Starring at the stars one night while on a school ski trip, 16-year old Kazuko Yoshiyawa (played by former teen idol Tomoyo Harada) bumps into a mysterious stranger also starring up at the evening sky. It's only Fukamachi of course, one of the boys she's known her whole life - or has she? As romantic feelings blossom, strange things are happening to Kazuko - she's living moments she's already experienced, and waking up from dreams inside of dreams. Is her mind playing on tricks on her, or is she moving backwards through time? Is there something more sinister at play?
Obayashi Nobuhiko's adaptation of Tsutsui Yasutaka's "The Girl Who Leapt through Time" is dated, but for fans of Obayashi's campy but fun "House", this film is a great Sunday afternoon flick that displays a lot of Obayashi's strengths with movement. Obayashi keeps things interesting with a lot of neat strobe and colorization tricks, as well as some incredibly outdated and laughably-bad 80's computer effects. Where Obayashi really shines though is in the shots that immerse you in Kazuko's world - wonderfully subtle pans inside school hallways, classrooms, climbing the steps in Kazuko's beautifully serene town.
Most of the acting is a bit stiff and juvenile, with the exception of a young Ittoku Kishibe as Kazuko's language teacher, but the film and story are enjoyable nonetheless. "The Girl Who Leapt through Time" was a widely successful pop blend of teenage melodrama with the supernatural in Japan, and Japanese movies and anime have never looked back.
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