An anime movie [that's a cartoon film made in Japan, just in case you're uninitiated] that asks that age old question that must have occurred to all of us from time to time. What would we do if we could go back in time and change the past? More specificially, erase our past mistakes.
Makoto is an ordinary seventeen old schoolgirl, best friends with a pair of boys her age, who discovers by chance that taking a big jump gives her the ability to go back in time. She appears to have gained this following an accident in a chemistry lab.
Taking advice from a wise aunt, she soon comes to terms with her ability and masters it. Using it for trivial things such as getting extra time at karaoke or doing better on a test. However when affairs of the heart rear their head and she uses her power to deal with that, things start to get complicated. Because even the most minor action can have big consequences.
And there's also the question of the strange mark on her arm. And where she got the ability from in the first place.
Not a lot of anime has a present day real world setting in which it's firmly grounded, but this most certainly does. There are no monsters with bug eyes on their tentacles or schoolgirls with big eyes as you might expect. All the characters are down to earth and believable. As is the setting. An ordinary city and home and school plus a busy street by a level crossing are all well depicted. The film is meant to be set in summer, and the tones of the colours for the backgrounds do convey that, along with the very occasional sound of insects.
This is initially a bit slow to get going, but once you get used to Makoto and she gets to grips with her ability, the film becomes very involving. Like many time travel films some scenes are played again and again and yet are different each time, and the viewer comes to anticipate certain moments as much as Makoto does.
All plot developments do arise firmly out of characters and their actions. One in particular likely to make you gasp as much as it makes Makoto.
There are many metaphors about time and how every moment is precious - best highlighted by a stunning scene of characters talking whilst time all around them is frozen - and how we should make the most of it. This, coupled with a subtle score that uses gentle piano music, makes it all haunting and rather beautiful.
A twelve certificate by virtue of a couple of very mild adult references, it's a very memorable movie and one that will live in your mind for a while.
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
Languages: Japanese, English.
The only extras are a commentary from the director and some of the voice cast.
Plus trailers for five other movies: Four anime and one live action.
on 1 December 2009
So my ten-year-old son and I have worked our way through the Studio Ghibli movies and loved every one. So what to buy for his birthday?
Having read the reviews for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, I figured it had to be worth a look.
And I wasn't mistaken: we were captivated! I was a little concerned that the plot might be too convoluted, or the themes too adult for my son, but I needn't have worried. (But for two mentions of 'j*rking off', it's entirely suitable for the younger viewer.)
My son immediately gave the movie ten out of ten, I had to pretend I had something in my eye, and we watched it again the following evening.
And now on to the Christmas shopping!
on 18 August 2008
I've just watched this in Japanese with English subtitles (so can't say anything about the quality of any future dub).
I suppose one might summarise the plot as "(Japanese) high school romance with time travel", except that might suggest its appeal would be limited to schoolgirl types - not so at all.
It's funny, occasionally quite moving, cleverly plotted and beautifully animated.
The characterisation is excellent.
This won SF awards in Japan, and I can easily see why.
Both I and my 11 year old son thought it was brilliant.
on 11 August 2014
The story follows a girl called Makoto Konno. Starting with a common cliché in anime, Makoto is your very average high school student who, through unforeseen circumstances because very extraordinary. Gaining the ability to leap backwards in time, she uses this to fix her blunders but it soon becomes apparent that there are consequences when changing the past.
The film is a romantic drama with the clear addition of sci-fi with you know, the whole leaping through time thing. So far it's sounds pretty generic but boy, are you wrong. The story and visuals are incredible. The plot and character design may be simple and lack complexity but what it does do is done very well and almost without fault. Watching the film was an emotional roller coaster of laughs, heart break and touching scenes instantly making its way on to my imaginary list of all time favourites.
Makoto uses her newfound power for simple things such as getting to school on time, passing a pop quiz and getting to the pudding before her sister eats it. However, she soon realises that every time she leaps back in time to solve a problem of her own, it makes someone else's life that little bit worse. Being the person she is, she leaps back in time to try and fix the problems she's caused for others but ends up making them worse each time she tries.
The film is chock full of emotion, mainly that of love and as the film progresses, these overflowing emotions have you falling in love with the characters making them more memorable. By the end of the movie I was on the verge of tears, feeling down when the characters were upset and overjoyed when things were going well for them.
Although the film has become an instant favourite of mine, it still has its problems. Despite the stunning visuals, the animations bugged me a little. During the fast paced scenes, it looked as if the character's bodies were made out of jelly when they were moving. The ending wasn't the best in the world either, it felt rushed and left a few questions unanswered. Regardless of the few problems it has, I would recommend the film to anyone. Pleasant to watch, I believe the film can be enjoyed by any audience with its charming characters, art style, deep yet simple story and lack of traits commonly found in anime which may turn some people away such as nose bleeds and unrealistic body proportions.
This isn't a manga-monster movie. It's more like a heart-of-gold Disney tale which deals with the heartache of teenage development, illustrated with a clever sci-fi spin which allows the heroine to hop backwards in time. This means she can try to correct those horribly embarassing moments of adolescent life -- which sounds ideal, but...
...every action has a consequence, and light-hearted mucking around with the time-stream to score well in a school test, or to stay out late at the karaokee club morphs into a real threat towards her best friends' well-being, her own life, and the happiness of them all.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is beautifully animated and cleverly plotted so you're not quite sure what the outcome will be. It leaps from 'frothy' to 'meaningful' very smoothly and avoids all the slushy sentimentality of Hollywood cartoons.
However the first third is quite slowly paced and it nearly lost my attention -- there was a lot of set up with the characters and background which dragged on for me. Once it hits half way however the film romps off and kept us guessing then right to the bittersweet end.
