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Rarely Seen Studio Ghibli Film OCEAN WAVES Getting U.S. Release

It seems very strange that in the 30 year history of Studio Ghibli, only 20 theatrically-released feature films were produced. I know that’s a movie every year and a half, which is a pretty good track record — especially for a studio doing almost exclusively hand-drawn animation — but it feels like there should be a hundred movies for how much we love them. All of the theatrical features to date have been released in North America, but there is another feature made for Japanese television, Ocean Waves, that has yet to see the light of day in this continent…until now!

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.

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Ocean Waves is a bit of a landmark for Studio Ghibli, even though it has been rarely seen outside of Japan. Produced for Japanese’s Nippon TV network in 1993, the 72-minute, slice-of-life drama about teenage isolation in contemporary Tokyo was the very first Ghibli production not directed by either of Ghibli’s founders, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. It gathered some of Ghibli’s impressive young talent and was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, who went on to a great career directing, writing, and showrunning several anime series.

Only seven films (including Ocean Waves) have been made in-house at Ghibli by filmmakers other than Miyazaki and Takahata, so it’s quite interesting to see the studio work under any other creative guidance. I never expected Ocean Waves to get a release over here, which is why I bought a bare-bones Region 2 DVD of it earlier this year for my collection. I needn’t have bothered! Leave it to GKIDS to give American Ghibli completists what they want!

Are you stoked for a “lost” Ghibli film? What’s your favorite non-Miyazaki or Takahata film by them? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: Studio Ghibli/Nippon TV/GKIDS


Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He’s the writer of Studio Ghibli retrospectives Miyazaki Masterclass and Takahata Textbook. Follow him on Twitter!

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