The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Presenting… my second entry for Movie Recaps:

Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time).

The title got me really interested and I’m glad I took time to watch it. Enjoy!

Movie Recap

Professor Yoshiyama Kazuko (Narumi Yasuda), a brilliant pharmaceutical researcher and a loving mother to our heroine, the girl who leapt through time, Yoshiyama Akari (Riisa Naka).

Akari is definitely not your typical high school student. She’s quirky and at times, clumsy. Though she never met her Dad, Hasegawa Masamichi, a successful director,  she’s rather content living with her Mom. But sometimes, like any other teens do, she longs to know how it feels like to have a complete family.

One day, a family friend, Gurou Asakura (Masanobu Katsumura), came to find Kazuko and gives her an oh-so-important photograph and a lavender flower which instantly, reminded her of the memories and promises of the past, her first great love.

With emotions flowing back in gushing intensity and her mind completely absorbed in those long forgotten memories, Kazuko is distraught. The next thing we knew, she’s hit by a car and lying in a coma.

Akari felt devastated. Good thing there’s Uncle Gorou who kindly supported her during the whole ordeal. As they were sitting at the hospital lobby, a documentary about a 1974 tragic bus wreck that took the lives of all passengers and driver is aired. Uncle Goruo shares that he was supposed to be in that crash. He could have been dead. Lucky for him, he left his bus ticket that day. It was not his time to go and he believes that it’s not yet Kazuko’s time too.

It’s Akari’s birthday and her Mom is still not awake. She can only cry in her solitary hopelessness. And then a miracle happened! Mom regains consciousness! But she’s somehow loosing grips of reality. She wants to go somewhere. She must meet someone. Now!

Worried sick, Akari volunteers to go in her stead. Mom calms down. In a weak voice, she tells Akari to find a boy named Fukamachi Kazuo at the Science Laboratory… West Setagaya Middle School… on a Saturday of April 1972. Akari lost it. Did she hear it right? 1972? But it’s 2010!

But Mom is dead serious.  At the Science Lab where she works, there’s an elixir that could take her to the past. It’s hidden in her drawer. Akari must only drink it and wish with all her heart to return to that day. She must find the boy in the picture. She must tell him  that “The promise hasn’t been erased”.

Akari follows Mom’s every word. She sneakily goes inside the Science Lab and there she sees the elixir along with the old coins Mom collected. Akari braces herself. This is it. Time-travelling! Holding the picture, she thinks of that day, closes her eyes and drinks the magical potion. A few seconds passed… nothing. She laughs in disbelief. Of course, there’s no such thing as time-travelling elixir!

A few seconds more and strange things happen. The clock moves backwards, the photo in her hands seems to move, the world spins. She starts to panic. She must think of that day. What was it again? Febrary 1974. February 1974. Suddenly, she’s falling…. falling… and then she’s running… running. The ground starts to disappear… and fast! As the last remaining block falls to the unknown… she leaps. She leaps through time!

Shotuoko College, Science Lab, Year  1974.

A guy was spending his alone-time alone when a feather falls from nowhere. This pokes his curiosity. But nothing could have prepared him for what is to come.  In a flash, something heavy falls  right on top of him. Behold, it’s a girl!

Akari wakes up in an unfamilliar and untidy room. This is definitely not her room!  Much to her horror, she’s lying next to a guy! She jolts into action and demands some explanation! Compared to Akari, the guy who introduced himself as  Mizorigo Ryuota (Nakao Akiyoshi),  a kind-hearted young man who wants to be a successful director someday, is far more relaxed.

When her memories (and sanity!) dawns back, Akari realized that she’s 2 years advance! Instead of April 1972, she clumsily leapt to February 1974. Told ya she’s clumsy. She hastily goes to West Setagaya Middle School, and since she doesn’t know the way,  Ryuota readily help her out. Told ya he’s kind.  But then, her mission ain’t that easy after all. To her dismay nobody knows this  Fukamachi Kazuo. 

