Region: 2 - UK
Length: 101 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 5.1 Surround
'What would you do if you could "leap" backwards through time?'
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time follows Makato, a tomboyish highschool girl, who gains the ability to time leap. Like any seventeen year old she sets about changing important things, like improving her grades, preventing accidents and ensuring that her little sister doesn't eat her pudding. But she soon realises that her actions have consequences and that changing the past is not a simple as it first seems.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a definitely a must-see for anime fans. The product of director Mamoru Hosoda, art director Nizo Yamamoto (both of whom once worked for Studio Ghibli), character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and adapted from the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui this film is a moving work of art, just what animation should be.
Makato is a tomboyish, seventeen year old girl. She doesn't get very good grades, she's always oversleeping and she's pretty feisty. Making her a wonderful character to behold, and a refreshing change from most anime girls her age. Her two best friends are Kousuke, her dependable, hardworking and loyal friend, and Chiaki, who is fun loving, a slacker but still very loyal to his friends.
Makato's day goes from bad to worse as she oversleeps, sets fire to a classroom, fails a test and finally on her way home is hit by a train. But what saves her? Just moments before she falls in the chemistry lab and lands on a strange nut shaped object. As she soars through the air in front of the fast approaching train, time begins to slow until finally it stops, and is suddenly spinning backwards. Makato "time leaps" back to just moments before and her life is saved. What should she do with her new found power? What would any teenager do? She tries to fix her life, but learns along that way that things are never that easy.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time started off as a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, publishing in a Japanese magazine from 1965 to 1966. Since its publication it has been adapted into several live action films, a drama, manga and also a handful of theatre performances. The story is incredibly well done, the characters seem realistic and alive, and you grow very attached to them. The voice actors for both the sub and dub do an excellent job, and at times you really feel for the character and believe them, especially at one point in a heart wrenching scene when Makato is crying and screaming after her friend Kousuke. The dub only changes a few lines, and it makes perfect sense when they do and it doesn't remove anything from the scene or seem at all out of character. The music, composed by Kiyoshi Yoshida, and theme composed and sung by Hanako Oku, fit the film perfectly so that even if listened to out of context, they flood your mind with memories of the story.
The animation style is perfect, and the director himself explains in the commentary that they wanted a clean, crisp animation. The characters don't even cast shadows the vast majority of the time, but this doesn't mean that the characters aren't realistic. The animators pay attention to some very intricate movements, especially during running scenes as the characters hands move just how a person's do, rather than simply using a typically animated running style like a lot of anime does; not to mention the high level of individuality in even the background characters. It's this attention to detail that makes the film so special, and the characters really come to life.
The extra features are very much worth watching, especially the commentary. The Behind the Scenes is interesting, and getting to see the faces behind the voices at the Premier Event, and hear them talk a little about their experiences during the making of the film was great.
It's hard to fault this film, the only downside really being that some things are left unexplained such as the Aunt. However, I hope that these things are explained in the novel, or in the others mediums the novel was adapted to. If not, then we will simply never know, and maybe that is the point.
It's amazing to think that this film didn't do well at the box office, but it's not surprising that it has since received many awards and a great reception from film festivals. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time won the Gertie Award for the best animated feature film, Animation Grand Award and "Animation of the Year" at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, amongst others. If you haven't seen it yet, then get hold of a copy to experience how great this film is for yourself.