06 February 2010

Toki o kakeru shôjo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) -- A Review

Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Starring: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida
Grade: B/B-
viewed in the original Japanese with subtitles

The movie follows high schooler Makoto Konno. She's the typical student, not very smart but not stupid. Every day after school, she hangs out with her friends Chiaki and Kosuke. They play baseball on a daily basis. Nothing seems to be altogether wrong with anything. The day starts with Makoto almost late for school. She goes on to fail a surprise quiz, cause a scene while making tempura, and then forgets to deliver report books to the teacher's lounge. It's when she investigates someone rustling in the next room where she comes across a small walnut-shaped device that gives her the ability to leap through time.

The movie started out pretty strong. We hear Makoto complain about her younger sister. Some girls at school have crushes on Makoto's friends, but she's not bothered by this until later. As the movie progresses, the film seems to lose some of its strength. I was still interested throughout the whole thing, but then there was the Interesting Twist around three quarters into the movie.

I suppose this Interesting Twist is alluded to, but my friend (secret codename Herb) and I agreed that it could have been done better. The Interesting Twist was more of an unwarranted right-hook. And then I thought about it, and then I concluded that the allusions could have been done better.

That's my only qualm about the movie. The animation is beautiful throughout the whole thing, and there were some interesting shots that were very artistic. I liked the effects when she traveled through time --- with the clocks and numbers. Throughout the movie, she refers to her time travel ability as a "Time Leap", an action made literal by the fact that she leaps if she wants to travel through time.

I found it interesting that she doesn't run into her past or future selves while time traveling. But I suppose when you are the one being taken out of time, the entirety of you is taken out as well.

This movie was also riddled with comedic moments. Leaping through a kendo lesson was pretty funny. After a few leaps, she mastered the ability to roll when she lands. So she'll suddenly appear somersaulting on the ground to the surprised faces of Kosuke and Chiaki. Not only that, but her antics in general were really amusing to watch. It was very entertaining in that sense.

Overall, it was a good movie. A nice little anime for those unwilling to watch an entire series. I'm not sure whether to give it a B or a B-. Yes, it's good, but that Interesting Twist is really something that hits you the wrong way. So I'll just ride the fence on this one and come up with a better grading scale. I'll post it when I have it figured out.

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