The 2006 animated film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by filmmaker Mamoru Hosada, was one of the coolest anime experiences around. It was released to limited box office success but gained quite the cult following, so it wasn’t surprising when a live action adaptation was created. Actually, I take that back since the film is more like a live action expansion since it is neither remake nor sequel. In 2010, Akari, the girl who leaps is the daughter of the ‘original’ girl who leapt in 1972.
When her mother Kazuko is left comatose after a car accident, high-schooler Akira Yoshiyama uses her mother’s research into time travel to journey back from 2010 to the 1970’s. Akira believes that if she can bring her mother’s first love back from the past, that he will be able to bring Kazuko back to consciousness and reunite mother and daughter. So naturally, some heart strings will be attempted to be pulled, but it is hard to feel emotional when the film’s special effects are so grungy. Without giving too much away, there is a big reveal in the story that attempts to explain the mystery of Makoto’s time travel abilities.
I try to view this film as a stand-alone (as a quiet and thoughtful Japanese drama) rather then compare it to the anime, because quite frankly, it doesn’t stack up to it. Oh, and the main heroine for this live action is the very same Riisa Naka who was the voice actress of the main protagonist of the 2006 animated film. How cool is that? It is a funny, warm and poignant film, that is great for youth as well as adults. The soundtrack was also very well done as it as it carried the viewer along at a great pace. It fits the mood nicely and makes you appreciate the present day. Sometimes we may inexplicably feel sad but, equally, we may just feel good to be alive and look forward to tomorrow.
The concept of a pseudo-sequel is not original, as it has been tackled many time in the past. But, this was a welcomed addition in a long line of films that I wanted to check out last year. In Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the story still spins around a love story at its core, so if you hate romantic type films, even if you enjoyed the anime, this might not be the film for you. It isn’t all unicorns and daffodils though, as with all time traveling tales comes the decision to return or to stay behind and follow the heart’s desires at risk of damaging the time stream. Like a few reviewers have stated in their reviews, I have no idea where all the negative critic reviews in Singapore come from and in the end, I am glad I watched this film and I recommend to everyone out there who wants to see a fun, heartfelt film.