Konno Makoto is a normal high school girl who has a bad day and ends up about to be killed by a train when she suddenly leaps back in time a few minutes to avoid the accident. Once she realizes she can literally leap through time at will, she begins using the ability to improve her life in small ways. But she learns the misfortune she’s denying herself is forced on others, and there’s a number on her arm that is counting down. Her ability only makes her life and relationships more complicated, though not necessarily for the worse…
When all’s said and done, Makoto’s trails and tribulations present a pretty good case for why having the power to change the past is not a power any person should ever possess. Humans love to look back on their choices and wonder what coulda woulda shoulda. But we have enough trouble making the choices we make, without having the opportunity to go back and constantly alter them. To be blunt, a power like that would turn us into perfectionists, and even if time travel is possible, perfection is not. Yet we wouldn’t stop trying to grasp it, and it would consume us. When you can go back and change things, you’ll never stop.
That’s why we’re glad TokiKake sets certain limits to the scope of Makoto’s powers. She doesn’t try to go back to change world history, or even Japanese history, just her own history. And while she starts out goofing off, it turns out she had a finite number of leaps, most of which she squandered. In fact, her most important leaps are her first (which saves her life), and her last (which gives Chiaki his one leap back). Let’s not harbor any illusions: if she had unlimited leaps, she probably wouldn’t stop tweaking events, so it’s a good thing she ran out. In the end, she did the right things at the right time, and everything will be fine.
Anyway, we really got a kick out of this film. It fully immersed us in its lush and detailed world – one so much like ours, but where time leaping is possible – and made us care about that world and the people in it. The ordinary, clumsy Makoto’s epic ordeal is punctuated by moments of deep regret and longing, balanced with profound contentment and joy. She takes a lot of hard licks and learns hard lessons, most important of all, that “time waits for no man” (or in her case, girl); leaping back only leaves one further behind time’s unrelenting pace.