And the two newly acquainted strangers, end up eating in a restaurant. There, Akari informs Ryuota that she came from the future. Obviously, Ryuota thinks she just hit her hard so badly that she’s still imagine things. Akari insists that it’s the truth. And to prove the validity of her claim, she proudly shows him her cellphone (the technology of the future!)

But then, Ryuota isn’t a bit amazed.  Why, he only sees the cellphone as a small sized radio! Ha! This ain’t good. Akari must convince him some more so she shows-off the cellphone’s camera feature. Ryuota is overwhelmed alright. But then again, for him it’s just a complex model communication apparatus, like those in the movies he’s doing! Ha!

Akari has no place to stay, and so she asks Ryuota to keep her in for a couple of days. Ryuota is adamant. He can’t and he won’t! But since he’s such a kind guy, (like I’ve said) he immediately feels sorry for her and gives in. Just so other people won’t misunderstand, Akari poses as Ryuota’s cousin.

Akari meets Kadoi and Ichise Natsuko, actors in Ryuota’s film. Somehow, the name Natusko rings a bell. Ahh! She remembers. Natsuko will become a super famous actress in the future and shows Ryuota the article in the magazine. Now, Ryuota finally believes her.

Ryuota and Akari spent their days finding the mysterious boy. They sneak in to the campus library, scan the yearbook… but still nothing. Akari then decided to ask Mom herself… the young version of Mom I mean.

They went to her Mom’s home but no one’s there. Fortunately, they meet the young Uncle Goruo who told them that Mom already transferred to Yokohama.

It’s a symbiotic relationship as biologists call it. Ryuota helps Akari find the boy and Akari helps Ryuota finish the film. That means lots and lots of bonding time.

At long last, Akari finds Mom. But strangely, Mom doesn’t know who the guy in the picture too! Weird.

Akari meets one of Ryuota’s odd friends Gotetsu, the camera man. To her surprise, she finds her Mom’s picture at Gotetsu’s apartment. Later on, she learns that Gotetsu-kun’s real name is Hagesawa, her father.

Days come by, Akari and Ryuota grew closer and closer.

One day, Ryuota suggested that Akari publish an advertisement in the newspapers .  Surely, that would make her life easier. The problem is she only has 40, 000 yen, not enough even for a small ad. Once again, Ryuota helped her beg the manger. And whoala! There goes the ad.

Gotetsu (or Dad) somehow feels that Akari and Ryouta aren’t really cousins. He tells Akari that he’s going to America for a scholarship, so he’ll be living Ryouta in her care. Knowing that this move will put a gap between him and Mom, Akari asks if he’ll still go even if Kazuko tells him to stay. Gotetsu smiles. Kazuko is a strong woman. She’d say “Go” and pat him at the back, so there’s no way she’ll ask him that.

Akari reconfirms the info to Kazuko (or Mom). And Gotetsu is right. She won’t stop him. She wants him to do his best and she’ll support him in what ever he likes to do. She loves him that much.

One night, Akari asked Ryuota why he’s helping her? Ryuota is taken aback. Why is she asking all of a sudden?

Well, the thought just came up. In the future, he’ll be a big shot director. He’ll marry a beautiful woman and they’ll have adorable kids. And in the future, she’ll only be someone from his past. That’s what she thinks. Ryuota mulls over things. Without saying anything, he walks out.

It turns out, Ryuota went to get Gotetsu’s camera. He’ll be changing the last scene and Akari will play the part!

Ryuota: When you’re era comes, it would be nice to stand here and watch the cherry blossoms bloom here like we are now.

However, he would be 56 years old by then. Haha!

Good things never last. One day, Ryuota’s mother called, informing him that his Dad collapsed. Ryuota is stricken with guilt and blames himself. All along, he know that his family is having a crisis but still he didn’t bother to go home. He lived comfortably while his Dad worked day and night to support him. It’s all becoz of his selfishness. He can’t do this anymore. He can’t finish the movie.

Akari gets angry. He can’t abandon his dreams just like that. He worked so hard for it. And so, they argue. Ryuota is so disheartened that he left without resolving the issue.

Akari decided to leave. He left him a note, saying that she’ll be waiting for him at the Science Lab where they first met.

