The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 2: The First Movie
My first encounter with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was actually the 1983 movie. It was the launch title of Nintendo’s Shiatā no ma (Theater room) video on demand service for the Wii and I watched it in December of 2009. It was written for the screen by KENMOCHI Wataru and directed by ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko, starring HARADA Tomoyo as Kazuko. Apparently there’s also an English subtitled version called The Little Girl Who Conquered Time so you may want to seek that one out if you want to watch the movie yourself. Alternatively you could search Youtube for videos related to the movie.
Mid of march – The class is on a ski trip. Kazuko and Gorō watch the stars (~0:00:30), Kazuo joins them (~0:01:30). After skiing together (~0:02:00) the class takes the train back to their home town (~0:03:50). Opening credits roll (~0:05:00).
Saturday the 16th – One month later: cherry blossoms are in full bloom, it is spring (~0:07:00). Students on their way to school. Kazuko, Kazuo and Gorō walk to school together. Ms. TACHIBANA’s class (0:07:30), followed by Mr. FUKUSHIMA’s class (0:08:50). Kazuko and the two boys are assigned cleaning duties (~0:10:20). Gorō and Kazuo burn the trash (~0:12:00).
Kazuko hears the sound of glass clanging in the lab (~0:12:30), enters and faints when she smells the white smoke from a broken beaker (~0:13:00). Gorō and Kazuo return to find Kazuko fainted in the lab (~0:14:30). The broken medicine beaker and bowl are gone without a trace (~0:15:30). They carry her to the sick room (~0:16:30).
Ms. TACHIBANA examines her, Mr. FUKUSHIMA and Kazuo stand next to her. Gorō wipes her face with his handkerchief (~0:17:00). Kazuko wakes up (~0:17:10), tells what happened. They go to check the lab room (~0:19:10), still find no traces.
The boys walk Kazuko home (~0:21:00), a bicycle almost hits Kazuko. They drop off Gorō at his home (~0:22:10). Kazuko stops by Kazuo’s home, his grandparents invite her for some tea (~0:24:00). After recognizing the lavender growing in Kazuo’s green house as having the same scent as the medicine, she takes off to return home alone (~0:26:30).
Sunday the 17th – Kazuko wakes up (~0:27:00), drinks tea with her mom (~0:29:00). Remembers the incident at the lab (~0:30:00), looks at herself in a mirror.
Kazuko goes out (~0:31:00) to return the handkerchief (~0:32:00). She talks to Gorō while he’s busy with work. Kazuko returns home (~0:35:00). Gorō walks through the brewery and out into the garden, putting the handkerchief over his face (~0:36:20), smelling it. Then he scrubs a barrel.
Monday the 18th – Mariko writes the date on the blackboard, talks to Kazuko (~0:36:50). PE class (~0:37:30): Kazuo talks to Kazuko, Gorō playing basketball. FUKUSHIMA’s kanbun class (~0:38:10), Kazuko can’t solve the problem. Archery club (~0:39:10), Kazuko refuses to shoot the arrow after she sees she won’t hit.
Walks by Kazuo’s green house (~0:40:50). Reviews the kanbun problem at home(~0:41:10) when an earthquake breaks out (~0:41:50). The family runs out into the garden. After Kazuko returns to her room, a siren is heard (~0:43:30).
A fire near Gorō’s house, she runs off to check on him (~0:44:10). Meets Kazuo at the fire. Gorō is save. Kazuo walks Kazuko home again (0:45:30).
Monday the 18th – Gets up early, leaves for school (~0:51:00). Meets TACHIBANA and FUKUSHIMA. Mariko writes the date on the blackboard (~0:52:10), Kazuko thinks it should be the 19th. Gorō arrives, they don’t know about an earthquake or fire. This time Kazuko doesn’t take part in the PE class (~0:53:40). Kazuo comes to talk to her last time, Kazuko answers differently. Kanbun class (~0:54:10), Kazuko solves the problem with ease. Archery club (~0:55:10), again Kazuko refuses to shoot the arrow that won’t hit.
On her way back she come by a clock store. (~0:56:10), it starts raining. She stops by Kazuo’s house (~0:57:00). She’s in his room for the first time (~0:59:00). Flashback to her childhood. She looks at the scar at her hand (~1:01:00). She discusses her time leap with him, he calls it a deja vu. They move to the green house, she helps him with his chores (~1:03:40).
Back in her room, Kazuko is waiting for the earthquake (~1:06:00). When it occurs she leaves for Gorō’s house right away (~1:06:50). She meets Kazuo (~1:07:40), they leave without talking to Gorō (~1:08:30), spend the night talking about Kazuko’s power instead.
Tuesday the 19th – Kazuko is late again (~1:12:40), remembers the accident that will happen. Rushes off to save Gorō again (~1:13:40). Sees his scar, Kazuo didn’t have one (~1:14:30). Gorō says her name, she says Kazuo’s name. Runs off to the green house, leaving the confused Gorō behind (~1:15:10).
