Usually, when you see time travel feature in a movie it's all about the big things: changing history, creating paradoxes, making Terrible Things happen. Here, it's all about the small things – getting to desert before your sister, getting a second chance on that exam – but the consequences for Makoto Konono turn out to be no less severe…
What They Say
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an animated feature film based on a Japanese novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui.
When 17-year-old Makoto Konno gains the ability to, quite literally, "leap" backwards through time, she immediately sets about improving her grades and preventing personal mishaps. However, she soon realises that changing the past isn't as simple as it seems, and eventually, will have to rely on her new powers to shape the future of herself and her friends.
Manga have given us a good selection of audio options with this release, with both English and Japanese soundtracks coming in 2.0 and 5.1 versions. I listened to the Japanese 5.1 track for this review. The movie is heavy on dialogue, but there's good use made of the available channels by background effects to add depth to the experience. Sound is clean and clear, with no obvious problems.
Video is presented in its original theatrical aspect, and looks the part. Colours are bright and vibrant, backgrounds are detailed, and the whole package simply looks great. Again, there were no obvious problems.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
The main menu is a static screen, with an image of Makoto jumping above the clouds forming the background. Options on the left of the screen provide Play Feature, Scene Selection, Audio Setup and Trailers options. Unfortunately, the menu text is in a Japanese-style top-to-bottom layout, which makes it damn near impossible to read – the eyes keeps tracking left to right and you get confused when it makes no sense. Add to that transitions between each screen that slow down the submenu accesses, and you get a menu setup that's a positive pain to use.
An audio commentary by the director and Japanese voice actors is provided to go along with the main feature.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
When Makoto Konono fell on a strange pendant while sneaking around the science storeroom, she didn't think much of it. Later that day, though, when the brakes on her bicycle failed and she was thrown into the path of a speeding train, it became an important little detail, when her flight through the air became a jump through time, saving her from certain death. Discovering that she now has the ability to literally jump through time, Makoto sets about making good use of her power – by turning matchmaker for her friends, seizing the opportunity to retake her exams when they don't go well, and making sure that she's always at the front of the queue for desert. But as anyone who's ever seen a film about time-travel knows, all those little changes can add up to something far more serious – as Makoto's about to find out…
Makoto's a tomboy, who far prefers hanging out with the boys and playing baseball to doing more girly things. Her best friends are Chiaki Mamiya and potential love-interest Kousuke Tsuda, who often ends up as the sounding-board for her problems. It's Tsuda who also ends up as the "beneficiary" of her jumping – her classmate Yuri is in love with him, and despite her own feelings for Tsuda she uses her ability to help the two get together. A noble motive, tht goes along with some other jumps that have rather less noble intentions. Strangely, when Makoto tells her aunt of her new power, she encourages Makoto to make best use of it, and that's when things begin to go wrong.
But in many ways, the story isn't about the jumping through time – it's about Makoto learning to take responsibility for her actions, and doing what she can to put things right once she realises that she's overstepped the mark. It takes a near disaster before Makoto gets to that point, but get there she does, and there are a few surprises to be revealed about the source of her ability while she tries to correct the flow of time.
It's also a story about relationships, as Makoto has to deal with how she feels for both Chiaki (who isn't as much of a bystander to attempts as he initially seems) and Tsuda and how her jumping subtley changes the bonds between them. It's these more human aspects to the story that are what make it so appealing to watch – the time-travel provides a hook, to draw you into Makoto's life, and then the more human side takes over to become the main event. It's a mix that works well, and the result is a movie that you just want to watch from beginning to end.
If there's a drawback, it's that the movie has a lot of the feel of a slice-of-life anime, with the slow pacing that goes along with that. If you're more of a fan of all-action stories, then this may be a bit too slow for your liking – but that's really the only thing you could hold against the movie.
The idea of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time sounds more science-fiction'y than the movie eventually turns out, but an interesting idea and a solid grounding in real-world relationships give the story an appeal that should reach across genre divides, even with a small pacing handicap. Well worth seeing.
Japanese Language 5.1 & 2.0, English Language 5.1 & 2.0, English Subtitles, Audio commentary
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.