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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Bandai // PG-13 // November 18, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted December 21, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Back in 2006 Madhouse and Kadokawa Pictures joined efforts to create an updated version of Yasutaka Tsutsui's original novel from 1965. The film became one of several incarnations of the story that have made waves in Japan. Over the decades there have been many versions of the movie, but to my knowledge none of them have really made their way to the States, at least not that I've seen. If you're anything like me then Bandai's release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will feel very original.

The movie begins quite plainly with a high school girl named Makoto Konno playing baseball with her two best friends, Chiaki and Kosuke. From here we are introduced to her life and the state of things such as they are. Makoto lives with her mother, father, and sister, she attends school, though she's not particularly adept at studying, and all around she's about as regular as a person can get. There's very little about her that's extraordinary, but that's about to change.

One day while doing some tasks for a teacher she is charged with bringing a stack of papers to a room in the science lab. She's startled by a mysterious stranger and winds up falling onto a small item that looks like a walnut. Once contact was made she had strange visions and woke up a moment later only to have books that were tossed into the air fall on her face. Needless to say it was a startling incident, but it wasn't nearly as startling as getting hit by a train.

On her way home the breaks on her bike gave out and at the same point the local train was passing by. After speeding down a hill she was unable to stop and hit the rail which flipped her over in the air in front of the oncoming locomotive. Time seemed to slow down and she had the opportunity to reflect on the days events prior to becoming a pancake. Imagine her surprise when she opened her eyes and it was earlier that same day. She had somehow leapt through time and it was the first step on a very interesting journey, but more importantly she was given a new lease on life and she wasn't about to let that go to waste.

With her newfound ability Makoto experiments with the extent of what she can do. She goes backwards to correct several mistakes made throughout the day or even just moments before. On a test she failed before she scores perfectly, rather than making an embarrassment out of herself in cooking class she trades places with someone else, and she even goes back in time to prevent her sister from eating her pudding. To say that she squanders her powers on petty things would be an understatement, but imagine what would happen if you gave a 16 year old the power to travel through time. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time explores this all perfectly and you really get to see Makoto transform throughout the film.

At some point during the picture we are introduced to Makoto's aunt who accepts the girl's abilities as a matter of fact. She speaks through experience and tells the girl that her powers have the potential to affect others around her. This gets proven more and more as the kid who she swapped with in cooking class gets the short end of the stick, others get hurt around her, and even lives are put in harms way. The gravity of Makoto's actions slowly begins to sink in and the evolution of her character is quite fascinating.

As interesting as Makoto's maturing is, it's the realization of her feelings for a friend of hers that really sinks in. During the course of the movie the romance bomb is dropped on her lap and she repeatedly uses her time powers to escape it. Gradually through her evolution she begins to change and ultimately it may prove to be too late. The movie leaves itself open for several possible endings, but the path it chooses doesn't quite jive with the rest of the film. It feels slapped together at the end and it will probably leave you scratching your head with unanswered questions.

Despite my mixed feelings about some parts of the ending, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time as a whole is an incredible film. It may leave a slight, unsatisfied feeling, but there's plenty of room for interpretation. The bottom line here is that the movie features a fascinating story about love, learning, and the life of one girl who gained the ability to jump through time. It's not a perfect movie, but I was glued to the set right up to the finale. Consider it highly recommended though don't expect it to be a perfect and complete experience.

The DVD:

Video:

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is presented on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The movie looks very good with crisp animation, beautiful designs, and a vibrant color palette. As far as the technical aspects of the film are concerned the DVD holds up very well with a strong image that contains very few flaws. The picture is crystal clear for the most part and the transfer doesn't contain any compression or aliasing of any kind. The only blemishes I spotted were some interlacing and light grain in parts, but considering this movie is so bright those moments were fleeting at best.

Audio:

Both the English and Japanese language dubs for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time perform admirably. The voice actors for both tracks capture the emotion and dialogue from the script spot-on. After listening to both my personal preference lead me to enjoy the Japanese dub more, but the English cast was great as well. The sound quality is solid as well with 5.1 tracks for both languages that maintain a nice presence on every channel. Considering this is a dialogue driven program it's not surprising that the use of the rear channels is rather limited, but there's some ambient noise and effects that provide some sense of immersion. All around it's a good audio track though it doesn't quite leave the impression that the video transfer does.

Extras:

Considering this film is based on a celebrated story in Japan it's not very surprising that Bandai's DVD is packaged decently with extras. Trailers for other Bandai products are available as well as a promo clip, music video, and video from a premiere event in Tokyo. The most interesting feature is the audio commentary with Director Mamoru Hosada and the original Japanese voice cast. The commentary track is interesting and much more insightful than we typically get from an English commentary for anime. I found it refreshing and it was definitely worthwhile to sit through.

Final Thoughts:

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a fantastic movie that should be seen by anyone who loves anime. It's not a perfect piece, what with its somewhat flawed ending, but it's definitely worth the trip and it's a heck of a lot of fun. This was one of the most refreshing anime films I have seen in a very long time and it definitely leaves an impression. I found myself thinking about the movie well after the credits rolled and in the end, even though I feel a little uneasy about the way it wrapped up, I'm going to highly recommend it.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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