Movie Review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Posted on June 16, 2013

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo) started out as a sci-fi novel written by author Yasutaka Tsutsui. It was about a girl named Kazuko Yoshiyama, a student who accidentally gained the ability to time travel. However, this post, as can be determined by the title alone, is not about the novel; it’s about that awesome movie that served as some sort of a sequel to Tsutsui’s novel. The film goes by the same name. It is written by Satoko Okudera and produced by Madhouse; and boy, did they give the novel great justice.

Plot: 10/10

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a movie centered on a high school student named Makoto Konno, who happens to be Yoshiyama’s niece (yes, that Yoshiyama from the novel). Like her aunt (whom she calls “Auntie Witch”), Makoto accidentally gains the ability to “leap” through time, thanks to a walnut shaped device lying in an empty classroom. With this new ability, Makoto begins a heartwarming journey to maturity as she copes with simple things like your ordinary teenage girl problems, to more serious ones like her future or the moral consequences entailing her use of “time leaping,” with a little guidance from Auntie Witch.

Despite the movie employing heavy use of “time traveling,” an all too common plot device, what makes this movie a refreshing thing to watch is the fact that the movie isn’t actually centered around “time travel.” It is merely a cleverly used plot device; nothing more. The real gist of the story is Makoto’s life; her adventure not through space-time, but to adulthood, as I’ve said back in the first paragraph. The concept of “time leap” is simply used to give the movie more color; the show is actually more concerned with real-life problems among the young adults in society.

Perhaps the most common problem among teenagers who are on their way to the working age is that sense of indecision. It is understandable that this transition from childhood to adulthood is stressful; as a result, many adolescents tend to take things for granted, don a happy-go-lucky attitudes as they remain uncertain of the future, undergo massive mood swings, get rebellious, and even fall for vices or similar stuff. This is exactly the stage where Makoto is at; minus the vices, of course.

Her ability to “time leap” can be viewed as a figurative representation of her childish side. Messed up in an exam? Go back in time and fix it. Missed your favorite dish because it was served yesterday? Go back to that particular point in time. Someone awkwardly confessed his feelings to you? Go back in time and undo the shame. The movie effectively used the concept of “time leaping” in such a way that it vividly demonstrates Makoto’s immaturity.

Then comes the hard part of the transition from kid to grown-up; having to confront the fact that you’ll eventually have to stand your ground and take things seriously. The movie represents this bumpy ride through life in a beautiful manner through its plot course; Makoto discovers that her ability to “time leap” is limited, and that in her joy leaping through time, people are getting hurt in the process. This is point where Makoto is disillusioned about the joys of messing with time. She undergoes considerable stress throughout the movie, culminating to an unfortunate tragedy, and regrets everything. You have to watch the movie for yourself if you want to know more, but I can tell you this much; the ending isn’t as bad as you think, so don’t worry. In any case, the movie does a magnificent job symbolically portraying a youth’s struggle from the relative harmlessness of childhood to the harsh reality of being a grown-up; an important phenomenon in any society.

Speaking of the ending, some viewers might complain that it leaves us hanging; what will happen to the characters from that point? Will they still see each other? I confess that I tend to be one of these people, but then I remember the movie’s theme; coming of age. Should you watch the movie, you’ll understand that Makoto has finally learned to become mature and dared to set things right, in a beautiful unraveling of events, at the latter part of the show (which is confirmed by Makoto’s last lines at the very last scene). Perhaps this is where the movie wants us to focus on, and not just some high school flame between the characters. Plus, open endings tend to inspire the mind to muse about what might happen in the future, which is a fitting feature for the movie, which is highly concerned with one’s future and stuff.

Looking back at how smartly made the plot of the movie is, I just can’t help at marvel at the creativity of the movie-makers, turning something natural as adolescence into a magical masterpiece.

Character Setup: 10/10

Despite being a movie, the main character is very well-developed. As I’ve explained in the “Plot,” Makoto’s development is expertly portrayed. The supporting characters are appreciable and pleasing to watch as well, despite us not knowing much about them. Speaking of this, since the central theme of the show is a single teenager’s journey to maturity, I believe it was a good move to use the movie’s running time to focus on Makoto’s character development alone, given the time constraint. Otherwise, the attention the main character deserves will be diluted among the supporting characters, which is detrimental to the aim of any movie of leaving a lasting impression on the viewers. Long story short, good job for the character setup.

Art: 9/10

I like the art of this movie. Everything is pleasing to eyes; it gives you a sense of serenity. Perhaps this can be attributed to the background art, with its brilliant lighting. The characters are also drawn nicely, complementing the background art well, though there are times when they could use a little more detail for more realistic forms and facial expressions. Other than that, great job.

Sound: 10/10

The show’s music is simply amazing. The musical scores are very pleasing to the ears, and are well-placed throughout the movie to suit the moods in particular scenes. I also loved the movie’s theme song, Kawaranai Mono, sung by Hanako Oku. There’s no room for hate here. Just pure love.

Replayable? For me, yes. 

I find the movie interesting and enjoyable enough that I don’t find it problematic to watch it again; sometimes with friends or family members. I guess this comes down to personal preferences, but one thing that can’t be denied is the sheer artistic value of the movie.

Overall: 10/10

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is easily one of the best anime films I’ve watched so far. This movie provides a wholesome experience; romance, comedy, drama, and most importantly, something to think about at the end of the day. This movie is a must-watch.

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Posted in: Anime