Also known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I seem to be on a Madhouse binge lately. Anyhow, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo is a fun anime to watch, but it’s best not to think too hard about its plot.
The film has excellent comedic timing and I found myself laughing more than I expected.
You just can’t really look too deeply into the plot without running into nagging questions. Honestly, how convenient was it that every time Makoto changed the past to benefit herself, someone else necessarily had to suffer? Can you really blame Takase’s bullying on Makoto’s seemingly innocent swap in cooking class? He didn’t have to flip out and neither did the bullies have to constantly egg him on. Also, when Makoto discovered that she had one jump left thanks to Chiaki’s final jump, why not go back to before she ever got her powers? This way, Chiaki could charge himself with the walnut-looking thing one last time and thus not be stuck with having just one jump left. Speaking of Chiaki, why does he go back in time only to see a painting when he could do bigger things? For instance, saving his era from whatever ails it, but even if that’s impossible, there are certainly more noble aspirations than seeing a damn painting. And just how does Makoto’s aunt know so much? When she discussed her first love with Makoto, was she trying to hint that her lover was also a time leaper? Toki raises so many questions, but answers almost none of them.
The film does have great moments, especially the scene above when time is frozen. Toki really benefitted from a soundtrack that didn’t try to overpower the scenes with overwrought piano solos. The insert song in the end didn’t do anything for me, but it wasn’t bad either. Makoto’s awkward crying elicited stified chuckles rather than sympathy (yes, I’m a horrible person), but on the whole, the movie’s soundtrack was a plus.
Visually, the film is gorgeous… well, the backgrounds are at least. They are incredibly stunning, full of personal touches and details. At one point, when Makoto gained her powers, she went through a captivating sequence that resembled oil paintings in action.
Trust me when I say that these pictures simply does not do the movie any justice. They are quite amazing to behold, especially in HD.
Which brings me to one of the film’s glaring problems: the character animations are so bad in comparison. They’re not bad compared to what we usually see in broadcast anime, but for a film in 2006, they could be so much better. Makoto sticks out like a sore thumb in the scene above.
In fact, all of the characters look incredibly bland compared to the world they inhabit. Whereas the background images contain intricate details like the grains of a wooden beam, the character designs are dominated by solid colors. It’s as if someone drew them in MS Paint and used the paint bucket tool over and over.
Hell, Kousuke has barely any detail to him, but you can see the wear in the fence in the back. The characters also suffer when they are standing on the far end from the viewers.
Take this scene for instance. Makoto’s face is completely blank yet the damn skeleton figure in the lower left corner has more detail to it than she does. Obviously, an animated object like Makoto will have some drop off when compared to static background images, but the contrast is so huge in this movie that it’s inexcusable. I’ve seen flash videos with better character animation than Toki.
The character designs themselves seem rather sloppy. In the scene above, Makoto’s aunt has an incredibly long neck. I’m only harping on these details because Madhouse is better than this. If this was the look they were going for, then I think it was a bad choice. It’s like eating a fine steak with A1 BBQ sauce.
In the end, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo could have been much more, but it opted to be a light-hearted story about a high school girl and her (predictable) high school troubles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing great about the film either. It’s a perfectly good time waster, but has precious little to say.