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Movie Review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

I’ve been watching a lot of anime recently, though I’m not sure what brought this on. I used to only watch the work of Hayao Miyazki (Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, etc) with only occasionally deviations. After all, Spirited Away is my favorite anime, why would I look beyond Miyazki. But if you spend enough time on tumblr, people will reblog pictures and gifs and I’ve run across enough pictures from really fantastic looking anime films that I decided I would start watching more. One of the movies I’ve watched was The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

2011_JMAF_Hosoda_TheGirlWhoLeaptThroughTime_Artwork_800pxThis movie is loosely based on novel (of the same name and which I haven’t read) by Yasutaka Tsutsui. There have been a lot of adaptations, including a live action movie (which is currently available to watch on Netflix Instant and is in my queue), though I haven’t watched it yet. I’d heard a little about the anime and I think I might’ve checked it out of the library in the past, though without watching it. But this time, I did end up watching it and I’m glad I did.

It’s the story of Makoto, a teenager who discovers something that allows her to, well, leap through time. At first she uses it for fun (in the beginning of the film, her little sister eats her pudding and she uses the device to go back and get the pudding). But, as time goes on, Makoto ends up using the device for less trivial reasons. But that’s not really the root of the story. At it’s heart, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is (not unexpectedly) a coming of age story.

There are two other, important, characters in the anime. They are Makoto’s two best friends, two boys named Kōsuke and Chiaki. After school, Makoto meets up with both boys and they play baseball. I really love their friendship as shown in the film, because it’s rare to have female characters who are just friends with boys. The three of them grow up, in different ways, throughout the film. There is, of course, a love interest or two (but I won’t spoil that) and Makoto’s friendship with Chiaki ends up giving us one of the more poignant moments in the film.

While the scenery isn’t throughout the film isn’t as nice as some I’ve seen, the movie is still extremely pretty. The story is strong enough to

Chiaki and Makoto (and some beautiful scenery in the background)

Chiaki and Makoto (and some beautiful scenery in the background)

carry the film, of course, but the art that makes up the movie is what brings it to life.  What I didn’t expect, though, was how extremely hearbreaking the end of the movie was. Most of the film is a lighthearted story about Makoto and the people in her life, but toward the end, there’s a little darkness thrown in that surprised me. And, you know, the fact that I cried through the last 10 or so minutes was also a surprise.

As an aside, I did listen to the English dub. I know, that’s not the cool thing to do, but I’ve discovered that it’s more enjoyable for me, personally, to listen to the dub than subs when it comes to anime. Although it’s not always possible (I’ve been watching Captain Harlock on Hulu and that’s subbed, not dubbed) and I do enjoy watching shows and movies in Japanese, I just prefer dubs for anime.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. And if you like anime, and don’t mind being choked up at the end, I recommend it. It’s mostly lighthearted, though the ending isn’t really happy, it’s oddly satisfying (though it shouldn’t be).

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