Ranting about Ghibli’s Worst Heroine – Ocean Waves (Anime)

Ocean Waves is a particularity in Ghibli’s filmography. It’s an everyday, slice of life story, quite different from Ghibli’s other whimsical tales and was made for television instead of theatres. The story follows Taku, a college boy returning to his hometown and reminiscing about his high school days and his old crush, Rikako. Sounds great, right? What’s not to love? Well, here’s the issue- Rikako is a total bitch.

I can say with confidence that she is the worst Ghibli heroine ever, because I’ve seen all of Studio Ghibli’s films, and every other Ghibli girl is great. Why did Rikako turn out so annoying, I will never know. I hate this character with a passion, she sticks out like a sore thumb in a list that includes the likes of Chihiro, Kiki and Sophie. WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE.

my aesthetic

What makes her character even more infuriating is that Taku is a great guy who deserves so much better. He’s such a cutie, with a great personality, an impeccable fashion sense and the most adorable accent ever. Not gonna lie, I initially watched this movie just for him and his aesthetic, and he didn’t let me down. He was a joy to watch. Spoilers ahead.

The film begins with a Kimi no na wa-style train spotting. Taku sees a familiar face across the platform and then recounts the tragedy that is her involvement in his life. One day, while at work, Taku’s bro (can’t remember his name lol) calls him, again, on his work phone, to come meet him in school. Taku runs over, because it has to be something important, right? Turns out bro just wanted him to look at the new hot chick, Rikako. Okay I guess.

Our boys have been friends since that one time their asshole school decided to cancel a field trip out of spite, telling the kids to pick up their grades instead. Taku and bro were the only students brave enough to call the school out on their bullshit- cancelling a school trip is not going to improve anyone’s grades. Too bad the school didn’t give a shit. Maybe the students have bad grades because you suck at your job, school. Anyway, the point is, they’re tight, because they fought the system together and lost.

Eventually, bro introduces Rikako to Taku. Rikako turns out to be good at everything (except at having a likable personality of course) and quickly becomes superficially popular in school. Some of the girls start noticing her nasty attitude but are quickly shot down for gossiping, even though they’re totally right.

Eventually the high school trip rolls around (side note- where can I sign up for a high school trip to freaking Hawaii). Rikako approaches Taku, asking to borrow money because she lost hers- this is a lie. She then goes on to commit offense number 1: insulting his adorable accent. HOW DARE YOU, BITCH. Taku informs her of what is common sense- to report the loss to a teacher and that she should have brought a traveler’s cheque as instructed by the school. Rikako, confusingly, responds by calling him a goody two shoes- um, what? I know you haven’t really lost the money but girl, anyone would react in the way Taku did. If you want to ask for a favour, maybe try being a little nicer?

As it turns out, Rikako was told that Taku was working part time and so specifically targeted him for money, what a snake. Taku agrees to lend her the $600 because he’s a good boy and they carry out the illegal transaction. He tells bro about this- because they’re bros. Bro is unfortunately also stupidly in love with Rikako, so he asks her if she needs more money. Rikako then scolds Taku for telling bro, even though she was able to borrow ANOTHER $200 from bro because of him.

Time passes and we learn the truth about the money when Rikako’s only friend, Yumi, calls. Rikako straight out lies to Yumi about buying tickets to Osaka, and only reveals AT THE AIRPORT that she had bought tickets to Tokyo instead (hence the borrowing of money). Rikako literally corners Yumi into lying to her family, so in desperation she reaches out to Taku. Taku rushes over (that’s his money after all) and tells Yumi that she doesn’t have to go if she doesn’t want to. Rikako gets pissed off and so Taku agrees to follow her in Yumi’s place. Why Taku, run while you can god damn it.

you and me both

When Taku meets her father in Tokyo, she yet again lies, telling him that Taku is her boyfriend (HANDS OFF LADY). The father helps Taku book a place to stay and returns him the money, and I thought that was that. But she appears immediately after at his hotel room crying, proclaiming she could stay since her father’s paying for it. She makes me so mad it’s absurd. He obliged you, lent you money and followed you to Tokyo. You agree to get him a place to stay. Now you barge in because it’s daddy’s money?? 1. THAT’S YOUR DAD’S MONEY, NOT YOURS YOU ENTITLED BRAT 2. YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL HE’S EVEN PUTTING UP WITH YOU 3. LEAVE TAKU ALONE

Relatable

Apparently she threw a fit either because her divorced father has a new lady “friend” or her room’s wallpaper is now green (it’s unclear really). While her family situation is unfortunate and made me feel bad for her, her self indulgent pity party made my sister and I laugh out loud. Also, after telling Taku everything, she says it’s none of his business. OK.