At the green house she sniffs the lavender, saying this all occured because of it (~1:16:10). She faints, knocking over a beaker like the one in the lab. The same white smoke appears. Rapidly cut shots of the green house and the roof tiles.
She jumps to a mountain path (~1:17:20), meets Kazuo. Kazuko wishes to be at the lab (~1:19:40), Kazuo pushes her off the cliff to trigger her power, then jumps after her.
|Before leap||After 1st leap||After 2nd leap||After last leap|
YOSHIYAMA Kazuko – The protagonist of the story. First year high school student. Age 16, female. She wears her hair short and is less tall than Gorō.
She is a romanticist and dreams about having a man come down from the stars to fall in love with.
She shows an awareness for time even before she acquires her power when she comments on it still being winter in the mountain ski resort but already spring in the valley. She says it makes you understand that the seasons change slowly. FUKUSHIMA calls her a poet because of that.
Urges the boys to hurry, even though she had to catch up with them.1 ~0:07:20 Says Gorō is acting like a kid.
She seems to like Judy Garland and the movie The Wizard of Oz and decorates her room with her picture and a poster of the movie.2 In the original screen play by KENMOCHI she was supposed to have a Snoopy doll instead.
Practices archery at a school club. She keeps missing the bull’s eye and hits slightly above it. Uses her time leaping power to not shoot the arrow at all. Rests during basketball PE class.
Each time she passes Kazuo’s green house alone she greets it and calls its owner plant professor.
After she talked to Kazuo about her power she says she just wants to be normal. And be with Kazuo. She is glad that she found someone who understands.
After the accident with Gorō her immediate reaction is to say Kazuo’s name and to look for him at the green house. She regains her faded time leaping power by sniffing the lavender and breaking another beaker with medicine and jumps to the mountain path where Kazuo is collecting the rare flowers. She meets him there saying she missed him.
She arrived at the conclusion that she needs to know the secret of the lavender. She wants to return to the lab on Saturday as she feels it is the source of all these strange incidents. She wants to know the truth. She also wants to return to normality and just be with Kazuo.
Her scar is an important memento for her. When she learns her memories with Kazuo were fake, it breaks her heart. Her feelings for Kazuo were sincere. When she is told that she will even lose those memories, she is almost crying. She only wants him, realizes that she is in love with him.
Asks Gorō to bring her bag when she wants to go to the lab alone. It was Kazuo who brought it the first time. Shows she really wants to be with Kazuo, and for Gorō to be more like Kazuo.
At the end of the movie, when she is grown up she wears her hair long.Compare with novel
FUKAMACHI Kazuo – Kazuko’s classmate and close friend. Age 16, male. Rather tall. Lives with his grandparents. Likes flowers and plants both on an aesthetical and professional level. Grows them in his grandparents‘ green house.
Thinks the stars are beautiful. Feminine (Gorō ridicules him for liking flowers, as would a girl), kind, sometimes absent. Polite (compared to Gorō). Brings Kazuko and Gorō’s school bags. Kazuko in one scene says he’s more interested in flowers than in girls. Tells Kazuko various things about lavender at his green house, e.g. that it blooms all over summer in South France.
After the incident in the lab room he says that the beakers were all where they were supposed to be. Feels responsible to walk Kazuko all the way home since the Ms. TACHIBANA told him to. Walks her home again after the fire.
Is concerned with Kazuko’s well being, asks her about it during PE class.
Is on a mountain trip to collect a plant he really wants on the day the accident occurs to Gorō and Kazuko.
When Kazuko comes by his house on her second run of the 18th, he spots her from his room through the window and calls her, inviting her into his room. He is alone and bored.
He explains Kazuko’s power using the words deja vu, teleportation and time leap. Also explains the paradox, using a complicated way of putting it: A person cannot simultaneously exist in a different time or space.
When Kazuko insists that she must find out the secret of the lavender, Kazuo is afraid that she might not be able to come back and will become a wanderer of time or a lost soul of time. He thinks everything will return to normal even without further investigation. He also says sometimes it’s better not to know the truth. They might not be able to meet again.Compare with novel
HORIKAWA3 In KENMOCHI’s screen play his name still was ASAKURA as in the novel but the name was changed for the movie. Gorō – Kazuko’s classmate and close friend. Age 16, male. Just a little bit stout and a bit shorter than Kazuo. Works at his parent’s store brewing soy sauce. Wants to keep working there rather than to go to university.
He doesn’t share Kazuko’s romantic view of the stars, counters it with a scientific one: stars are merely burning gas masses. Science can be cold sometimes he says, jokingly assuming the identity of a professor.
