Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, translated as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a 2006 film produced by Madhouse. The film serves as a sequel to a novel of the same name written by Yasutaka Tsutsui released back in 1967. The film follows Makoto Konno, a high schooler and niece of the novel’s protagonist. Makoto discovers that she has the power to Time Leap when she inadvertently prevents her own death by going a few moments back in time to watch the train that supposedly kills her, pass by without any incident. She then begins to use this power of Time Leap to go back in time and adjust her daily life to make it better, using it to repeatedly eat pudding or to increase her test scores. The film won multiple awards following its release and has garnered a generally positive review from audiences.
One of the immediately noticeable elements of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo is the art style. With the rise of computer generated animation and sharper contrast in colors in the recent years, watching the 2006 film ten years after its release will immediately highlight the art and animation that was used by Madhouse to bring the story to life.
Makoto herself is a highlight of the film. She is depicted as a regular high schooler who is extremely relateable allowing audiences both young and old to immediately connect with her playful and curious attitude. The film opens with Makoto waking up from a dream, running late for class having overslept. This in itself is a scene that builds a strong connection to viewers because who hasn’t had one of those days where sleep overpowers the annoyance of an alarm clock? Adding to this, Makoto’s immediate ideas for time travel involve repeatedly going back in time to eat her favorite pudding and leaping back in time to allow for better performance in a pop quiz. Her character has a certain realism and a quality that makes her less of a protagonist and more of a normal teenager. Audiences not only form an immediate connection with her but are able to personally sympathize with her desire to abuse her newfound powers of time leaping to make minor adjustments that consequently result in a slightly better outcome for her in life.
The film’s plot and themes are very well built leading the film from a light tone to a heavier one that imposes the need to really reflect upon one’s life and how one uses his or her time. The tagline in the film and the opener to Makoto discovering her power was, “Time waits for no one.” This is something the film gets right and something that really defines Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. That single sentence served as an anchor that not only planted itself in memory but also left a lasting impact as the film moved forward. The viewer is constantly reminded throughout the film that time is a luxury that nobody should be wasting. It is also commendable how the movie manages to depict this idea of using time to the fullest not in a manner similar to the yolo mentality of today’s youth but in such a way that highlights really using time to make the most out of life.
The film builds up to a situation wherein Makoto realizes rather late that her time leaping was limited to a certain number of jumps back in time. It eventually culminates with the revelation that Chiaki is also a time leaper and that he has run out of time leaps himself. Makoto uses her last time leap to give Chiaki is final leap back and allow him to return to his time but only after Makoto realizes her love for him. As they go their separate ways, Makoto decides to dedicate her future to preserving a painting for Chiaki who in turn decides to wait for Makoto in his own time. The final scene between the two is a symbolic ending to the film showing that Makoto has conquered time by promising to use the rest of the time she has left to accomplish something that she deems worthwhile.
Its multiple awards are a testament to the quality of the film that has continuously been mentioned as being a must-see on many otaku’s lists. Years after its initial release, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time remains a staple film that deserves its spot in anybody’s collection.