Sunday, 26 April 2009

Anime review - The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

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.

4 comments:

matthewweston said...

I bought this film from Amazon on your recommendation. I watched it with a friend and we both enjoyed it a lot! Thanks for the heads up!

(As to how I found your blog/this review, I think it was via Geoff Youngs. I can't actually remember! I also enjoyed your review of Pause, which I linked to on my blog instead of writing my own review :))

Richard Townrow said...

Thanks for your comment. I do know Geoff but did we chat at New Word Alive? maybe at the culture seminars or the bloggers' get-together?

I've just been looking through your blog, it's really good :)

matthewweston said...

Thank you :) - I haven't written much recently, despite promising to once my degree was over! Maybe this week's the week...

I was at both those things, though I don't remember meeting you. I think you'd commented on one of Geoff's entries and I followed a link or something like that. I met Geoff at Krish Kandiah's seminars, then again at London Men's Convention - and I expect at the next national Christian conference too, as we kept on seeming to bump into each other...

thorheidur said...

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is wonderful. It is very simple, but I particularly love the animation during the slow motion scenes. Have you seen Steins;Gate? I'm a big fan of the time travel genre, and it's done so well in this series. If you're not familiar with it, I recommend you check out the Manga UK anime blog - there's an interesting The Girl Who Leapt Through Time vs Steins;Gate post which is well worth a read.