From the director behind The Tatami Galaxy, Ping Pong: The Animation, and Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Masaaki Yuasa has blessed us with a masterpiece that joins the high-ranks of romantic animated films — RIDE YOUR WAVE.
Straying far from his usual style and portfolio of works, Ride Your Wave is surprisingly simple and mediocre — especially for a Masaaki Yuasa project. Ride Your Wave revolves around 19-year-old Hinako Mukaimizu who moves to an oceanside town to attend college and indulge in her surfing hobby.
Hinako is young, carefree and independent with not much thought about the future. When her apartment catches fire due to illegal fireworks, she gets rescued by 21-year-old firefighter, Minato Hinageshi. Drawn to his aura and heroism, they soon spend time together and eventually fall in love.
We have seen many Japanese animations in the past, but never before has a film felt so close to home. The love for the ocean, the passion for surfing and animals, and the hardworking firefighters … Japan is well-known for its bustling crowds, city lights, and cultural traditions. However, in this story, Ride Your Wave no doubts illustrate the strong affinity that Japanese people have with the ocean.
From surfing to karaoking to their favourite song ‘Brand New Story‘, we love following the adventures of our lovebirds through the sparks and honeymoon phase. Accompanied by seamless animation and a vibrant palette of wondrous colours, this animated film shows reverence for Hinako and Minato’s bond in a way that you can’t describe in words.
Throughout the lovey-dovey montages, we can’t help cringing at the childishness between Hinako (AKB48’s former member Rina Kawaei) and Minato (Generations from Exile Tribe’s vocalist Ryota Katayose). Yet, we also can’t help feeling an immense outpour of happiness for them. For any couple, this magical bliss is something we’d hope would last forever.
But of course, something tragic happens.
Heartbroken and forsaken, Hinako was barely living life. That is, until she begins to see Minato wherever water is. Just like the flow of water itself, Hinako continues to live her life with Minato in the form of a blow-up Beluga Whale bubble. These visual scenes of a human hanging out with a Beluga may seem ridiculous at times but the concept is imaginative and perfectly coincides with Yuasa’s use of water imagery.
Clinging onto their bond and memories, it comes to the point where Hinako only lives for Minato. Will Hinako be able to move on and ride the waves on her own?
Overall: RIDE YOUR WAVE is ultimately a heartfelt film about love, loss, grief, and hope. Comparing life to ‘riding a wave’ as a basis for the story, Ride Your Wave perfectly utilises the concepts of fire and water as a driving force for its storytelling. Unfortunately for Hinako and Minato, the affairs of the heart cannot always be glorious and attract a happy ending.
With the inclusion of the catchy ‘Brand New Story‘ song and fantastic animation from start to finish, we definitely highly recommend Ride Your Wave for your anime viewing collection. [Note: Please have a box of tissues ready]
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