She proceeds to sleep on the damn bed so my poor boy has to sleep in the bath tub. AND YOU KNOW WHAT THIS BITCH DOES? She wakes him up because she’s “waiting to use the toilet”. YOU HAD TO GO TO THE GOD DAMN HOTEL LOBBY TOILET ONCE, BOO HOO. HAVE YOU NO CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS AT ALL? I’m so done.

“dodged a bullet”

When she leaves our boy finally gets a chance to nap, but just when he’s about to sleep she calls him down to where she is, typical. And the reason? She wants to show off her ‘boyfriend’ to an ex. Taku eventually gets irritated and leaves (same) and Rikako finally realises how stupid this all is. She then proceeds to stay over at her aunts’ house, because apparently she shouldn’t be sharing rooms with a boy. Cue eye roll.

you can have her

After the whole ordeal is over Rikako decides to completely ignore Taku, as all grateful people do. Then one day, bro suddenly asks Taku if he went on a trip with her, because rumours have been spreading. Where did the rumours come from? Rikako of course! WHY WOULD YOU SPREAD RUMOURS ABOUT YOURSELF, YOU MESSY BITCH?? It’s also revealed that when bro confesses his love for her, she responds by saying she hates, of all things, his accent and Kochi (their hometown) so Taku gets really mad.

EQUALITY BITCH

Taku confronts her and tells her the rumours she has caused are making his life worse, AND RIKAKO SLAPS HIM! THE NERVE Of THIS GIRL I HATE HER SO MUCH. But then, the best part of the movie – TAKU SLAPS HER BACK AND IT IS THE SINGLE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE. My sister and I audibly cheered when it happened. If the movie ended then it would have been an instant classic for me.

(For the weirdos: this is a movie. All this violence is not ok irl)

don’t you dare

Too bad it continues on. When Rikako decides to avoid all participation in school festival activities, the class girls finally have enough of her shit and confront her as Taku happens to walk by. The arguments soon get petty and the girls walk off once one of them starts crying. When Rikako eventually notices Taku SHE SLAPS HIM YET AGAIN for no damn reason, and unfortunately he doesn’t retaliate this time. My boy just can’t catch a break.

why

Bro walks by, notices Rikako crying and when Taku explains the situation to him, BRO PUNCHES HIM. Bro, what the hell? Whatever happened to bros before hoes huh? You can’t trust anyone these days smh. Why the hell should Taku stand up for her when 1. She simply got what was coming to her 2. He has nothing to do with it 3. They are not even friends 4. It ended before anyone got physical. Everyone’s just picking on Taku for no damn reason and I’m not here for it.

I love this visual

Time skips ahead to the present day as Taku returns home from college. He and bro make up and bro mentions that he finally realised that Taku liked Rikako (barf) but was holding back for him. Honestly bro you saved him from so much high school drama. They proceed to their high school reunion, for which drama queen does not show up yet again. They reminisce about her, which like,,, don’t they have better things to talk about?

slap her again

In the final scene of the movie, Taku spots her again in a Tokyo train station. He runs over to her and they reunite. I wanted to cry.

Despite everything, I loved watching this movie with my sister. It has a very jarring problem: Rikako, but hating on her is so damn fun. We like to pretend that instead of confessing at the end Taku walks up to her and slaps her again for good measure. Honestly if that were the ending I would give this movie a 10/10.

Sorry for the long ass rant lmao but this movie is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. I hope for Taku’s sake that’s her twin sister or something.

Check out my complete ranking of all Studio Ghibli movies here! images are used for commentary purpose

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

31 thoughts on “Ranting about Ghibli’s Worst Heroine – Ocean Waves (Anime)

  1. This put all my thoughts into words perfectly. Also, am I the only one that thought there was sexual tension between Taku and ‘bro’ ? Like that scene when they were on the pier… I really thought something was gonna happen. Anything would’ve been better than him ending up with Rikako tbh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, bro was such a non-character to me I barely even noticed. He just appeared and disappeared whenever convenient 😂Although I agree anyone would have been better than Rikako

