Directed by now iconic director, Mamoru Hosoda and animaed by Madhouse, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time follows the life of Makoto Konno, a seemingly ordinary teenage highschool girl that enjoys playing baseball with her friends, lives at home with her parents and younger sister and runs into her own fair share of bad luck.
During a day where it seems everything is going wrong, Makoto slips and falls on what looks like a magical walnut. That afternoon the brakes on Makoto’s bike fail resulting in her being hit by an oncoming train. Although at the point of impact, she finds herself thrust back in time to before the accident and discovers that she has the ability to leap through time.
As just about any teenager that just discovered they can turn back time Makoto begins to abuse the ability. Using it to not be late for school, passing class tests she’d previously failed and going back in time to eat the last pudding cup in the fridge before her sister could get to it. All while failing to realise that her carefree messing with time, like in many time travel stories is causing a butterfly effect resulting in negative effects for other people in her life.
Every time Makoto escapes her fate it causes that same problem or subset of problems to occur to a friend of hers. Makoto also realises via a tattoo on her arm that her time travelling powers aren’t limitless. With every time leap, the number on her arm goes down, eventually to zero making her regret wasting her time leaps on frivolous things when she now needs to reverse a massive problem but is unable to.
The film has a great twist towards the end that I didn’t see coming and really changed the direction of the story in a brilliant way. Making me want to rewatch the film again to see if I could spot anything I may have missed or hidden meanings in the script I didn’t catch the first time through. The overall ending of the film is quite ambiguous. It will definitely leave some viewers questioning what the outcome for many of the characters turned out to be. While I don’t mind ambiguous endings in movies I found the ending here left a few too many questions unanswered or details not fleshed out by the conclusion. Perhaps on repeat viewings things may become a bit clearer.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is animated by famed animation studio Madhouse (Death Note) with character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and for the most part it looks absolutely stunning. The character movements are realistic and the crisp visuals on the bluray look better than some films of more recent years despite being made back in 2006. You may spot that some of the less prominent background characters in scenes are drawn in a very minimalistic way, sometimes without faces at all. This doesn’t really hurt the overall film but with these big name anime films getting ever increasing budgets it’s sad to see they weren’t touched up for the home releases.
On the back of that, the background environment visuals in the film are anything but minimalistic. They are works of art of their own. Packed full of detail and their overall light warming colour palette further emphasises the lighthearted feeling of the film. Similar to what you would see in a studio Ghibli film. If you pick up the Mamoru Hosoda Collected Works set you will find some postcards featuring the background art from some scenes inside the box too.
The film handles sound in an effective manner. Many of the scenes are backed by a tranquil piano score that compliments the light-hearted nature of the film. It also cleverly uses silence in certain scenes to help convey other emotions or feelings of the characters, such as having scenes with no score only the chirp of cicada’s in summer, inner monologues and a scene of Makoto running where only her frantic panting is heard. Unfortunately The Girl Who Leapt Through Time doesn’t really have any notable music theme pieces besides the closing credit theme which is fitting to the film but nothing spectacular.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a great slice of life film that contains a realistic depiction of what most teenagers would do if they discovered they could leap through time and reverse bad decisions made in their lives. The characters are relatable and well written, the animation and character designs (for the most part) are crisp and handled with a high level of quality. All combined with a great script packed with both drama and laugh out loud moments. The story contains an effective twist that I didn’t see coming but does have an ambiguous ending that may not feel satisfying to some viewers that would prefer to know a more definitive outcome for the characters.
It’s easy to see why Mamoru Hosoda is now known as one of the key honored anime film directors after kicking off his directorial portfolio with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. While not the first film he directed, it is the one that pushed him into the spotlight he occupies today. Stay tuned to the site for more reviews coming soon from the Mamoru Hosoda Collected Works.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was reviewed as part of the Mamoru Hosoda Collected Works. A review copy of the Collected Works was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.
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