Sunday, 13 March 2011
海がきこえる /Umi Ga Kikoeru/I can hear the sea/Ocean Waves
‘I thought this was worse than a soap opera’, says the protagonist of Umi Ga Kikoeru, and while it’s not as bad as all that, I can’t say this film is a whole lot better.
I can easily find reasons for Mimi wo Sumaseba and Hotaru no Haka to be animated rather than live-action, but Umi really didn’t benefit at all from being animated, and the standard of art was a long way from Ghibli’s best - when their main team is at work. which it was not, here.
And the story really is lacking. A high school boy’s relationships with his best friend and a girl develop a bit. That is it. At seventy-two minutes including opening and ending credits, there really isn’t that much to this movie. If it were something remarkable, something beautiful and unique, the technical aspects would be good enough to support the story. As it is, there is nothing to elevate it beyond the status of absolute mediocrity.
Like Neko no Ongaeshi, this was a project designed to give the younger studio members some experience while keeping the budget low. While Neko was at least buoyed by a sense of exuberance, Umi is weighed down by its attempted realism and its lack of decent plot or likeable characters. The whole thing looks like it was a struggle to conceive, realise and complete, and as such, is probably the least pleasant of all Ghibli’s films to watch.
(originally written 30.12.06)