“Toki o Kakeru Shojo” is a story that has apparently had a very long and varied history which includes multiple adaptations, both live action and animated. I have never seen these prior adaptations, and I watched this film from a completely fresh perspective. In some ways, that can be a problem, as there are a few things that are questionable to a new viewer, but overall, the film can be viewed standalone and enjoyed without many problems.
The film can be categorized a few different ways, but it has the slice-of-life atmosphere first and foremost, so that is probably what I would characterize it as. The main character is a slightly tomboyish girl who has two male friends. Before you ask – no, there is no dramatic soap-opera love triangle where she is forced to choose one over the other. However, romance is involved in the film. As I watched the first half of this film, I couldn’t help but think that this was on track to being quite an exceptional little film. The writing was superb – the dialogue between the characters felt very natural and realistic. The animation and artwork were a delight, and the sound and music were fitting to the film, though they weren’t given the significance of, say, some of Hisashi Joe’s scores. And I loved where the story seemed to be headed.
Unfortunately, the film falters in the final act. There is a very poignant scene at the climax where Makoto, after having used and abused her new-found time-traveling powers many times, is finally confronted with a horrible situation that is about to occur due to the unforeseen consequences of her actions. Up until this point, I thought I had pinpointed exactly what kind of film this was going to be. However, there is a change of gears at this point because the time-traveling aspect of the show is extended to another character, resulting in a rather jarring deus ex machina. The film becomes slightly less about a personal journey and even has something of a sci-fi bent to it. Essentially, the resolution to the nail-biting, powerful climax feels inadequate in resolving the tension that had been built, and this soured the experience greatly for me.
It’s a very well made film, and I have no problems with recommending it to anyone who wants a well-told and well-directed anime film. I probably would have preferred if the general tone of the first half had lasted throughout and the time-travel aspect had remained a personal journey of sorts for Makoto, but that is not an opinion that seems to be widely held, so take it with a grain of salt.
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