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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time(2006)
What if it was possible to avoid embarrassing situations? Suddenly, Makoto Konno can do this-- and more--when she discovers that she can jump back in time at will. Tests are a piece of cake, and she can have her favorite food anytime; what a great life! But she soon realizes that her little time jaunts are having adverse effects on the people she loves. Each time she races back in time to fix the problems she has created, it brings her one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret in her young life.
For more about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray release, see the The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on April 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Ayami Kakiuchi, Sachie Hara, Mitsutaka Itakuru, Mitsuki Tanimura
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
» See full cast & crew
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray Review
Time traveling has seldom been so sweet.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, April 28, 2011
Occasionally, anime movies cross the Pacific and are embraced by the kind of wider western audience that normally balks at spiky hair, impossibly big doe eyes, and the sometimes seemingly impenetrable mysteries of Japanese culture. I'm thinking of films like Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, Satoshi Kon's Paprika, and practically every Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli production since 1997's Princess Mononoke. Consequently, gaijin at large are slowly beginning to realize that not all anime is about dueling mechs, pocket monsters, and, uh, dragon balls. The varieties are near-endless, and one branch of anime that seems primed for U.S. popularity is shoujo, stories that are generally for and about young girls. A good example is Mamoru Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a lightly romantic soft sci-fi film that follows the chronological misadventures of an average, lovelorn high school girl who discovers she can alter the future by changing the past. Don't feel left out, though, guys. While teenaged females are the target audience, this is by no means a "for girls only" film, as its themes and charming characters have universal appeal.
In most ways, Tokyo teenager Makoto Konno (Riisa Naka) is a typical high school student—prone to sleeping in, more than slightly clumsy, and quick to anger when her kid sister steals the last pudding cup in the fridge. She's having one of those horrible, terrible, no good, very bad days where nothing seems to go right: She starts a fire in her culinary class, fails an early morning pop quiz, and faints in a science room when she picks up a strange object that looks like a walnut. To cap it off, her brakes fail while she's bicycling down a steep hill, causing her to lose control, vault over a railroad-crossing barrier, and get hit by an oncoming train.
At least, that's what seems to have happened. Immediately after the accident, Makoto awakens back at the top of the hill, completely unharmed. Freaked out, she visits her aunt Kazuko (Sachie Hara), a museum art restorer, who matter-of-factly explains that she must've experienced a "time leap." And a leap is precisely what is required. Over the next few days, Makoto discovers how to use her newfound ability, which—for reasons unexplained—is activated whenever she takes a long running jump or pratfalls with the force of a young Buster Keaton. Her power is a novelty at first; she rewinds time so she can sing karaoke songs for ten straight hours, goes back to get a perfect score on her botched test, and even gets to the refrigerator before her sister can abscond with that last coveted pudding cup. As in all stories about time traveling, however, Makoto quickly learns that changing the past can have unexpected consequences.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is actually a kind of loose sequel to Yasutaka Tsutsui's novel Toki o Kakeru Shoujo—literally, "The Girl Who Dashes Through Time"—which has inspired numerous adaptations since its serialized publication in 1967, including a two-volume manga, a TV mini-series, and three live-action feature films. The main character of the novel is a junior high-aged version of Mokoto's aunt Kazuko, which explains why she knows so much about "time leaps" here. The author has since praised the film as a "true second generation" of his book, and it is, extrapolating on the themes that made the novel so popular, but offering up a story that's different enough to warrant its own existence.
Like a three-way cross between Groundhog Day, Run Lola Run, and The Butterfly Effect, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time finds Makoto reliving her past and experimenting with alternate choices, usually to comically tragic effect. Naturally, the subject turns to young love. A bit of a tomboy, Makoto likes to play baseball with two guy friends, red-haired heartthrob Chiaki (Takuya Ishida), a new kid at school, and Kousuke (Mitsutaka Itakura), whose crush on one of Makoto's classmates threatens to disrupt the balance of the triangular friendship. When Makoto, embarrassed, impetuously leaps back in time after Chiaki professes his affection for her, she inadvertently sets off a chain of events that puts Kousuke and his new girlfriend in harm's way. I'll say no more about the plot, except that it veers into smarter sci-fi territory than you might expect, with a surprising traveler from the future, a poignant painting from the distant past, and teen-crush feelings that are trapped achingly in the present. This is tender, "summer love" type stuff, and in Makoto, the film captures the awkward intensity of that first real romance, by turns funny, sweet, and heartrendingly sad.
Director Mamoru Hosoda faithfully recreates the hazy romanticism of July in Japan, complete with cicadas singing in the trees and lazy bicycle rides by the river. The animation style isn't incredibly complex, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. Backgrounds are detailed and evocative, characters are realistically drawn—no grapefruit-sized eyes or incongruously large breasts here—and the film has a bright, appropriately summery palette. The film's technical merits are matched by a terrific cast of voice actors, who bring life and convincing emotion to their roles. If you've understandably never bothered to venture into the often overwhelming world of Japanese animation, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time would make a great "my first anime" title. It's accessible and, more so, universal; you may never have traveled through time or gone to a Japanese high school, but you probably—hopefully—have known the pains of puppy love.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time isn't one of the flashier anime titles available on Blu-ray, but it greatly benefits from the upgrade to high definition, with a 1080p/AVC transfer that's clean, crisp, and free of aliasing, banding, noise, and other encode issues that frequently crop up in animated films. There are a few shots that seem uncharacteristically soft, but for the most part, outlines are clean and show ready improvement over the DVD edition. The source animation is digital, so there are no concerns about excess DNR or print debris, and the image simply looks pristine. Color is also nicely represented, although—and this is just my opinion—the hues could stand to be a bit more saturated. The picture has a very "bright" quality, which is intentional, but a slightly denser palette—with stronger contrast—might've given the image more punch. No worries, though. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a pleasure to watch in high definition, and I don't think Bandai could've done much better.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As expected, Bandai has provided two audio tracks for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time—the original Japanese mix and a surprisingly decent English dub, featuring Emily Hirst as the voice of Makoto. Both arrive in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 form, and the results are excellent. As far as anime goes, this is a fairly low-key title—so you shouldn't expect a sonic bombardment—but the mix does a lot to establish the atmosphere of the film. If you've ever been to Japan during the summer, you'll instantly recognize the repetitive drone of cicadas that's featured heavily here, humming and seething in the rear channels in almost every other scene. Amongst other ambient sounds, wind blows through the surround speakers, crows caw off in the distance, and a train rattles loudly from left to right. What makes the track, though, is Kiyoshi Yoshida's quiet, beautiful piano score, which also includes a few Bach pieces. The music sounds lovely—clear and resonant. Dialogue is also clean and comprehensible, and there are more than a few effectives uses of directional voices, like the scene where Chiaki circles Makoto in a frozen-in-time crowd outside Shibuya station. Optional English subtitles are provided in easy to read lettering.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Besides a collection of trailers for other Bandai releases, there are unfortunately no bonus features whatsoever on the Blu-ray disc itself—I'm not sure why the audio commentaries couldn't have been ported over at least—but you'll find a decent set of supplements on the included DVD. Do note that this isn't the DVD edition of the film; it's a disc devoted solely to bonus features. All of the supplements are in Japanese, with English subtitles.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While not as dense with ideas or jaw-droppingly drawn as some of the bigger budget anime titles to have reached U.S. shores recently, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time deserves to be seen for its bittersweet story and approachable characters. Although it's a minor bummer that have to switch out discs to watch the special features and listen to the commentary tracks, Bandai has done a fine job on this release, with a beautiful high definition presentation and immersive audio. If you're new to anime, this is a great place to start. Recommended!
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