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This is such a wonderful Anime that is suitable for the whole family, while exploring complex ideas about relationships, and the pitfalls of time travel. Combining great writing, beautiful images, great voice acting and a fantastic score, the film is sweet, provocative, and entertaining.
Makoto is your typical highschool student. She is quirky, average at school, and finds waking up in time every morning to be one of her greatest challenges in life. One day, on her way to school her bike brakes malfunction and sure to die as a train hurls towards her, something strange happens and she appears to leap back in time. As those time-leaping events keep happening, she starts realizing what happens to her and decide to use her new found powers to fix her life, like going back in time one crucial day when she woke up late and nearly missed an exam that she then flunked. But quickly, the stakes are raised. One of her best friends asks her out and too shy to admit to it, decides to leap back in time to avoid being asked the question. Then she starts concocting a more elaborate plan to get one of her other friends to go out with a secret admirer. An uncontrollable chain of events ensues that no amount of smarts on her side can seem to prevent. She tries, and she tries, again and again, with each time unpredictable results. That is, until one day she notices a strange tatoo on her arm that seems to countdown to 0 each time she leaps. As she gets to 1, possibly the last time she could ever leap back in time, one of her friends who borrowed her bike faces the same brake malfunction and hurls through his deathly encounter with a moving train. It's at that time that she finds out that she is not alone in her abilities.
This is a compelling piece of Sci-Fi, with interesting time travel issues, all wrapped into a great personal story for that central character. Think of it like Butterfly Effect 1, The (2004), but in much better form, and a much more positive outcome. It's a coming of age story of sorts with all kinds of twists and turns and lessons about human emotions, destiny and the uncomputable variability of life. It's very well written, and seeing how Makoto gains godly confidence in herself after discovering her new powers is fun to watch. It's even more fun to watch her realize the limits of what she can do, coming to terms with those limits, and making hard choices.
The Anime is so well done with great character designs, beautiful animation, colors and backgrounds. And the score is simply fantastic. It's richly layered and melodious and fits perfectly. It was a major success in Japan when it came out in the summer of 2006, surprising everyone, and beating out Tales From Earthsea (2006) which had a much bigger budget and promotional campaign. It has all the elements for a great classic Anime.
- Laurent Hasson