Frequently announces that he has to go pee4 ~0:04:30, ~0:12:20, ~1:26:10 or is hungry5 ~0:09:10, ~0:10:40, even sings about it.6 ~0:11:00 Blames Kazuko fainting on her being hungry7 ~0:17:00, ~0:20:00 and having to clean up. Defends Kazuko towards Mariko, saying she wasn’t slacking off (~1:25:40). Sleeps in class, Kazuko tries to wake him and gets called to the board for it.8 ~0:38:10
Thinks Kazuko has some nerve ordering them around, playing the older sister.9 Gorō referring to Kazuko as overly motherly was still in the screen play, KENMOCHI just added the part about her being like an older sister. In another scene shortly after that one he develops the thought further and has Gorō call her overly motherly as in the novel but it was omitted in the movie, maybe because it seemed redundant.
Prefers to carry Kazuko by her feet, says she’s heavy (he repeats that to her as well, after she regained consciousness, when they walk home). Tells the teachers that nobody was there when they found Kazuko.
Interrupts Kazuko mid-sentence when he has to concentrate on his work. She was trying to talk to him about her ambivalent feelings.
A bit rude.
After Kazuko is already gone he smells the handkerchief she washed for him and goes back to work, also cleaning a barrel. Shows he’s willing to work hard for her but doesn’t show it.
Scores during basketball in PE class, tells Kazuo to get back to the match (he was talking to Kazuko).Compare with novel
FUKUSHIMA Toshio10 Reading of first name unconfirmed. – Kazuko’s Japanese teacher.11 In the screen play he was still supposed to be a science teacher but the science class scenes were omitted. Instead FUKUSHIMA inherits the role and scenes of another teacher called KAWAI added in the screen play. Age 3512 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play., male. In a relationship with TACHIBANA Naoko. They go to the ski trip with the class.
Has the lab room locked because of rumors of someone using it without permission. Is present when TACHIBANA provides medical assistance after Kazuko fainted and the boys carried her to the sick room.
Cracks a joke about Gorō when he sleeps in class, saying he will never learn a thing that way.
Makes Kazuko solve an kanbun13 Chinese texts that can be read in Japanese with the help of annotated signs. Kazuko has to add the correct annotations. text in front of the class she couldn’t solve the first time. Since she traveled back in time she thoroughly reviewed it at home and repeats it with ease, which impresses FUKUSHIMA.14 In the screen play this was originally still a math problem by another teacher, KOMATSU, but that character was omitted from the movie.Compare with novel
TACHIBANA Naoko10 Reading of first name unconfirmed. – Kazuko’s music teacher. Age 2712 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play., female. Takes the class to a ski trip. Buys a necktie as a birthday present for FUKUSHIMA who she is in a relationship with.
Provides medical assistance for Kazuko. Comments on her soot covered face. Tells the boys to bring Kazuko home without making any detours.
Teaches the class about a song that compares growing up with fruits getting ripe. Says as their pupils all turned 16 if they were a fruit they would be almost ripe now. Allusion to first love.
KAMIYA Mariko – Kazuko’s classmate. Age 16, female.
Tells the teachers Kazuko and Gorō are still missing when they want to start skiing down the hill with the whole class.
Puts up a gleeful face when Gorō is scolded.15 ~0:09:30
Is given the key to the lab room by FUKUSHIMA and passes it on to Kazuko who is assigned cleaning duties. The room is to be locked from now on.
Sees Kazuko walking away from Gorō’s house after Kazuko returned the handkerchief. The next day she expresses concern about Kazuko having fainted, advises her to skip PE. Tells her she saw her yesterday, she looked downcast.
Solves the kanbun text in Kazuko’s stead the first time.
Writes the date on the blackboard and tells Kazuko that it is Monday, not Tuesday after her first time leap.16 Fußnotenauszug: In the screen play there still was a scene of Mariko meeting Kazuko when she is on the street looking for Gorō. In that scene she makes assumptions about Kazuko liking Kazuo, comments on Kazuko waiting on Gorō. It was omitted from the movie. According to the script she was supposed to be the best in math class until recently, when Kazuo started beating her in tests. But that scene was omitted to...Compare with novel
The visitor from the future – Kazuo’s real identity. Professor of pharmacy. Age unknown, doesn’t contradict Kazuko when she says he’s still a child. Needed plants from our time, especially lavender.
Could only stay a short while, one month in total. Has sincere feelings for Kazuko also and promises to come back one day.
Since he has broken the rules he must erase both his and her memories. He is not allowed to change the past. He wants Kazuko to find happiness in her own time, saying she was supposed to be with Gorō.
He likes her time but says he has responsibilities to the people of his own time, which he left behind. He implies she has too.Compare with novel
YOSHIYAMA Noriko10 Reading of first name unconfirmed. – Kazuko’s mother. Age 40.12 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play. Scolding Kazuko for getting up late on Sunday. Says Kazuko is more like her than her father.
