The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
After one day discovering that she has the special ability to "leap" back in time, a high-school girl named Makoto Konno decides to use her newfound powers for trivial purposes such as getting to school early, eating pudding and singing in a karaoke rental for prolonged hours.
In what arguably sounds like the most humdrum plot ever conceived, it's almost surprising that Mamoru Hosoda's first directorial venture with Madhouse turned out to be the real winner that it is; in what seems to be the first of two successful anime film-adaptations of original stories written by Yasutaka Tsutsui this year (2007 in the US), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time demonstrates that creativity can make even the most primordial of storytelling devices (in this case, the quagmire of contradiction and convenience that is time-travel) relevant, intelligible and a whole lot of fun.
What sets this sexy piece of Madhouse meat apart from other shows that may have dabbled in the playground of time and space manipulation is probably director Hosoda's focus and creativity to make the re-interpretation
This lovable charm that the movie is endowed with is ultimately complemented by Hosoda's razor-sharp execution and Madhouse's ability to put together a visually powerful production. While, admittedly, this isn't Madhouse's best-looking theatrical feature (especially considering that this is the same studio that helms both Yoshiaki Kawajiri AND Satoshi Kon's work, not to mention Rintaro's absolutely dazzling rendition of the world of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis), the incredibly competent adaptations of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's earthly character designs and the ultra-smooth animation, combined with Madhouse's almost immaculate understanding of space, weight and gravity, is pretty much more than enough to carry this heart-warming tale of youth, discovery and love into the upper-echelons of awesome-ness; alongside Masayuki Kojima's 74-episode TV-anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa's historical mystery epic, Monster, this is quite possibly one of the single best things I've ever seen come out of the studio in terms of overall quality (actually, I'm pretty sure that I was the first person to openly applaud in the theatre upon the rolling of the end credits). The movie's music is low-key and simple, helping set up that whole "slice of life" feeling. But, during a key point in the movie, one particular composition was able to effectively express desperation in the most emotionally charged way possible, adding poignancy to the scene's dramatic outcome. And the movie's main theme, "Garnet," was also a standout in that it helped carry my feelings at the end of the movie through to the end of the credits; I was going to cry, but since I was in public, I decided to suck it up given that it would be unmanly of me to do so; it wasn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, if anything. But, overall, from a production standpoint, this one is just about as solid as British Steel (and no...I know nothing of either Judas Priest or the large British steel producer under the Labor Party government in the 70s...I simply ran out of nifty references to cite). In fact, Mamoru Hosoda's take on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is actually a lot like a remarkable amalgamation between Satoshi Kon's frantic unpredictability and Takuya Sato's realistically subdued playfulness and eye for cute (which is on full display in Geneon USA's 2006 release of the super-excellent anime version of Barasui's ultra-cute endeavor into the compellingly mundane, Strawberry Marshmallow); think Tokyo Godfathers, minus the homeless people, but with cute characters and random spastic moments of time-travel (that usually results in Makoto tumbling around the place in the most amusing of ways). If that somehow made any semblance of sense, then you'll probably have, to the very least, a vague understanding at what I'm getting at in regards to Hosoda's style.
One effective message that came across clearly in the movie thanks to Hosoda's astute insight as a director is that, in life, no matter how big or small, we experience many regrets. And, thinking about today's regrets, and the dozens of other regrets I've experienced up to the present, regardless of scale, I imagine that it would be pretty convenient to have Makoto's time-leaping abilities if I ever wanted to go back and re-do something to my liking. But, as the movie demonstrates later on, even if there was some kind of trick that would help us alleviate the burden of "regret," the feelings we had and experienced during these moments were real and will stay with us anyway. And even if some problems were fixed temporarily, who's to say that we'd be satisfied with its long-term outcome? This concept of "living life in the present" is something that just coherently flows in one definitive direction despite the fact that Makoto goes back and forth in time repeatedly throughout the movie.
Mamoru Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has left me with simultaneous feelings of bliss, melancholy and hope (and the desire to look for friends and play baseball); it's as if the experience of the spring of youth was so neatly bundled into one amazingly imaginative package, complete with the gift-wrapping that they give you over at Macy's. In what I sincerely wish to be the beginning of a steady and long-term relationship between Hosoda and legendary studio Madhouse, regardless of any amount of uncertainty the future might hold, the present holds true: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a modern-day anime masterpiece.
There really isn't any good reason I can think of to deduct a star. If you're into good filmmaking, watch this. If you enjoy having fun, watch this. If you want to walk away with one of the most memorable experiences ever, then there's really only one thing you need to do. — Dominic Laeno
Recommended Audience: With only one real potentially problematic joke, which will probably fly past the kids anyway, this movie is about as clean as can be. If your kid is old enough to read subtitles, then there's no real reason why they shouldn't be allowed to go and see this.
Version(s) Viewed: Theatrical screening
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time © 2006 Kadokawa Films / Yasutaka Tsutsui
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