full control of the direction and script of this movie. Alas, he weren’t to be found here, which is why this movie is such a trivial work in the first place.

You might be wondering why I keep regurgitating the same points about Miyazaki and Takahata over and over again, and never go into plot specifics regarding this film. Well, there really isn’t anything to talk about in this film. The concept is a mundane high school romance story and the execution, while being “realistic”, falls flat in direction. No matter how hard I try, I can’t come up with anything out of thin air to say about this film or describe it. It is mundane, it is trivial, and it is boring. It neither does anything new nor does it do said thing excellently, even when it isn’t offensively bad.

To it’s credit, the movie is not of excruciating length, as it clocks in at about an hour and ten minutes, which is not much considering some lengthy titles Ghibli has pumped out over the years. The animation and the audiovisuals are good and are the typical Ghibli animations you would find anywhere in their discography. The soundtrack is good as well, especially the background Hawaiian music they chose for the lobby and money exchange scenes. Everything regarding the technicalities aspect is good and isn’t offensive or anything.

Overall, I can’t say that this movie was bad. The characters were not archetypes, as they went through change and character development, even if those developments weren’t the greatest. The plot is not offensively bad or poorly written, and the audiovisuals, while not completely standing out from anything else, were good enough for the typical Ghibli film. However, even when it had factors working for it, those factors were not enough to make it excel in what it did. The movie is average and trivial, and thus should not be given praise or a positive score.

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