Monday, July 02, 2007

Toki wo kakeru shôjo

I watched an extremely good anime last Tuesday, called the Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It was the number one anime in Japan last year.

I think the title made it obvious what the movie is all about, which was about a girl Makoto who one day discovered she had the ability to leap through time but only to the past. Thus, she was presented with the opportunity to change things which she wasn’t happy about, like retaking an exam which she failed, eating a pudding which was eaten by her sister previously and avoiding the issue when a guy showed romantic interest in her.

The only person who knew about her ability was her aunt, whom she consulted with on what to do and her dilemma of liking her two close friends. Deep down, she preferred Kosuke but she went to match-make him and another girl who has a crush on him.

She has two close friends, whom she plays baseball with everyday, Kousuke and Chiaki.

Someone called Dick Steel has written a review on IMDB which is similar to what I thought:
The movie has light hearted moments, sometimes bordering on the slapstick, no thanks to the bumbling Makoto character. In a sequence, it was reminiscent of Chinese Odyssey starring Stephen Chow, where each time travel moment gets played ad nausem with different comedic effect. Undoing blunders as we see is not exactly Makoto's forte, and while she may be using her powers in a carefree way, with great powers come great responsibilities (sorry, can't resist that one!)

Another review, from THEM Anime:
After one day discovering that she has the special ability to “leap” back in time, a high-school girl named Makoto Konno decides to use her newfound powers for trivial purposes such as getting to school early, eating pudding and singing in a karaoke rental for prolonged hours.

In what arguably sounds like the most humdrum plot ever conceived, it’s almost surprising that Mamoru Hosoda’s first directorial venture with Madhouse turned out to be the real winner that it is; in what seems to be the first of two successful anime film-adaptations of original stories written by Yasutaka Tsutsui this year (2007 in the US), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time demonstrates that creativity can make even the most primordial of storytelling devices (in this case, the quagmire of contradiction and convenience that is time-travel) relevant, intelligible and a whole lot of fun.

What sets this sexy piece of Madhouse meat apart from other shows that may have dabbled in the playground of time and space manipulation is probably director Hosoda’s focus and creativity to make the re-interpretation of even the most menial of everyday tasks unequivocally entertaining. Makoto’s fondness towards her newly-discovered time-leaping abilities is liken to that of an innocent youth who was probably lucky enough to get her hands on a Nintendo Wii, at launch date, minus the endurance of having to line up at Target 5AM in the morning in the blistering cold; Hosoda manages to convey this sublime child-like innocence of delight through many of the movie’s characters in a manner that almost defies any amount of praise that I can humanly give it; there was just something so incredibly genius and pure about Makoto using her powers to go back in time just for the sake of contemplating the glorious satisfaction of getting to a pack of pudding before her little sister was able to partake in the joy of consuming it. Even Makoto’s self-righteous attitude when she’s finally able to experience the pleasure of walking to school early instead of using her bike to come in late (much to the amazing surprise of everyone in the neighborhood) came off as more real than it did pompous.

Indeed, changing the past may have cause undesirable consequences. Saving someone from disaster would cause someone else to be hurt or injured. There is no such thing as escaping from something bad totally, as that something bad will happen to someone else.

Which did happen. Makoto avoided an incident of splashing hot oil and small fire in her domestic skills cooking class but another person took her place. Three students blamed that poor guy for the incident and a cycle of pranks which grew to vengeful proportions escalated between them, which led to someone getting seriously hurt in the end.

Although Makoto liked Chiaki, she was somehow afraid when Chiaki professed his feelings for her till she had to go back in time a couple of times and changed the topic of conversation when the subject came up. She wanted to maintain her carefree days, playing baseball everyday, not willing to face the fact that her friends will grow up and move on to other things.

In a way, I like that. Youthful idealism which has to make way for the realization that things can never be the same in life, especially the things that we enjoy.

The movie also has the message of moving forward, to not dwell on the past but look forward to the future, which has better and brighter things.

It reminds me of myself. A lot of things are and can never be the same anymore, so it is always best to enjoy them while it lasts.

Towards the end, it was found out that Chiaki was from the future and he was in the present to look at a painting. That painting doesn’t exist anymore in the future.

The ending was slightly confusing (time travel stories usually are and they have loopholes) but Chiaki finally went back to the future. He promised to wait for Makoto and see her in the future. The farewell was quite sad, Makoto almost cried her eyes out.

That romantic bit was quite cute. Wished Nyk was there with me, so that I could hold his hand.

Another thing which I liked was the time travelling sequence. The scene is different and unique, quite unlike the usual myriad of fast moving colours.

The Best Animated Film of the recent Awards of the Japanese Academy and I think it fully deserved the award. This sweet and humorous tale is highly recommended.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack. I really love the songs in the movie. Very soothing and romantic, the music complemented the movie well.

And I think that Chiaki is cute!

Oooh, oooh, guess what? Some kind soul has uploaded the whole movie on youtube, split into 12 parts. I will definitely watch it again. Heck, I want the DVD!

Overall, I would rate an 8 out of 10. IMDB’s rating is 8.4 out of 10.

Here is the first part. Enjoy.

1 comment:

William said...

My fave time travel movie is "12 Monkeys". Hehe.