The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray Review
Makoto is a tomboyish high school girl who enjoys hanging out with her two male friends Kousuke and Chiaki. Life is great, until one very unlucky day sends Makoto flying for her untimely death. However, instead of dying Makoto is sent back a few minutes into the past and discovers that she has the power to time leap. Now, with her newfound time traveling ability she can have even more fun!
But this is still her most unlucky day of all, and things just don’t happen according to plan. It turns out one of Makoto’s friends might be leaving the group in favor of a girlfriend, while the other friend suddenly reveal he has romantic feelings for Makoto. Emotionally shocked by both of these discoveries Makoto leaps back in time to prevent both from happening. Yet time is a delicate thing and Makoto finds herself trapped in an unstoppable chain reaction that could cause her to hurt other classmates as well as lose both of her friends forever.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an interesting movie, because although it deals with time travel it doesn’t charge itself with bombastic issues like a world crisis, an important even in the distant future or the distant past. Instead, it covers about a week in the life of a teenage girl, and the way time travel can turn her well-constructed world upside down. To be fair, even without the ability to jump back in time the movie starts on a life-changing day for Makoto. As time progresses we find that the daily life Makoto believed to be so stable and carefree were in fact held by a weak thread that slowly begins to unravel itself. It would have been a day of evident change for her in any case, regardless of the science fiction aspect. The time leaping serves as a way to present this important day through several angels. Almost each time a jump is performed different people in Makoto’s school are introduced or emphasized. For the most part this happens not because Makoto’s jump suddenly changed their personality or importance, but because the first time the day goes by so many things happen at the same time (on and off the screen) that only by reliving the day can you grasp the full picture of what is happening. The time leaping mechanism itself is fun to watch. Makoto literally has to leap at high speed in order to go back in time, and when she does so her momentum is kept until she lands. This invites all sorts of funny or painful “time travel landings” that make the movie feel a little lighter even in its dramatic peak. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is classified as a romantic drama, but has enough comedy and (time travel related) sci-fi elements to spice it up. The three main characters – Makoto, Chiaki and Kousuke – are well-developed and lovable characters. It’s fun to see how they interact, and since this movie is all about Makoto’s relationship with her two friends these interactions are the key to moving the plot.
The entire movie takes place in Makoto’s hometown – a quiet rural place. Elaborate backgrounds manage to convey this rural feeling perfectly. These backgrounds are in fact crucial to the movie’s overall impression since The Girl Who Leapt Through Time makes eminent use of “camera” angels. Unlike common anime films, in which the picture usually focuses on the working characters and move with them, here the picture is fixed and the characters enter or exit it. For example, one scene shows Makoto running up and down a riverbed. Instead of following Makoto the picture continue to portray the riverbed, with Makoto slowly disappearing in the distance or becoming bigger as she returns in the direction of the “camera”. In another scene which takes place in a karaoke bar the picture is shown through the lenses of the bar’s security camera, creating a unique and surreal angle. Albeit being an elementary technique for live action film making, the use of angles in this movie is refreshing and distinguish The Girl Who Leapt Through Time from other anime films. The backgrounds look detailed and rich in the 1080p Blu-ray version. The same cannot be said for the character designs. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time uses simplistic character designs which look cartoonish when set before the photorealistic backgrounds. It doesn’t help that the school uniform the students wear consists of a plain white collared shirt.
The Blu-ray comes with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for both the English and Japanese version. However, I doubt this is a noticeable upgrade over the DVD due to the very mundane music used in the movie. Except for two tracks, all the music in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is played using a piano. The music is slightly on the melancholic side, which can be baffling considering it is used in times of crisis as well as times of joy. Moreover the music is not dynamic enough. One song is used to portray a silent empty classroom in one scene and also plays as Makoto is running frantically in another. The music is just not varied enough. It doesn’t support the movie very well.
This can be forgotten in favor of the great voice acting this film has to offer. The English track is very good, and the Japanese track is superb. Both are accurate and won’t disappoint you.
The Blu-ray version contains two discs. The first is the Blu-ray DVD, which houses the movie itself, as well as trailers from Bandai. The second is a regular DVD filled to the brim with extras. There are nine extra features, and I will not be reviewing them all to save you from a wall of text. Suffice to say that the extras include tasteful additions such as the ability to play the movie with storyboards, play it with commentary by the director, assistant director and animator, or play it with commentary by the director and voice actors (all of these are of course in Japanese with subtitles. The DVD doesn’t have an English audio track). So if you adore extra content you can potentially burn many hours on this release.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a fun and rewarding movie. The time leaping aspect is done with good taste and not abused. Watching Makoto’s day unfold is genuinely interesting, if not too thrilling. This is a simple, yet charming, movie that everyone can enjoy and appreciate.
- Interesting use of camera angles.
- Romantic, dramatic and comedic elements are balanced well.
- Excellent voice acting.
- The music isn’t diverse enough.
Final Score: 9/10
Product Information: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray. Published by Bandai Entertainment. Release date: April 26, 2011.
Review Equipment: Samsung 32-Inch LCD HDTV (LA32B530) connected to a PlayStation 3 using an official Sony HDMI cable.