Reviews: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Got A Running Start, Leapt Big, Then Wiped Out
Makoto Kanno is an everyday teenage girl living everyday life with her two friends Kousuke and Chiaki and a run of everyday bad luck, including a faulty bike, bad test scores, a clumsy spill involving a mysterious device, and death by train. But wait, it turns out that device gave her the power to jump backwards through time, luckily enough to avoid getting train-slapped. Now she has the chance to change her bad luck, relive great moments and, unbeknownst to her, learn some harsh and scary lessons about how time is better left alone. For the first couple Acts, we get a feel for Makato, who accomplishes her role of being a engaging main character, her antics and flaws being entertaining yet relatable. An ideal person would use time travel to stop Hitler, but a teenager like Makoto would use it to relive great days over and over. And she does so innocently enough, until her reckless jumps start to take their toll, culminating in a powerful climax in which one of her friends pays with his life. It is here, during a noble leap, that the movie tries to change direction middair, only to come crashing down. The final act, feeling it's already interesting characters and simple-yet-engaging story wasn't enough, tries for a last-minute plot twist involving an underdeveloped secondary character. Unfortuantely, said twist comes with a whole new set of rules, which are not in fact used to explain previous points, but to add unnecessary drama to make its new direction work. And what is the new direction? Why, a tragic romance of course. The movie struggles to make this work, turning a once mutual friendship into a last minute guilt-trip of unreciprocated unrequited feelings. None of which are resolved by movie's end. Because we all know only lame Disney-esque movies end with a sense of closure and resolution. This is an awful thing, because the rest of the movie is pretty darn beautiful. Its art style is soft and inviting, opting for many warm colors and tones, though the animation itself isn't too spectacular. The music set the scenes well, and the voice-acting refrains from hamming it up. I'm proud of the title I chose, because it really summarizes my feelings for this movie. It has a strong take-off, a majestic leap, and a heartbreaking crash n burn. You feel sorry it happened, but you're still asking why it happened at all.
Friends were holding a sleepover at my place. It was anime night. We watched this movie after most of the guests went home early. We totally regretted not watching this earlier. Nothing could top it, and we had to end anime night on that note. The set pieces and character designs are fantastic; the characters reminded me of Japanese woodblock prints against the saturated textures and lighting effects of the background. There is no question about the animation itself: the movement is fluid and the physics are very convincing—and at some points convincing in a way we wish it wouldn't. But it's the composition of the story elements that won me over— the interweaving of personal stories, symbols, and clever timing of the leaps to coincide with specific events rather than jumping to arbitrary points in time makes a movie that fully immerses the viewer and gives a satisfying performance. The sometimes overused theme of "normal kid growing up juxtaposed against incredible happenings" is given a great run with a surprising twist that I doubt anyone in the audience would have guessed, and even the handwave time mechanics are no problem for the viewer's suspense of disbelief. Both voice casts are equally powerful and the acting nearly brought me to tears, even despite some translation kinks like rhymes (though names were handled pretty well in the dub). The emotion, the attitude of the voice, even the crying was spot on. You can relate to all the characters, especially the main character since we've all had to make big decisions in our lives. Most, if not all of us would use the time leap ability to do exactly what the main character did, and if I'm spoiling, it's not because I'm revealing any plot; it's because you all know exactly what will happen, because you all have thought of it before. The music is another thing altogether. It pairs like wine and cheese with the mood of the movie. the vocal solo wells you up. The solo piano tugs your heartstrings. This movie is a triumph of cinema and animation. The MC sold me the DVD so he could buy the special edition. This DVD will be filed right in between Ghibli and FLCL. "If only I had known, we could have planned ahead... this would have been SO much better!" my friend lamented after realizing how many people missed out on such an awesome finish to anime night. The rest of us are likewise.