Home Video Release Date:
August 4, 2020
GKIDS & Shout! Factory
Hinako (Rina Kawaei) is a charming young lady in Ride Your Wave. After moving to a small beach-side town to attend a local college, she thinks life will be easy. However, to go surfin’ every day and be carefree will not cut it in this modern age. The Beach Boys song may have been an influence in the design of this anime, because she meets a charming and soft-spoken firefighter, Minato (Ryota Katayose), to whom she falls in love with.
However, to date individuals in a hazardous line of work is not without caveats. Every time he’s out on the job, it’s possible he may not come home. In the most cliche ridden moment, he dies rescuing a jet skier in a dark and stormy night.
This anime is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Its colour palette is important to note, and the art style is very Impressionistic. It’s a cute Shōjo tale for much of the first act. To see her experience joy is sweet; to see her heartbreak is painful. But to see the spirit of her beau in random bodies of water, she soon questions why he’s not ready to move on.
The home video release has a featurette, an Interview with producer Eunyoung Choi, which lightly looks at what director Masaaki Yuasa (Lu Over the Wall) and writer Reiko Yoshida had in mind when making this film. Though their inspirations does not include Ghost (1990), starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, they made sure to capture the meaning of why people love to surf the rough waves and when back at the office, discuss how riding the waves translates to dealing with life.
This anime is not one of director Masaaki Yuasa’s best. Lu over the Wall is far more engaging and very rich in style. I favour his offbeat styling over regular dramas. I doubt pumping up the ghostly bits in Ride Your Wave can help. When both are functionally romantic tales, I have to say Lu is far more fantastical than Wave.
Hinako must learn how to move on, and it’s tough. When she discovers that she has a guardian angel of sorts, thankfully she’s not taking advantage of him. Instead, she just tries to hold on tight to her dreams. She wants that shoulder to cry on. Had this story been a manga, all of this extra character drama can be explored. And we can learn why Minato only appears to Hinako.
To make Ride Your Wave stand out needs more than just well-known names from Japan’s music industry to sell it. It requires something else other than a phantom prince charming to save the day. I’d say a crash course to learn Japanese Shintoism and philosophy is in order.
3½ Beaches out of 5