Movie Review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Spoilers)

By now, it is becoming quite obvious that I am a fan of Mamoru Hosoda’s work, as both “Summer Wars” and “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” are in my list of favorite anime movies of all time. I was originally not going to write about “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, but decided to do so anyway because I’m already on a Mamoru Hosoda viewing spree, and because I also wanted to watch his two other films, 2012’s “Wolf Children” and 2015’s “The Boy and the Beast”. So, yes, you should expect that I will be posting my thoughts about those two films in the near future, although I’ll probably alternate that with Studio Ghibli films, Makoto Shinkai films, and some Satoshi Kon films (“Millenium Actress”, “Paprika”, “Tokyo Godfathers”), and other anime films from other great anime creators and directors.  If you have any other suggestions of whose anime films I should cover, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” was the first film of Mamoru Hosoda’s that I watched, and I think, the fourth anime film that left an impression on me. (The first three were “Paprika”, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away”.) At first, I was intrigued because it had time traveling elements in it, and I’m a big sucker for anything that has time travel in it, but upon watching the film, I began to love it not because of the time traveling aspect, but because of the characters and how realistic the characters dealt with this technology and ability.

Aside from this, the art was gorgeous, the animation was amazing  and still holds up until today, the soundtrack is one that I can listen to over and over again, and the way everything was crafted together was just breathtakingly amazing. It was, in a word, a really good debut film for Mamoru Hosoda. This also informed his later films, in which he improved upon what he could deliver, or at least that’s what I could see comparing this to his second film, “Summer Wars”. (“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” was released in 2006, while “Summer Wars” was released in 2009).

One thing however that was interesting for me, this time around, was that I was re-watching this with the knowledge that this is somewhat of a “loose” sequel to the source material, a novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui, and not only has strong similarities to it, but also features the main female lead from the novel, albeit her role here is more of a supporting one.

The story follows Makoto Konno (Rissa Naka), a high schooler who discovers one day that she has the ability to time travel or leap through time. And, just like any high schooler, Makoto begins to use this ability to her own advantage, until things start becoming interesting, and Makoto suddenly has to make better decisions on how to wisely use her “leaps”. Her aunt, Kazuko Yoshiyama (Sachie Hara), the main character of the Yasutaka Tsutsui novel, becomes somewhat of a mentor to Makoto, as Makoto goes through this journey of self-discovery and learning how to commit and make decisions. The film also stars Takuya Ishida as Chiaki Mamiya, one of Makoto’s best friends; and Mitsutaka Hakura, who plays Makoto’s other best friend, Kousuke Tsuda.

Again, this a film I highly recommend, as it is a beautiful coming of age story that deals with friendship and romance, and just happens to have the element of time travel in it. (Also, word of warning, this film is not just highly entertaining, but it definitely has all the “feels” in it too.)

If you still have any doubts about it, just know that it won the Sitges Film Festival Award for Best Animated Film in 2006, won several Tokyo Anime Awards in 2007, and won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year in 2007.

Now, if you have not seen “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” yet, turn around, go watch it, then come back here to read the rest of my thoughts about this film.

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As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that I loved about the film was the way that the characters used their time travelling abilities was just so realistic and human.

For Makoto’s part, she used it at first for trivial things, and to avoid the possibility of of Kousuke entering into a romantic relationship with someone else, and Chiaki asking her out, and singing karaoke for ten whole hours. However, later on,  as the leaps became fewer, she began to use it to try to help others and fix things for others, until, in a blink of an eye, just when she needed it most, she ran out of leaps, and had to start becoming wise about how she was going to use her last few jumps. The most crucial points for her were definitely the fact that she ran out of leaps to save Kousuke and his potential girlfriend; and that she had to definitely make her very last leap count, which she did.

So, during that very crucial moment in which Makoto ran out of leaps, just as Kousuke and his potential girlfriend, Kaho Fujitama (Mitsuki Tanimura), are about to be hit by the same train that was supposed to hit Makoto at the beginning of the movie, Chiaki, who just moments before that, began to reveal that he knew about her leaps through time, came and stopped time, and revealed himself as a time traveler from the future. The way that they handled that moment was perfect, in my opinion, and the entire sequence from there, until he says goodbye to her and disappears, was amazing.

Chiaki’s reason for coming back in time, for most people, might not have been the best reason ever (he came back in time because he wanted to see the painting that Makoto’s aunt had been restoring as it no longer existed in his era), but for me, it is a very human and realistic one. I mean, if I had the chance, I would definitely go back in time just to catch a glimpse or a story telling performance of Mark Twain (one of my favorite authors of all time). So I definitely can understand where Chiaki is coming from.

It is also interesting how Chiaki is appreciating now everything that isn’t there in the future; and how that parallels with Makoto only realizing and discovering her feelings for Chiaki when he isn’t around her, and especially when he disappears from the present.

I am also glad that they touched upon what happened to Kazuko, and the parallels that Makoto’s story has with hers, especially during the first parts of the film.

Even though I knew that I cried the last time I watched this film, which was years ago, I did not expect to cry as hard as I did when Chiaki disappeared, and during the ending. I also love the fact that even after so many years, this film makes me a sobbing mess, with at one point, being super hopeful that the two would meet again.

I also love the fact that the ending is ambiguous, and even though Chiaki does live in a time seemingly quite far away from Makoto’s time, I do have hope that they found a way to meet up with each other in the future, or at least, Chiaki will be able to enjoy the painting with the added knowledge that Makoto kept her promise to keep it safe for him.

Makoto’s journey is really more of a coming age story, as she ends up finally taking responsibility for her decisions, and allowing change to come, for the better.

Also, even though the main focus wasn’t really about Makoto’s family, it still had a sense of family as Makoto also considered her best friends, and their trio, to be a little family of sorts.

The art here is just wonderful. It captures still life well, and is visually breathtaking when Chiaki stops time. The music and the song that was used in the film was wonderful, and was used well, and added that extra emotional punch that was needed.

Once again, I cannot stress how much I love this film, and that I encourage everyone to try this film out, as it has the entire package, and still holds up, eleven years later.

Favorite Moment/s:

  • The very first time she falls on the device and leaps through time.
  • That moment when her bike starts speeding and then time stands still just as she’s about to be hit by the train.
  • Makoto’s second try when she leapt into a lake.
  • The first time Chiaki tried to ask Makoto out.
  • The moment when Makoto tries to stop the accident from happening and she trips
  • Chiaki revealing himself and that entire sequence until he disappears.
  • The moment when she runs and leaps after discovering she has one leap left
  • Her little date with Chiaki and them talking and saying goodbye to each other.

Favorite Quote/s:

“Time waits for no one.”- Makoto Konno (Riisa Naka)

 

 

 

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