The Girl Who Leapt through Time… A more apropos title for a “Ten Years Later” article is difficult to come by. Even more difficult is creating an entertaining and enduring time travel story. This film succeeds in that endeavor by barely being about time travel at all. Confused? Well, this is time travel we’re talking about… The story opens with Makoto Konno having a bad day, a really bad day. Life seems to be throwing disaster after disaster at her. Her pudding… eaten by her sister. A pop quiz… failed. Cooking class… let’s not even talk about that small fire she started. Slipped, bumped her head, and had a trippy vision? Oh, yeah, that happened.
And the perfect way to end this day? How about her bike brakes failing and throwing her into the path of an incoming train? Yes, a truly bad day was had, but at least it will be her last, right? Unbelievably, it is not; she opens her eyes and finds herself five minutes in the past, her bike already crashed into a lady. Her life has been spared, but how? Her “Auntie Witch” has a theory; Makoto has time leaped, a common thing for girls her age.
Initially, Makoto scoffs at this theory, but a few experiments later and that pudding is hers! Time leaping is in her grasp, and no meal cannot be enjoyed repeatedly. This is where The Girl Who Leapt through Time distinguishes itself; with these new found powers, Makoto is not off to save the world or avert a major catastrophe. Instead, we are treated to a story about the struggles of coming of age and dealing with all the emotions and issues one is not prepared for. It just happens to have the wrinkle of time travel.
The core of the story is a solid slice of high school life. The audience connects with it deeply because it is in many ways our own story. Hanging out aimlessly with our friends, yet stressing over what to do with our lives. And love… young love… The most frightening experience we all have to face. These are the moments—mundane, painful, and exhilarating—that shaped us into adults. Makoto attempts to use her leaps to avoid the pain and retry things until they work in her favor. As these attempts repeatedly fail, she slowly realizes no amount of time travel can prevent the more painful lessons from catching up with you.
She believes her efforts are innocent with no major effects on those around her. However, these small, seemingly innocuous changes unravel Time’s carefully woven skein and lead to a disaster worse than any on the day that started this story. What makes this film brilliant is how it has no need to even explain how we arrived at this point. There is no exposition about “The Butterfly Effect,” no attempts at explaining loops or paradoxes. It simply trusts in its narrative and audience to find and understand each other. And when the end arrives and fixes nearly everything, it just makes sense without feeling like a cheap reboot of the universe. Makoto has simply come of age and learned the hardest life lessons, albeit in a unique way.
Written as a loose sequel of Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel of the same name, the film was well received when released in Japanese theaters on July 15, 2006 and equally well received when Bandai released it to the US market in 2008. Now, here we are ten years later, and Makoto has the opportunity to leap into our hearts again with Funimation’s release. Make the leap with her now and throughout the next decade. This story will continue to stand the test of time (travel).