LKMYNTS: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Based on what is apparently the most-adapted novel in Japan, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time takes a somewhat different approached (or so I’m told), and not just because it’s anime. Makoto is a senior in the Japanese equivalent to high school, has no idea what she wants to do in life, and just plays baseball with her best friends, Chiaki and Kousuke. But during the worst day of her life (that should have actually ended with her death), Makoto discovers that she can travel back in time. Even ignoring the slight guidance given to her by her Auntie Witch, Makoto selfishly uses the ability on insignificant details that, like most time-travel movies, cause incredibly significant alterations. And things only get worse and more awkward when Chiaki decides to ask out Makoto, which she only wants to ignore as if it never happened, starting a rift in their friendship and their lives in general.

When I first read of this movie, and even when I started watching it, I felt it was something like mixing The Butterfly Effect with Groundhog Day. But it turned into something much more. This movie has such a realism to it for being a movie about time travel. Sure, it has the obligatory montage of her trying to make the same situations better time and time again (much like Groundhog Day), but unlike Groundhog Day, and more similar to The Butterfly Effect, even if she thinks she did a good thing in the past, not all good can come from it in the future. And the movie is much more focused on the relationships between the characters (primarily Makoto, Chiaki, and Kousuke) than the time traveling, which was a nice. It hasn’t been since WALL*E (even though this movie technically came out first) that an animated movie made me laugh, tense up in suspense, and nearly cry (sometimes within the same 5-10 minute frame).

Like most anime or foreign films, it’s much better with subtitles instead of dubbing. However, the dub wasn’t completely terrible, either. The English voice actors for Kousuke and especially Chiaki were really well done. But it was Makoto’s voice that was a bit stiff at times and could have been suited by a better actress (especially considering they got a 13 year old to do it, when the character is at least 17 or 18). But in its original Japanese language, it’s fine, though the subtitles have the tendency to move by very fast at times. There were moments where I had to pause or rewind the movie to see all of what was said. But that only happened on occasion.

Besides the story, however, the greatest things about this film were the visuals and the music. To start with the visuals, I’ve read a lot on this movie that say “It’s no Miyazaki” or “It’s just a throwback to a more classic anime style.” I think some of these people have gotten spoiled by Miyazaki’s style to the point where they can’t appreciate anybody else. This movie is beautiful. You can’t compare it to Miyazaki, anyway, as he does more fantasy-type films, while this is a more realistic (with a touch of sci-fi) film. And in a time when the majority of anime have giant robots, brooding themes and characters, endless bloody action, and dark settings, this movie is full of vibrant colors, rich tones, and some breathtaking scenes (such as any of the frozen time moments). And the music just added to it. It’s stunning when the beauty of the music matches up with the beauty of the visuals so well, and this movie perfects it. I could buy this orchestral/classical soundtrack and just listen in awe.

If there were any negatives to the film, it would lie in with the Auntie Witch character. As I said in the opening, they tried to do something a little different this time around (outside of animating it). They made this movie a pseudo-sequel to the book, but from what I’ve read, it’s one of those sequels that’s almost exactly like the original, except with different characters and a new setting. However, apparently, the Auntie Witch character was the main character from the book, who pretty much went through a lot of what Makoto does, so she references the occurances of the book every now and then (there’s a sequence near the beginning where she talks about how it’s normal for girls to time leap because she, too, did it when she was Makoto’s age. This threw me off completely, as I had no idea what that meant until after the movie). So yeah, if you’ve never read the book or don’t know anything about it, her inclusion in the movie is going to be pretty confusing. But another thing with her is that she always seems to know that Makoto can time leap, even if she traveled back in time to before she told her initially. Now, maybe it’s just that Makoto has to keep re-telling her, but they never address the issue in the movie. They also never show resolution with a particular other character whose life goes to crap due to the time alterations (but I think it’s easily assumed what happens because of what Makoto does without having to be shown).

Besides that, there’s only a couple other scenes near the end that only seemed to be there to lengthen the movie (which is only an hour and a half or so). There’s a pointlessly extended ‘running’ scene. There’s also an almost Return of the King-like ending where it just doesn’t feel like it’ll ever stop. But all in all, it was a beautiful film that I really do recommend. If you don’t like reading subtitles, there’s not a whole lot wrong with the dubbing outside of one or two voice actors (in fact, there are actually a couple very slight script alterations that I liked better in English than in Japanese. Otherwise, it’s almost exactly the same as the subtitles). It’s just that one of those voice actors to put up with is the main character. It’s a fun, heartfelt drama that’s mixed with some fun sci-fi (amazingly enough, the explanation for the time leaping doesn’t suck and is actually pretty good). So yeah. Check it out.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

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