The Review Which Jumped Over Sharks
by, 3rd March 2013 at 01:39 PM (1429 Views)
While watching One Stormy Night/Arashi no Yoru ni, this film was recommended to me by YouTube. Hey, a free full movie with good quality? Worth a look.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a loose sequel to a novel of the same name. The movie tells the story of Makoto Konno. Makoto's having a real bad day: she wakes up late for school, bombs on a pop quiz, starts a fire in the kitchen, has a boy crash into her, and a bike malfunction causes her to reach an early demise. Or it would, until she wakes up a few minutes earlier, preventing her would-be death.
After explaining the incident to her Aunt Witch, she is told that she leapt through time. Makoto is encouraged to practice leaping through time. Naturally, she uses her powers to wake up early, ace the pop quiz, have another kid accidentally start a fire, and dodge the boy that would crash into her. Other uses of her newfound ability include hooking people up and avoiding awkward situations when her other friend, Chiaki asks her out.
I don't feel like writing out a whole synopsis this time. So I'll just quote Wikipedia this time. But before I do, let me break down some key points that need to be addressed, but aren't in the Wikipedia page.
It's a coming-of-age story where our protagonist goes from a normal but ditz to a girl to a stronger, smarter, and more mature person. Now, I'm a sucker for time travel plots. I've seen a lot of time travel stories before, and many of them have their own ways of standing out. But Makoto has taken a unique spin on the concept through her own actions, personality and growth. I just wish most of her change didn't happen in the last 40 minutes, where the plot reaches its climax. The movie was getting repetitive at this point, so I wish they had a more noticeable buildup.
The issue with many time travel plots is, no matter what changes, you're still reliving through the same or similar events over and over again. We have to sit through Makoto living certain moments several times, to the point where I just got really annoyed. By the end of the movie, I was really just hoping this drag would just hurry up and end.
From left to right:
Ichigo KurosakiChiaki, Girl!Shinji IkariMakoto, and Kosuke
The characters are pretty realistic, and what you would expect real people to be like. Considering this movie wasn't supposed to be 'cartoony,' so to speak, it works. Sort of. Characters often come off as irritating at various levels, and I found myself being annoyed with almost every character in the story at some points.
The strength of the last film I viewed focused more on the characters, and let the story evolve naturally from them. This film is more about the plot than the people, though two characters do play a big role. Naturally, I can't really fault this movie for not having such strong characters and relationships; their development comes from the movement of the story, whereas One Stormy Night moved the story through the development of their lead characters. These are just two different kinds of movies, and both are equally solid ways of telling a story. I just happen to prefer strong characters to a strong plot. For what it's worth, the film does really well with Makoto's relationships with her two friends. Makoto is practically another person by the end of the film.
Makoto's aunt knows about time leaps. She encourages Makoto to perfect time leaps, but says that her work might cause other people to suffer. She later goes on to say that her leaps mean that Makoto is emotionally manipulating people in a way. I guess she was trying to teach her niece a lesson, but Aunt Witch comes off as really inconsistent. She is the protagonist of the novel this film is based on, but you would never know this because the movie doesn't truly explain much. You know how, if you haven't watched the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, and you go see one of its movies? You don't understand a lot of details in the world because those films never really explain what dueling is. If a person didn't know about the original book, they'd be missing quite a bit about the character and story, and not understand a lot of the plot in the process. The film should have given more insight into who Aunt Witch is and what she's all about, because not explaining things hurt the film.
Kosuke's not a particularly compelling character. Aside from being a secondary love interest for Makoto, being a nice, and being a total nerd, he's not that interesting. The only thing that makes him stand out is how he has a passing resemblance to Hank Hill.
The animation is passable, but nothing too memorable. The best asset is in the character designs. They're nothing too extravagant but each character has a certain normal charm to them. These grounded designs fit the tone of the story perfectly. The only design that really stands out is Chiaki's, and that makes sense.
That being said, everything is pretty okay. You've probably seen similar animation styles and quirks in many anime made before and after this movie. Expect a lack of detail and some QUALITY scenes. I don't know what kind of budget they had for the animation, but this film is not as artistically unique or pleasant as the last film I reviewed, which came out a year earlier.
When Makoto travels through time and reaches this otherworldly place, it tweaks the art style a bit. Enough to show how out of place and different this world is, but nothing too memorable or distracting. Madoka did this much better, showing not only a variety of other designs, but more drastic changes to reflect the foreignness witch barriers. If you've seen the Digimon movie, Our War Game or Summer Wars, you've seen this.
Story and Writing: 7/10
Overall, it's good, but I've seen better. Don't get me wrong, it's undeniably good. It's just not anything amazing. With a lot of plot elements being found in later (and some earlier) works, and done much better, it really hurts its memorability. I'm sure it was great in 2006, but it does't really stand the test of time. And that's a good thing: it shows how much shows have improved since then, and maybe this movie had an influence on that.
Do I regret watching it? No. It was a good film with somewhat enjoyable characters and a plot that kept me intrigued (repetitive moments aside.) If you're a fan of science fiction or romance, you should check it out. Doctor Who fans, you might find this movie to be right up your alley.
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