      Like

  2. I honestly hated almost everything about this movie. In my opinion, none of the characters were likeable, except for Yumi, a little bit. For example, I understand that Rikako was having a hard time because of her parents’ divorce, feeling like a dead weight for her mother’s family and all, but she treated everyone like shit! Taku did everything he could for her and even more; was kind enough to not even being angry with her for lying about why she needed money from him. Even Yumi, her only friend, was treated poorly by Rikako. She was very sad about her life, again, understandable, but being unkind and ungrateful to everyone wouldn’t help her, and I feel like she was representing almost every young female stereotype (bitchy, bossy, edgy), kind of made to be hated. Taku is a very sweet person, but he was such a *gado (I’ll explain later) that it was very irritating. Yutaka in my opinion was not a very good friend sometimes. He says he is worried with Rikako because other students aren’t exactly welcoming her, but then why didn’t he tried befriending her? And I was so infuriated when he punched Taku; if I was Taku, I would’n forgive Yutaka for that punch, EVER. True friends don’t hit each other. I couldn’t even like their classmates! The girls in the beginning saying that Rikako was snobbish without even knowing her was pure bullshit; when other girl told Rikako ”I expected more from you” wtf she expected??? Rikako was basically invisible to everyone. When a guy says ”Yumi was overshadowed by the fussy Rikako” how can a quiet person be fussy? However, when Akiko was prattling about how she treated Rikako like shit and both Taku and Yutaka were looking at her like she was shit, I felt sooo happy.

    *Gado (cattle in english) is a brazillian expression we use to define someone who gets easily manipulated by his/her crush in the dumbest way possible, without caring about the consequences of said manipulation. In my opinion, this expression describes Yuta perfectly.

    I’m sorry about this really long comment, I really, really hated Ocean Waves, it reminded me perfectly why many people, including me, describes high school as the worst part of their lives. And sorry if my english was badly written 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your English is perfect! I agree that 90% of the characters in this movie are completely unlikable, with Rikako obviously being the worst offender. I can see why this movie would elicit such passionate hate, especially since Rikako never gets thought a lesson & still gets the guy in the end.

      Taku is indeed a “gado” 😂, but I had a soft spot for him because he was such a great guy.

      Could I know how you found this post? 😊

      Like

      1. It all began last week, when Netflix BR annunciated “now Ghibli movies will be here”, such as Ocean Waves, Tales from Earthsea, Only Yesterday etc., and I felt really glad, there were some of them that I never watched (for example, those above). I had chosen to began with Ocean Waves, a fatal error because this movie is crap. So I searched “everything wrong with Ocean Waves”, I wanted to see if someone else hated it just like me, then your post appeared, and I knew I found exactly what I was searching. Plus, I love reading/searching things in english, I love studying languages and it was by far my best subject in school 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree SO MUCH with this post. It makes me happy to find other people who also have some criticisms about this film, since almost everyone else online seems to love it for weird reasons.

    Rikako was unbearable, Taku was a pathetic doormat and Yutaka broke the bro-code in the worst way possible.

    I will say I greatly enjoyed the visuals of the film, and I found the trip to Tokyo to be a pretty interesting 2nd act. If Rikako had mellowed out a bit after that event, I would’ve thought much more positively about this movie. Instead, she became even worse and everything nosedived off a cliff.

    Honestly, part of me wished Taku and Akiko would’ve hooked up during the class reunion. Both seemed to have matured and could hold a natural conversation. It would have been a much better ending, showing that “people grow up and move past their previous mistakes”. Sadly, it didn’t happen.

    Anyways, sorry for the long comment. Just felt like “dumping” all my thoughts here. Excellent article. Found it by literally typing “Rikako is a bitch” on Google Search, jaja.

    Best wishes from Mexico.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I strongly agree with your point about Taku and Akiko. If the film had pointed out how immature everyone in that situation was behaving (especially Rikako), it could have been a great reflective film about the volatility of adolescence. Kids can be and are mean, a film about that could be great. Instead, it indulges in Rikako’s horrible attitude and never shows her growing out of it. The fact that she is “rewarded” in the end is truly highlights how misguided this film is.

      Cheers from Singapore 🙂

      Like

  4. I recently watched a few anime films; this one and Corner of the World. I am not into anime anymore. But with this film I wasted x minutes watching the film. I hated the girl. If I was the guy, I’d never go near her and deal with her anymore.

    I also wasn’t too much of a fan of Corner of te World. the WW2 bombing is a story I don’t like watching or hearing. It’s soo sad and disgusting. Seeing people rot and limbs falling apart makes me puke. But I can say I enjoyed it a bit better than Grave of Fireflies. I was angry and bored of that film.

    There’s not much anime I haven’t seen that I can like now. I’m not sure if I’m picky or I just grew out of lots of anime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are anime films that are amazing and there are anime films that are bad. Don’t be put off by all anime films by just the few that you’ve seen, there’s so much out there!

