Makoto Kanno is a pretty average high school girl. She’s not especially good at anything, she gets fairly normal grades, and she likes to hang out and play baseball with her two friends Chiaki Mamiya and Kousuke Tsuda. She has a habit of sleeping in really late, though, and this leads to her having the worst day of her life. She fails a quiz, she causes an accident in cooking class, she gets waylaid by a couple of guys roughhousing, and she busts her butt carrying some notebooks upstairs after school. And to cap it all off, the brakes on her bike stop working and she goes flying in between two trains and she dies…. Wait. She doesn’t. She remembers it, but now she hasn’t done that yet. With the help of her aunt, Auntie Witch, Makoto realizes she has the ability to leap through time. With this newfound power, Makoto does what anyone would do: She jumps back to stop her sister from eating her pudding, she lives a karaoke session ten times, and she undoes her mistakes whenever she feels like it. Nothing could go wrong, right?
So, I love Mamoru Hosoda. He might be my favorite anime director. Even when I was a kid his bits from the Digimon franchise stood out to me. Flash-forward to me as an adult, and he returns to my life with Summer Wars–which is probably my favorite of his movies (even though I haven’t seen all of them). Wolf Children left me a blubbering mess, and I cannot wait to see The Boy and the Beast. Suffice it to say, I’ve been wanting to watch The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for quite a while now. Sadly, it was out-of-print, and it looked like no one would pick it up. Once again, though, Funimation swooped in and saved the day. Now that I’ve seen it, is Hosoda’s tale of a time-traveling high-schooler everything I wanted it to be? It’s that, and more.
Even knowing this movie is one of Hosoda’s, I didn’t expect to like Makoto as much as I did. I don’t quite know what I was expecting from her, but she wound up exceeding it. She is a real character. She uses her power like any carefree teenager would. Like I stated earlier, the first thing she does when she tries to leap through time is go back and eat a pudding she missed out on. It was great. The power does wind up going to her head, but she never gets malicious with it. She just uses it to make her life as much fun as possible. Some things happen, though, and she realizes her actions most definitely have consequences. Correcting her own mistakes winds up being very unfortunate for others, and she starts to avoid someone thanks to knowledge she shouldn’t have. This all leads to a climax that gave me that “I swear I’m not gonna cry” face.
Makoto is the central figure of this film, but the supporting cast is also good. Her two friends, Chiaki and Tousuke, are great bros, and it was awesome to see how important they are to Makoto. I also love Makoto’s little sister. She’s not around much at all, but their sisterly bond is displayed in a pretty funny and heartwarming scene. Her Auntie Witch is pretty cool, too. I thought it was weird that she was just all like, “Yeah, you can leap through time,” but there’s actually a hint later at why she’s so chill about it. Makoto’s friend Yuri is kinda just there to further some plot, so there’s not much to say about her. Kaho (a girl who has a crush on Tousuke) and her friends, though, are always a delight when they show up. Keep your eye on them whenever they’re around. You’re bound to chuckle.
As for the look of this movie…it’s beautiful. I mean, it’s one of Hosoda’s, so would you expect otherwise? I loved whenever Makoto leapt. Not only was the shot great every time, but her landings were almost always funny. There’s also a scene near the end where she is just running all out to get to the ballpark, and it was intense. Even though I’ve watched a lot cartoons, I don’t pretend to be an animation expert. But that scene really stands out to me. The pure determination on her face, the background blurring past her, the sweat eventually flying off her, the second wind! I felt like I’d been out running.
So yeah, I love The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Makoto is a wonderfully written main protagonist, the movie looks gorgeous, the time traveling is uniquely done, and the beats both comedic and dramatic are hit greatly. I like the soundtrack and voice cast, but they weren’t as stand-out as I was hoping. I’m giving this one an 8.5 or 9 out of 10. Go, people. Go and watch it.