|DVD Toki o kakeru shôjo
Run time: 122 min
Genres: Adventure | Sci-Fi
Director: Masaaki Taniguchi
Writers: Yasutaka Tsutsui, Tomoe Kanno
Stars: Riisa Naka, Akiyoshi Nakao, Munetaka Aoki
A girl travels back in time in order to save her dying mother in this Japanese sci-fi adventure directed by Masaaki Taniguchi. With her scientist mother Kazuko (Narumi Yasuda) in a coma after being knocked down in a car accident, high school student Akira Yoshiyama (Riisa Naka) decides to use her mother’s research into time travel to journey back to the 1970s. Once there, Akira searches to find her mother’s first true love and bring him back to the present, where she hopes his presence will bring Kazuko out of her coma. Unfortunately for Akira, she soon discovers that her presence in the past has unforeseen consequences for her future. Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: time travel, memory erasure, science laboratory, teen romance, filmmaking|
Release Date: 13 March 2010 (Japan)
I had enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the 2006 animated version by filmmaker Mamoru Hosada, and no, this is not the live action version of the same story. Instead, this film just continues to expand upon the universe of TGWLTT, making it the third titular character who had done just that. The original novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui had its protagonist Kasuko Yoshiyama going back through time accidentally and the discovery of romance with a time traveller. That version of the story has already been made into a number of films and drama series. Then comes Hosada's animated film version, which has a story centered around Kasuko's niece Makota Konno, who had for the most parts, used her limited powers for very trivial, hilarious reasons.
For this year's life action film Time Traveller, with the subtitle The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the protagonist is Kasuko's own daughter Akari (starring the same actress Riisa Naka who had voiced Makota Konno in the recent animated film), who gets sent on a mission by her mom, now Professor Kasuko (Narumi Yasuda), who had perfected a time travelling liquid to fulfil one last promise, but had met with an accident and fallen into a coma. Akari's mission is to go back to the year 1972 and to look for a certain Kazuo Fukamachi (Kanji Ishimaru), to deliver a message that only he would understand. But in true ditzy fashion, Akari got the year mixed up and arrives in 1974, two years late, and needing the help of filmmaker Ryota (Akiyoshi Nakao) whom she had literally fallen onto, for help.
Much of the story then centres on the mystery of how Kazuo doesn't seem to register on the radar of the community and neither on various official records, and worse of all, not even mom Kasuko, a teenager then (played by Anna Ishibashi), can recollect who this person is. Of course for audience in the know of the first story/film/manga, then this will come to no surprise, and part of the fun is to see how Akari can figure this out, and also her predicament of being in the wrong year to begin with, together with comical moments given that she has her handbag of modern day thingamajigs, and at times being particularly cloy in character.
Like in true Back to the Future style, the deliberate non-revelation of Akari's father before she jumps through time also provides some narrative tension, as the sweet 18 years old girl inevitably gets attracted to Ryota and perhaps his friend the cameraman Gotetsu (Munetaka Aoki) as well, with feelings suggested to be probably mutual, and hence one heck of a headache if you think about existentialism issues or the paradox of time with any time travel film. It can be a cruel process, and the main narrative arc here that deals with Akari's budding romance, is nothing short of an emotional sledgehammer that highlights the cruelty that is from time travelling, and it's not just plain never seeing the person again at their current age, but rather not being allowed to significantly influence historical events that makes it an extremely bittersweet film by the time the end credits come along. The note is sombre that live carries on, regardless of the many pitfalls that we experience and consider wanting to give up.
Unlike the anime, there's only one major leap here and the special effects are quite surprisingly kitsch, and at times raw even. The trick here for time travel is to down a vial of liquid, then wish hard. I suppose the magic with animation is that one can design just about almost anything, but with a film that has to utilize special effects, then there would be some constraints that will naturally be imposed, and the expectations that comes along with the using of SFX. Otherwise, its production values in creating the 70s era is excellent, despite knowing some shots were made relatively tight to avoid backgrounds giving the non-aligned time elements away.
