Wednesday, November 4, 2009

時をかける少女 or Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Review)

     When I saw "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" on Netflix, I thought it sounded like a a fairly original idea and was curious to see a Japanese perspective on time travel.  I discovered later (five minutes ago) that this is actually, only the newest incarnation of an old story in Japan.  The original dates back to 1965, according to The Boston Globe.1  (Actually, I learned that from Wikipedia, but I refuse to quote them as a credible source.)

     "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" is an almost tragic love story/coming of age tale, about an ordinary, maybe 15 year old, girl, Makoto Konno, voiced by Riisa Naka, who accidentally acquires the ability to, quite literally, jump through time.  (I'm surprised she didn't get a concussion from all the rough landings.)  Predictability, she uses the new found power to improve her own life, redoing each small embarrassment over and over until it come out well, and discovers, again, predictability, that her actions may have unintended consequences.

     While the setup may be cliche, where they go with it is not.  I absolutely hate domestic romance flicks.  They are all identical in the third act, leading up to what is really only the beginning of the story, and they all end in a huge romantic gesture and passionate kiss that, if you actually stop to think about it, is likely to be the start of a terrible relationship.  Thankfully, "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" doesn't go there.  It's more like one of my favorite films, "Roman Holiday."  Sure, they have a good time for a day, but in the end, it can never happen.  Well, maybe it can happen for these kids, but that's for the future, quite literally, and maybe a sequel.

     "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" has a great story, great development of characters, a surprise near the end that I would have never seen coming, is voiced very well, and, like most Japanese animated movies, is beautiful to look at.  It also seems to put a new twist on this old, Japanese tale.  From what I can tell, which isn't much, I don't think that the girl in these stories was ever as strong a character as Makoto is in this version. I could be wrong though. 

     Anime fans (the ones who like to read their anime, anyway) will enjoy this modern update of "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" and so will anyone who enjoys a well done, if a bit fanciful, coming of age tale. 


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