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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Girl Who Leapt Through Time DVD-BD CoverThe joys and dangers of altering time!

What They Say:
After discovering she can leap through time, high school student Makoto Konno does what any teenager would do. She re-takes tests, corrects embarrassing situations, and sleeps in as late as she wants, never thinking that her carefree time traveling could have a negative effect on the people she cares about. By the time she realizes the damage she’s done, she’ll have to race against time to set things right.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in 5.1 as well as the previously created English 5.1 mix, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The film is one that is largely dialogue driven as you would expect with high school kids and that’s conveyed well throughout. There are some good designs brought in with the mix as we see the core trio playing catch in the field with distance between them and that depth gives it a really good feeling. This also factors well into the placement that creates a good sense of spatial awareness. When the film goes bigger, sometimes with the action but mostly with the time travel aspects, it’s a lot of fun with what gets thrown to the rear channels and how it unfolds. There are some nice moments of directionality that don’t overwhelm and simply blends the film as a whole. Combine that with a great score and lots of little incidental sounds and you have a great mix for both tracks.

Originally in theaters in 2006, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Madhouse, it’s all kept to one disc here for the Blu-ray (the DVD splits the extras onto their own disc whereas the extras are on the Blu-ray disc here), and with a solid bit rate to it we get a very appealing looking film. It’s not arty in the traditional sense but it works things like a lot of films do in being loose in how it presents the designs and details, making for some wonderful fluidity at times and something that feels unique. The details in the film are solid throughout while the colors are really well done with a softer look for the earth tones while the time travel elements are vibrant and eye-catching. There’s a lot to like here with what it does and the transfer brings it to life wonderfully.

The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card for the first pressing edition. This replicates the artwork on the case but the better quality cardboard material gives it a better look in capturing the colors. The front cover is a familiar image to be sure of Makoto as she does her leap in mid-air with her bag dangling behind her. With the light clouds behind her and the rich shades of blue, it looks great and blends well with the Blu-ray strip along the top, which lists the formats that includes UltraViolet. The logo along the bottom is simple but works well enough and we get a few festival showing nods as well along the top that will catch some folks’ eye. The back cover uses largely the same style of background as the front, though it darkens it up enough so that the summary of the premise is easy to read – even with the off-white/gray that’s used for it. The strip of shots from the show is decent and we get the extended strip that breaks down what the UltraViolet format is all about. Adds in the technical grid, which is harder to read with black on the darker sky blues, and it largely works well. The artwork on the reverse side of the case has a great full panel image of Makoto with her bike as Chiaki walks past the rail while the right side breaks down the discs with what’s on them.

The menus for this release work a simple and blue style about it where we get some properly moody and atmospheric setting pieces that showcase the locations with some good character moments. The logo runs through the middle in a simple but effective way and the navigation strip is along the bottom and doubles as the pop-up menu. The navigation itself is kept with a basic font and there’s a nice spiral notebook aspect to part of it to tie into the school period a bit. It’s a solid and functional menu that doesn’t go big with theme but hits enough points to serve the material well enough.

The extras for this release are laid out a little oddly as some of them are on the DVD while the non-video ones are on the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray gives us the feature commentary as well as the storyboard angle side while also doing a version of it with both commentary and storyboards. The DVD of extras has a good run of materials as well, which are kept here as there are no high definition versions of them, that are pretty significant. The screening event material is fun to revisit from when the film premiere, getting the smaller pieces like the music video, promos, and trailers are also welcome to flesh things out. There’s a fun talk with Hosoda that he seems to enjoy partaking in as he’s done many in the years since with other films, and there’s also a behind the scenes screening event that goes into some time with the cast and staff involved in that.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an interesting work simply because of its origins alone. Originally titled Toki o Kakeru Shojo, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an adaptation of sorts of the original novel written back in 1965 by Yasutaka Tsutsui. In the 1970’s, a pair of live action TV series were made about the novel and a live action film was even made in 1983. It was remade again back in 1997 as a live action film and the story elements and themes were also part of a live action TV series done in 2002 which included a member from Morning Musume in it. Live action wasn’t all it got however as there was a pair of manga series done prior to this anime adaptation as well. We saw this originally when Bandai Entertainment dubbed and released it, but we’re definitely glad to see it back on the market and with this new high definition release.

