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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 7, 2011 by  



Delightful, vibrant and wonderful!  “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is a beautifully animated film that looks and sound wonderful on Blu-ray.  For those who owned the 2008 DVD release, its worth upgrading for the better visuals, audio quality but also for its new additional special features.  Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2006 TOKIKAKE Partners

TITLE: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o Kakeru Shojo)

DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Kadokawa Pictures/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: April 26, 2011

 

Original Story by Yasutaka Tsutsui

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Screenplay by Satoko Okudera

Producers: Takashi Watanabe, Yuichiro Saito

Character Designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Art Direction by Nizo Yamamto

Music by Kiyoshi Yoshida

Anime Production: Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mitsutaka Itakura/Alex Zahara as Kousuke Tsuda

Riisa Naka/Emily Hirst as Makoto Konno

Takuya Ishida/Andrew Francis as Chiaki Mamiya

Ayami Kakiuchi/Kristie Marsden as Yuri Hayakawa

Mitsuki Tanimura/Natalie Walters as Kaho Fujitani

Sachie Hara/Saffron Henderson as Kazuko Yoshiyama

Yuki Sekido/Shannon Chan-Kent as Miyuki Konno

Makoto Konno is having one of those days. After getting up late for school she’s hit with a pop quiz. She started a fire while cooking in her home economics class and then she gets knocked down by some of the guys while they wrestle. How much worse can this day get? While performing an errand for her mother, Makoto loses the brakes on her bike and barrels headlong down the street into an oncoming train. This would have been the capper for a horrible day, but for some reason something strange has happened. Time has suddenly stopped and moved her backward.

With her newly discovered ability to literally leap backwards in time, Makoto finds that tests become a piece of cake, embarrassing situations are corrected and she can have her favorite food anytime she wants. Unfortunately, her care-free time traveling has adverse effects on the people she cares for.

With every successful leap Makoto somehow alters the fate of those around her. This wasn’t supposed to happen! As she races back in time to fix everything, she notices that her abilities are not limitless, but with every successful jump she’s one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret in her young adult life.

The series “Toki o Kakeru Shojo” has been a popular novel series in Japan for over four decades.  Originally written back in 1965 by Yasutaka Tsutsui, the series has spawned several live action films and a Japanese drama series.  As well as a manga series and now an animated film.

The 2006 animated film version of “Toki o Kakeru Shojo”, known in the US as “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is not a direct adaption from the novel but a continuation of the original storyline.  This time taking place 20 years after the original storyline featured in the novel.

Originally released on DVD in the U.S. back in 2008, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” has now been released on Blu-ray in 2011.

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is directed by Mamoru Hosoda (“Alice SOS”, “Digimon Adventure”, “Summer Wars”), a screenplay by Satoko Okudera (“Angel”, “Summer Wars”, “Miyori no Mori”) and music by Koyoshi Yoshida (“Martian Successor Nadesico”, “Shigirui: Death Frenzy”).  Character design is by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (“FLCL”, “Evangelion” films, “.hack” series) and anime production by Madhouse Studios.

In this animated film, the main character is a teenager named Makoto Konno.  Makoto’s life was as a typical high school girl, somewhat of a tomboy and her best friends happen to be two guys: Chiaki Mamiya, a calm, cool guy who happens to like Makoto and Kosuke Tsuda, the level-headed jock who is dedicated to his schoolwork.

The three like to spend time together and one of their past times is to play baseball in the field.

The story picks up one day while Makoto is out delivering books to the lab at school.  While inside a lab and snooping around, after hearing a noise that scares her, Makoto falls and lands on some sort of walnut looking device that whisks her out to the unknown.  She sees herself flowing through time but was it a dream?

Afterschool, while on her bike and surprised of what has taken place, Makoto rides quickly downhill.  Unfortunately, Makoto forgot that her brakes on her bike are malfunctioning and while going downhill on a busy street, she tries to pull on the brakes of her bike and tries to stop her descent from the hill with her shoes but to no avail.  Meanwhile, an oncoming train is coming.

Makoto hits the train guard rail and both she and her bike start floating in the air onto the path of an oncoming train.  Sure enough, she should be killed but somehow, she is able to leap through time and avoid getting killed.  What has just happened?

While visiting her “Auntie Witch”, ala Kazuko Yoshiyama (who is actually the main character of the original anime/manga series “Toki o Kakeru Shojo), Kazuko believes Makoto’s story and talks about how Makoto has experienced a “Time Leap”.

Surprised at first, Makoto wants to see if she can re-enact her special ability.  May it be through running and tripping over things, Makoto discovers that she indeed has a new ability.  By running and leaping, she can go back in time.

Thus, Makoto starts having fun and figuring out the type of things she can do by going back in time.   Flunk a quiz, no problem, she can go back in time and make sure she gets a perfect grade.  What about her favorite pudding being eaten by her sister?  No problem, she can go back in time and eat it before her sister gets her hand on it.  So, eventually Makoto loves going back into time.  But each time she does, she notices a number on her arm.  What does the number represent?

Meanwhile, Makoto starts to notice a change with her friends.  Eventually, she and her friends are getting to an age where guys and girls start to view things differently with each other and Makoto is surprised when her best friend Chiaki asks her to be his girlfriend.

This freaks her out and Makoto not knowing how to respond to his question decides to go back in time (repeatedly) and make sure he is unable to ask the question and tries to change situations by having her friend fall for Makoto and also helping her friend Kosuke have a girlfriend.

But as Makoto’s aunt has warned her, that by changing time, does she realize that she can alter things for other people?   And Makoto comes to learn that things that she has done, for example, switching places with a guy in class during a cooking class in order to advert disaster will cause him to get bullied by the guys in school.  And other situations that she starts to notice.

