Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

With remakes and adaptations inundating the American film scene, it’s good to see that Japan is … doing the exact same thing? If you’ve ever complained about overused material, get this; the 1967 novel Toki o Kakeru Shõjo (The Girl Who Dashes Through Time) has spawned two live action films, a TV movie, an animated film, two drama series and a manga. But while the novel (and more than one adaptation) tells the story of Kazuko Yoshiyama, the original “girl who leapt through time,” 2010’s Time Traveller is different.Kazuko (Narumi Yasuda) is grown up and working as a pharmaceutical researcher. After a car accident, she goes into a coma, waking up only when her daughter Akari (Riisa Naka) visits her. Kazuko is conscious for just long enough to show Akari an old photo of herself with a boy, and tells her daughter that she must go back to 1972 using a special liquid to pass him a message. After one of the most absurd time travel sequences ever seen on film, Akari travels back, but to the wrong time; 1974. She makes her appearance by falling on top of Ryota (Akiyoshi Nakao), which seems to be a popular way for Japanese characters to meet. Together, they search for the boy in the picture.The concept of a pseudo-sequel is not original, but Time Traveller is buoyed by excellent performances from its leads. Riisa Naka, as Akari, captures the awkwardness of her situation with every “uh”, “oh” and demure nod. She’s adorable, and that will please many a schoolboy and far too many older men. The monotony of Akiyoshi Nakao’s straight-faced Ryota is broken with moments of expression which transcend language, memorably making for one hilarious drinking montage. Time Traveller is not an epic period piece, but in the absence of grand outdoor scenes, the little details of settings are meticulously recreated.There are several minor points of folly (Akari’s expansive wardrobe and the apparent fact that any distance can be covered by running), but more significantly, the payoff of Time Traveller doesn’t quite match its build-up. It does, however, redeem itself enough to leave a lasting impression, and we’re talking about a lot more than a rekindled interest in Japanese school uniforms.