Quick Hit: Great idea, not as good execution.
Anime film of the week!
Watching Mamoru Hosoda’s filmography in reverse has been pretty interesting. My grades are steadily getting lower, which shows that throughout his career he has grown. It’s powerful growth too – the themes are still there in his early work, but the execution to pull all the themes together lacks a bit. His first stand-out film is about one of my favorite subjects, time travel!
The plot of the story is pretty much in the title. A young girl, Makoto, is having a really tough day. She failed a quiz/test, her sister ate her pudding cup, and she almost gets nailed by a train. However, she discovers that she has the ability to time travel – but it’s almost limited to that day, and she literally has to leap in order to accomplish this. This leads to a Groundhog Day-esque plot that is essentially what you would expect – humans are selfish creatures, and instead of attempting huge changes first, will use time travel to accomplish boring things that make their life easier – much like Butterfly Effect.
In fact, this movie is a great companion to The Butterfly Effect, because it details the fact that small changes can have extremely large ripples within your life. The idea behind this is what makes the movie worth watching, even if the film dives deeply into the melodrama that makes some anime tough to watch.
That’s my biggest complaint with TGWLTT. I understand that we have a young girl as the main character, but we end up with a Twilight-esque situation, where we have two guys that both hang out with her, and she feels comfortable with both of them, and then etc, etc. You know the plot. There’s also the stereotypical anime emotional outbursts, where instead of just allowing the story to be told, our character literally has to shrink to their knees and wail. I could have probably done without those a few times.
Where the story lacks, the animation makes up for it a bit. The motion of the characters is pure and is felt. It only stumbles a bit during the scenes where they are playing baseball. Most of the time, Makoto’s motion is captured effectively, which is good because the time travel literally is based on her motion. This allows for some really beautiful shots of Makoto outlined against the sky, reminding me of many action movies and shows that use this to full effect.
My absolute favorite part of the movie was the score. I recognized quite a few sounds throughout the background of the film, like Bach’s Variations. It played really well with the mood of the film, which alternates between playful and serious quite often. It’s not often that you see anime use classical music to this effect, and so I wanted to make sure I highlighted it as part of the review.
All in all, I didn’t love the film like I thought I might. It feels not quite cooked, particularly when it comes to the relationships between characters. This may be because Makoto spends so much time reliving the same day, but I can’t let that go, because Groundhog Day is a masterpiece and accomplishes that flawlessly. So I’m going to give a slightly harsh “C+” to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"