• Jamie Morris

Weekend Pick: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

Discover the sci-fi drama that put Oscar-winner Mamoru Hosoda on the map…

With his latest release, Belle, anime director Mamoru Hosoda demonstrated a willingness to return to themes and scenarios explored previously in his filmography – and those who join him in leaping back in time will discover his sophomore film remains his greatest achievement yet.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a 2006 sci-fi drama about a teenager named Makoto who miraculously survives being flung over the handlebars of her bike into the path of a moving train, and soon realises she can quite literally leap back in time at will.

Combining time travel with a high school setting leads to some predictable results, such as Makoto exploiting her newly-acquired power to ace a class test, or to rectify an embarrassing home-ec blunder. Hosoda’s attention to detail, however, accentuates the aspects of this familiar tale that differentiate it from its predecessors (and successors).

As our protagonist hops, skips and rolls her way out of mistakes and awkward situations, we’re treated to a fun, heartfelt drama that may either be relatable or nostalgic depending on the age of the viewer. Thanks to some great character animation, Makoto’s relationships with the supporting cast feel both entertaining and believable, and give the film’s perennial “time waits for no one” message the emotional backing that it needs.

In the years since its release, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has been credited with introducing a generation to a world of anime films beyond Studio Ghibli, and has paved the way for subsequent urban fantasy dramas such as Your Name. One of the defining anime films of the 2000s, this breakout hit stands the test of time.