Friday, January 8, 2010

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)


Makoto Konno (Riisa Naka) spends most of her days going to school and playing baseball with her best friends, the mysterious Chiaki (Takuya Ishida), and the kindly, Kousuke (Mitsutaka Itakura). On a particularly bad day, Makoto trips, and falls, inside the science room landing on a mysterious object. After narrowly avoiding a train incident a few hours later Makoto realizes she now has the power to leap back through time. Using this to her advantage Makoto starts getting good grades, avoids unwanted events..... but at what cost to herself and others does this new power come?

Listed by several sites as one of the best anime films of the decade, Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a fun, off the wall, while emotionally in depth, anime film. The movie wonderfully tackles this rather old tale of the consequences of time travel while at the same time dealing with the emotional insecurities of teenage girls and boys. What caught me most off guard was the movie's surprising depth, and grasp of teenage life. The boring ends and outs, how even the little things matter, and the impact our events can have on the lives of others. We see Makoto's actions, how they nearly destroy the lives of some of those dearest to her, and the selfishness she pertains.

Make no mistake about it, while Makoto is a fun character, her actions are not always the most respectable. Of course it helps that Makoto is grounded by her two best friends Kousuke and Chiaki. They're attitudes perfectly balance out the playful, and somewhat ignorant, nature of Makoto. While Hosoda takes the necessary time to build them as characters, and not just leave them as cardboard cutouts. As the movie progresses we grow closer to this trio, and fond of their personality quirks. This all sets the groundwork for a strong, and emotional, finale that will put a smile on your face, and a little tear in your eye.

Though without the animation team behind the film there would be little emotion. While there's a handful of scenes I can easily pick out as badly drawn, the animation team has a talent for capturing scenery. And Hosoda knows how to use the fact that this is an animated film to the tee. Combining the endless bounds of an animated character with grounded realism (even with time travel as the backdrop) is a truly humanist heavy art form. And while I recognize few (if any) of my followers dig anime, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a firm example of how it can be both entertaining and emotional at the same time. The different journeys are often fun, random, and amusing, while the consequences can come heavy handed. An enjoyable, even if flawed, tale, worthy of any anime lovers time.

Capturing beautiful scenery, an emotional story, and a sense of wonder in the world, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a solid addition to the ever growing world of anime films.

5 better thoughts:

Alex said...

Dude, I love anime. Don't worry about the naysayers, keep writing about it!

I really enjoyed this movie- I was lucky to see it on a big screen a year or two ago and the scenery is indeed quite beautiful. I love the relationship between the three central friends. It's just written and developed so well, and gives the sci-fi premise a more human element.

Are you a fan of Satoshi Kon? Or Makoto Shinkai? Have you seen Tekkonkinkreet? It's a bit more experimental, but really good. Plus I think it's the first anime to be directed by a non-Japanese person.

Univarn said...

@Alex thanks for the re-assurance. I love anime I just have so little time to watch it because I'm usually watching one of a thousand other movies I need to see. As for anime I tend to lean towards this kind of anime. Character driven with the fantasy elements serving as a backdrop. There's a handful of anime in my top 100. I do want to see Paprika (for curiosity) but the next one I have on my to watch list is Metropolis (the 2001 anime film).

I've been out of anime for far too long and trying to get back.

Alex said...

I know what you mean- I don't watch as much anime as I'd like. There's always so much else to watch! Metropolis is pretty good, and Paprika is awesome but very strange and trippy- just go with it.

I think you'd like Makoto Shinkai- his works are mostly sci-fi character dramas, often very depressing, but very good. He only has a couple of movies out, but I'd recommend anything he's done, really. His short "Voices of a Distant Star" is one of the saddest, but most beautiful, things I've ever seen.

Univarn said...

Ohhh he did Voices of a Distant Star? Now I know who you're talking about. I saw his film The Place Promised in Our Early Days, quite a beautiful (and emotional) film that was. Was going to back to back that with Voices but after Place I needed a mindless action film for an emotional equalizer.

Alex said...

Haha that definitely makes sense- he really knows how to find a person's heartstrings and just rip them out violently. I think you'll like his other films when you see them though- I hope you write about them sometime!

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