Ultimately, I believe this to be a filmmaker's story, since it had the characters involve themselves with film-making, and dealt with how film itself can be an important imprint to lost memories, where images captured on film, if preserved properly, can probably last for posterity. It captures sight and sound forgotten, and helps jog memories of a time bygone, transmitting emotions even through the sheer power of imagery, even though it may be incomprehensible but to some. It has the same spirit as Be Kind Rewind, but done in a more powerful and emotional manner. For this reaffirmation, Time Traveller scores big time, and I wonder if we will have more stories from this TGWLTT universe.
Watched this movie on Netflix streaming a couple of weeks back! fantastic movie!!
The plot is fairly straight-forward – scientist mother invents a liquid that enables time-travel. She has an accident and is in near coma. but she asks the daughter for a favor and the daughter has to go back in time to fix it. Except that the daughter goes back in time to the wrong year.
How the daughter still manages to fix things for her mom is the rest of the story.
I can't really find fault with anything in the movie – except for maybe the overall concept of time travel. It was shot really well and when I connected the dots, it was like "whoa" – that's awesome!
Taniguchi Masaaki's "Toki O Kakeru Shojo" (AKA Time Traveler) is an entertaining and enjoyable time-spanning romance that while doesn't particularly differ that greatly from its predecessors in its approach, still manages to be an engaging and not-at-all too redundant film.
"Toki O Kakeru Shojo" (or Tokikake) is probably the most adapted modern short story in Japanese Literature. As of date, there have been eight different versions of the Tsutsui Yasutaka story in both TV and movies — the NHK drama "Time Traveler ('72) with Shimada Junko; the '83 movie with Harada Tomoyo; the Fuji TV Drama special ('84) with Minamino Yoko; the Fuji TV Drama special ('94) with Uchida Yuki; the '97 movie with Nakamoto Nana; the TBS TV special ('02) with Abe Natsumi, Hosoda Mamoru's fan-favorite anime movie ('06) and most recently Yatate Hajime's anime TV series ('09).
With this many variations, remakes and reiterations of the story, you'd think how much more different could this movie be especially after Hosoda made what seemed like the definitive version. Yet "Time Traveler" successfully distinguishes itself by introducing some clever time-travel twists and using references from the other versions in its story.
Adorably cute Naka Riisa (who voiced Konno Makoto in the "Toki O Kakeru Shojou/The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" anime) portrays Yoshiyama Akari, a bubbly Japanese high school student who has just passed her exams to go to college. Her mother is Kazuko (80s J-Dorama idol Yasuda Narumi) who is a chemist and pharmaceutical researcher who is obsessed with the year 1972(Showa Year 47) and has been working on a time-traveling elixir made from rare Lavender extracts.
When local liquor vendor Asagura Gorou (Tatsumura Masanobu) shows Kazuko an old photo of her with another classmate, a flood of memories comes back to her and in a moment of distraction, she is involved in a traffic accident and is left in a coma. During a brief gain of consciousness, she tells Akari to use her test elixir to go the specific date (4/6/1972), the year she was in Junior High and find Fukamachi Kazuo(Kanji Ishimaru), the classmate in the photo and relate a message to him.
Taking one of the Lavender elixirs, Akari focuses on the date that her mother gave her however, when Akari wakes up she finds herself instead in 2/6/1974 (she had mixed up the date). Frantic, she tries to find the whereabouts of both her mother (now a high student in Yokohama and portrayed by Ishibashi Anna) and get more information from her. With the help of 70s sci-fi movie "Otaku" Fuzoroki Ryota (J-Dorama Rookies' Nakao Akiyoshi) and his hippie cameraman "Gotetsu" AKA Hasegawa Masamichi (Aoki Munetaka), who may or may not be one of Kazuko's high school lovers, Akari tries to contact Fukamachi, who we learn to be a fellow time traveler from the year 2060 who had gotten stuck in the year 1972.
