As the title implies, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) is a movie about time travel, and that means I had some reservations about it right from the start. I’m easily confused by time travel stories that loop in on themselves (usually meaning the time traveling character ends up being in two places at once), and this movie was no exception. Fortunately, though, the strengths of the film were solid enough that the time traveling didn’t distract me from them.
Unlike Wolf Children and Summer Wars, the only other Mamoru Hosoda films I’ve seen, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has a very tight character focus. Wolf Children is about a single mother and her two children, and Summer Wars has a huge cast of characters, but in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time it’s just the eponymous girl, Makoto, her friends, and their interactions with each other.
And I think this is why the movie not only manages to be a time travel story that is not too difficult to understand, but also a very moving romantic drama. I’m greatly impressed by how quickly and effortlessly it made me care about its characters. With Wolf Children and Summer Wars it took some time to get a feel for the main characters, but The Girl Who Leapt Through time does it very naturally, because it really is all about the characters. The mechanics of the time travel, while important to the story, don’t actually matter that much when it comes to the characters’ mutual relationships. I always like a good drama, so I’m very happy the movie turned out to be one.