The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is the official international release title for the adaptation of the Japanese novel written by Yasutaka Tstusui in 1965. The novel is a classic youth story, and has been adapted various times over the years. This adaptation was produced by Madhouse, and with Saotoko Okudera as the screenplay producer. It’s taken more than two years for this title to come out in the UK, so long in fact that in July this year it was on television on one of the various anime channels in Japan whilst I was there!
The story follows a normal, but slightly tomboyish, schoolgirl called Makoto Konno who lives in central Tokyo. She has no sense of time keeping and is consistently only just on time for school, after having to rush to school almost every day. More often than not causing some form of commotion along the way. She has two good friends Chiaki Mamiya and Kosuke Tsuda, both of who are admired throughout the school by the girls – something that Makoto seems oblivious to.
Whilst running a little late, Makoto is reorganising the notebooks in a classroom on one of the upper floors, while she is doing this in a rush she falls over and lands on something that hurts her arm. She thinks nothing of it, as she is more concerned with wondering why she thought someone was in the room with her. She then ran off, as she was late for baseball with Chiaki and Kosuke.
She soon discovers that she is able to travel through time if she puts herself into a certain situation, and uses this ability so that she is able to avoid awkward confessions of love, stop being late, get perfect grades and to just generally enjoy herself. She also uses her ability to match make her friend and someone who fancies him. However, all of this time travel soon starts to show negative effects with a boy who ends up making the mistakes that Makoto makes due to different circumstance. This boy is under increasing stress and then attacks some of the other students at the school; this causes Makoto to revaluate what she is doing.
During this period she is visiting her aunt a lot more than usual, her aunt advises Makoto that she believes she is leaping through time. Although Makoto keeps on travelling back in time, she talks to her aunt whenever she is confused, who never questions what she’s doing and always continue to give solid advice. No one questions this; however, it does imply that she was the girl in the prequel to this story.
Eventually Makoto discovers a tattoo on her arm that never used to be there. She soon realises that this is the number of leaps that she’s got left, and in the attempt to save her friend Kosuke and his girlfriend from dying she uses her last leap; unfortunately she is not successful. However, time freezes and Chiaki tells her that he is from the future and he is searching for a painting, and is now stuck in this time because he’s used his last leap to save Kosuke.
Makoto is devastated by this and is also devastated because the boy she loves has just disappeared. This is because he explains everything about the future and time travel to her, which he is now allowed to do. Fortunately owing to Chiaki’s time travel Makoto has one left, which she uses to go all the way back to the start of this entire adventure and starts all over again. She confronts Chiaki early on and then tells him she knows everything, and that he has to go back to the future and she’ll secure what he came to the past for.
The animation is simple, but distinct and is visually a treat. The backgrounds are realistic, colourful and well planned. Although the character designs are a little on the basic side, this contributes to the overall feel of the film. The leaps through time are entirely different to everything else in the film. They show a strange world of digital clocks and are depicting time continuing to move forward while Makoto goes backwards. The qualities of these scenes are second to none and have clearly been well planned ahead.
The understated music score by Kiyoshi Yushida is perfectly suited to the bittersweet story. The music is at no point overused, and owing to it’s minimal usage it makes the touching moments that bit more poignant. It’s rare in motion picture for music to be used so well, and in this case less is certainly more.
The English cast is brilliant. The English cast all have passion and acting in their voices and at all points they are believable and not just “going through the motions”. Even minor character such as Makoto’s sister or the poor stressed out boy, they all sound real. The Japanese cast are equally brilliant, so fortunately there’s no reason to have to choose between either cast – it’s just personal preference this time.
This is a clever, touching, bittersweet and understated film.