Young Makoto Konno is always behind.
It’s hard to make up all the time she can’t find.
She makes time, however, to play catch each day
With new friend Chiaki and old friend Kosuke.
One day in particular seems to run long;
From quizzes to accidents, all just goes wrong.
Then Makoto finds a small nut-shaped doodad,
Which gives a brief vision that scares her a tad.
Her journey back home then delivers a thrill
When her bike’s brakes go out riding down a steep hill.
She’s thrown from her bike at the end of the lane,
Right into the path of an oncoming train!
She sees the train hit her and hears the bell chime,
Then finds she’s gone backward a minute in time.
Alive but confused, she is told by her aunt
That she can time-leap; Makoto thinks she can’t.
Through tentative practice, she picks up the skill
Of leaping to past and to future at will.
She starts by improving that horrible day
And making up time that had once slipped away.
Enjoying her power, she doesn’t see straight
That her problems are passed to another schoolmate.
When this poor guy’s had it and finally snaps,
She sees that time travel can damage perhaps.
The labyrinth of love is another sore spot,
As Chiaki asks her if she’ll date him or not.
She flees from the question, which never occurs
And causes a rift that she only makes worse.
She also tries playing the matchmaker too
For Kosuke and one timid girl, who is new.
Then after she does this, she sees a tattoo
That shows she has one time-leap left on her cue.
She wastes it before she sees Kosuke’s mistake
Of taking his girl on her bike that won’t brake.
She sees them rush down that notorious hill
And strike the same rails with the same deadly spill.
Then time stops; Chiaki comes forth to impart
He came from the future in search of some art.
He used his last leap to save Kosuke, alone,
But now he must leave since his secret is known.
He leaves her, and Makoto weeps for her friend,
Until she takes note of a way she can mend.
The leap that he made canceled out her last one
So she cancels his out to prevent what’s been done.
At last, all is right, and there’s no accident,
But Chiaki must leave since his secret is spent.
Though sad, he tells Makoto he’ll wait for her,
And she is content with her waiting future.
I first saw The Girl Who Leapt through Time only last year, but it is apparently a very popular story in Japan, first published in novel form in 1967 and spawning multiple Japanese films since. Both well-received and author-approved, this anime version combines two of my favorite elements: animation and time travel. It isn’t a rip-roaring adventure or a laugh-out-loud comedy but instead a sensitive young adult drama (with some humor thrown in) that has the same kind of quiet tone as another favorite anime of mine, Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart.
The English dub is better than most anime dubs, as is the quality animation, which is somewhere between the more cartoonish anime and the beautiful artistry of Ghibli. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who later directed the previously reviewed Summer Wars, this tale has both charm and some interesting additions to the time travel genre. Regardless of quality, anime most excels at creating striking visuals, and this one is no exception. The scenes of Makoto’s weeping and the shots of characters flying in slow motion in front of a moving train have stuck in my mind long after seeing it.
As is typical of time travel films, you probably shouldn’t think about it too much, since there are a number of unexplained issues. Why did Chiaki laugh at Makoto after hearing her describe finding the time travel device? If he couldn’t return to his time, where did Chiaki have to go after using up his last time leap? In the book, the boy from the future is from the year 2660, so how far in the future did Chiaki come from? It’s from a time obviously after some kind of war and the extinction of baseball, so how can he wait for her or her for him?
It’s true that the logic of the ending falls apart, but it’s touching nonetheless. By the end of the film, with Makoto again playing catch, as she had periodically through the film, I stepped back and said “I liked that movie.” Maybe you will too.
Best line (a constant theme of the film): (Makoto) “Time waits for no one.”
Visual Effects: 6
Other (time travel plot holes): -4
TOTAL: 38 out of 60
Next: #242 – The Abyss
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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