Girl Who Leapt Through time Header 6-8What sets this films apart from the other adaptations is two-fold. The first is that it isn’t exactly an adaptation of the original work but rather a continuation of the original work set forward in time some twenty years or so. Not only does it go forward, but the original author has even gone so far as to call it a true second generation adaptation of the original work. This gives it a different kind of blessing than some of the other adaptations that have been done over the years but it’s also something that frees it from trying to directly adapt and please fans of the original work as well as those who enjoyed the various interpretations over the years. Even better is that you don’t need to know anything of the other works in order to enjoy the film in the slightest.

The ninety minute feature revolves around a trio of friends at a Tokyo senior high school who have been having a rather strong bonding time together. The trio is made up of the fun and outgoing Makoto, the serious studious and athletic Kosuke and the more free wheeling Chiaki. The three of them spend a good bit of their free time together doing things, be it karaoke or playing baseball. The baseball aspect is the strongest part of the bond as they play together regularly after school and joke that if only two of them participated it would just be tossing around the ball. The youthful view of life is very evident here as they talk in ways that indicate that they feel this life can go on forever. Naturally, that can’t actually be true and something happens that changes everything.

Girl Who Leapt Through time Header 6-2That something is Makoto accidentally stumbling upon something, quite literally, that causes her to leap through time. It’s shocking at first and she’s uncertain she really did it, but she gets the idea about it from her aunt who talks about doing the same thing when she was younger. Makoto goes into the time leaps with wild abandon for a while to much amusement. Her use of the power is simplistic at best as she does things to make sure she gets to school on time, does better on tests and avoids things that could cause a lot of trouble. What she doesn’t realize is that when she rewrites situations, she ends up setting someone else up for trouble. As the film progresses, this theme is explored more and more as the ramifications of her actions become clearer.

While that is a good part of the theme, the other is that of the relationships of the characters themselves. The trio is certainly a lot of fun to watch but you can tell that there are some confused feelings between some of them. With her ability to jump back in time, Makoto is able to try and fix things when they go terribly awry – in her opinion. When she finds out that someone has an interest in Kosuke, she does her best – repeatedly – to set things up so that Kosuke gets the clue and works down that particular path. But her actions change other things as she sometimes jumps back further than she has before and that alters events that she had dealt with previously. As it all comes together, it gets somewhat complicated but the narrative is still clear enough as we follow Makoto’s journey.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Header 4-12

And even though there is a good core cast of characters, it really is all about Makoto. She’s a positively fun character to watch in this situation as she simply doesn’t think big. Her idea of how to utilize this new power is to sleep in late while not missing any school or making sure she can take care of a test without any problems. She laughs outrageously when she discovers what she can do but she never truly thinks big. The simple fact that she abuses the power in order to participate in a ten hour karaoke session with Kosuke and Chiaki tells you enough about her. But as we learn more about her and she discovers more of the truth about the power and its relation to those around her, she starts to show a greater maturity that is engaging to watch even as she breaks down with pure emotion over the events.

Like many theatrical movies that do deal in the real world for the most part, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a beautiful piece of work. It’s filled with a lot of detail and the world is one that you can easily imagine stepping into and really finding what you see in these places. It retains a lot of that newness and beauty that you would find through the eyes of kids this age. Experiencing this world with them is very rich and alive, filled with numerous people moving about as opposed to massive empty or still streets that you see in most TV series. The animation is very fluid and it has a wonderful vibrant quality to it in many scenes, which is important both in the Time Sequences as well as some of the spectacular backgrounds of the city life. The realism that’s brought into the set designs helps make this feature all the more engaging.

In Summary:
It’s been probably close to a decade since I last saw this film and I had shown it to my young daughter at the time as well. Revisiting it with her at sixteen now was fun just to see it through her new understanding of it compared to before. The film left its mark on us the last time and it holds up very, very, well here. The story is fun and exciting and when it gets serious and tense it’ll put you on the edge of your seat. It’s very easy to invest in the characters here because of how well they’re presented and the personalities we get and that makes everything even easier to accept. With a great looking film given a strong presentation here alongside a great slate of extras, this is definitely a film that should be on most fan’s shelves and the kind of work that can cross over easily into the mainstream with non-anime friends. Very recommended.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Feature Commentary, Features with Storyboard, Trailers

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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