This movie was absolutely incredible. On the surface it looks like your standard “girl gets magical powers, abuses them, learns an Aesop lesson and comes out of it more mature than before” boring movie. …It’s not. It’s so much better. I personally believe it’s because Mamoru Hosoda directed it (you may remember his work from Summer Wars).
The movie begins with Makoto Konno, a high school student, who is best friends with troublemaker Chiaki and more quiet Kosuke. When exploring a room in the school while cleaning one day, she finds a strange object and ends up falling onto it through a string of events. Suddenly she’s thrown into a strange alternate reality sort of world. Later when she wakes up, she goes home- but the brakes on the bike are broken. Makoto is killed by a bullet train.
That would be really depressing if that’s where the movie ended, right? But it doesn’t end there. Suddenly Makoto is transported back in time, something her aunt calls a “time leap”. She finds that she suddenly has the power to literally leap through time, and wastes it away by doing silly things like going back in time to redo a test, or redo a karaoke session over…and over…and over again. But Makoto discovers her new power is limited- she has a cap on the number of time leaps she can do. On top of that, her time leaps have terrible consequences that she could not expect.
This movie was…like I said, incredible. The pacing was very good, and I wasn’t bored at any part. Makoto connects with the viewer on a personal level. If I had her ability, I would have used it much the way she did. She doesn’t immediately (and unrealistically) decide to use her power to save the world; she uses it to correct menial things and to have fun. Frankly, she just acts like a typical high school girl. The art was good as well, not spectacular like Tekkon Kinkreet or Summer Wars, but not lacking in any way. The plot twists come very naturally, and often I came to conclusions the same time Makoto did.
The movie begins very casually and with fun, but quickly turns serious when the consequences of Makoto’s actions kick in. Suddenly very big things are at stake, and I ended up sobbing when the movie ended. This movie actually managed to throw me into a temporary depression. I could not believe what happened at the end. This movie ends with a lesson and hope, rather than fairytale endings, and in the end that makes it even more powerful. I highly recommend this movie to everyone, kids and adults alike.
And I’d also like to end on a note of shameless self-promotion: I am participating in a non-profit fundraiser to raise money for Japan in the wake of the Sendai earthquake. We are selling pins and will donate the money to a charity of our choosing. It would be absolutely amazing if people could spread the word and buy a button. 🙂 pinsforjapan.tumblr.com/shop