The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女, Toki o Kakeru Shōjo?) is a 2006 Japanese animated science fiction/romance film. The film focuses on a high school girl who inadvertently gains the power to travel through time and begins using it frivolously to fix problems. It was produced by the animation studio Madhouse and directed by Mamoru Hosoda.
It is inspired by, and is a pseudo-sequel to, the 1967 novel Toki o Kakeru Shōjo by Yasutaka Tsutsui. Critical response to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was very positive, and it won numerous awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
Makoto Konno (Riisa Naka/Emily Hirst), a girl attending high school in Tokyo's shitamachi, realizes she has the power to go back in time and re-do things (called a "time-leap") when she impossibly avoids a fatal accident at a train crossing one day.
Bewildered, she consults throughout the film with her 'Auntie Witch' (Sachie Hara/Saffron Henderson), who is implied to be Kazuko Yoshiyama, the protagonist of the original novel. At first, Makoto uses her power extravagantly to avoid being tardy and to get perfect grades on tests, and even relive a single karaoke session for several hours until she loses her voice. Things begin to turn bad as she discovers how her actions can adversely affect others.
Makoto ends up using up more of her leaps to recklessly prevent undesirable situations from happening, including an awkward confession of love from her best friend Chiaki Mamiya (Takuya Ishida/Andrew Francis). Eventually she discovers a numbered tattoo on her arm which counts down with each leap. She determines that the tattoo indicates that she can only leap through time a limited number of times. With only a few time leaps left, she attempts to make things right for everyone, but impulsively uses her final leap to prevent a phone call from Chiaki asking if she knows about time-leaping. As a result, she is unable to prevent her friend Kōsuke Tsuda (Mitsutaka Itakura/Alex Zahara) and his new girlfriend, Kaho, from being killed in the accident at the train crossing that Makoto was originally involved in. As Makoto watches the accident in horror, time suddenly stops.
Chiaki reveals that he is a traveller from the future and leapt through time in order to see a painting being restored by Makoto's aunt, as it has been destroyed in the future. While walking in the frozen city, Chiaki hints that his original era occurs after a world wide catastrophe decimates mankind. He reveals that he has used his final leap to prevent Kōsuke's accident and has stopped time only to explain to Makoto what the consequences will be. Having revealed his origins and the source of the item that allowed Makoto to leap through time, and being unable to return to his time period, Chiaki must disappear. Makoto realizes too late that she loves him as well.
True to his words, Chiaki disappears when time begins again and Makoto is upset. As she tries to come to terms with losing him, she discovers that Chiaki's time-leap had inadvertently restored one time-leap to her: Chiaki had leapt back to before Makoto used her last leap. Makoto now leaps to the moment when she gained her powers, at which point Chiaki still has one remaining time-leap. She reveals everything that he told her in the future concerning who he is, the ability to leap through time, and his reasons for extending his stay in her time frame. Makoto promises to make sure the painting stays safe so Chiaki can see it in his time, but also tries to hint to Chiaki that he had asked her out. The attempt failed, and Chiaki presumably leaves after only telling her to be safe. Makoto is left in tears at this, but just as she started in the other direction, Chiaki walks back and whispers to her that he will wait for her in the future. Makoto, smiling brightly now, replies that she will run towards it.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was released to a small number of theaters in Japan, taking in approximately 300 million yen (US$~3 million). The film received limited advertising compared to other animation features from 2006 such as Gedo Senki, but word of mouth and glowing reviews generated interest. At Theatre Shinjuku for days in a row, filmgoers filled the theater with some even standing to watch the film. Following this, distribution company Kadokawa Herald Pictures increased the number of theaters showing the film across Japan, and submitted the film for international festival consideration.
The film premiered in Canada on November 19, 2006 at the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema and went onto premiere in US on March 3, 2007 at the 2007 New York International Children's Film Festival. The movie received a limited theatrical run in the USA, being shown subtitled in Los Angeles in June, and in Seattle in September. Also a dubbed version was shown in New York City in July. Its Boston area showings in August were subtitled. The film has also premiered in the UK as part of the Leeds Young People Film Festival on April 2, 2008.
Even though it was not a massive hit at the box office, the film did exceptionally well at the various festivals into which it was entered. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time took home the Gertie Award for the best animated feature film at the thirty-ninth Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia. It won the Animation Grand Award, given to the year's most entertaining animated film, at the prestigious sixty-first Annual Mainichi Film Awards. It was also awarded the first annual Animation of the Year prize at the thirtieth Japan Academy Prize. It was nominated for, but did not win, the twenty-seventh Nihon SF Taisho Award. It received the Grand Prize in the animation division at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival. At the sixth annual Tokyo International Anime Fair, which opened on March 22, 2007, the film was recognized as "Animation of the Year" and won several awards. It won the Special Distinction for Feature Film at France's thirty-first Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 16, 2007. It played to full-house theatres during a screening in August 2007 at the ninth Cinemanila International Film Festival in Manila, Philippines. Tsutsui Yasutaka praised the film as being "a true second-generation" of his book at the Tokyo International Anime Fair on March 24, 2006.
Emily Hirst won a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role for her role as Makoto in the English dub.
All music by Kiyoshi Yoshida, except where noted. Piano played by Haruki Mino.
- "Natsuzora (Opening Theme)"
- "Aria (Goldberg Hensoukyoku Yori)" (Goldberg Variations by Bach)
- "Karakuri Tokei (Time Leap)"
- "Shoujo no Fuan"
- "Sketch (Long Version)"
- "Daiichi Hensoukyoku (Goldberg Hensoukyoku Yori)" (Variation 1 of Goldberg Variations by Bach)
- "Mirai no Kioku"
- "Kawara nai Mono (Strings Version)" (Hanako Oku)
- "Natsuzora (Ending Theme)"
- "Time Leap (Long Version)"
- "Natsuzora (Long Version)"
- "Garnet (Yokokuhen Short Version)" (Hanako Oku)
The theme song to the film is "Garnet" (ガーネット, Gānetto?), and the insert song used in the film is "Kawaranai Mono" (変わらないもの, lit. Unchanging Thing(s)?). Both songs were written, composed, and sung by singer-songwriter Hanako Oku, however the latter song was arranged by Jun Satō.
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