by HELEN GEIB
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a delightful Japanese animated feature about the time-bending adventures of an ordinary high school girl who quite literally stumbles onto a mysterious device that imbues her with the power to jump backwards in time and re-live her immediate past.
The first half of the film follows Makoto’s comical adventures and misadventures as she figures out what is happening and how to control it, and then happily indulges in her newfound ability to ace tests, avoid embarrassing situations, and escape her chores. The film takes a more serious tone in its second half as Makoto discovers the device’s origin and the necessity of confronting life head-on, even the messy emotions of teenage life, while the story is revealed to be an understated and positive parable of growing into adulthood.
Released in Japan in 2006, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was recently put out on DVD in the US following a regrettably limited stateside theatrical release. While the film is sure to please anime enthusiasts for the quality of the animation, its appeal extends beyond the fan base. This is a film with wit and heart. Makoto and her friends are immensely likable characters, and the sympathetic portrait of teenagers’ growing pains easily crosses cultural lines.
Special features on the DVD include an audio commentary by director Mamoru Hosoda and several of the Japanese voice actors, a music video, and the theatrical trailer.