Anime Review:

Japanese Title: Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo
English Title: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Drama
Running Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: July 2006

A line on the chalkboard says, “Time waits for no one.”

Story and Characters:

“Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo” is about a high school student, Makoto Konno, who one day discovers she can “leap” backwards through time. Initially, she uses her newfound ability for fun and convenience. Her early adventures in time travel include acing a test, reliving a karaoke bar session for ten hours, and eating a cup of pudding before her younger sister beats her to it.

However, Makoto quickly finds out that there can be dire consequences to manipulating events. She goes back repeatedly and tries desperately to fix her blunders. Unfortunately, some things only get worse, especially for two of her friends whose lives are put in grave danger.

Makoto learns that when she uses time leaping to avoid confrontation, it’s people close to her who can end up getting hurt. Although she may be enjoying herself, others suffer as a result.

“Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo” is a wonderful, charming, and engrossing movie. There are some dramatic and tense situations in the later half, but there is also a light helping of comedy.

Makoto tries to set Kousuke up with a girl.

There is a bit of romance weaved throughout story. This provides a backdrop to some of the events involving Makoto’s need for emotional escape, as well as her attempts to help her friends. Later on, Makoto’s realization of her own feelings becomes the driving force behind her desire to set things straight.

It’s easy to root for the main character, even if she acts spoiled or foolish at times. Although she seems selfish at first, Makoto means well, is compassionate, and tries hard to fix the messes she causes.

We are not told much about her two closest friends, Chiaki and Kousuke. Thus, I found them to be rather uninteresting for the first thirty minutes or so. We are merely shown the closeness of the trio through their constant interaction and banter, but little else until much later. This applies to many of the other characters, who are given little to no history. However, because Makoto’s own character development is such a strong focal point, when her feelings are portrayed, we are able to empathize with her. Hence, the people who are important to her become important to us as well.

Obasan Sakano, Makoto’s confidant and pilar of support.

Production Value:

While it may not be classified by most as visually stunning in terms of color or effects, “Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo”, has some incredibly detailed backgrounds. The settings are also very realistic, in that they depict what they are meant to with accuracy. These include a office cluttered by large piles of books with notes stuck in between the pages; a science lab filled with instruments and specimens; a crowded street riddled with shop signs; and a store that’s teeming with bottles and canned goods. Every few minutes throughout the movie, there is at least one background that is brimming with an astonishing amount of detail.

Sakano works on restoring a painting.

I was disappointed by some of the trees, the grassy hills by the river, and the river itself. Though, the skies and skylines were nicely done.

The character designs are simple, and the overall style is a typical example of most anime. At least, none of the characters look like rehashes of each other (eg. same face over and over with different hair). The animation is relatively smooth, and the panning is fluid.

Obasan Sakano shares some tea and wisdom with a troubled Makoto.

There are some nice highlights, including little things like steam rising from a cup of tea, or a close-up view of splashes from a stone skipping across water. There is often something interesting in motion, and this gives a nice balance to the scenery’s still eye candy.

Makoto and Yuri in the science lab storage room.

The voice acting is also well done. Even though I understand very little Japanese, I found that the characters’ emotions are conveyed clearly. Few of the voices stand out in my mind, which is not to say the rest were unremarkable. They were just right. The most memorable voice is that of Makoto’s, which is quite emphatic but nicely matches her boisterous character.

There are bits of classical and ambient music scattered throughout the movie; and in all cases, they enhance the atmosphere without being intrusive. Of course, none of the musical pieces are as memorable as the closing song. But since I’ve already written a lot of praise for Oku Hanako’s “Garnet” in a previous blog, I’ll just move on to the rating scheme.

Story: 9/10
Animation: 8.5/10
Voice Acting: 8.5/10
Music: 8/10
Overall Value (Not an average): 9/10

Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo DVD’s, books, and posters are available from Amazon.