Yet things get complicated when Akari and Ryota begin to fall in love and Akria learns that Ryota is destined to die in a bus accident in the same year.
The strength of the film definitely falls with versatile Naka Riisa, who has made quite a splash since her "Tokikake" Seiyuu/voice work days having starred in a number of TV J-Doramas and films including Tominaga Masanori's "Pandora's Box" and portraying the sexy Lady Gaga-type villain "Zebra Queen" in Miike Takashi's "Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City". Naka is very charming on screen and her Akari is such a delightfully sweet and fun character.
Nakao Akiyoshi is also no stranger to remakes having starred in the 2006 TV series adaptation of the 1981 Kadokawa film "Sailor Fuku and Kikanjyu" and here he has a much more substantive role as the likable character of Ryota, an amateur filmmaker whose dream project is a love story set in 2010 and features some of the items that Akari showed him (like a cellphone). There is definitely romantic chemistry between his Ryota and Naka's Akari characters and I liked how director Taniguchi made it very poignant and tender. I like how their romance was mirrored by the time-spanning love between Kazuko and her enigmatic lover Fukamachi.
What I most liked about Taniguchi and screenwriter Kanno Tomoe's adaptation is that they used a lot of references to the other "Tokikake" films (more so than any other version) especially with regards to the titular 1983 Kadokawa version with Harada Tomoyo. We finally get an updated version of that film's title song compliments of hit J-Pop group Ikimonogakari which is just as good (and perhaps even better) than Harada's original. We also get a lot of references to the other film adaptations such as having Akari be a Japanese Archery student (similar to the 1983 version) and the use of the 1972 year reference (which was the year that the first "Tokiokake" film debuted which coincidentally was also titled "Time Traveler"). Even Yasuda Narumi's character Kazuko is alluded to as being possibly the same character as the one Nakamoto Nana portrayed in the 1997 version.
This is Taniguchi's first feature film debut after helping as an assistant director on such films such as "GTO" and "Pachigi! Love & Peace" and he does a great job of creating a surprisingly moving, romantic film. His recreation of Tokyo in the year 1974 is pretty impressive and he definitely captures the look, fashion and atmosphere of that year. While the time-traveling sequence in the beginning is a bit goofy (similar to the 1983 film) it still was a nice bit of SFX (almost "Alice In Wonderland" like).
Although it would have been great to have original "Tokikake" heroine Harada Tomoyo make a cameo appearance in this version, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. Hopefully this will be the last of the "Tokikake" films as I'm not sure how much more variance you can put to the story.
It is a pretty solid mash of romance and drama with sci-fi. I usually fall asleep in romance movie or find those movies a bit hard to watch with all the lovely-dovely stuff like the Twilight movies. But in this case, I was entertained because this movie actually moves on a brisk pace and kept me in suspense.
The story: Riisa Naka acts as a goofy but cute girl, Akari whose mother had an accident. She is being told to travel to the year 1972 to convey a message to someone her mother likes. Well, the travelling antidote helps her to travel through time. This movie is not supposed to be realistic so suspend your belief because later when the slight twist is revealed as the mystery person whom Akari's mother wants her to tell him a message finally appears, it will become a little far-fetched. Anyway, during the time finding the mystery guy, Akari slowly falls in love with a director, Ryota who helps her and lets her stay in his house. The story is predictable, but the movie moves in such a brisk pace with suspense that I would not mind but to go along with Akari's adventure. Riisa Naka does a pretty good job in acting like goofy but cute girl with some priceless moments. And she has a likable face too. I can't wait to see her in Zebra man 2.
Overall: It is a pretty entertaining Japanese movie. No idea where all the negative critic reviews in Singapore come from but this movie may entertain if you are willing to suspend belief and go along with the adventure. It may be bashed up by blockbusters in Christmas but it should be worth a watch on DVD.