Studio/Creator: Ghibli/Chizuni Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayamo
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Suggested Age: 10+
My Rating: 10/10
Summary: Set in 1963 Yokohama, this film centers around a girl named Umi, whose family owns a boarding house. She befriends a boy named Shun, who (along with his friends) is trying to prevent an old building on high school grounds from being torn down to make way for the upcoming Summer Olympics.
Review: While Studio Ghibli is well-known for its fantasy like Nausicaa or Spirited Away, its slice-of-like also deserves attention. This is Goro Miyazaki’s second film with the studio (his first was the frustrating Tales From Earthsea) This seems to be him learning from his mistakes. Earthsea‘s biggest flaw was that it focused on more than one plot at a time. This story keeps its focus and tells its story well.
Umi and Shun are great characters. They both seem to admire the past. Umi admires a father she barely remembers and was a former naval soldier, which is why she daily raises semaphore flags to honor his memory. Shun is attempting to save a building that has a rich history and has become a second home to his friends. This becomes the movie’s theme–should we completely ignore history and move on from it, or preserve and honor it?
The animation is mostly what I’ve come to expect from Ghibli–simplistic designs with a vast beauty, even in an urban environment. If you like nice, quiet stories and enjoy Ghibli’s other movies, give this one a try.
Sub/Dub: The dub gives much-needed exposition that the sub does not, so I say watch this version. It has some great performances, even if Disney isn’t backing the production this time.
Music/Score: The story has a cheerful score by Satoshi Takeke. Although it’s not as majestic as the material Joe Hisashi usually composes for Ghibli, I did enjoy it.
Sexuality: 1/10–SPOILER! Umi shows Shun a photo of her father and tells him how he died at sea. The story leads him to believe they may be related. However, it is clear that their friendship is platonic, and we later learn that they are not related, they just happen to share a common origin. This is why Disney refused to distribute the film.
Related Media: This is based on the manga by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayama.