I'm still enjoying the way the Japanese are able to create a different kind of tone in their animation: stories don't have to be oriented around world-changing events or part of a process by which a character becomes stronger and saves everyone. Instead, being courageous in small, mundane things, such as in the way a character treats her peers, can take the spotlight - without seeming overly sentimental.
That is just one thing I enjoyed about the sunny animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. In the film, the pressures of school and youth become real, as the amusingly assertive schoolgirl Makoto, who wants to keep the good times rolling, jerks the clock back to in her attempts to make the right impression, have fun, or to desperately hold on to the present status quo.
Bewildered to begin with by her new ability - to physically leap through space and time - Makoto soon finds a way to make it work for her, at the cost to her real-life friendships. In the end the film is about a funloving schoolgirl coming to terms with her future, seeing her errors and choosing to forge a better, less selfish way forward.
It's not as grand and layered a plot as something like Miyazaki's excellent Spirited Away, which tries to get its audience to enter into a child's position in an hostile and strange world, and so focuses on the magical, and a whole society of otherworldly characters which 10 year-old Chihiro has to find her footing in. After her true name is taken by Yubaba, she struggles and ultimately succeeds in forging a new identity for herself, and finally takes her family with her away from the danger.
In The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Makoto does not have to grapple with a set of problems far bigger than herself in a world of ancient Japanese gods; she merely has to battle herself, finding out her own desires and priorities for the path ahead. Threats to Makoto's future development come from within: carelessness, pride, self-centredness, avoiding wisdom and responsibility and not listening to friends. It's a simple moral and well-told.
In summary, the film is much more low-key than one of Miyazaki's films, though it's good fun, and the animation is great to boot.