After weeks and weeks of seemingly endless rain in Japan’s rainy season of June, people itch to get outside and enjoy the best of what summer has to offer. In Japan — as in many other places — summertime means beach time! For many families, youngsters, and tourists, there’s nothing like a trip to the coast to get that summer feeling. Groups gather at beach huts called umi no ie — literally “house of the ocean” — that line the sand to eat, drink, and be merry. Others bring along watermelons for suikawari — a popular beach game where blindfolded contestants take turns whacking a watermelon to smithereens. Once it’s successfully split, everyone gets to reap the rewards and dig into the refreshingly sweet and sticky summer fruit.
There are, of course, those who prefer the idea of the beachside and the ocean, but not the real thing. If you’re not a fan of getting sand in your shoes or you’d rather relax in an airconditioned room, we don’t blame you! In that case, check out these three brand new ocean-themed movies to enjoy the sea without the hassle.
1. Ride Your Wave (きみと、波にのれたら), 2019
Just in time for summer, this brand new animated release from director Masaaki Yuasa (Devilman Crybaby and others) is both heartwarming and heartwrenching in equal parts. It’s a love story with a fantasy twist centered around Hinako, a surf-loving university student, and Minato, a young firefighter who also loves to ride the waves. Their romance is intense, pure-hearted, and unfortunately, too good to last. Minato drowns at sea when surfing on his own. Hinako is left heartbroken and inconsolable — that is until she sees his ghost appear in a water glass. While her friends move on and try to convince her to do the same, Hinako continues her love story with her beloved Minato on the other side.
Cast：Ryota Katayose, Rina Kawaei, Honoka Matsumoto
2. Life on the Longboard 2 (ライフ・オン・ザ・ロングボード 2nd Wave), 2019
Come for the surfing, stay for the life lessons. This new flick is semi-spinoff, semi-sequel to the 2005 release Life on the Longboard, starring Ren Osugi, who passed away in 2018. 14 years after the first film, we join Kotaro Umehara, a guy who can’t seem to catch a break — he goes through part-time jobs like they’re candy, his girlfriend leaves him, and on top of that, he’s evicted from his apartment. With nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, he heads to Tanegashima, an island off the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan, to find his old surfing mentor, Kudo (Ren Osugi’s character in the first Life on the Longboard film). However, even here, Kotaro isn’t welcome. Kudo’s daughter, Mika, runs a surf shop and drives him away as he’s penniless and of no use to her. He considers leaving, but after riding the waves there, he falls in love with Tanegahima’s surf and decides to stay. He begins teaching some of the elderly residents of the island how to surf and finally finds some purpose. Though it’s a story of a bum surfer on the surface, at its core it’s a tale of human connections, finding belonging, and surviving challenges.
Cast：Hisashi Yoshizawa, Fumika Baba, Karina
3. Children of the Sea (海獣の子供), 2019
Another newly released animated film, Children of the Sea is packed with breathtaking visuals that make every scene feel intensely real.
Middle schooler Ruka has a hard time expressing her emotions, which gets her in trouble when she has an argument with a fellow handball team member. She refuses to apologize and is kicked off the team for the summer and is thus banned from the school campus. At home, she is at odds with her mother, and there is an ever-increasing distance between them. With nowhere to feel at home, she heads to her father’s workplace — the local aquarium — to remember the good times when she was younger. While looking at one of the tanks, she suddenly spies Umi — and his older brother Sora — swimming around inside. The boys, whose names mean “ocean” and “sky” respectively, become fast friends with Ruka and together they unveil the beauty of the ocean around them. Everything suddenly changes, however, when Sora gives Ruka a meteor shard and then disappears, leaving Umi and Ruka behind. As more mysteries unfold, Ruka’s life — and perhaps even the whole universe — will never be the same again.
Cast：Mana Ashida, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishu Uragami
Whether you’re a fan of fantasy or down-to-earth human drama, one of these films is sure to have you beach ready — whether virtually or in real life — in no time!
Text by Lisa Wallin