Film Review: Ride Your Wave (Fantastic Fest)

Ah, FANTASTIC FEST! This film festival held in Austin, Texas is an utter joy for us horror hounds. The sheer amount of genre films that play at this festival means we are guaranteed as much blood, gore and mayhem as we can handle.

But Sometimes even here at FEAR FOREVER, we need a break from all of the nastiness. Luckily our coverage of FANTASTIC FEST has allowed us to cleanse our palate with RIDE YOUR WAVE. Director Masaaki Yuasa has brought us a Fantasy-Romance Anime that is just about as saccharine as we can handle.

When surfer Hinako (Rina Kawaei) moves to the seaside she is admired from afar by firefighter Minato (Ryôta Katayose). They meet when a rogue firework sets her building alight and, bonding over their love of the ocean and their favourite song, the two soon fall in love. Everything seems perfect for a while until Minato tragically dies in a surfing accident. However, the couple find that death cannot keep them apart. Minato appears to Hinako whenever she looks into some water (and sings a song that will worm its way into your ear forever).

RIDE YOUR WAVE is decidedly different from Yuasa’s other films. It is almost hard to believe the film comes on the heels of Netflix‘s DEVILMAN: CRYBABY, a very gory, very NSFW anime mini-series. Yuasa has gone for a more classic animation style and plot this time. The playful absurdity that made his previous works, such as NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL and MIND GAME so engaging, is lacking in this film. Yuasa has played it safe in almost every aspect and the result, while more accessible, isn’t as interesting.

Those looking for their Fantasy fix will only get a microdose. I can’t pretend I wasn’t slightly disappointed by the fact that RIDE YOUR WAVE is mostly a romance with a sprinkle of the supernatural. The film relies quite heavily on the supernatural romance trope and is full of the typical themes of love and letting go. RIDE YOUR WAVE is one rendition of Unchained Melody away from being eye-roll-inducing amounts of cliched.

From the plot description alone it would be easy to see exactly how this film plays out, beat for beat. RIDE YOUR WAVE had nothing I didn’t see coming. there was also very little conflict in the story, which added to the overall feeling I was watching a movie made for my little sister.

Now after saying all this, I have a confession: I actually really enjoyed this sappy little movie. A combination of gorgeous visuals and charming characters makes this film an uplifting watch. In short, RIDE YOUR WAVE is adorable and heartwarming.

RIDE YOUR WAVE brings us imagery that transports to the summery beachside town, it’s bursting with colour and ambience. Whether it is being used to surf on at sunset, fill a porpoise shaped balloon, the movement and beauty of water is perfectly captured in the animation. RIDE YOUR WAVE is no Studio Ghibli film, but it has its own more modest appeal.

FANTASTIC FEST may have tricked me into watching something outside my genre comfort zone but the joke is on them as RIDE YOUR WAVE had just enough spirit to melt my cold, dead, horror-obsessed heart.

3 Tombstones out of 5…

“A combination of gorgeous visuals and charming characters makes this film an uplifting watch.”

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Erin Grant

Erin Grant

Erin has been writing about films for Fear Forever since 2017; to say she is passionate is an understatement. You can find her in Sydney, Australia, where she lives on a steady diet of horror movies whilst perpetually being in the middle of a film degree.
You can reach her at

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