Ocean Waves was made for Japanese television, directed by Anime producer Tomomi Mochizuki, his only Ghibli title. Despite being made for TV it ran over budget and over time (when does anything good not?).
Set in a rural city of Kōchi on the Japanese island Shikoku, it's a high school "love story" of sorts. The main characters are friends Taku Morisaki and Yutaka Matsuno. Strong willed they make a stand alone against the school authorities when a school trip is cancelled due to poor academic performance. (The kids instead get to go to Hawaii, my heart bleeds!) Japanese school children being much more deferential to authority and elders, their behaviour is quite something to the other kids. Taku in particular seems an independent and strong willed fellow.
Meanwhile, following a marital break up Rikako Muto must attend the high school in Kochi having previously lived in Tokyo. She quickly moves up the schools academic league table, and feeling more sophisticated than the other students in Kochi she doesn't make friends. Instead she is defiant and doesn't take part in school activities.
Needless to say the boys are attracted to Rikako. Yutaka expresses this openly to his friend Taku. As the story unfolds Taku connects with Rikako. Initially they mock each other, but Taku helps Rikako and she quickly decides that she can both trust him and exploit him to enact her plan to visit her father in Tokyo.
Taku has to do all the work in this story, both to maintain his friendship with Yutaka and Rikako, but he never seems to be bummed by it, and his personality is refreshingly strong and positive.
This movie won't appeal to kids as the story line is too mature to be interesting (not that there is anything inappropriate though). I really enjoyed it however, it's typical Ghibli. Beautifully drawn and animated in the usual style. The characters and the world itself feel fully real.