An ideal movie for anyone in their teenage years who's dealing with friendships that evolve into something more, and who maybe wishes they could have 'that moment' all over again to get it right next time! Charming viewing also for us older folk who want to re-live those moments, and remember how it feels for time to pass at a very different pace to the way it does in adult life.
on 19 January 2014
I watched this three times within the first week of owning it. That's how much I loved it.
I really wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and honestly I only bought it because people seemed to rate it highly. It's safe to say at this point that my expectations were totally blown away. It's just wonderful in so many ways, and it's shot up to being one of my favourite films. Great characters, brilliant story, superb animation, yada yada. If you're into anime films at all, and you haven't watched it, then you really, really should. In fact...
...even if you're not really into anime films, you should probably give it a go. Because it's freakin' great. Go on, buy it.
on 27 June 2009
This film contains such a broad spectrum of emotions. I actually had a copy of this a while ago but never got around to watching it properly; I just flicked through it to get the gist of it - only, I didn't get the gist of it at all. Each part of it is quite misleading to the over all feeling and flow of the story. Now, having watched it properly, I can see this.
When you start watching it, it's a lightly comic slice-of-life thing. You're introduced to the various characters, mainly the heroine Makoto, and it's easy to believe that the whole film will just be this nice, heart-warming school life drama. Without wanting to give too much away, this isn't the case and after a fairly long intro, the plot proper kicks in and you really start to appreciate the slow build-up and low-key presentation of the film so far; it really grounds the consequent sci-fi plot and helps it become the philosophical piece it is, rather than just a novel movie about a kid that can leap through time.
Much of the plot could have been brought about without the time travel element; for example, when Makoto learns of someone's feelings towards her but then leaps back to before the confession, the same effect could have been achieved by simply having her overhear the guy telling a friend that he likes her. The impressive thing is, though, the time travel never feels like a gimmick, never feels bolted on or superfluous to the plot. If she'd merely overheard and done nothing about it, it would have remained a simple drama; since she goes back to a time before the confession, something much more tragic and regrettable takes place.
This is just one of many leaps that Makoto makes to avoid things happening, some in the "oh no I burnt my toast!" magnitude, and others far more serious. Seeing her be flippant with her powers makes it all the more affecting when things get serious and she realises her powers aren't just a toy for her to play with. Like so many great anime films, it manages to be a powerful allegory and a potent drama at the same time, not sacrificing any quality for another.
The only faults I can think of are that, yes, it is a little slow to get started and this may put off some more impatient viewers. Really, don't be put off if you feel your interest lagging early on. Enjoy the light-hearted stuff for what it is and realise that it'll only add to the impact of the more serious stuff later. The second fault is similar to the first; it's a pacing issue. Once the plot has laid itself bare in front of you, when almost all the plot twists have, uh, twisted, the story slows right down and almost lets the tension and drama its created to this point slip away as it slightly flounders towards its climax. It's not a big deal, though, and to be honest, as long as your heart is still beating, you should be sufficiently adsorbed and enthralled by the end to not really care about a bit of bad pacing.
In case you're wondering, this is an anime that will appeal to all sorts of people, all genders, all ages, anime fans and people who still think of it as "those Chinese cartoons". The romance is very affecting without being tacky or self-important. It has positive messages but never gets anywhere near feeling preachy or pretentious. It effortlessly slides between comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi, philosophy, slice-of-life and, I guess, thriller, without you realising it's changing. Considering you can get it for just under the price of a packet of fags (at the time of this review), you'd literally be mad to miss it.
Mamoru Hosada's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a real surprise - an anime feature that's not only accessible to almost any audience but actually one of the best movies, animated or otherwise, in recent years. A remake and reworking of an oft-filmed Japanese short story that's been the basis for a 1983 live-action feature and several TV adaptations, it takes a somewhat overworked premise - a young girl finds she suddenly has the ability to literally leap back in time - and turns it into something surprisingly exhilarating and well thought out. Naturally her actions have unexpected consequences, but rather than ripping apart the fabric of time and space or creating a skewed future these consequences are human ones that see her good fortune only being bought at the price of others misfortune. If that sounds like the kind of moralistic fable Disney turned out in their live-action films in the 70s, it's actually much better than that: it's easily the best and smartest time-travel movie since Back to the Future.
The animation is good but far from epic, set in a recognisable modern city with no creatures or apocalyptic goings on. Rather than creating striking images and set pieces worrying about fitting the story around them as is the case with many animes, this is all about serving the story and the characters, and luckily both the story and the characters are very good indeed. Makato isn't just a believable and likeable heroine (except when crying, when her mouth alarmingly grows so large that it practically swallows her entire head) but one of the best-written female roles in years. She genuinely grows and matures through the story without ever turning into a stereotype. Indeed, Satoko Okudera's script is nigh on perfect: imaginative, sometimes moving but never so over the top that it loses all credibility. Her initial time leaps are for mundane reasons like passing tests, avoiding domestic accidents or awkward conversations with boys or making sure her younger sister doesn't steal her pudding. As her aunt (who may be the heroine of the original short story a few years on) tells her, "I'm glad that you're not wasting your powers on something substantial."
The dubbed English language version is surprisingly good for once even if the odd Canadian accent seems more oddly out of place than the American or English ones that are a main stay of dubbed anime. Kathleen Westlake's translation flows rather well, making good use of voiceovers, while Emily Hirst is excellent as Makato.
Very highy recommended!
on 22 January 2014
Would we want to be able to travel through time? Most likely the answer is "yes". An interesting film which highlights consequences of your actions.
Well worth buying in my humble opinion.
on 21 December 2013
We love this film so much, although like many others from the same studio, you'll want to watch it more than once to really get all the details. But that's a plus in my book.