When a strange incident leaves 17-year-old Makoto Konno with ability to ‘leap’ backwards through time, she does exactly what most people would do- uses her ability for her own personal gain. Nonetheless, as fun as it is to avoid mishaps, pick up extra pocket money and improve her grades, it gradually becomes clear that messing around with time has its consequences, and that trying to change one thing for the better can make something else far worse.
By the time I got around to watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, it seemed to be one of those films that practically everyone had seen and written about long ago. Nonetheless, having finally sat down to see the movie, I enjoyed it so much that it felt wrong not to let it pass without at least contributing my thoughts on it.
Throughout the first part of the film, the most refreshing part about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is that, title aside, it isn’t yet another cookie-cutter time travel ‘epic’; gone are the usual clichés of people visiting dull periods in history or trying to save the world- instead, Makoto does what we’d all like to do with this ability. Failed a test? No problem, just memorise the right answers, then go back and ace it. Missed out on the last dessert? Never mind- you can always nip back and poach it from the fridge before someone else does. These are exactly the kind of things that motivate Makoto, and watching her early exploits with leaping is both fun and entertaining.
In time, though, the tone starts to get a bit more serious- after all, when you’re busy improving life for yourself, what effect does it have on other people? Even if you only change little things, after a while they begin to add up- and what makes life better for you may end up causing someone else to suffer. If the first half of the movie was enjoyable for its light-hearted comedy, then the second half rounds it out with this more thoughtful and poignant style, illustrated by the changing relationships between the characters, and rounded off with an interesting twist.
Visually, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time keeps its character designs subdued and simple (but none the less technically accomplished), whilst settings and backgrounds are soft and bright. In still screencaps, the style may look simplistic, but in motion it attains a fluid beauty of its own that complements the mood of the film.
A film that starts light-hearted and builds into something more meaningful, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Time travel may all too often be the subject of worn out plot clichés, but if this movie is anything to go by, there’s life in the concept yet.