Meanwhile, Makoto realizes that a number on her arm is constantly being shown and its changing each time she leaps through time.  What can the number be for?

But one day, she notices that the number on her arm may be a counter and that she may have used up the ability to leap through time and now she has one left.  At the same time, she realizes that the bike she rode (and nearly was killed on) was given to another friend and she may have inadvertently changed time and possibly resulting in the death of her good friend.

What will Makoto do?

VIDEO:

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen).  The animation features designs that are helped by the talented character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gunbuster 2, .Hack, etc.) and the beautiful, lush backgrounds courtesy of the art direction by Nizo Yamamoto (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Perfect Blue, etc.).   And with Madhouse Studios responsible for the animation production, you know this film is going to look fantastic!

Watching “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” again on Blu-ray, while the background art was what captured my attention when watching the original DVD, this time around, I was struck by how detailed the background art was.  How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters.  Also, how vibrant colors were, from the blue skies, to the sun going down with the reddish purple haze over the horizon.  It’s one thing to watch this film on DVD but if you really want to experience this film and its beauty, I highly recommend watching the Blu-ray release version of this film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for both Japanese and English lossless soundtracks.  When I first watched the DVD version, I spent most of the time watching it in Japanese because I enjoy the voice acting of Riisa Naka.  But this time around, I wanted to watch this film with its lossless English soundtrack and I was very pleased with the voice acting.  While, I do feel that Riisa Naka can capture the more emotional scenes of Makoto, I do feel that the English voice talent did a wonderful job with the acting.

As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack produced the same results when I was testing scenes, especially during the time travel scenes for the film’s utilization of the surround channels.  “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is able to capture Makoto’s class and the ambiance around the school but where you will notice the majority of the surround channels being utilized is during the time travel scenes.

For the most part, you do get a little immersive audio throughout the film but dialogue and music is crystal clear and I do feel that I noticed the ambiance much more, while watching the Blu-ray this time around!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Girl Who Leap Through Time” contains the following special features on Disc 2:

  • Main Feature with Storyboards – While watching the film, you can see a picture-in-picture of the storyboard for the film.
  • Audio Commentary with Mamoro Hosoda (Director), Riisa Naka (Makoto), Takuya Ishida (Chiaki) ant Mitsuoka Itakura (Kousuke) – The commentary features Mamoru Hosoda (Director), Riisa Naka (Makoto), Takuya Ishida (Chiaki) and Mitsutaka Itakura (Kousuke).  The director would talk about how the three main voice actors were somewhat similar to their animated counterparts.  Naka talked about the re-recording of parts on their fifth and final day of voice over and how she developed as the days went on.  It’s interesting because during the commentary, you would get some pauses and the staff would talk about how they were so drawn into the film while doing the commentary.  Especially towards the end.  Really interesting insight on the final quarter of the film.
  • Audio Commentary with Mamor Hosoda (Director), Toshihiko Ito (Assistant Director) and Hiroyuki Aoyama (Animation Director) – While the cast commentary gives you the cast interaction for the film, this time around, you get more of a technical insight towards the making of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.
  • Direction File (A Talk with the Director Mamoru Hosoda) – (34:28) Kou Furukawa interviews director Mamoru Hosoda on the making of the film.  Hosoda explains his “Do-Po” technique and explains the various scenes and why they were done that way.
  • Behind the Scenes at Premiere Event – (9:41) A look at director Mamoru Hosoda and the cast before the screening and press conference and the anticipation and tense nerves that the director and cast were feeling before meeting with the audience.
  • Premiere Event in Tokyo – (13:46) The premiere event was another great addition to the special features.  The staff and the director presented the film to an audience and talked about working on the film and questions such as “what would they do, if they can go back in time?”  So, it was a fun premiere event and also, it was the first time the staff watched the final film.  So, that was great to see this featurette.
  • Hanako Oku – “Garnet” Music Video – (5:15) A music video featuring singer Hanako Oku.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:45) The original theatrical trailer for “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.
  • Promo Clip – (:32) A brief Japanese promo clip for “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.

A delightful film with a lot of heart and soul, Mamoru Hosoda’s “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is beautiful film that looks and sounds much better on Blu-ray!

What I enjoyed about “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” especially watching it on Blu-ray this time around is how vibrant and detailed the film looks.  I felt myself in awe when I watched the detailed paintings of the background art and how it complimented the characters.  And the fact that the film utilized many scenes to make the film’s pacing and its overall look different.

But part of the efficacy of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” goes to Mamoru Hosoda’s experience and technique and his good eye to capturing those scenes and bringing life to the characters.  And just as important as having the look and feel of the series, finding voice talent was important and while the Japanese voice acting is excellent, I have to give credit to Bandai Entertainment for also casting the right people for the English dub soundtrack.

And as the Blu-ray release meant better picture quality and audio quality over its DVD counterpart, it is important to note that there are more special features on this Blu-ray release than the 2008 DVD.

As for the rating of 13 and up, there are no profanity nor are there anything sex related in this film but it deals with time travel and also high school teenage relationships and emotions that probably will go over the head of children if they watched this film.  There is also one scene featuring Makoto running through the hill and falling and she does get a bit bruised and bloodied.  Nothing too graphic, but I can understand the rating given.

But overall, I do feel that this Blu-ray release is a much more satisfying release than its 2008 DVD counterpart.  The visuals of the film are absolutely beautiful and once again, I found myself more enamored by the painted backgrounds and how it complimented the characters of the film.  I also noticed the audio and crowd ambiance and other sound effects coming from the surround channels this time around.  And as mentioned, it’s so great to see new special features added to this Blu-ray release.

Highly recommended!

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