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Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000141481
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 21/4/2011 15:03
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    Review for Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

    7 / 10


    It's Manga Entertainment who release Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and depending on which PR bumf you read, or which advertising you pay attention to, this is the live action sequel to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time anime, which Manga have previously released on DVD and most recently on Blu-ray. That would be an inaccuracy. Time Traveller is just another in a long line of adaptations of the original novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, a novel that has been brought to the silver and small screens many times over the years, and it's merely the Mamoru Hosoda animated version that has made the biggest splash internationally. Time Traveller was released in 2010, and is the most recent of the adaptations, but in terms of its story and its characters, it has nothing to do with the anime. That is except for one really neat connection. The star of this film, Riisa Naka actually voiced Makoto Konno in the anime feature.

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    Akari Yoshiyama lives with her mother in a single parent family, her filmmaker father long absent. Not that it matters, as both mother and daughter are lively and outgoing. Kazuko Yoshiyama is a chemistry researcher, while her daughter is just about to graduate high school. That's until the day that Kazuko received a message from the past, a mysterious photograph and a sprig of dried lavender. It provokes such a strong reaction that she's left in a daze, not good whilst crossing roads. The resulting accident puts Kazuko into a coma. She wakes up briefly though, determined to leave, and to visit a boy named Kazuo Fukamachi. Akari tells her mother that she will go in her place, and that she should concentrate on getting better. Before she falls back unconscious, Kazuko shows her daughter the photograph of her and Kazuo, and tells her that the only way to meet Kazuo is in a school science lab, in April 1972, and that she has developed a potion that can let the drinker travel through time.

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    A little sceptical, Akari drinks the potion, and suddenly she's falling back through time. She lands in a science lab all right, and she literally lands on a young film student named Ryota Mizorogi. Except the trouble is that she's missed the target by two years. Its 1974, and she has no idea where Kazuo is. Fortunately, the film student she has just flattened is currently making a sci-fi movie, and he's a little more open minded to the fantastic and far-fetched. Now they have to start from scratch and somehow find Kazuo Fukamachi and deliver her mother's message. The problem is that no one knows who Kazuo Fukamachi is, it's as if he never even existed.

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    The Disc

    Time Traveller gets a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, which is a nice, clear film to PAL conversion. The image is clear throughout, with consistent colours, and which brings the period detail across well. I did find it a tad soft though, and the overall palette felt a little subdued. It's a film that is light on special effects, which is odd given its sci-fi roots. It's a good thing too, as the one egregious use of CGI, the initial leap through time, looks unimpressive and overcooked, as if the animators just threw every idea they had in there. Fortunately the rest of the movie is effects light, concentrating on the story first and foremost. The only audio track is a DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese track, with optional English subtitles. The dialogue is clear, the music suits the film well, and given a little Prologic pick-me-up, the stereo has a fair bit of presence to it.

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    The disc gets nicely animated menus, but the only extras are two trailers, the second of which gives too much of the movie away, and a 17-minute reel of clips from the film, which is absolutely the most pointless extra feature ever pressed into a retail DVD.


    If you're going to market this film as related to the Mamoru Hosoda anime, then it's no surprise that you invite comparison. Time Traveller isn't a patch on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The anime movie is more magical, more entertaining, more exciting, and more emotionally evocative. Time Traveller is all these things too, although not to the same degree. The big difference is that the anime movie actually makes use of its time travel concept as more than just a simple Maguffin, but in Time Traveller, it really is just a means of getting Akari from A to B, there's no changing history here, no complex paradoxes, and no brain twisting continuity conundrums.

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    Leaving the comparisons aside though, Time Traveller is a nice, heart-warming romantic adventure across 4 decades. It's got likeable characters, an interesting story, and just the correct amount of time travel induced culture clash mischief that is obligatory in a film of this nature. It's astounding to see just how primitive 1974 actually was, and the sheer hassle of being unable to get a mobile signal! There's also a lot of charm in the way that the period is brought to life, a fair amount of attention to detail in the look of the film, the production and costume design, the revisiting of cultural oddities like transistor radios, flower power, and orange wallpaper.

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    Riisa Naka makes for a very appealing protagonist in Akari Yoshiyama, outgoing and positive, with a quirky individuality that really shines on screen. There's also a real chemistry between her and Ryota the 1970s film student who helps her on her mission. It's hard not to like the girl who falls on your head, but their friendship gradually develops and deepens as the story unfolds.

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    The average time travel movie will send its heroes on a journey through time, and introduce a set of rules that usually cannot be broken, but of course as the film unfolds, the rules will be broken, history will change, and the good guys will triumph. Time Traveller isn't one of those films, which I have to admit came as a disappointment to me. It's surprising, and even a little brave to set up a relationship, and then throw in an inviolable rule of physics to prevent it from succeeding. It does leave a little hollow feeling, especially if you don't invest in the personal journey that Akari goes on, and the emotional development that does pay off in the end. Then again, Time Traveller does leave enough hanging to at least warrant a sequel. If a sequel is forthcoming, then maybe so is the full satisfaction of a genuinely happy ending.

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    What disappointed me most was that for all the time travel in the film, it really didn't make the most of the premise. A little culture clash, and fish out of water situation helps to set the scene, but the romantic elements of the film would have worked just as well without the time travel, while a rather interesting plot where Akari encounters her parents' younger selves, much like in Back to the Future, just wasn't developed adequately. Time Traveller as a romantic diversion works well enough, and you won't regret spending 2 hours in its company, but as a more effective blend of sci-fi, romance, comedy and time travel, a better Japanese take would be Cyborg She, also available on UK DVD.

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