Josh Keown’s review published on Letterboxd :
“Makoto! Time waits for no one...”
-Yuri Hayakawa (Ayami Kakiuchi)
You know, I hear a lot of people cite either DreamWorks or Pixar as the greatest animators of all time, but I would argue that the foreign studios are just as great, if not sometimes better. Whilst both deliver films of undeniably high quality from a technical perspective, I often find the former two try too hard to be orientated for the younger audiences, whereas the foreign companies are always more honest, for lack of a better word.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Originally; Toki o kakeru shojo) is an adaptation from the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui and follows a young schoolgirl, Makoto, who gains the ability to travel back in time. The story appears to be your standard Sci-Fi fare, but there is so much more to this than meets the eye.
Of course, it raises the issues that are commonplace in similar such tales; What would one do with such a power? Would its use affect the lives of others? But at the centre of the story it weaves is real heart, in the relationship of Makoto and her two best friends, Chiaki and Kousuke. Their friendship is genuine and realistic, whilst the pangs of teenage relationships have rarely been more accurately portrayed.
This is helped by some great, believable voice acting too. I have seen both versions, and as always would recommend the original language with subtitles rather than the dubbed edition, but both are excellent regardless. They convey the emotion of each scene well, from the more light-hearted moments through to the serious meditations on love and loss.
The parable it attempts to convey is an important and heartfelt one, teaching us to embrace things as they are now, we cannot change what has passed and should not waste our lives trying to do so. We need to live in this moment, right now, not get swept up with guilt from the past or worries for the future. It really is a beautiful and touching tale hidden just beneath the surface.
In terms of the graphics and art direction, TGWLTT is equal to anything Studio Ghibli have produced, with the same stunning design and impeccable style. The animation is detailed, whilst the vivid, lush colours are just perfect. Every scene is filled with vibrancy and feels truly alive. The music is equally wonderful, working in harmony with the magnificent animation and affecting story. Overall, there really is very little one could fault here, almost every aspect is a refined labour of love. Magical, is the only word that could really do it justice.
Anyone who has an appreciation for Japanese Anime like Spirited Away, Ponyo, or My Neighbour Totoro will find a lot to love here, or even those who just like animation and a good old fashioned high school love story. It’s one of those lovely films that can make you laugh and cry, feel sad but happy too.
VERDICT; A poignant and genuinely moving slice of cinematic brilliance. Almost everything is flawless, from the actual animation through to the music, whilst the story is stirring and meaningful.
As this movie would have it; We only get one chance, cherish the moment. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend this moment right now, than in seeing this faultless film again.
Oh, I do love to get lost in a good bit of Anime.
4.5/5 or 9/10