The Japanese animated romantic-drama Ride Your Wave starts off as a cute love story, but quickly becomes a moving character study about accepting personal loss. We follow charming, but clumsy surfer Hinako (Rina Kawaei) as she falls in love with Minato (Ryota Katayose), the gentle, attentive firefighter who saves her life soon after she moves to a postage-stamp-sized town by the sea.
Hinako and Minato have a believably intimate summer fling: they bond over surfing (he’s not very good at it, but loves to learn from her); cooking omurice, the popular Japanese dish that pairs a fluffy omelet with rice (she’s not great at preparing them, but he is); watching fireworks together; and loving finless porpoises. But then Minato dies while trying to save a total stranger.
Yuasa Masaaki is one of the most innovative and exciting anime directors of the moment. With his instantly recognizable style – somewhere between pop-art and Gauguin -, his humor and his energetic, quirky characters, Masaaki is already mentioned in the same breath as illustrious peers like Miyazaki (Ghibli) and Shinkai (Your Name).