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Review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Writen by sonibug13
Posted on January 18, 2008 at 09:14:27 pm
Review:  The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
By: Sonia Deepak

Overall rating : 5/5 excellent!
Art: 3/5
Story: 5/5
Characters: 4/5

    As a general rule I am not fond of the concept of time travel.  Especially in film and television.  Perhaps itís because Iíve seen enough episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation that when I see a character about to jump back into the past, I want to shout, ďNo!  Donít do it (insert character name here)!  Youíll do something stupid like picking up a penny and end up totally changing the future.  And then youíll have to go back in time to fix it!Ē.  Or they might fall in love with their mother.  Or they may have to pretend to be Christopher Columbus or the like all because they somehow accidentally killed him.  Etc. Etc.   My dislike may be rooted in having watched too many of these films with friends who are physics enthusiasts.  Itís hard to pay attention when someone is throwing popcorn at the screen because the writers obviously have misunderstood the concept of  the  law of relativity.  Either way, time travel is a sci-fi genre that (in my opinion) is generally abused, trite and, to be blunt, kind of old hat.
    Thatís why I was so surprised to find myself thoroughly enjoying Japanese Madhouseís latest animated feature The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.  The story revolves around Makoto, a completely normal high school student on the verge of choosing her major.  She spends most of her free time playing baseball with her two close friends, Chiaki and Kousuke.  Her humdrum life is suddenly spiced up when she (seemingly inexplicably) gains the ability to leap back and forth in time.
    What make this film so appealing is that it doesnít play by the rules of typical time travel flicks.  The inevitable conclusion of such fare is the age old ďMan vs. GodĒ moral.  Yes, yes, we all know.  Time travel is bad.  We shouldnít do it.  Blah Blah BlahÖ
    Thatís why itís so refreshing to see Makotoís reaction to her newly discovered powers.  Instead of attempting to find out her future, or becoming a crime fighter in a sailor outfit, she ends up using it for her own amusement.  Much to the audienceís humor, she proceeds to replay a one hour karaoke session into a ten hour marathon, receives her allowance several times over and aces the pop quiz that surprises everyone else.   I couldnít help but chuckle and admit that is exactly what Iíd do if I were in her place.  Makoto, herself is quite entertaining to watch.  Not quite a genius, not quite an idiot, she is well-meaning and easy to relate to as a young person enjoying her life the way it is and dreading the responsibilities and burdens of growing up. 
    However, as any story must, things start getting complicated.  While I wince at the ďMan vs. FateĒ conflict, it would simply be irresponsible of the storyteller to ignore the implications of Makotoís powers.  There are consequences to her actions and soon she realizes that her time jumps effect not only her, but the people around her.  However, the film skillfully manages to keep the big issues small by keeping the actions in Makotoís circle of friends.  The audience cares too much about the characters to be distracted by the big morals.  Instead these lessons are hinted at, and never directly addressed, which ultimately is more subversive.  I have to give the director credit for not treating the viewer like an idiot, and demanding they pay attention and think to understand whatís happening.  Itís a trait that is becoming harder and harder to find in films in general but the Japanese evidently still have it.
    Despite Makotoís efforts she soon realizes that just because she can leap through time doesnít mean she can stop it for going forward.  She also canít control the fact that people are going to grow and change.   Time waits for no one, and despite her efforts to keep things they way they are, the world keeps turning.  Just when you think things have calmed down and Makoto has handle on things, a huge twist is suddenly dropped (donít worry Iím not going to spoil you).  This development forces Makoto to confront her fear of her future.
    While the film is overall fantastic, I do have a few small grievances (most critics do).  You do have to pay attention to follow the plot, which isnít a bad thing, but there are times when things are coming at you so fast you wish you could leap back in time to see them again.  Some areas and pasts of characters are purposely vague and the audience is left to speculate.  And of course trying to keep track of the logic of events when youíre flying back and forth between timelines can end up giving you a headache.  My recommendation is to not try.  Sit back and enjoy the show.  You can always watch it again if you want to nitpick logistics.
    Ultimately The Girl Who Leapt Through Time succeeds because itís not about so much about leaping through time as it is the girl who actually does it.  Makoto ends up learning a bittersweet lesson, that if she doesnít start living her life, she is going to miss it.  Facing the future is never easy but the potential is infinite.
    I highly recommend this movie to, not only anime buffs, but anyone who likes good films.  It is both unique and universal, tough and riveting, and a rare gem in genre that is too often distracted by mechas, alien villains and ninjas.  Not that there is anything wrong with these things, (I enjoy all three).  But it is nice to see someone pushing the envelope.  Take my word for it, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will make you laugh, cry and in the end, leap back to watch it again.

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