Once upon a time there was a book. It was called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Published in Japan in 1967, and written by Japanese writer and actor Yasutaka Tsutsui, the story became so popular it spawned three TV series, four films, an anime film, and a manga over the years.
Many Americans are only familiar with the anime film, released by Bandai in 2006 under the same title, so they wouldn't know that the anime film is loosely based on the original book. Loosely in this case means all new characters, all new technology, and a bit part by the original main character. Since Japanese audiences were overly familiar with the book through 40 years of adaptations, the need to take this well known story and breathe new life into it gave rise to an entirely new creation.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is told in jumps through time as well as flashbacks, which can be difficult to follow along at first, but the strong main character, seventeen-year-old Makoto Konno, helps tie the story together. The opening scene is Makoto playing catch with her friends, Chiaki and Kōsuke, which introduces us to the dynamic of their friendship. Then the first flashback helps us learn how accident prone & unacademic Makoto is. Soon, a shadowy encounter with a stranger in the chemistry lab, an odd walnut-sized device, and Makoto's sudden survival from an accident involving a commuter train lets the viewer know Makoto is indeed moving through time.
When Makoto shares her strange experiences with her aunt—the original girl who leapt through time from the books—Makoto learns that she has the ability to time leap. What follows are hilarious sequences where Makoto refines her leaping ability to avoid all accidents, score well on all her tests, avoid the amorous confession of Chiaki, and save her pudding in her efforts to make that day the perfect, nice day. Unfortunately, time leaping is not unlimited, and Makoto quickly uses all of her leaps except one. Can she save her friends and set right her wrongs in time?
This anime is filled with beautiful visuals, delightful characters, and an evocative soundtrack—a quality production, especially in the character development of Makoto. She is both amusing and sympathetic. The science in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is rather soft, but it doesn't pose a problem since the story focuses on the characters as opposed to the technology. As far as time travel is concerned, there are always discrepancies in stories of this nature, but the continuity was fairly strong. I didn't find any glaring errors that marred my enjoyment. Highly recommended.
Release Date: July 15, 2006 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
Original Title: 時をかける少女 (Toki wo Kakeru Shōjo)
Language: 1 (minor expletives)
Violence: 1 (implied)