Japanese Movies

 

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女/Toki wo Kakeru Shojo)

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Makoto Konno is an ordinary teenage girl who finds herself with an extraordinary power.
Makoto spends her days falling out of bed late, flunking tests and playing baseball after school. Her baseball pals / best friends are both boys: burly nice guy Kousuke and affable free spirit Chiaki. After finding a mysterious item in the school chemistry lab, Makoto discovers that she can leap backwards in time.
Makoto revels in her newfound ability but uses it frivolously - singing herself hoarse at limitless karaoke, reliving a night when Mum cooked Teppanyaki for dinner and eating pudding that had been unjustly gobbled up by her annoying little sister. However, soon Makoto learns that her meddling with time has severe consequences for those around her. Can she discover the truth about her time travel abilities before she makes an irreversible mistake?

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Mamoru Hosoda's animated adaptation of the beloved tale by Yasutaka Tsutsui. Fans of the book will be pleased by the inclusion of many elements from the original story, most notably the character of Makoto’s ‘Aunty Witch’ (suggested to be Kazuko, the original protagonist of the novel) in a prominent supporting role. There are also more than enough new, interesting story ideas, great new characters and new twists on old themes to keep those fans guessing.

A loud, klutzy tomboy, Makoto provides quite a contrast to the character of Kazuko, but Makoto’s selfish and immature tendencies are played for laughs, so they never grate, and she also has a sensitive side that makes her an extremely likeable new-age heroine.

All time travel stories have their own set of rules, but this film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and there is little in the way of sci-fi technobabble. The time travel here is fun and whimsical, and there’s even a spirit of adventure as Makoto explores the range of her newfound abilities. The time travel scenes feature some nifty visual effects and novel (even funny) ideas. In one scene, Makoto jumps back in time by literally leaping into a crowd of startled kendo players, and in another, she surprises some bather-clad onlookers with a less than graceful jump from the high-dive. Some ‘Groundhog Day’ style repeating scenarios also make for enjoyable time travel fun.

The film is also thoughtful, dramatic and serious in the right measure. Street signs and stop lights provide some memorable symbolic imagery. The character relationships grow more adult as the film progresses, and by the time the final credits have rolled, there is a genuinely tearful goodbye.

The artwork, sound and voice acting all combine to immerse the viewer in the story. Chirping cicadas and voluminous cloud formations evoke an idyllic Japanese summer, and the use of real high school students instead of professional voice actors gives the viewer the feeling of having spent summer with friends at a typical high school in Japan.

The soundtrack features two great original songs by singer/songwriter Hanako Oku, one of which (‘Garnet’ - named after the birthstone of friendship) brought her well-deserved recognition in Japan.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an excellent adaptation of a classic story, with a powerful message about friendship, change, and looking to the future rather than always trying to correct the past.

 

Introduced by Greg Corbett  

Greg Corbett has been visiting Japan since 1998 and has a keen interest in its language and culture. 
He teaches Academic English and helps to organise a number of Japanese cultural events in Adelaide.