Akari waited and waited… someone came. But not Ryuota. Oh my, it’s the very boy, uhm, man she’s looking for. Fukamachi Kazuo in the flesh! Not as a high school student but an adult man. Huh! Explain! Explain!

Well, he is Kazuo but he’s real name is Ken Sogoru. Like her, he is also from the future, from 2698 to be exact. Becoz of the newspaper ad she published, he receive information that someone leapt through time in 2010. He followed her time leap and traced her there.

Akari explains that her Mom (Kazuko) made the time-travelling elixir and she wants to tell him that the promise was not erased. The man is shocked… Commence the unveiling.

He was working with the time travelling elixir experiment when he met her Mom. He forgot to bring an extra elixir so while making one he lived as Fukamachi Kazuo. One day, she went to the lab and accidentally inhaled the scent of that elixir gaining her the power to travel through time. The scent is lavender. During that time, she fell in love with him. But he must go back to the future no matter what. He must erase her memories of him. Before he could, Kazuko asked him if he’ll see her again. He promised he would, but not as the boy she knew. In tears, Kazuko tells him that though her memories will be erased, she’ll  always remember that promise in her heart.

Like what happened, she too can’t stay in the past. She must return. Akari agrees, but not before she says goodbye to someone. He concedes.

Ryuota reads the note and went to the Science Lab. Akari gladly tells him that she already meet the “guy”. Ryuota is happy. It’s good that she finally accomplished her mission. As for him, he’ll be taking a bus back home to Nagaoka (not really sure of the place).

Actually, it’s her birthday. Ryuota is a tad embarassed. He didn’t even know that.  Then, if she wants,  he’ll take her to the movies after he comes back. It’s his birthday gift. He’ll definitely come back. He’ll even let her keep the film. He’ll finish the movie. It’s a promise.

Akari knows that won’t happen.

Akari: By the time you come back, I won’t be here anymore.

She runs after him and hugs him tight. Ryuota turns and gives her a farewell kiss.

Akari is walking down the busy subway when she bumps into Uncle Goruo. He is in a hurry. He is bound for Nagaoka but he left his ticket. Memories flash. The 1974 bus wreck! The bus ride that Uncle Goruo missed. Could it be that Ryuota will die? She must stop him.

She runs like she never ran before. She searched for him. She must find him! Ryuota can’t die. He must come back and finish the movie. He must be a  successful director. He must!

Sogoru tries to stop her.

Sogoru: People from the future cannot change the past.

No! Akari has decided. She’ll stop Ryuota’s death. She’ll stay here and breaks the extra elixir.

But she’s too late though. The bus is gone. He’s gone. She failed. He will die.

She breaks down. How could this happen? She feels weak… little by little she’s losing consciousness. Soguro lays her down. He will erase her memories. He sees the film Ryuota gave her. He’s supposed to take it but decided to let her keep it as a memento.

Akari wakes up. Her memories of the time-travelling totally erased.

Kazuko has an unexpected visitor… her first love, Fukamachi Kazuo. The promise has been fulfilled. She asks him if they’ll ever meet again. Surely, they will… in the future.

Akari finds a 8mm film roll inside her pocket. She gets curious. Thanks to Dad, she could watch the film through an antique projector.

Together with her friends, they watch the film- Planet of Light. The concept doesn’t make sense and they don’t understand any part of it. At the end, words are written: “Please don’t let the last cherry blossom be just a painting”.

Akari can’t help but cry. Her friend finds a note. It reads: So that we can watch the cherry blossoms bloom in the future.

And she cries some more.

Akari went to the very place the last scene was shot. With a smile, she walks forward… remembering the past in her heart and looking towards the future that is to come.

Posted on January 3, 2011, in Japanese Drama/ Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow, that is a really good and deep plot! Thanks for the recap!

  2. This is definitely one of my most favorite movies of all time. The actress who played Akari had the most fabulous facial expressions ever. I swear there was one scene in which she literally did a bunch of distinct separate facial expressions in series – the ultimate double-take! It’s such a phenomenal story line – a classic that has been re-made, and in various forms. The music soundtrack was also terrific.

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