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The Asian ApertureTime Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, March 3, 2013    Share

Geeky and socially inept, Kazuko Yoshiyama is a pharmacist working on research, who discovers a secret formula for time travel. Kazuko’s daughter, Akari, is an energetic and plucky 18-year old girl who has just finished high school. Tragedy strikes when Kazuko is hit by a car. She is at the hospital in a coma. Grief stricken, Akari, visits her mother in the hospital and her mother wakes up briefly to tell her daughter about her first true love. Bound and determined, Akari decides to travel back in time.

Akari drinks the potion and sadly nothing happens. She tries again and through screaming fits and psychedelic film images, (who knew that time travel would be painful and so emotional,) she is in 1970’s Japan. This is the interesting part of Time Travel to see modern Japan reimaged to appear to be the 70’s; from an old fashioned Sony radio, to gaudy colorful flower print dresses, and lots of big bushy fros, you know what decade you are in. Akari soon meets up with a shy, intelligent SF movie director, Ryota Mizorogi. They work together to try to find Kazuo Fukamachi, mother’s old boyfriend. This is not easy as Akari stands in front of a school and asks different students if they know a Kazuo Fukamachi, and of course no one does.

Besides searching for Kazuo, Akari and Ryota develop a strong relationship and she helps him make his SF movie. It is amusing to see Ryota standing behind the camera in front of a model of a futuristic city with spaceships dangling from strings. Just off camera is Akari who stands ready. Ryota shouts “Action” and Akari shakes the table putting buildings and spaceships into violent motion. They just don’t make movies like that anymore.

Another interesting scene is when Ryota and Akari first meet. They are sitting quietly in a restaurant with Akari trying to get to know Ryota. She kills the silence by shouting that she is from 2010 and the future and this causes strange glances and stares from the other diners. I love socially awkward moments in movies. Ryota isn’t buying it, he just doesn’t believe this crazy girl he has just met, until she brings out of her purse her cell phone, and then his mind is blown. Now everyone is staring at them. Ryota is in shock that such technology exists and has been brought into his 70’s environment. He now believes Akari is from the future. Akari asks Ryota if he is a SF geek to which he doesn’t really respond. She uses the word, otaku, (nerd, geek, fanboy etc) and he doesn’t understand. In early 70’s Japan, no one would understand a polite word meaning ‘my house’, unlike Akari’s world of 2010 where otaku is a household word and a cultural phenomenon at an international level. In fact, throughout Time Traveller, Akari amuses herself whenever Ryota doesn’t understand her 2010’s slang and she has to break it down for him, using easy to understand examples. Those 70’s folks just don’t get it.

Time Traveller has some good points as an entertaining movie. Akari is played by Risa Naka, who has a great gift for dominating scenes with strong emotions. Whether she is falling in love, crying, screaming, or shouting to get her point across, she fills up her scenes well. The character development is carefully constructed and realistic within a SF framework. Time Traveller is a SF movie that has a lot of heart and pulls the viewer in.

However it does have some low points. The standard time travel cliché, the Butterfly Effect, is used towards the ending and is contrived. Some of the scenes have characters sitting too long in one setting with nothing happening except idle chats. These slow paced scenes go on too long with the viewer agonizing over when it will finally end. The script could have been tighten up to reduce scenes where nothing is happening.

Overall Time Traveller the movie pales in comparison to the anime movie called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time that came out in 2006. The anime movie has a different plot and characters then this live action movie. The anime has the same emotional impact and draws the viewer in and is a much more entertaining movie to watch. Plus, Risa Naka is the voice actor for the main character, Makoto Konno, in the anime. In fact Time Traveller started out as a novel in Japan by Yasutaka Tsutsui and went out from there to be a TV series in 1972, a movie in 1983, two dramas in 1985 and 1994, and two more movies in 1997 and 2002, and finally a manga in 2004. So Time Traveller is the fourth movie in the series.. Still, there are just enough good points to recommend this version. Currently streaming on Netflix and available on DVD.


3.5 out of 5.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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