Anyone who knows how I feel about Studio Ghibli
(they’re overrated) may assume that I simply do not “get” Japanese animation
(or animators for that matter).
Perhaps it is because I am unable to regress back to childhood innocence
whilst watching them (as one of my friends seems to claim).Perhaps it is because I am determined to be a serious critic and by being so, I have to instantly hate everything that isn’t inherently British.
This is not true. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (TGWLTT) is an example of how (with the right storytelling) an abstract tale can be told and still be highly entertaining for the masses (and yours truly).
A teenage girl finds that she is able to “leap” back in time to avoid certain uncomfortable advances from her childhood friends. However with every leap come consequences
You may think that incorporating Time Travel into a movie is completely pointless without using an eighties
car that never reaches the intended speed, a white haired lunatic that claims to have a doctorate and a subplot involving incestuous tendencies with one’s mother. This is not the case. Some of the best (and most amusing stories
) are told through the medium of comedy. Groundhog Day
did this to great effect along with a Stargate episode (Window of Opportunity
). Despite these examples being accidental time travel, the comparison to this film is still very relevant.
Instead of explaining (in great length) the why’s and how’s of the “leaping” through time, the story bases itself quite solidly in real life. In fact it is the life of a teenager not wanting to be seen as clumsy and attempting at all costs to avoid any romantic advances
of her childhood friends.
The theme that “time waits for no one
” runs throughout the film and after only a few minutes
of watching, you get the feeling you are watching something quite special. Despite being greatly entertaining though, it doesn’t quite match up to how you’d want the story to end. There is nothing worse than watching a film that you feel would be perfect if it ended a certain way, just to be dashed at the last minute. With so much potential, you tend to feel more let down. This shouldn't stop you from watching it though. The ending is more than satisfactory. I had just hoped for something different. Since I tend to be wrong more than right anyway, this criticism could be considered a moot point!
Sadly, this unusual tale could have focussed on borrowed time (inevitably leading to a catastrophic ending) and not problems that are brought on by messing around with the Space/Time continuum and a teenager’s angst.
Much like most Japanese animation (I have seen) it comes across as very basic in its construction and so it is a nice surprise to have some quite stunning artwork entwined into the story throughout the “leaping”. Along with this, the musical score is very well suited to the film (unlike the unnecessary screeching that played through most of Spirited Away).
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this return-to-innocence movie and will admit to laughing, welling up with tears and feeling for the main characters. This surely should be a contender for awards in the New Year. I am aware that animation gets only one award in the Oscars (and that is likely to go to Wall-E), but a nomination should be given to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time so that Nobuhiko Obayashi and everyone involved can feel proud of themselves for doing a great job.
If you are a fan of Time Travel stories, romance tales, coming of age films and are not a Trekkie, then I suggest you take a look at The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. You could do a great deal worse (such as Ponyo in the bucket by whatever it was). In fact, I can only imagine that the foolish types who would not appreciate this movie are those who insist they could not concentrate on a film with subtitles and therefore wouldn't even try to watch it. Please feel sorry for these people. They are the ones missing out on some quite excellent movies!
No amount of writing would ever do this film justice. Just go and watch it....Now!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5