Don’t get me wrong, I adore watching anime. Yet, somehow, I have a mental block when it comes to sitting myself down and watching an anime film. Not because I think it will be bad, but more so I’m used to sitting down, watching an episode for twenty minutes and then having the opportunity to move on and watch something else if the anime doesn’t suit me. But an anime film is a commitment. Having said that, when I do sit down to watch one, I am almost always pleasantly surprised. This was definitely the case for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of those few time travel movies that just somehow make sense. The anime’s formula is similar to ones seen in all time-travelling films before, so we weren’t burdened by over-complicated explanations of science or history of time travel that we didn’t half-know already. In this world, time travel or “time-leaping” is just a thing that can happen, for reasons and that’s okay because as a result we get such a beautiful film and a whole-hearted story.
I’m a tyrant when it comes to good aesthetics in an anime. If, for whatever reason, I find the art work off-putting, I won’t be motivated to watch an anime. But this film is beautifully animated. Probably because there is a simplicity to the animation that makes the settings somehow enticing and entrancing.
The idea of limited time-leaps is fun and inventive. Particularly the idea that there are only a finite number of the time-leaps and Makoto, our main character, only uses them to better her everyday life. While there isn’t anything overly exciting about the main plot, the story is told in a compelling way that just holds your interest to the very last and makes you keep watching, even if nothing of real interest is happening on-screen.
Now, I don’t have much experience with time-travelling anime. The only other one being Erased, (which I also recommend.) But if I’m being honest, the characters is where I think the story falls short. Purely because none of them are overly interesting, except for perhaps Chiaki. But even his story is hidden for the majority of the film. Chiaki is interesting, if not probably the most confusing character in the film, since it almost seems like he knows about time-leaps all of a sudden. But then we get a stunning revelation that he is from the future, not to solve any complicated issue, to save lives or anything of the sort – but merely to see a painting that is destroyed in his own era.
The rest of the characters are nothing special. Makoto, our main character, does not even do anything much of interest. She receives the ability to time-leap. But only uses it to better her own life in albeit minor ways. It is only when the time-leaps really matter that she has used them all and really puts herself in it. This was a little problematic for me since I found it difficult to connect to the character so I didn’t really feel motivated to see her succeed or fail. This indifference sort of ruined the experience for me.
I do think the idea of the anime was good but it could have been handled far better. It took a fresh take on the stereotypical story of “person can time-travel – person abuses power – person learns a lesson” which keeps you engaged in the story long enough to see it through to the end, and finish the film with a fairly satisfied feeling. However don’t expect to find any ground-breaking story telling to the addition of time-travelling films.
Overall, I did enjoy watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in time-travelling films that have a twist of romance to it that won’t over power the rest of the plot. It won’t blow your mind, if that’s the kind of film you’re expecting. But it’s fun. Honestly, it’s probably the most realistic time travelling film we have. Because honestly – if any of us were to gain time-travelling powers, this would probably be how we would use them! Definitely give The Girl Who Leapt Through Time a try to see what you think for yourself!
Doing a little of this, a little of that. If you see me holding a camera, run!