The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through TimeAuthor: Yasutaka Tsutsui
Translator: David Karashima
U.K. publisher: Alma Books
ISBN: 9781846881343
Released: May 2011
Original release: 1967

One of my favorite animated films is Mamoru Hosoda’s 2006 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time which was inspired by Yasutaka Tsutsui’s short novel The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, originally released in Japan in 1967. Tsutsui is an award-winning and extremely well-known author of Japanese science fiction, though Western audiences are probably more familiar with the various anime and live-action adaptations of his works. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of Tsutsui’s most beloved and popular stories. It has been the basis for several television series, films, and manga in addition to Hosoda’s anime. The novel, translated by David Karashima, was released in English by UK-based publisher Alma Books in 2011. The English edition of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is based on the 2009 republication of the volume which collects Tsutsui’s story The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of as well as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was originally serialized between 1965 and 1966 before being collected in 1967. The titular girl, Kazuko, discovers that she has gained the ability to slip through time and space after fainting in her high school’s science lab. Although the power has its advantages, it’s not one that she wants. She wishes that her life would go back to normal and that her two closest friends and classmates, Goro and Kazuo, would be able to treat her in the same way that they always have. Initially Goro is skeptical of Kazuko’s newfound ability, at least until she is able to offer him proof. The more laid back Kazuo on the other hand takes the whole situation in stride; at first he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a charming story, but I will admit that I largely prefer the anime’s version of the tale. Many of the scenes are similar between the two, but the novel is much simpler and more direct. Even so, I can understand why Tsutsui’s original has inspired so many other creators—it’s imaginative science fiction with just the right touch of romance.

Whereas The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is science fiction, The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of leans more towards realistic psychological horror. The story follows Masako, a young woman who has started to avoid visiting her friend Bunichi’s household, though she can’t quite recall the reason why she has been staying away. After helping to dispel some of the fears of her younger brother—showing that his wild imaginings are rooted in real world happenings—she decides to face and investigate the causes of her own. Initially Bunichi teases Masako, but realizing that she really is frightened he agrees to accompany her on her mission, getting quite a scare in the process. Considering the short length of The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of, Tsutsui is able to incorporate an impressive number of story twists. Masako is an appealing lead—smart and clever, though perhaps a little reckless and with room to grow and mature. Her willingness to confront her fears and to improve herself is admirable, but it can also cause some problems for her and the people around her, too.

Although The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of are two, unrelated stories, they do share some similarities. The protagonists are both intelligent, likeable young women, for one. Tsutsui’s style has a subtle, understated humor to it and the writing is simple and straightforward, making both stories approachable for younger readers. Each of the tales has a bit of romance in addition to a quickly paced plot. (The entire volume can fairly easily be read in one or two sittings.) But what I found to be the most striking commonality and difference between The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of was Tsutsui’s use of and approach to the themes of memory and truth. Both are important elements in the two stories, but are handled oppositely: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time carries a sense of nostalgia over the loss of memory, the truth ultimately being hidden while in The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of it is only after a particular memory is regained that the truth is completely revealed.

My Week in Manga: March 19-March 25, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was the Jiro Taniguchi Manga Moveable Feast and so I made a point to take advantage of that fact. I posted my second in-depth manga review for March, taking a closer look at Taniguchi’s most recent work to be released in print in English, A Zoo in Winter. I also borrowed and read all of the Taniguchi manga that my library had, resulting in Library Love: Jiro Taniguchi. It’s been a few months since there has been a Library Love post. I’m planning on continuing the feature on a bimonthly basis, so look for the next one sometime in May.

Last year I reviewed the first issue of Monkey Business and I’ve been looking forward to the next volume ever since. It looks like the release date has been pushed back from mid-March to sometime in April. In the meantime, the Monkey Business website is now available and the second issue can be preordered! Completely unrelated, someone pointed out Symphony of the Blood to me. From what I can tell, it’s fan created concept art for an Osamu Tezuka fighting game. It is awesome and I would totally play it if it actually existed.

This past week I also came across a few interesting articles about the state of the manga industry. I always enjoy reading Dan Kanemitsu’s work; this time he has a great piece Analysizing the State of the Anime and Manga industry in 2012, specifically in Japan. Over at ICv2 there were two articles focusing on the US side of the industry: Manga after Borders and an interview with Dark Horse’s Carl Horn. (It also sounds like Dark Horse will be releasing more manga from Blade of the Immortal‘s Hiroaki Samura, which I’m very excited to hear!)

Quick Takes

A, A′ by Moto Hagio. The problem with reading Hagio’s science fiction is that it makes me want to read more of Hagio’s science fiction, and I’ve already read everything that’s currently available in English. I loved A, A′. Originally published in Japan in 1981, it is a collection of three stories, two of which are somewhat related. All three stories feature “unicorns,” a race of humans initially bio-engineered for space travel in the 21st century who have since become increasingly rare. The back cover calls A, A′ “science fiction with a romantic twist,” which is fairly accurate. Hagio incorporates themes of love, gender, sex, and sexuality into her stories. The relationships between people, romantic and otherwise, are very important.

King of Thorn, Volumes 2-6 by Yuji Iwahara. Having previously read Iwahara’s Cat Paradise, I can’t say that I was particularly surprised by the somewhat convoluted plot of King of Thorn. This is not to say that I don’t like the series. In fact, I am quite fond of it. I also happen to really like Iwahara’s artwork. It’s just that he never seems content with a simple story and tends to introduce plot twist after plot twist. King of Thorn ended up going in some very unexpected directions, but the ride is thrilling. King of Thorn may not always be particularly original (even Iwahara states that many of the story elements are “ripped off” from elsewhere), but it’s still a lot of fun. Plus, the series gives one of the characters, Marco Owen, plenty of opportunities to run around being a badass.

Mister Mistress, Volume 1 by Rize Shinba. I have no idea why this series is called Mister Mistress other than being a silly title for a silly boys’ love manga. Rei is an incubus who feeds of the sexual vitality of young men. And what better source of energy than a horny, sex-obsessed teenager who’s constantly masturbating? At first Rei only appears in Fujimaru’s dreams, but eventually he amasses enough energy from Fujimaru to physically manifest. Although Fujimaru is understandably disconcerted by this development, his sexual fantasies continue unabated, heightened by Rei’s magical powers. Shinba’s artwork is attractive and the series has a sense of humor. I mean, even Fujimaru’s penis gets a character page.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time directed by Mamoru Hosoda. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a lovely film. It’s more or less a sequel to the 1967 novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui. Although likeable, Makoto isn’t the smartest or most coordinated person in her class. Instead of thinking about her future, she’d rather just play catch with her two best friends Chiaki and Kousuke. But she soon finds herself thinking a lot about time when she discovers she has the ability to travel back into the past. And so she does, trying to change events to make things better for her and her friends or to avoid conversations and confrontations that she’d rather not have. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has both a lighthearted and a serious side which are balanced nicely.