The good and bad, plain and simple
Movie Review: Time Traveller (2010)
aka. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo 2010
In 2010, Kazuko Yoshiyama (Narumi Yasuda) works as a pharmaceutical researcher secretly developing a formula for time travel. When she is left comatose after a car accident, her daughter Akari learns of her mother’s first love, Kazuo Fukamachi (Kanji Ishimaru), from Kazuko’s friend Goro Asakura (Masanobu Katsumura). Believing that finding Kazuo will allow her mother to regain consciousness, Akari uses Kazuko’s formula to leap back in time to the 1970s in hopes of finding a younger Kazuo. Instead, she meets and befriends Ryota Mizorogi (Nakao Akiyoshi). Together, they attempt to search for Kazuo, but love begins to blossom between Akari and Ryota, despite the fact that Akari must eventually return to the future. –excerpt from wikipedia.
It’s worth noting that Akari is the daughter of the original TokiKake film’s lead, Yoshiyama Kazuko, and that the anime film Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (2006) is only loosely related to Time Traveller. Time Traveller does pay homage to its predecessors in a few scenes but there is really no need to go dig up old dvds or the internet for TokiKake 2002 and 2006 even IF the 2006 anime film is highly recommended.
In the interest of making this a spoiler-free (as much as possible) review, I won’t be going into intricate details regarding the plot. That being said, Time Traveller’s plot is, in a word, decent. The feeling of wanting to find out what happens next is quite mild but it was the ‘slice of life’ scenes that really drew me into the film. Akari’s little escapades in 1972 and the present are realistic and believable, as far as time travelling goes, with much of it being lighthearted, fun, and enjoyable to relax and cruise along with as you watch. I thought that there was a good balance of comedy mixed in with the drama though there is the occasional lull between scenes where nothing much is really happening. This is an ever-present quirk in nearly all japanese live action films and I have my theories on it but we won’t go into that right now.
Time Traveller treats us with a few key heartwarming moments which are executed well both by the cast and director. You won’t be bawling your eyes out in this movie but you’ll definitely leave the cinema (or tv, computer monitor, ipod screen, whatever floats your boat) feeling refreshed and satisfied knowing those heart strings have been gently tugged at.
Naka Riisa (Yankee-kun to Megane-chan, Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo, 8-1 Diver) is the lead actress, starring as Yoshiyama Akari. What’s interesting is that she was the person behind the voice of the lead character in TokiKake 2006. Her voice has changed slightly since 2006 but Naka Riisa has somehow managed to adapt the mannerisms of Konno Makoto (2006 lead) across into the live action film. I definitely got the feeling that she is familiar with the TokiKake mood and was able to fit in flawlessly in every scene. Overall, her acting skills are good, bringing her character to life with emotive facial expressions (she has the uncanny ability to act very well with her eyes), dynamic voice and expressive body language.
Akiyoshi Nakao (ROOKIES, H2, Dragon Zakura) starrs as Mizorogi Ryota, the supporting male. His character drives most of the plot and is who Akari interacts and works with the most. I wasn’t particularly impressed with his acting because he gave off a very wooden feeling throughout the whole movie. Sure, he gets the job done, but I finished the show without bonding with his character at all and my impression of Ryota at the end was simply as a tool to make Naka Riisa look good.
Time Traveller was never meant to be an eyecandy film and there is no action to speak of but the visuals are nevertheless impressive. Vibrant colours, good lighting and beautiful scenery complements each and every scene.
Sound Bite: Nostalgia – Ikimono Gakari
Ikimono Gakari contributes the OP and ED for Time Traveller which are Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo and Nostalgia, respectively. “Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo” is a cover of the 2002 film’s theme song and the song’s age shows, even if it does give Time Traveller a semblence of being a part of a franchise that has history. Nostalgia plays right at the end of the movie and it’s a pretty decent song, but it fails to set itself apart from every other vocal song that plays while the credits roll. It gives off a mood of nostalgia quite well, making you want to sit there and listen while you fondly remember the events of the movie. Matsushita Yuya contributes “Futari” as a short insert song which is played during an emotional turning point in the plot. “Futari” compounds and lifts up that particular scene so well that it’s stuck in my head whenever I hear this song.
For the non vocal portion of the soundtrack, the songs mainly blend into the background and accentuate the mood and feel of each scene. Not much in the way of standalone listening but they work well.
Running. Running desperately to fulfill your goals and meet your loved one. This appears to be the main recurring theme of the previous 2 TokiKakes and it’s no different in Time Traveller. It’s not so much the time travelling that is significant but it’s more so the journey towards doing what’s important that is what Time Traveller’s really about. I really enjoyed this movie and would gladly pay money to see it in a cinema. All the aspects of the plot are tied up nicely, which gives a satisfying closure that I can happily walk away from.
Rational Dorama Reviews gives Time Traveller an 8.5 out of 10