      It seems you don’t like war films – that’s fine. In this corner of the world & grave of the fireflies are excellent war films, but I don’t personally like them either. For you, I would recommend more light hearted films like:

      – Howl’s moving castle
      – Your name
      – ponyo
      – the cat returns

      Remember, anime is just a medium to tell a story. That story can be in so many different genres – you just have to find what works for you!

      Like

  5. I just finished watching this movie and was so angry (first time that’s ever happened on a Ghibli movie) that I literally googled “Rikako is terrible” and found your site. Your article was beautifully written. Looking forward to checking out your other posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m doing a school project which involves 3 of your favourite movies and I chose Ocean Waves as one so coming across this at this time was a bit unlucky for me because as I’ve read a few other articles I’ve noticed the bad things about Ocean Waves but in my opinion just because you’re a bitch doesn’t mean you’re a bad heroine. Sure she doesn’t beat the heroines but Ocean Waves was made for the younger artists to work on with a smaller budget so they couldn’t go full out Chihiro and I think that she pulled the story together with her arrogance and made it quite refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, just wanted to comment and echo what others have said here- thanks for putting my thoughts to words. This is the first Ghibli movie I’ve finished and truly disliked, and I found your post just because I needed to see that someone else recognized her awful character! I cannot believe there are people who genuinely love this movie, Rikako is an insufferable bitch throughout and the ending is incredibly unsatisfying.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your post speaks to me on another level! I hate Rikako so much and feel so bad for Taku! I have nothing original to say, just wanted to keep the Rikako hate train alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just finished watching this on Netflix and feeling pretty stunned. I found it pretty enjoyable the whole way through but it’s like something went wrong during development. I like how they had the guts to make a heroine who wasn’t exactly likeable, but I think they took it a bit far. I almost imagined, before I read that the film was based on a book, that they were intending to tell a story about a boy and girl who had this weird antagonistic friendship until the studio forced them to turn it into a love story. When the film first implied Taku was in love with her I just went “What?!”. It just seemed so ridiculous. They had no chemistry, she was downright abusive, he was acting weak as a result…

    When Taku looked at the castle and dreamily imagined Rikako standing next to him, it was hilarious. All the stuff he remembers is her being self-indulgent or cruel. It felt like it should have been a parody but the film was playing it straight. Don’t even get me started on the absurdity of Taku being punched by his best friend for basically no reason.

    At the end, they re-unite and it’s like “Am I supposed to be happy that this manipulative relationship that has only produced misery for all involved is now going to continue?”

    What a weird movie! I did like it though. I’ll file it away in my brain under the heading “experimental”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! Perhaps this would have played out far better if it started with all the characters at the high school reunion and showed them reminiscing and laughing about the petty, dumb drama where everyone acted childishly.

      Instead, they made Rikako pretty much into the sole antagonistic force and never got around to her improvement. I suspect they were going for the NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS™ and it just resulted in her being really horrible to those around her

      Like

  10. Don’t you think Taku only liked her because of appearances? I mean, through the whole movie, it was clear in his actions, thoughts, and words that she is not his type. Akiko or Yumi would have been better. Thinking about this movie annoys me every time….anyway, I felt peace after reading this..hahaha, it cleared my grudge against this movie. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I do not consider anything that I have written.
    I liked this movie just like all the others, Rikako was very bad in the beginning but the end was very good.
    Congratulations Ghibli studio, as it was said, you who speak badly are a minority

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I found this movie really interesting, technically it is filled with missteps, some bits at the end that go on for too long, very cheaper looking animation than other Ghibli movies and a weak ending.
    However I really liked rikako and I believe her character is one of the most realistic depictions of a teenage girl I’ve seen in an anime. No idealisms but harsh reality. Rikako is a girl being who is entitled, lies, has a past behind her, is immature, sometimes is irrational and that makes her very human. It’s ironic since a lot of teenage girls like ghibli but just see her as annoying or as a villain rather than a realistic depiction.

    She carried the entire movie for me and I find her far more memorable than mononoke, that one girl in howl’s or that other girl in wind rises, for example.

    Still a weaker ghibli movie however, but I do find it more special than the rest of the feel good sort of cinema ghibli offers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I totally understand your point that Rikako is realistic and there are real people like her, watching her was extremely annoying for me. I personally also detest the idea that all teenage girls are selfish, entitled brats. Some, sure. But some are also just really nice, in real life. Speaking as someone who was once a teenage girl myself 😂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s