What is it?
Japanese animation film about a schoolgirl who develops the power to travel through time.
Time travel and teenagers, eh?
Yeah, surely a dangerous combination. Makoto’s an energetic, boisterous young girl who, after encountering a mysterious object, discovers she has the ability to freeze and manipulate time. As you can imagine, she uses it to her advantage and gives herself more time to sleep-in each morning, get better scores on her tests and improve her life tenfold. Of course, this isn’t without repercussions, and the film deals with Makoto dealing with the knock-on effects of her time travelling whilst her two best friends, Kōsuke and Chiaki, are kept utterly bamboozled. How can she be so good at catching a baseball every time they play catch? Everything’s just a bit too perfect, and it’s only a matter of time before things start to go awry.
Is it any good?
In other hands, a film delving into deep science fiction conventions with a sharp focus on high school romance could be a bit of a mess. Thankfully, very little gets lost in translation from its original Japanese script and you never really feel out of the loop. The film looks fantastic and is superbly drawn, which helps the predominantly care-free summertime setting feel all the more engaging. It often feels very bright, welcoming and absorbing. Makoto’s means of inducing time travel often involve running, jumping and rolling, which normally ends in her speeding head first in a heap into various pieces of furniture and doors. It’s a good indication of the film’s lighthearted and slightly comic edge, which is wonderfully offset by its darker moments. I won’t spoil anything, but the film pulls out some genuinely intense scenes with Makoto racing against time (ironic, no?) to prevent tragedy.
There aren’t any massive issues that hinder the film too much, but some might find the overly dramatic teenage romance aspect a little bit off-putting. Then again, these are teenagers. Remember hormones? Don’t be fooled, because the film doesn’t get anywhere near the histrionics and cartoony vibe that you’ll find in most anime.This is, for the most part, much more measured, mature and sophisticated.
Great characters, effective if overly long ending, good story that only occasionally baffles and a great setting. Well worth watching.