In 2010 pharmaceutical researcher Kazuko Yoshiyama (Narumi Yasuda) is injured in a car accident. Her daughter Akari (Riisa Naka) uses Kazuko s newly completed time-travel potion to leap back in search of a mystery man from her mother's past... but misjudges the date and arrives two years late, in the year 1974. There, she enlists the help of reluctant student filmmaker Ryota (Akiyoshi Nakao), in a race against time to find a man that nobody remembers.
The Time Traveller - The Girl who Leapt Through Time is the 2010 movie inspired by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time novel. It forms a sequel to the original story but has a different timeline from the anime version. Like the anime version, the story is pretty much a standalone affair. It makes sense by itself, but those who have read the original book or seen one of the other adaptations will get a bit of extra benefit.
The story starts in current day Japan where Akari Yoshiyama played by Riisa Naka (who voiced Makoto in the recent anime adaptation), graduates high school. Her mother, the original girl who leapt through time from the book, is working as a pharmaceutical researcher playing with some sort of potion. Her mother is sent a mysterious picture of herself as a child with a boy in her class and is then hit by car.
In hospital Akari's mother insists that she has to meet a friend, but bedridden she is unable to do so, so Akari promises to go instead. Her mother then explains she has to travel back in time to 1972 to the science lab. Akari get's it wrong and ends up in 1974 and the search for the boy in the picture with her mother begins.
It's by this point you realise that the pacing of this move is a bit off. The whole film seemed to drag on a bit. With a few tweaks they could have easily have shaved a full 30 minutes of the film and made it more enjoyable without any loss in storytelling.
The film appears to be shot entirely on digital, with everything clear and crisp, it looks great on DVD, the transfer is perfect. The transfer is so crisp there were moments when we forgot we were watching a DVD and it could have easily been mistaken for a Blu-ray.
The acting is good, and as the story progresses you'll warm to the characters and be gripped at the decisive scene. After a while you begin to notice that the film is a bit low budget. It feels more like a TV movie. There's a bit of CGI when Akari leaps, but no fancy cinematography throughout the film, it doesn't have a blockbuster look and feel.
Overall, this film is OK, but it's too long. The film has that melancholy feel that the Japanese do so well. There's no violence, no sex, just romance, and longing. It's bittersweet in its own way.
Manga Entertainment should be commended for releasing this movie in the UK, as it adds a nice bit of variety to their catalogue. I do hope the release more live action titles, and I do feel a bit guilty speaking badly about this film. (Speaking of live action, why won't anyone release the Train Man TV series on DVD in English?)
I'm a big fan of the anime version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, having bought it on both DVD, then later on Blu-ray. If you liked the anime version, you won't be missing much by skipping this live action adaptation. In fact if do watch the film, you'll be tempted to travel back in time and tell your past self not to bother watching it. Your time would be better spent watching the anime version again. If you haven't seen the anime version yet, go out and get it!
If I was to write this review in a 140 characters or less I'd say that this film is "Good, but not great".