This week I have a review of a film by a director who almost got nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s academy awards for “Summer Wars” – Mamoru Hosada’s second-to-most-recent film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”

Cast and Crew

Mitsutaka Itakura as Kousuke Tsuda
Riisa Naka as Makoto Konno
Takuya Ishida as Chiaki Mamiya
Ayami Kakiuchi as Yuri Hayakawa
Mitsuki Tanimura as Kaho Fujitani
Sachie Hara as Kazuko Yoshiyama
Yuki Sekido as Miyuki Konno

Directed by Mamoru Hosada
Written by Satoko Okudera
Adapted from the novel “The Girl Who Dashed Through Time” by Yasutaka Tsutui
Animated by Madhouse

Available from Amazon.com and RightStuf.com

The Premise

Makoto Konno is 17 years old and is more or less an ordinary girl. When she develops the ability to leap through time, she sets about improving her daily life through time travel. However, once she realizes that her time travel experiences affect other people as well, that she will have to work with.

High Points

I don’t know much about the plots of the Back to the Future movies and the recent “Butterfly Effect” film – the films are on my pile of shame. What I do know is that time travel as depicted here is considerably more benign then in those works, in part because it’s also more short-term then in those works. This works in the film’s favor, as it makes the long term repercussions of time travel more subtle than “Your parents didn’t get together” or scenarios – which is in turn something we don’t see often in western science fiction as well.

Low Points

The ending feels a little… off. As “Auntie Witch” says, Makoto is the kind of girl who would rather chase after the boy she likes instead of wait to be chased. Yet at the end of the film she essentially consents to wait for god-knows-how-long to be chased.

Content Notes

There are some bloody bruises and scrapes on some of the characters in certain sequences, and some profanity. However, the violence doesn’t get worse then that, and any nudity is nonexistant.

Scores

Originality: While this is an adaptation (well, semi-sequel, as It’s implied that “Auntie Witch” is the protagonist of the book that the film is based on), it’s a very different take on time travel then ones I’ve seen or heard of before, and definitely one that viewers interested in the mechanics of time travel should definitely check out. 4 out of 6.

Animation: Fantastic. In particular, we get some fantastic scenes with, for example, slow motion water droplets, a clock at a diagonal angle so we can see underneath the hands, and all sorts of other environmental shots that look photo-realistic. This is, to the mundane (Japanese) suburban environment what Hayao Miyazaki’s films are to the fantastical and the rural. 6 out of 6.

Acting: The performances here are wonderful, particularly Riisa Naka’s performance as Makoto (which is particularly notable as this is her first anime voice acting gig). 5 out of 6.

Story: This is one of the best time travel stories I’ve seen. This film, combined with Paprika, which is based on a story by the same author, has completely sold me on the work of Yasutaka Tsutui. Now, if only some of his stories would get translated for a US release. 6 out of 6.

Emotional Response: The film’s characters felt really real, and were really something you could emphasize with. Even Mokoto’s use of her time travel abilities made some real sense as how you would expect a high school student like her to use such powers. 6 out of 6.

Production: This sounds amazing, from sound effects to the film’s very subdued piano score, everything just works. 5 out of 6.

Overall: Some anime critics have lamented the loss of Satoshi Kon as the last up-and-coming anime feature film director. This film should cement Hosada as one of the next big up-and-comers to watch. Even if you aren’t a big anime fan, you should give this movie a try. 6 out of 6.

In Total, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time gets 38 out of 42.