A reader of the site left a comment on one of my entries a few months back informing me that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was his favorite anime film ever. I hadn’t seen the film and was very anxious to view a film someone touted as being their favorite. I then learned that it was the winner of “Animation of the Year” at the 30th Annual Japanese Academy Awards. Needless to say, I scooped this film up immediately and gave it a watch. I found the characters to be entirely credible and likable, and the simply drawn figures were highly effective against the lush background artwork.
While riding her bike in town one day, the brakes on her bicycle fail to do their job at the last minute and she gets hit by a train. Much to her awe and confusion, she opens her eyes to find herself a minute before the accident happens, safe and sound. She comes to find out she has the ability to manipulate time. 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.
She quickly finds that the more she tries to make things better, the worse they become and regrets having used her powers. The twist towards the end of the movie really drives the point home for her. The movie’s music is low-key and simple, helping set up that whole “slice of life” feeling. But, during a key point in the movie, one particular composition was able to effectively express desperation in the most emotionally charged way possible, adding poignancy to the scene’s dramatic outcome. If you’re an anime buff, sci-fi geek, or just want something a little unconventional with engaging and interesting concepts, this is a great choice.
I love blood and guts as much as the next guy, but I also love friendly and light-hearted anime and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a wholesome tale. However, while the movie verges toward both science fiction and romance, there’s a darker strain that runs throughout and creates a somber, decidedly adult tone. The movie leaves itself open for several possible endings, but the path it chooses doesn’t quite jive with the rest of the film. It feels slapped together at the end and it will probably leave you scratching your head with unanswered questions. Still, this is a wonderful, engaging film that deserved a slot in my library, as should yours.
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