Canadian Theatrical News: Studio Ghibli’s Ocean Waves

The latest addition to our potential January anime insanity has just been announced. GKIDS will be releasing Tomomi Mochizuki and Studio Ghibli’s 1993 film, Ocean Waves, in select theatres in the coming weeks. This is the first time the film is getting an official release in North America, outside of festival showcases. How come? Well, if you read the plot synopsis and watch the trailer below it’ll become pretty clear this isn’t a film Ghibli’s previous distributor, Disney, would find particularly marketable. The same thing happened to Only Yesterday, which GKIDS just put out earlier this year. However, unlike Takahata’s film, Ocean Waves won’t be dubbed into English. It seems even GKIDS is a bit shaky on this one.

The film was an experiment for Ghibli, too. As the first project not directed by studio founders Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, Ocean Waves was intended to be a small television production meant to test the younger animators. But it’s Ghibli, so it ballooned to something you might be surprised to find out was a made-for-TV film.

ocean_poster_webRarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.

Ocean Waves was the first Studio Ghibli film directed by someone other than studio founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as director Tomomi Mochizuki led a talented staff of younger employees in an adaptation of Saeko Himuro’s best-selling novel. Full of shots bathed in a palette of pleasingly soft pastel colors and rich in the unexpected visual details typical of Studio Ghibli’s most revered works, Ocean Waves is an accomplished teenage drama and a true discovery.

Toronto, Ontario TIFF Bell Lightbox January 3, 2017 @ 4PM
Vancouver, British Columbia Rio Theatre February 18, 2017 @ 1:30PM, February 19 @ 1:15PM
Vancouver, British Columbia Vancity Theatre January 20, 2017 @ 5PM, January 21 @ 5:10PM, January 22 @ 9:30PM, January 25 @ 7:00PM, January 26 @ 6:30PM, January 27 @ 3:10PM, February 1 @ 9:00PM, February 2 @ 4:50PM
Waterloo, Ontario Original Princess Cinema January 13, 2017 @ 9:10PM, January 14 at 4:50PM, January 15 @ 5:20PM, January 16 @ 7:00PM, January 17 @ 9:10PM, January 18 @ 7:00PM

Yeah, there’s just three dates confirmed so far in Canada. It looks like GKIDS is mostly doing this run as a promotional vehicle (contractual obligation?) for the film’s home video release next year. If you have a local art house theatre and know the staff working there, it wouldn’t hurt to request Ocean Waves. Keep track of the GKIDS page as they will have any added locations.

Like their Spirited Away event screening, don’t expect the GKIDS Princess Mononoke one to run up here either. Those are handled through Fathom Events, which only operates in the US. If you’re in Toronto, TIFF is running their annual Ghibli showcase.

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