The Ocean Waves Are-a Coming!

Let’s face it: 2016 was a cruddy year for everyone. Whether it was the lacklustre film cycle being especially lacklustre toward Oscar season, the insane number of celebrity deaths, the Brexit vote or that Donald Trump won the election and is now setting out to make the US his 7th bankruptcy, 2016 simply doesn’t want to let up. This makes its occasional moments of awesome that much more spectacular, of which there have been a few here and there. Case in point? This:

That’s it: I’m petitioning for Studio Ghibli to be the 45th President of the United States. Take that, Russia and Trump! (Courtesy of GKIDS Films.)

I happen to be Infinite Rainy Day’s biggest Studio Ghibli fan boy. I can’t help it: they’re basically the Japanese Disney, both in status and influence, and not even Hayao Miyazaki’s official-but-maybe-not-official-but-maybe-not-actually-happening-I-don’t-know-retirement can break that. I also own every movie they’ve made on DVD or Blu-Ray, with one exception. That exception is Ocean Waves, but, as Only Yesterday’s recent theatrical release has clearly demonstrated, anything’s possible. So I’ve kept my eyes and ears opened for years for any signs of it making its way here.

My prayers have now been answered. As if hot off the press, Ocean Waves, that elusive Studio Ghibli title that’s technically a made-for-TV film, is finally coming to North America. I’m hoping it’ll be dubbed, GKids is the distributor, but this is great news for two reasons:

First, I’m a collector when it comes to Studio Ghibli. Like I said, I own all of their films released on DVD or Blu-Ray. I’ve watched them all at least twice, and some more than that. So to acquire that one remaining title that I’ve never gotten my hands on, even if it’s considered a “weaker entry”, is nothing short of satisfying. It’s also a sure-fire sign that I’m a nerd, but I take that in stride.

Two, I’ve never seen it before. This isn’t like Only Yesterday, in which I caved and watched it illegally before I knew it’d be released in North America (and yes, I feel incredibly guilty for doing that, so shush!) No, this time I stayed clear of ruining the surprise in case I got the opportunity to watch it properly. I’m curious as to what it’s about: will it be exciting? Will it be unique? It looks like another low-key drama, but Studio Ghibli excels at that so…will it be as good as, say, Whisper of the Heart or When Marnie Was There?

There are a lot of questions that arise, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t an exciting development. Because any Studio Ghibli film is an exciting development, honestly! I may have discovered their work late, you can blame my ignorance for that, but I’ve been more than making up for lost time by buying and watching their filmography. I only hope this follows suit.

If I have one complaint, it’s not that the film’s arrived almost 24 years too late to Western shores. I put up with Only Yesterday coming over here 25 years too late, so that’s not a concern. No, my issue is more in the arrangement. To quote Nerdist’s website directly:
“GKIDS, the company that’s released several Ghibli movies in the past few years (including From Up on Poppy Hill, Only Yesterday, and When Marnie Was There), announced on Wednesday that they will be releasing Ocean Waves in a limited theatrical run at New York’s IFC Center beginning December 28 and one night only at LA’s Egyptian Theatre. The movie will then get a home video release sometime in spring of 2017.”
Why? For clarification, this isn’t a new film. This isn’t like The Wind Rises, where it was released briefly in 2013 to qualify for its Oscar nomination (which it lost to Frozen, not surprisingly.) Ocean Waves gains nothing from this other than word-of-mouth, which is baffling because the only people who’d care are aware of its existence and will see it anyway. That it’s being treated like an indie-film right now, only to have a home release early next year, is flat-out ridiculous. Again, why?

Ah, whatever! There’s no point in harping over the weird decision to release it in stages, especially since we’re even getting it at all. I should be happy, not acting like a spoiled brat. It’s Studio Ghibli, after all! Besides, if Ocean Waves turns out to be a dud, I’ll be as disappointed as I was with Tales From Earthsea, so they deserve the benefit of the doubt. I only wonder how I’m gonna manage to fit the film on my special rack when it comes to DVD in 2017. Seriously, it has no more space left!


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