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THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 30, 2008 by  



“A heartwarming and touching animated film that touches on friendship, relationships and most of all, if you had the opportunity to go back in time to change things, what would you do?  Featuring well-done voice acting, beautiful visuals and an awesome storyline, ‘THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME’ is definitely an animated film that is a definite must own!”

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DVD TITLE:  THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (Toki o Kakeru Shōjo)

DURATION: 98 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: NTSC, Region 1, RATING: Suggested 13 and Up

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

Released on November 18, 2008

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

Featuring the following voice talent:

Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura, Ayami Kakiuchi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Yuki Sekido and Sachie Hara

Makoto Konno is having one of those days.  After getting up late for school she’s hit with a pop quiz.  She just 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 carefree time traveling has adverse effects on the people she cares for.  With ever successful leap, Makoto somehow alters the fate of those around her.  This wasn’t supposed to happen and 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 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.

In this animated film, the main character is on Makoto Konno, a girl who somehow gains the ability to travel back in time.

Previous to her receiving this special ability, Makoto’s life was as a typical high school girl, somewhat of a tomboy.  Throughout the course of the film, you see her grow and how she eventually comes to terms with her emotions.

Her best friends are two guys: Chiaki Mamiya, a calm, cool guy who happens to like Makoto and Kosuke Tsuda, the level-headed jock who has many girls that like him but oblivious to it.  The three like to spend time together and one of their past times is to play baseball.

The story picks up one day while Makoto is out delivering books at school.  In one class, she hears a noise and the noise brings her to a lab and while snooping around, after being scared, she falls and lands on some sort of device that whisks her out somewhere.   Makoto can’t believe what just happened.  Was it a dream?

Well, while on her bike and surprised of what has taken place, Makoto rides quickly downhill.  Unfortunately, Makoto forgot that her brakes on her bike is malfunctioning and while going downhill on a busy street, she tries to pull on the brakes of her bike, meanwhile an oncoming train is coming.

Makoto hits the train guard rail but 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 taken back several minutes before the accident.  What has just happened?

Next thing you know through running and tripping, Makoto discovers that she 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.  Changes things in the past and avoids him, meanwhile making sure her classmate who likes Chiaki, making sure those two get together.  All, Makoto wants is for the three to stay as best friends.

Throughout the film, she consults her aunt Kazuko and tells her about her ability to go back in time but her aunt warns her that she could be affecting other situations in their reality.  (An interesting note:  As for the film’s connection to the original novel, Makoto’s aunt Kazuko was actually the main character of the first novel and original series.)

While Makoto keeps jumping back in time, trying to make her two best friends happy and be with other girls, she starts to wonder if she did the right thing.  Also, now that she has seen her best friends happy with another girls, she starts to have second thoughts.

Unfortunately, Makoto realizes that the number on her arm represents a counter and she has exhausted the number of times she can go back in the past.   To make matters worse, her aunt may be right, by continuing to change time, she may be causing more harm, maybe even death to the people she cares about.

So, overall you get an interesting take on time travel and how it affects time.  But also retaining the storyline of friendship and relationships and how young teens start to evolve as they get older and the emotions that they have.  Definitely an interesting twist on time travel but managing to balance it well with a well-told storyline and also beautiful visuals.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The DVD is featured in 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.).  These two names alone will give the animation fan some idea of the quality behind this film.  Beautiful film!

As for the audio, there is English and Japanese 5.1 audio.  I watched the film both in English and Japanese.  First, the Japanese audio was done very well and Riisa Naka as Makoto Konno is just spectacular.  The director kept talking about how lucky they were to have Naka do the voice and I agree.  She brought a pure, warm vocal style to Makoto and for her first job, she did great!  As did everyone on the Japanese staff.

As for the English audio, it was also well done.  A different dynamic of course, having watched the Japanese film first.  But overall, I think those who purchase the DVD will be pleased with the English voice acting on this film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are two versions of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.  There is a limited version and a regular version.  The limited version comes in a box, a soundtrack and has a second disc that has storyboards and a director file.   While the version I am reviewing, the normal version features no soundtrack or box.  But it does feature the following:

  • Audio commentary with director and cast
  • Premiere Event in Tokyo
  • Hanako Oku “Garnet” Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Promo Clip

First of all, it was great to have a commentary with the director and cast and offering some insight on the creation of the film.  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.

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.

The music video for “Garnet” by Hanako Oku is also included.  As well as a quick :30 second promo clip and the trailer are also included.

Overall, “THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME” was a fantastic film.  I watched the film both in Japanese and with the English voice acting and I found that both were done very well.

I was extremely pleased with the art direction of the film.  From the lush backgrounds of trees, to the detail put into the shopping areas in the city, the school and so forth.  You can’t complain when you have a top talent who worked on the Ghibli films working on this film.

As for the storyline, Satoko Okudera was able to come up with a well-done storyline capturing teenage love, discovery of emotions but most of all, the pure heart of Makoto and just how she is able to evolve from this tomboy and eventually a girl who starts to discover her emotions and show her conflicted but overall determined to take action on those emotions.

“THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME” is heartwarming and definitely a nice spin on friendship, relationships and time travel.  Everything comes together for this film from the touching storyline, beautiful artwork and great voice acting.  Definitely an animated film worth having in your DVD collection!

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