Youth is this intangible gift that we must remember. It’s a careless laugh dissipating in the wind, the erratic pulse of the heartbeat, the warmth of innocent friendship, the hot tears of passion, and so on. It’s a masterpiece to behold, but at the same time a scar to be learned from. As a 15 year old, I believe there will never be a time quite like this, when some days I can feel like an arrogant god basking in the light of eternal bliss, and other days my deepest insecurities paints my reflection as a demon of shadows. This unstable, beautiful spirit of youth is captured perfectly in “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, directed by Mamoru Hosoda, and I’d like to reflect my thoughts on it. It’s premise is simple enough: one day, a high school girl named Makoto discovers that she has the power to travel, or “leap” through time, and begins using to attempt to benefit her own life and the live of others. Despite this simple premise, It is one of the most subtly powerful movies I have seen so far, exploring the concept of a flawed yet inspirational youthful character having the opportunity and curse to wield a powerful weapon. It says so much, not just through its charming dialogue, but also through its relatable characters and heartwarming story.
When we are young, we dream of changing and bending our circumstances to our will, to achieve whatever desire that is currently driven by burning passion or our intense emotions. The ability to truly and purely desire something is one of the most pleasurable abilities to have as a child, as it takes us on whimsical and unpredictable journeys. The way that this movie painted and brought this concept to life was a pleasure to watch, as Makoto begins to use her power to leap through time for frivolous pleasures, such as having more time for karaoke with her friends, Chiaki and Kousuke, as well as leaping back in time to taste that delicious home cooked meal one more time. The sparkle in the eyes of youth is a bright one, but it does not come without a price. Realizing the responsibility and consequences to achieving such intense yet fleeting joy can create the most humbling moments in life, when your wings melt as you reach the sun and you fall straight down. At the very start of the movie it is established that time waits for no one, but Makoto has the power to leap through it. This sparks the idea of responsibility, as Makoto uses her power to very actively making decisions that affect her future, instead of time itself moving around her and changing her circumstances. The idea of responsibility does play a big role in this movie, and the perspective of Makoto, a young, naive, and slightly egotistical child develops the theme quite strongly. Even though it seems that nothing is being harmed by the actions Makoto takes, the notion that she is using her ability to fulfill her own frivolous desires is created, which carries more magnitude as the movie progresses. At some point in the movie, Makoto starts using her ability to avoid the awkward situation when her close friend, Chiaki, asks her out, which she knows will occur unless she actively stays away from him. And she does, creating this big rift in their friendship, since Chiaki has no idea why Makoto has become so isolated. I believe we have all been there at some point in our youth, when we just don’t know how to deal with a certain situation, even one as insignificant as a high school crush. We sometimes go with the instinctual desire to completely avoid the situation in general, not knowing who could get hurt: even if those people are ourselves. We’re lost and confused, not having yet developed the ability to accept change at the price of comfort. As a result, we flick away every star left in the sky because it’s too bright to look at, and are left with a sense of eternal darkness. In the movie, Makoto pushes away her friend in order to avoid drastic change and the awkwardness of confrontation with her potential feelings of affection towards Chiaki as well as Chiaki himself. As Makoto gained the power to leap through time, she gained the responsibility of dealing with the consequence of isolation that she created without thinking, which is a hefty one to bear in real life as well.
It is important to hold on to the ones who really matter, who will hold your hand through the darkest days, who have the courage to show you affection before they disappear. It is important not to let uncomfortable feelings get in the way of something that is internally eternal, something priceless, brighter than all the diamonds of the world combined. Friendship is one of the most precious things that one can have, and learning what it truly means while you are young can be the most heartbreaking and rewarding experience. This movie really reminded me of that.
Makoto also reminded me of the aimless energy of youth, the senseless lightning bolt that would control our bodies. Many times, I would have the strong desire to do something, to make a difference, to do anything but sit down and be idle. But I would never truly know how to satisfy my brooding restlessness. This is a frustrating part of growing up, and watching Makoto’s journey as she tried to find out what her life really meant struck a chord within me. She used her energy to laugh carelessly about her successes, to avoid confrontation with her emotions, to help her close friend get a date, and finally to help Chiaki return to his home, which was truly the most important thing to her. Until we finally find out what’s important to us, we seem to bumble around uselessly trying to find a path, as I am currently doing. Makoto’s character is very relatable in this way, and I can empathise with her pain when she realizes that she’s wasting her time and throwing away opportunities. And it’s very satisfying to see her make up for what she lost at the end.