Blu-Ray/DVD Box Set Review
After seeing Wolf Children and Summer Wars, I knew I had to see The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Hosoda films have officially caught my attention, and this FUNimation box set only made that grip stronger.
As for the FUNimation box set itself, I was pleasantly surprised. There’s an entire disk dedicated to extras and special features, something I didn’t expect since most of FUNimation’s box sets let down in this regard. But not this time! This time, the extras disk was chocked full of goodies and bonuses. I highly recommend viewing the Director’s Vision film. It will be of special interest to anyone going into film making, but honestly, it’s chocked full of interesting facts and peeks into the director’s vision that enhances the film. Beyond that, there’s story board extras, which are as delightful and fascinating as storyboards get, and a several other above average goodies I enjoyed.
I’ll be honest, I’m just glad there was something there besides trailers for other movies. This box set’s extras alone make me raise my thumbs high in approval. Nice job, FUNimation. Nice job.
The cover is beautiful, the disk art minor and plain, and of course, the blue ray box’s cover was gorgeous as the movie’s art. A splendid piece to look at and even more enjoyable to experience across all three discs.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time starts calm enough with our main heroine, Makoto, late for school and coincidentally the worst day of her life. Her luck has apparently run out because in the space of twenty-four hours she fails a test, sets a cooking class on fire, entangles herself in of wrestling brawl, and gets hit by a train.
Yeah, you read that right. At the end of the day, Makoto dies–or nearly. When time suddenly resets itself to just before her accident at the train tracks, Makoto realizes she has somehow gained the ability to leap through time. She can go to any time she wants, redo anything she wants, and boy does she. Makoto turns her worst day ever into the best day ever and uses her time leaping to avoid any uncomfortable situations life throws at her from then on, making herself just generally invincible. She soon discovers, however, that snatching her good luck back may just cost every one she knows their own happy endings.
Hosoda’s animation has found a lovely match between modern, fluid animation and the raw simplicity of older anime styles like studio Ghibli’s. Unfortunately, this style wasn’t quite perfected in this film.
Occasionally the animation is too jerky and the CGI incorporation, though not used often, was as awkward as your cousin asking you to prom. One scene in particular, where a curtain of beads sways behind our main character, felt like it was only there to highlight who they were using CGI in the most obvious, gawking way possible. Like, Disney Sinbad’s level of uncomfortable.
Truly terrifying. Still, considering The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was released in 2008, the learning curve is forgivable—and honestly, endearing. If there’s anything I love, it’s watching a studio or artist’s style grow and develop.
Another issue I ran into was awkward pacing. In certain places, pauses dragged on too long for even the most patient of movie watchers, especially later in the movie. I enjoyed the images that overlaid these moments, but nearly thirty seconds of silence with only watercolor scenery only served to drop the tension in high-strung moments, not ramp it up. This happened a lot, though luckily most were small. I managed to forgive most after watching the director’s vision special feature, where Hosoda himself describes the artistic intent. I’m a sucker for artistic vision, what can I say?
Now don’t get the wrong idea here, I’ve given this movie box set four stars for a reason. Despite technical weaknesses, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is still an absolute joy to watch. Like all Hosoda films this movie shines in its ability to corner, cover, and explore the human, realistic core of supernatural experiences. This isn’t a movie about time travel. Sure, there’s a girl who literally leaps through time, but that’s not the point. This story is about Makoto Konno learning to grow up and face her problems. Problems like realizing her best friend, Chiaki, is in love with her, or like learning to say goodbye. Or even more importantly, dealing with both.
No spoilers, but let’s just say that the development of these two characters are flawless. A character-driven story is exactly what I look for, so this had me squealing on the couch the whole time. There are a lot of surprises that arrive in the last thirty minutes, so make sure to watch through the whole thing. After all, sci-fi romances with a slice-of-life heart are few and far between.
Over all, the amazing characterization, mostly fluid animation, and fantastic special features and disk earns this soon-to-be classic a 4.3 out of 5 stars. This movie may be a little rough around the edges, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing short of charming.