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Endearing, charming, and sweet, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a good film the whole family can enjoy.

 

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is the sixth film in the list of anime films you should watch. It is a sweet, day in the life story following a high school student that is a good watch for the whole family.

Mokoto Kanno is a high school student living like most any teenage girl. She sleeps in, is unprepared for pop quizzes, and hangs out with her two best friends, Chiaki and Kousuke. Both are males. Chiaki has red hair and is a bit of a hot head with a big heart. Kousuke is an all-rounder, good at school and at sports. They all can usually be found at the local baseball diamond during their free time playing baseball.

Mokoto is, to put it bluntly, a clod. The day we follow Mokoto we see her drop an alarm clock on her head after sleeping in, set her wok on fire in life skills class, and falling down onto a walnut shaped item while carrying a bunch of journals. Then, she forgot her breaks on her bike didn’t work while going down a hill. The train crossing gates go down for two trains about to cross. Mokoto hits the gates, flies through the air and… is laying on top of a person up the hill 30 seconds earlier. As the title tells us, Mokoto leapt back through time.

Mokoto doesn’t know how this happened. She rides to the Tokyo National Museum to see her aunt Kazuko who is an art restorer. Kazuko mentions that Mokoto appears to have the power to time-leap and encourages her to learn how to use it. Mokoto eventually learns to control this power and uses it for petty things, such as getting good grades, getting to school on time, preventing certain conversations from happening, extending a karaoke session, and avoiding embarrassing situations. After many of these time leaps, Mokoto recognizes there is a tattoo on her arm, with numbers that count down after every time leap. With only one left, the decisions to use the time leaping ability for unimportant events has severe consequences for her and her best friends.

Warning: some science stuff coming. This film, while not explicitly stating so, explores what is known as the butterfly effect. This is the theory that sensitive dependence of initial conditions within a non-linear system, in which a small change in one initial state can result in great changes within the system at a later state. In pop culture this is usually simplified to “a butterfly flaps its wings and a hurricane forms a week later.” As Kazuko asks Mokoto, “Do you ever think that someone may be suffering from your good fortune?” And that is how the film unfolds. It explores all the little changes that occur, for better and worse, when Mokoto time-leaps. The magic of it is that it does so organically. The exploration never feels forced. All the changes happen naturally within the story. Nothing feels contrived to point out these changes.

The animation is outstanding. In many ways it feels like a Studio Ghibli film, even though the art direction is different. There is a charm to how the characters are drawn. Mokoto is expressive, whether it is hysterically laughing or crying. There is a sense of inviting space around her, an openness to the world. Chiaki is somewhat mysterious, rough, yet has an earnestness to how he’s animated. His red hair appears to be hiding his face, as if there was something to hide. Kousuke is physically an athlete, yet has a warmth and approachability in his animation. Beyond the character design, the atmosphere is beautifully captured. Towering clouds and a hazy warmth to the colors perfectly capture the beginning of summer and the end to the school year. School rooms look like the end of the school year. It’s difficult to describe, but think back to those warm late May/early June days in high school. The classroom had a certain look, whether it was the changing of the angle of the sun, or just the wear from a year’s worth of kids moving in and out daily. It’s perfectly captured, which is frankly amazing.

The strength of this movie lies in its earnestness and endearing qualities. Initially I was skeptical of the film. But as the movie went on, the more and more I came to like it. The characters are real and honest, meaning they are believable and true to themselves. They don’t do things that are out of the ordinary or have a sudden character shift that doesn’t make any sense other than to move the plot along. They are high school kids, and as such they worry about things like what they are going to do after high school is done and who wants to go out with who.

As far as criticisms, there really aren’t many. It’s a charming movie, but some may say that it could be saccharine sweet at times. The only other thing that could get annoying is that the movie deals with teenagers. Teenagers are still learning and developing, which sometimes means they make choices that make grown-ups scratch their heads. There are a few instances where one may find themselves (figuratively) yelling at the screen because of how Mokoto handles certain situations, saying things like “Just say (enter word here) and it fixes everything!”

In the end, what we have here is an endearing day in the life type of movie. It’s animated excellently. But the real draw is the strength of the characters and the realness of them. They are easily relatable. Because of this, I think this is a great film to watch with the family.

 

Directed By: Mamoru Hosoda

Produced By: Takashi Watanabe, Yuichiro Saito

Written By: Satoko Okudera

Voice Actors: Mokoto Kanno: Riisa Naka (Jp), Emily Hirst (En)

Chiaki Mamiya: Takuya Ishida (Jp), Andrew Francis (En)

Kousuke Tsuda: Mitsutaka Itakura (Jp), Alex Sahara (En)

Kasuko Yoshiyama: Sachie Hara (Jp), Saffron Henderson (En)

Distributor: Kadokawa Herald Pictures

Release Date: July 15, 2006

Run Time: 98 min

Rating: Not Rated

Score: 92

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