Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, is a Japanese science fiction film, the fourth based on the novel The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I wrote more about that novel in my review for the anime adaptation. This film is a sequel to the 1983 film adaptation. Riisa Naka, the voice actress for the protagonist in the anime adaptation, stars as Akari Hasegawa, the daughter of the novel's protagonist, Kazuko Yoshiyama.
Kazuko has been driven to go back in time to settle unresolved feelings with her first love, Kazuo Fukamachi. In between her work as a pharmaceutical researcher, she secretly developed a formula for time travel like the drug used by Kazuo in the original novel. Unfortunately, a car accident prevents her from testing the drug on herself. In a moment of lucidity at the hospital, Kazuko tries to get out of her bed to go, but Akari offers to go in her stead and relay a message.
Akari follows her mother's directions, but remembers the wrong date and travels back in time to a point two years too late to February 1974, the month of the Noshiro night bus incident. She meets and befriends Ryota Mizorogi who takes pity on her and agrees to help her out. In turn she helps Ryota finish his science fiction movie while they look for her mother's lover. She falls in love, meets her mother, meets her father, and finally meets the mysterious Kazuo Fukamachi. Meanwhile, the Noshiro night bus incident looms in the rapidly approaching future.
As time travel movies go, this one is very light on the technology. The graphics of Akari's first trip through time are nonsensical—even laughable—and the diversion to help Ryota finish his cheesy science fiction movie seems to slow the movie down and have little to do with the overall plot. Yet, by the time the third act of the movie began, I found myself caught up in the characters, which is really what these stories are all about. Every action is interconnected with Akari's future, even the cheesy movie. Watching her adapt to 1974 is entertaining, and the slow diversion into movie making served to build a believable relationship between her and Ryota. When events begin to swirl around the Noshiro night bus incident, Akari's plight is heartbreaking.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, finding the third act of the movie the strongest of all with a satisfying ending.
Release Date: February 7, 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
Original Title: 時をかける少女 (Toki wo Kakeru Shōjo)
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (social drinking)
Language: 1 (minor expletives)