I’m finally getting to watch the Toki o Kakeru Shojo movie, this movie title has several different English names and they are (the girl who cut time. the girl who leapt through time, and the girl who conquered time). The movie is based on a novel of the same name, but set twenty years into the future, also there was a manga version. The movie Toki o kakeru Shojo is not a direct retelling of the book, or the manga.
Warning spoiler alert: if you don’t want the entire plot please skip to the review.
Now on to the movie plot, the movie starts off with Makoto waking up from a dream of her playing baseball with her friends, of course she’s late for school. What’s up with all the Japanese schoolgirls always being late for school, don’t they have alarm clocks like we do?
At school Makoto starts to tell us how lucky she is, but a series of misfortunes befalls her all day long. A little later in the day Makoto and a friend start to talk about the future, Makoto is very uncertain and melancholy. Later, when putting away some questionnaires Makoto stumbles upon an old lab at the school, and gets locked inside.
While in the locked lab Makoto discovers a small locket looking object, she is surprised when someone else enters the room and falls on the locket. Then time sort of slows down for Makoto, we are given a series of weird visual effect of traveling through space and time. She then tells her two friends about it, all they do is laugh. Makoto and her friends then play catch and discuss the subject of the future again. She leaves her friends in order to run some things for her mother, while riding her bike downhill the brakes fail throwing her into path of an oncoming train. Certain death awaits her, she thinks to herself that if she new she was going to die how she would have lived the day differently. Just before the train strikes her she is crashes into a woman she almost crashed into about thirty seconds earlier.
After the crash Makoto pays her aunt a visit just like her mother asked, and she tells her aunt what happened. Her aunt says that what she did was called a time leap, but Makoto thinks her aunt is just making fun of her. Makoto tries to reproduce the time leap effect by jumping out a window and her sister thinks she is going to commit suicide. So, Makoto leaves the house and tries it again, this time it works, and she travels back about one day, but she only stays in the past for about one minute.
After this, Makoto uses her time leaping abilities for all kinds of silly things, food, test-taking, baseball, karaoke, and so on. Makoto goes back to visit and thank her aunt for the advice on time leaping, but her aunt asks her if other people are suffering because of her fun. Later on at school Kousuke gets asked out on a date by some younger girls, but he refuses their offer. While biking home Makoto confesses to Chiaki the she’s glad he turned them down, saying it would ruin their group. Then out of the blue Chiaki asks Makoto out, this shocks her, she asked what brought this on, he says its her question about Kousuke and a girlfriend. She then used her time leaping to avoid the question, and her aunt tells her she feels sorry for Chiaki, saying it took a lot of courage to ask the question, but Makoto made his effort disappear. Makoto starts to trying to avoid Chiaki asking the question, this leads to all sorts of problems between the three friends. The effects of Makoto previous time leaping come back to haunt her, an act of violence directed towards her causes Chiaki to be hurt, she leaps preventing it, but one of her girlfriends hurt instead. Chiaki starts dating Yuri instead of Makoto, kind of breaking up there group. While taking a bath Makoto discovers that she has the number ninety on the back of her arm.
Later while playing catch with Kousuke, Makoto asks him why he does’nt get a girlfriend, and he say that if he did she would be all alone. At that point Makoto begins to realize that in trying to keep everything the same she’s most likely destroying whats most important to her. She goes to her aunt for advice, and her aunt tells her to go out with Kousuke and if it does’nt work out just time leap back. Makoto says its cruel to play with peoples feelings, but she did that earlier with Chiaki. As the problems mount, Makoto begins time leap after time leap trying to fix them, only causing one problem after another. Once Makoto thinks she has everything fixed she realizes the mark on her arm says one or ten?
Makoto leaps back in time goes to the lab, but something’s wrong, thing don’t happen like before, she’s too early or too late. Then she gets a message that Kousuke is going to borrow her bike to give a girl a ride home. The same bike with the broken brakes that would have killed her if she did’nt have her time leaping abilities, and she also finds out that a quote written on the blackboard was written by Chiaki (time waits for no one). She desperately tries to call Kousuke using her cellphone, and rushes after him on foot. She rushes off to the train crossing, but Kousuke not there, he did’nt die at that crossing. Chiaki calls Makoto and asks her if she’s time leaping, but she leaps to avoid the question, but Chiaki still wants to talk to her. Just as she thinks every-things OK, she notices her arm reads zero as Kousuke and the girl pass her heading down the hill towards the train crossing on her bike. She chases after then down the hill, now I have to say that scene is one of the most intense and well done anime scenes I’ve seen in a long while.
