The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an anime film that is a loose sequel to a Japanese novel of the same name. The anime film was released to Japanese theaters in 2006.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Written by: Satoko Okudera
Starring: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura, Ayami Kakiuchi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sachie Hara, Yuki Sekido, and Yoji Matsuda
Run Time: 98 minutes
The focus of the film is on a high school girl named Makoto Konno. She has a tendency to be almost late to school and is also rather clumsy. Her two best friends are both boys: Chiaki Mamiya (a transfer student who doesn’t seem motivated to study and seems to be fixated on baseball) and Kosuke Tsuda (the most responsible of the three friends, and he plans to become a doctor like his father).
One day, Makoto wanders into a science lab after seeing a message written in English on a blackboard, and she ends up inadvertently falling onto a walnut shaped object. After school, as she’s riding her bike to meet up with her aunt, the brakes on the bike fail as she’s going down a hill and heading for a train crossing. Just as she’s about to be hit by an oncoming train, Makoto finds herself transported back in time to when she was riding her bicycle right before the accident.
When Makoto goes to see her aunt and tells her about what happened, her aunt realizes that Makoto has the ability to “time leap,” which allows someone to travel through time. After Makoto realizes she has this ability, she begins using it to do simple things like getting good grades and avoiding mishaps. She uses most of her leaps frivolously to prevent undesirable events from happening, which includes an awkward love confession from Chiaki. She also uses the leaps to fix situations but discovers that the actions that occur because of her time leaps can adversely affect other people. Not only that, Makoto discovers that there’s a tattoo on her arm that indicates she has a limited number of times she can leap.
As a viewer, it was a trip to see how, as Makoto time leaps and changes situations, she also changes the reality for both herself and other people around her. Just as I’d get used to a “new normal” for the characters, Makoto would time leap and change the status quo. There were times I found myself nearly groaning when I would realize what Makoto intended to do as she went to do a time leap, because I could visualize how her efforts could go wrong. And most of the time, I predicted this correctly, and then Makoto would time leap back to the same point and try to do something different, but still wouldn’t get the result that she thought she was going to get.
The film reaches a climax that reveals the truth behind the time leaping and how the walnut shaped object came into our world and what it actually is. Learning the truth behind all of this leads Makoto to realize some things, such as her feelings and the direction she wants to go with her life.
After watching the film, I found that I enjoyed the story and the characters, although I was questioning how Makoto’s aunt would know about time skipping and just casually mention it to Makoto. From doing research, I discovered that the novel that serves as the prequel for The Girl Who Leap Through Time anime film features Makoto’s aunt as the protagonist, and that the aunt had the exact same power in that story. Now knowing this information, it makes that scene, as well as Makoto’s aunt talking about her past near the end of the film, make a lot more sense. Overall, I think this film can be enjoyed without knowledge of the novel, but viewers without that knowledge could potentially question the aunt’s knowledge of and casual attitude toward time skipping.
I also thought that the film did a great job of exploring relationships between the characters, especially how they would evolve as Makoto’s time leaps kept causing events to change. This is an important element of the film, especially when it comes to the climax of the story. Makoto ultimately learns a valuable lesson by the end of the story, which ultimately leads to the character progression she experiences by the end of the film.
When it comes to the animation, I thought it worked for the story that was being told in the film. However, the animation didn’t seem to be quite as strong as what appeared in Wolf Children, the only other Mamoru Hosoda anime film I’ve seen at the time I’m writing this review. Admittedly, there is a six-year gap between The Girl Who Leap Through Time and Wolf Children, so Hosoda’s art style very likely evolved during that time period. But like I stated, though, the simpler style works for this story.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is among the early films that Mamoru Hosoda directed. I thought it was well done for what he was trying to accomplish, and that it serves as a strong foundation for the work he would direct just a few years later. I hope at some point to be able to see more of Hosoda’s work in order to see how the films compare to The Girl Who Leap Through Time and Wolf Children.
If you are a fan of Mamoru Hosoda’s work, or if you enjoy coming of age stories that incorporate science fiction elements, then I think you can find something to appreciate in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
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