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Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 80s Kadokawa Years (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000219860
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 21/10/2022 14:19
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Review for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (1983)

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Kazuko Yoshiyama is a pretty normal high school girl, albeit one who spends more time than you might expect for a teenage girl, with two boys, two childhood friends Goro Horikawa and Kazuo Fukumachi. As with most Japanese high schools, the student body has more in the way of responsibilities, including making sure the premises are clean. One day, the three friends have to clean a science lab, and Kazuko encounters a sweet smell, and a fallen flask which renders her unconscious.

She seems okay when she wakes up in the school infirmary, but as the days pass, time gets increasingly out of joint, and her memories no longer make sense.

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time gets a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer (although the film is bookended by two pillarboxed sequences) with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese track with optional English subtitles. The audio is immersive, without having a particularly dynamic sound design, and the image is clear, although a tad softer than you might expect. In this regard, the transfer has much in common with School in the Crosshairs, including the less than inky blacks. Still, grain is apparent as it should be, and the viewing experience is pleasant enough. The special effects are appropriate to the era, and do look delightfully home spun at times.

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The disc boots to an animated menu, and you’ll find the following extra features.

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi Interview (24:24)
The Tomoyo Harada Story (7:36)
Toki O Kakeru Shojo Music Video (2:59)
Trailer (2:44)

The music video is essentially the textless end credit sequence from the movie.

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I guess it’s ironic that while I was happy to compare School in the Crosshairs favourably to the Psychic School Wars anime, I feel that it’s unfair for me to compare this version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to the Mamoru Hosoda animation, as really it’s no contest. But collectors of Manga Entertainment titles will no doubt be interested to know that their release of Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time 2010 version is actually a sequel to this story.

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You can see from the extra features that this period of Japanese cinema effectively operated with a studio system not unlike that of golden age Hollywood, and these films were effectively vehicles for fresh talent. The lead actress in this film, Tomoyo Harada pretty much got the role by winning a talent contest, and that tells in her debut performance, not helped by Nobuhiko Obayashi’s stylised direction and characteristic compositional techniques. These aren’t actor performances that help me get into the emotion of the piece. It’s telling that it’s the theme song performance that I appreciated most from Tomoyo Harada.

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I also didn’t find it the easiest story to get into. The film takes a good age to get going, and even longer to develop the characters to the point that I could begin to empathise with and understand them. The ‘rules’ of time travel for this film, and the confusion that arises in Kazuko’s memories don’t seem particularly well established, and are instead rather obscure and distracting.

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It’s a shame, as this is the film that drew me to this boxset to begin with, but I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Perhaps it’s simply because that I’m wholly prejudiced by the Mamoru Hosoda anime version of the story. But really, the story and the characters in this failed to engage me emotionally, and given that this is a love story, that should be fundamental. Once again, the quality of the transfer on this Blu-ray appears to be hampered by the source material, but it is at the very least watchable.


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