Just as she yells stop, time stops and Chiaki appears walking towards her, he tells her he’s from the future and he lost his time travel device in the science room, and that Kousuke is OK, but the device is used up. He says that he came back to see a famous painting that was destroyed in the future, and it turns out that was the painting that Makoto’s aunt was restoring. He explains that he is stuck in this era because he used his last leap to save Kousuke and the girl, and he could’nt bare to see Makoto suffering with guilt from Kousuke’s death. Chiaki tells her he will disappear tomorrow, and Makoto realizes that her trying to mess with time has basically messed everything up.
The next day at school Chiaki is’nt there, and Makoto basically has a breakdown, and she goes to her aunt for advice. Later that night she discovers that she still has one time leap left, and runs out of the house. Makoto uses the last time leap to go back to the moment she fell on the locket in the old lab, and after that she give Chiaki back the device and tells him she knows everything. Chiaki says he has to leave for the future, he and Makoto have a sad parting. Right before returning to the future Chiaki tells Makoto he’ll be waiting in the future, and Makoto replies that she’ll run there. The anime ends with Makoto playing baseball with Kousuke and the other girls, at that point she’s managed to keep her friendship with Kousuke and has a happy out look on the future.
Now for the review.
This has been a very interesting past couple of years for lovers of anime movies. In the past, there was a very small group of quality anime creators with the main ones being, Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, Isao Takahata, and Katsuhiro Otomo. Now newer anime creators have emerged to carry on the traditions of the old guard, and they are Satoshi Kon creator of Tokyo Godfathers, Makoto Shinkai creator of Voices of a Distant Star, and now Mamoru Hosoda whom directed the Girl who Leapt Through Time. Before directing Toki o Kakeru Shojo, Mamoru Hosoda was virtually unheard of, but after winning the Japanese academy award for best animated film, people will take notice.
Many anime films, and television series have dealt with the issue of time traveling, but none of them have dealt with this issue as neatly or as sweetly as this film has. Next to the power of invisibility or flying I think there is no other more tempting prospect then time travel, who has not thought about the idea of fixing the past, it is a very enticing prospect.
In the film, Makoto is given the ability to alter the future by changing the past, but like the film the Butterfly Effect Makoto learns the hard way about the principle of unintended consequences, and chaos theory. Makoto is not a bad person, in-fact she is a very sweet, and kind girl, she treasures her friendship with Kousuke and Chiaki, she wants it to last forever. So, Makoto uses her time leaping power to try and keep everything the same. But in real life Makoto discovers that keeping everything the same, is only wishful thinking. Makoto uses her time leaping in order to avoid Chiaki asking her out, she thinks it will break the group up, it might have, but by dodging this she causes Chiaki to start dating her friend Yuri, leading to the group’s splitting anyway.
In this film this issue is dealt with in a kind and sensitive way. In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy Himemiya tries to change her brothers nature and in the process she creates a monster, but all Makoto creates is sadness. In many films such as Magnetic Rose, and Peter Pan we see that keeping every thing same you only create future unhappiness. The goes for Toki o Kakeru Shojo, but Makoto has the foresight to realize this pretty quickly, she’ll not be weighted down by the past, and she has a bright future. In Isao Takahata’s film Only Yesterday, the main character Taeko Okajima is burdened by her past actions its takes her to the age of twenty-seven to come to terms with her past, and have a brighter future outlook.
This anime film like others of its type contains the principle of Mono No Aware (the sadness/joy/transience/vanishing of things), why do we love cherry blossoms?, because of their beauty, and that they last only a short time, Makoto’s aunt tried to tell her to cherish her friendships, and don’t try to unnaturally prolong them. Susan Napier summed this up best by saying in her book Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke, ” it is consequently not surprising that some of the greatest works of postwar culture, such as many of the works by the novelist Kawabata Yasunari, or the brilliant films of Ozu Yasujiro, may be seen as elegiac. But the elegic also has links with the long lyric tradition in premodern Japanese culture, in which poetry and romance celebrated the beauty of transience and the bittersweet pleasure that can be derived from the passing of love, youth, and beauty. “
I think that this is the film’s strongest theme, we the viewer can see the beauty of Makoto’s friendship with Chiaki and Kousuke, before she does, but in the end Makoto see this beauty and learns to cherish it. After all, before going out on a date, what do you want, a dozen real roses, or a dozen plastic roses? Overall this is a great anime film, it contain great animation, a good soundtrack, and very likable characters, I find nothing objectionable for viewer of all age, I think this the best anime film I’ve seen in the last three to four years. I can’t wait for a American film or DVD release of this movie.