I Can Hear the Sea

This entry in the "realistic romance" category defies an easy description. The central character, Taku Morisaki, and his friend, Matsuo, have been friends for years--ever since they protested the unfair cancellation of a class trip back in middle school. It's now the final years of high school and the two of them meet a complicated young girl named Rikako who moved to their small city from Tokyo. Both of them fall for her over time, but she's not much to love. A child of divorce in a society where it's considered rare, she schemes to return to her father's home in Tokyo, stepping on who she has to in the process. Nevertheless, she is strangely compelling, and their unusual triangle threatens to tear Taku and Matsuo's friendship apart.

A slow-moving, artful film released by Studio Ghlibi, which is headed by the famous Hayao Miyazaki, it lacks the brilliance of the former's masterful works, but is a nice film in and of itself. It also is a step in the direction of the wonderful Omoide Poroporo, released by Studio Ghlibi shortly afterwards. With its firm grasp of high school life and realistic concept of what it means to fall in love as a teenager, themes such as unrequited love, the constant need to belong, and friendship are portrayed poignantly. It's just a shame that we never quite connect with the characters fully enough to care about them deeply as individuals. None the less, a solid effort.

I Can Hear the Sea -- mild language -- B