Opening 21 Nov 2013
Writing credits: Tetsurô Sayama, Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Chizuru Takahashi
Principal actors: Masami Nagasawa, Jun’ichi Okada, Keiko Takeshita, Yuriko Ishida, Rumi Hiiragi
This animated film, based on a Japanese comic, tells the love story of two high school students in Yokohama in the 1960’s. Umi lives on a hill above the harbor. Every morning she raises nautical signal flags to greet passing boats. Shun writes a poem about this mysterious daily ritual and publishes it in the school newspaper. That’s how they meet. Together they get involved in trying to save a beautiful old building – home to several student clubs – from being torn down. As Umi and Shun get to know each other they discover a family secret that threatens their relationship.
The animation is done mostly in the traditional hand-drawn technique, each frame proof of extraordinary attention to detail and the painterly talent of the creators (Studio Ghibli). The story is not very strong; nevertheless I was enchanted by the quiet and deliberate way it is being told, the natural pleasantness of the characters and the magical visuals. Perplexing is that several main characters were given Caucasian features and looks confusingly alike with their round eyes and upturned noses, while individuals in crowds – in the student assembly for example – are shown with wonderful variety and different expressions. (Carola A)