After publishing a review of the Mamoru Hosada film Summer Wars, a friend commented that I should check out some of his other work. A few days later I did just that, watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I had expressed some disappointment with Summer Wars and this friend suggested that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was a better film. I am pleased to say that he was right. It is a better film, but still not a great film. Where Summer Wars drags on a bit, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time feels quite succinct. Those of you were debating Summer Wars should skip on back to Mamoru Hosada’s earlier and better work.
The story focuses on a young high school girl named Makoto. Somehow Makoto gains the ability to literally leap through time. The film focuses on her relationships with friends and family as she continually goes back to try and adjust for poor decisions and mistakes. She fixes things like late arrivals to class, lab accidents, and even trying to keep a good friend from asking her out. The film works as a surprisingly fresh take on time travel, at least in regards to the how, where and why, but still encounters the classic time travel problem of unseen consequences. For every problem she fixes, she must go back and fix another. One solution creates another problem. It seems to me that this is the overarching message of the film. High School can be a turbulent time for many, filled with clumsy mistakes, poor decisions, and pressures about the future; any high schooler would jump at the chance to go back in time and fix their mistakes. The film uses the continually developing problems as a way to highlight that this is just life. We shouldn’t change the past as it will just make more problems. Even when living life, more problems will arise and we would be doomed to spend out entire lives correcting our mistakes of the past. Even without time travel we are doing this, but at least we move forward.
Ultimately I enjoyed the movie, but didn’t love it. There was a lot there to like and I would recommend the film to watch at least once. It has some interesting ideas to convey and some very likable characters to do it. Makoto is a character that is easy to root for. The message is quite simple, but none-the-less important, “keep moving forward”. I think Makoto realizes that she has her whole life to fix her mistakes. My one gripe is the random shift in relationship with one of her best friends, for me it seemed a little out of left field, but still it is a small gripe. So if you want a light Sci-fi on a Japanese school girl who can travel through time, pick it up. I know if you give it a chance, you will enjoy it. I’d give it 3 out 5 stars.
Apologies for the terrible trailer, trust me it is better than it looks.