It’s time for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past. And for this Thursday, we thought, why not do a throwback that is a throwback in itself, i.e, a time-travel story. That’s why the subject of today is ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’.
For those who are familiar with the title, you be asking which one? I’ll be focusing on the 1983 movie, which had a little bit of international acclaim, and led to a sequel made in 2010 that was translated and streaming on Netflix. I will not be touching on the millions of dramas and mangas based off the series.
This movie, however, is not for everyone. It has every quality of an artsy foreign film people used to make fun of in the 90s, including starting in black and white and moving into to color, then moving back into black and white, a 45-minute build-up to time travel, no climax really whatsoever, and the slowest payoff known to sci-fi.
And by pay off, I really just mean a strange ending involving a time traveler replacing a dead kid, and living his life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a day in the life of Kazuko Yoshiyama, or rather a few days in the life of Kazuko Yoshiyama. I did say it was a slow build, right? She goes skiing with her classmates, goes to school, does club activities, and spends a lot of time walking places with her two best friends, Goro and Kazuo.
It may sound a bit boring, but it’s really not. ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’s charm is that is that it takes you on your own leap through time back to 1970s Japan, before the technological boom. There is a beauty and nostalgia in it for modern audiences, and a glimpse into a new world for the contemporary watchers. While it takes a while to get there, every element that seemed so inane, such as the teacher’s necktie, or the smell of lavender become very important as Kazuko begins to leap through time.
In the end, you find out that Kazuko was a time traveller from the year 2260, and while he and Kazuko fall in love, he does exactly what you expect in an artsy foreign film stereotype. He leaves her and erases the memories.
Originally a popular book, ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ has remained popular since its inception, and it’s a little hard to put one’s finger on why. I think it relies heavily on the reality of Kazuko’s life, and her reactions to her strange journeys through time. Nevertheless, even with the slow build, it remains a favorite of mine, if only to admire the bravery in its cinematography, though its techniques may seem not modern to us now.