Like Summer Wars from the same director, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a very gentle film. I saw this originally a couple of years ago and it was really pleasant to revisit it on Blu-ray. I was surprised by how similar in style it is to his later film. The look of the time travelling sections was obviously a testing ground for the online world of Summer Wars.
Makoto is your typical teenager with teenager problems. She acquires the ability to leap backwards through time. Now, if that was me I'd be: A) writing down this week's lottery numbers and nipping back in time to put £100 on them, B) telling my boss exactly what I think of them, including some mild swear words perhaps, then popping back in time again, and C) finding out whether Richard Madeley really did thieve all of those alcoholic beverages. Makoto doesn't do any of those. She sorts out minor problems and relationship issues. I did say it was gentle.
The humour is of the smile variety, but it's not supposed to be a hilarious comedy. Fans of people falling over and bumping their head are in for a treat though. Makoto is constantly falling on her backside. She is a really likeable main character. For a teenager, she isn't irritating in the slightest. The other two main characters, Chiaki and Kousuke complete a very loose love triangle. Their relationship is developed well throughout the film and this leads to a real emotional punch when one of the three is in a life threatening situation.
The animation is great, in both the traditional cel-drawn sections and the short CGI sections. The sound effects also deserve a mention. Everyday details, like the sound of a vibrating mobile phone, are accurate, and the surround speakers are well used, particularly in a sequence where Chiaki circles Makoto.
So again, we have another anime that shows that animation doesn't always have to be about talking animals. It can be used to tell a simple story about an ordinary girl's teenage life. Admittedly, you have to be in the mood for a lighter kind of film, but it is a good starting point if you've never seen any anime before.
If you like this you could also try:
Summer Wars, Origin Spirits of the Past - The Movie, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, The Time Traveller - The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.