The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The girl 4High school girl Makoto Konna, after an accident in her school chemistry lab, discovers that she has the special ability to leap through time. After discovering such a phenomenon, Makoto decides to use her new powers on really important things – such as getting to school on time and being able to sing karaoke for prolonged periods of time. It’s not soon after, however, that she begins to see that even her innocuous actions can have terrible consequences. As it often tends to be, changing the past is not as simple as it seems. Eventually, Mokoto finds that she has to rely on her time leaps to help shape the future for herself and her friends.

It seems like nothing new to the retinue: high schooler discovers that she has magical powers, doesn’t use them properly, realises her choices have consequences, causes lots of trouble and tries, with their youthful innocence, to put everything back together. Surprisingly, this film turned out to be a real winner for me. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an excellent example of how a bit of creativity can put a whole new spin on a familiar concept (such as, for example, the vicious cycle of contradiction and convenience that is time travel).

TheGirl2What sets this Madhouse production apart from your regular film about time travel and manipulation is director Hosoda’s focus and creativity. He has an ability to re-interpret the trivial everyday tasks as something entertaining, using Makoto’s innocence as the main driving factor for her time leaps. Makoto using her powers just so she can revel in the glorious satisfaction of eating pudding before her little sister as well as making sure that (for once) she makes it to school on time is pulled off perfectly. It makes you want to share in the delight rather than thinking “Is that what she’s using it for? What a waste”. It’s an angle that he uses with quite a few characters in this film that makes the seriousness of altering the time line all the more impactive when the truth finally dawns on our heroine.

TheGirl1The loveable charm of this film is not the only thing to admire. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is visually powerful and executed perfectly. However, it’s got a lot of competition here as Madhouse has some simply incredible theatrical features to compare it to, with works by Satoshi Kon and Yoshiaki Kawajiri. And let’s not forget Rintaro’s fantastic take on Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (I must do a review on this one day).

The music used is subtle and simplistic, which only supports the ‘slice of life’ theme carried throughout the feature. The movie’s main theme “Garnet” was one that really stood out amidst the rest for me. Slow and steady, but really worked in emotionally charging certain scenes. I had to look it up immediately afterwards.

One of this film’s biggest themes is regret, no matter if they are big or small, and the lengths that we would go to fix them if only we could. It shows how time-travel can be convenient (and amusing), but that it is still a double-edged sword, because even if it was possible to go back and change things that happened, it wouldn’t change the feelings we experienced. As Makoto begins to realise the long-term effects of her time-jumping, so does the viewer come to realise that the people she thought she was helping she was actually harming. Despite being a film about time-travel, it makes you consider the benefits of living in the present.

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time really had a ‘springtime of youth’ feel about it, but never went overboard into that dangerous cliche. It was an imaginative story, one of both hope and melancholy. It had a sense of modernness about it, which is something I really appreciated after being on a concentrated diet of Studio Ghibli for a while. I hope to watch more Madhouse productions, because I’m sure I will continue to be impressed by them.