Thursday, January 10, 2008

CAPSULE REVIEW 2: The Girl Who Jumped Through Time (aka. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo)

THE GIRL WHO LEPT THROUGH TIME (aka. Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo)
dir. HOSODA Mamorou
Naka Riisa
Ishida Takuya
Itakura Mitsutaka
Kakiuchi Mitsuki
Hara Sachie
Sekido Yuki

98 min.
Format viewed: DVD

Hi Blog, Been a delay in writing and posting more capsule reviews here. While I've still been watching stuff there just seems to be less time to write about it.... Anyway, let's get on with it.

Hosoda Mamorou's Madhouse production and Kadokawa Herald Pictures distributed anime Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (aka. TokiKake) is another sci-fi time and logic bender from the fertile mind of author Tsutsui Yasutaka. Famous for writing the source material for that other anime that came out in 2006, Kon Satoshi's Paprika, Tsutsui's story is about firsts and how despite our best intentions we often squander what is most valuable in our lives only to find that we don't miss it until it's gone. I'm writing, of course, about 'time' more than 'love'-- but TokiKake's story as handled by director Hosoda makes little distinction between the two.

Makoto Konno is a regular high school girl who is best friends with two guys: Chiaki and Kosuke. Though just platonic friends, there's a hint of romantic tension between Chiaki and Makoto. When Makoto stumbles upon a totem item that enables her to literally 'jump through time', she uses it at first to satisfy all of her ingenuous fantasies. These consist mainly of eating her fill of her family's deserts and then jumping back in time to avoid detection, but when she starts using her power to avoid a declaration of love from Chiaki we get the sense that something bigger is about to happen. And it does. Right when Chiaki most needs her ability to jump through time to avert the death of Kosuke and his girlfriend she discovers that she has a finite number of jumps and has used up almost all of them. By using this last one to save her friend's life she soon learns that she has somehow sacrificed her friendship with Chiaki, who must now go away. Though I don't want to explain why, because it is a spoiler, suffice to say that we learn that mop-headed Chiaki is not who he appears to be...

An interesting fact that might not be known to most anime fans and certainly not to most non-Japanese anime fans is that there was an original live-action adaptation of TokiKake done in 1983 directed by Obayashi Nobuhiko (of HAUSU fame!). A hit at the time of its release and still remembered fondly by those who were teenagers back in the day, it has not been disregarded for this anime production. In a neat bit of connectivity, the Madhouse animated version of TokiKake includes the main character of that version, Yoshikawa Tomoko, as Makoto's aunt in this story. The aunt we learn in this film version is somehow key to the plot and she hints that she is aware of the abilities that Makoto has gained. Not to be cute here, but to see how, you'll need to watch the movie.

Madhouse's animation is very good for this production. One of the top animation houses in Japan -- and in the world (to my mind) -- Madhouse gives the animation in the film a clean and (somehow) optimistic air. The color palette tends towards the bright end of the crayon drawer with a unique, almost Evangelion inspired character design by Sadamoto Yoshiyuki. (It should, therefore, come as no surprise that he did character design on various Evangelion series.) Sound design and score are solid and all production values are really top-notch.

In addition, the storytelling is spry and well realized with a good economy. While I wasn't as floored by this anime-- because, quite frankly, I don't think it was aimed at someone like me -- I found it a sweet film that was well worth my time and most likely yours. Bandai Entertainment has licensed the film for US distro. Check this out to find out where you can get your copy. (Bottom right corner.)


Anonymous said...

probably one of the most gently charming films i saw last year... personally, even though the animation does look kind of functional on the surface, check out the sophisticated character movement often on display and you'll see there's something going on there if you look a little harder. that, and that there's a huge amount of effort in the environments and overall mood of the film as portrayed by the animation. nice film.

what's surprised me is, considering the awards piled onto this film, it's taken so long to confirm there's a USA license in the bag, and the earlier subbed korean and HK discs are options you could have now rather than wait - oh, and although there's a certain amount of love for this in the anime community, at large it's not quite having the impact it could, not the impact you would have expected from a quality anime film 15 years ago, as it's all too revolving around series in america, me think...

Anonymous said...

This sounds kind of interesting and worth a viewing. Haven't watched anime in a while. On a side note, watched Triangle, the Tsui Hark/Ringo Lam/Johnnie To relay race film. Errrr....don't bother.

Nicholas Rucka said...

Hey Logboy,

Thanks for the comment. I agree, it is a gently charming film. There's something about its ingenuousness and sincerity which is really comforting. A very well done work, all told.

BTW, what is the situation with world distro? The US Bandai page doesn't seem to have any info on it. Did they buy it and shelve it for a later date? Do you happen to know?

Hey Alex,

Definitely try to catch it. The HK disc is cheap enough though I've read that the English subs are kinda of crap (as usual). I have the luxury of being able to enjoy this stuff in Japanese, which is fortunate.

Wanted to check out Triad and still might if I can find it for cheap on vcd.... But I'm not so surprised to hear that it's a let-down. Ah well.

Anonymous said...

i don't know about shelving it, but as a part of kadokawa setting up home in america recently, there was (finally) a mention there's a bandai tye-up for it's release stateside. god knows when. take the chance you've been given; that's another way of saying "don't hold your breath"... you'd die pretty quickly, anyway.

by the way : 'funky forest', from viz, is sooner than expected, it's listed at for march. one of my favourites of 2006... a year down the line... breaks stateside. nice.