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Toki o Kakeru Shōjo

Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Film, TV.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, based on a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui is one of the staples of Young Adult science fiction in Japan. First serialized in magazines for third-year middle-school and first-year high-school students in 1965, it has been novelized, rewritten, and adapted into many variants in the ensuing decades, each displaying unique features of the zeitgeist. As with James Cameron's Terminator (1984), it has a story that lends itself well to low-budget film-making, utilizing mundane settings to tell a Time-Travel story set largely in the present day.

1. Time Traveller, Japanese tv series (1972). NHK. Directed by Kazuya Satō. Cast includes Akira Hamada, Fumiko Kashiwabara, Kiyoshi Kinoshita and Junko Shimada. Written by Tōru Ishiyama. Six 30-minute episodes. Colour.

Teenage schoolgirl Kazuko Yoshiyama discovers a new ability of Teleportation and Timeslip seemingly brought on by lavender-scented chemicals in the school laboratory. After her initial experiments, she realizes that one of her schoolmates, Kazuo, is really Ken Sogoro, a visitor from the year 2660. Determined to prevent Time Paradoxes, Ken wipes Kazuko's memory of their relationship (see Memory Edit), leaving her with a faint sensation of nostalgia whenever she smells lavender. The English-language title was used in the Japanese broadcast; it has not been translated into English.

2. Film (1983 Japan; vt Little Girl Who Conquered Time; vt The Girl Who Cut Time; vt The Girl of Time). Kadokawa. Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. Cast includes Tomoyo Harada and Ryōichi Takayanagi. Written by Wataru Kenmochi and Yasutaka Tsutsui. 104 minutes. Colour. The variant English titles appear to have been used in Japan, where the film can occasionally be found with English subtitles. Ties to this iteration include the much-reissued theme song, sung by Harada, and a computer game.

3. Japanese made-for-tv movie (1985). Fuji TV. Director unknown. Cast includes Yōko Minamino and Kazuhiko Nakagawa. A tv movie-of-the-week, circa 70 minutes.

4. Tv series (1994). Fuji TV. Directed by Masayuki Ochiai. Cast includes Yoshihiko Hakamada and Yuki Uchida. Written by Ryōichi Kimizuka. 45 minutes x 5 episodes. Colour. This prime-time version centres on a somewhat toothless sense of shame and guilt rather than any real danger, as Kazuko desires to travel back seven years to the day when her little sister almost drowned. Her intention is hence merely to be more demonstrably helpful. The title Girl across Time is used in some English-language materials prepared for rights sales by the production company, but the show itself has not been translated.

5. Japanese film (1997). Kadokawa. Directed by Haruki Kadokawa. Cast includes Nana Nakamoto and Shunsuke Nakamura. Written by Ryōji Itō. 106 minutes. Colour. This version was framed as a 1965 period piece, narrated by Tomoyo Harada, who played the lead in the previous 1983 film version. The novel was re-issued as a Tie to this version with cover art from the film poster.

6. Japanese tv special (2002). TBS. A forgettable TV special included as one of several short episodes starring members of the pop group Morning Musume. Subsequently, the original was adapted into a Manga version (February 2003 Shōnen Ace) by Gaku Tsugano.

7. Japanese Anime film (2006; 2008 US). Kadokawa, Madhouse. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Released in English as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Cast includes Sachie Hara, Takuya Ishida and Riisa Naka. Written by Satoko Okudera. 98 minutes. Colour. This animated version moves the action to the twenty-first century and marginalizes Kazuko in favour of her niece, a calculatedly more "modern" (read: assertive, witty) character. More than any other version, the anime focuses on the elegiac quality of Makoto's school days. Hence, most of Makoto's time leaps are conspicuously less ambitious than Kazuko's in earlier versions, and usually focus on her desire to relive a perfect summer's day as often as possible, albeit with similarly paradoxical repercussions. This version of the story won the 2007 Seiun Awards category for Best Film/Media. The original novel was repackaged once more in 2006, with illustrations by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (see Gainax), who designed the characters for the anime. It was also adapted into a Manga serial (2006 Shōnen Ace) by Ranmaru Kotone.

8. Japanese film (2010). Style Jam. Directed by Masaaki Taniguchi. Cast includes Riisa Naka and Narumi Yasuda. Written by Tomoe Sugano. 122 minutes. Colour. In some senses, a Sequel by Other Hands, this version features Akari, the daughter of the original Kazuko, aided by her mother in a time leap to 1972. Akari is played by Riisa Naka, who previously provided the voice of Makoto in the anime version. The script was also adapted into yet another Manga serial (2009 Young Ace) by Minoru Hashiguchi. [JonC]


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