Says Kazuko looks pale when Kazuko is surprised at her first unconscious time leap.
During the quake she checks if the stove is out to avoid a fire.
Later, when Kazuko is in university she voices concern that Kazuko is not paying enough attention to her looks and spends too much time studying.Compare with novel
YOSHIYAMA Ryōko – Kazuko’s younger sister. Age 6.12 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play. More like her dad, according to her mom. She and Kazuko fight over breakfast and over ripping the calendar pages.
Ten years later she is concerned with her looks.Compare with novel
YOSHIYAMA Tetsuo10 Reading of first name unconfirmed. – Kazuko’s father. Age 43.12 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play. Out for golf on Sunday, trying to win a prize for Kazuko. Not really the sporty type says his wife.
Protects the family during the earthquake. Returns inside to put his cigarette out and take a bottle of wine with him.
Ten years later, he is okay with Kazuko studying rather than trying to become a bride.
FUKAMACHI Seiji and Tatsu – Kazuo’s grandparents. Age 70 and 68.12 According to KENMOCHI’s screen play. They invite Kazuko for tea when she accompanies Kazuo on their way home but she has to leave again. Tatsu buys Kazuo new pajamas.
Chosen by the time traveler because of their green house and because they were lonely.
When Kazuko is invited for tea she leaves again without saying good bye to them personally. Ten years later when Kazuko passes by without greeting, her sister comes running and greets the FUKAMCHIs. As their attention was drawn to the side walk where Kazuko is, she makes a remark about the lavender smelling good as always. After she’s gone Tatsu says their grandson would be her age now if he was still alive. Seiji says they have to stop buying things for him. Their dead son and his family won’t come back. Tatsu agrees but says they will be lonely forever.Compare with novel
Greets Kazuko and Kazuo when Gorō returns home on Saturday.
Man on bicycle B – Works at the HORIKAWA soy sauce brewery. Discovers the fire.Compare with novel
Onlookers and neighbors – Talk about the fire.
Classmates – Appear at the school trip and in school.
Police and firemen – Appear during the fire.Compare with novel
Missing ski equipment – Before the class skis down the slope they notice that there isn’t a set of ski equipment for Kazuo. Ms. TACHIBANA tells him to use the equipment of FUKUSHIMA, who should walk down the slope.18 ~0:03:20 This event associates the two characters, Kazuo is like a younger version of FUKUSHIMA.
Medicine – Smells of lavender, which ryhmes with calendar. Even just smelling it will give you the ability to leap through time. Effect wears off with time.Compare with novel
Mother’s perfume – The first time Kazuko smelled lavender was by some perfume she got from her mother. The scent reminds her of her mother for that reason. Mother symbol for first memory.Compare with novel
Gorō’s handkerchief – He uses it to clean Kazuko’s face when she is in the sick room. It smells of soy sauce. Kazuko likes that smell, it feels somehow kind. She returns it washed.
Clocks – They are used to indicate the curious happenings with time going on around Kazuko.
A clock is heard ticking with a strange echo when Kazuko smells the lavender medicine20 ~0:13:40 and again after she used a little time leap for the first time21 ~0:30:00 and remembers the scene with the broken beaker from the lab. When she faints, a clock is seen striking 1 o’clock.19 ~0:14:20 When they return to the lab and find nothing, the same clock strikes 2 o’clock.
When Kazuko wakes up on Sunday, the digital alarm clock shows the time 9:86. When she shakes it, it shows the correct time 10:26. So even though one hourly cycle is completed it still indicates the 9th hour of the day, instead of the 10th. This is similar to how in the mountains it still is winter when in the rest of the country it is already spring. This expresses a certain reluctance in Kazuko to move towards the next step in her maturity.
A cuckoo clock is heard with the strange echo before she leaves the room to have morning tea with her mother. The same clock is heard again during the second earthquake.
After the first big leap at the clock store a clock is seen jumping backwards and forward in time. The hands of that clock then turn towards her as if to pierce her like Amor’s arrows. Directly afterwards she goes to meet Kazuo. A clock is heard ticking when she is looking for Kazuo at the green house after the accident with Gorō.
A spiral of floating clocks is seen during the second big time leap at the mountain cliff. A broken clock is seen lying on a stair just before Kazuko arrives back at the lab room. The ticking sound starts again as the broken clock rotates on screen. Kazuko appears and is seen through the back of the clock that was zoomed in on and now covers most of the screen. She starts running.
Clock ticking is again heard when Kazuko enters the lab to meet Kazuo. A clock hanging on the wall is seen again and again as they talk.
Kazuko looks at her watch just before the roof tiles fall down on her and Gorō.
When Kazuo reaches out with his left hand to grab Kazuko with both of them holding on to the steep wall, a watch is seen on his wrist. The visitor from the future looks at his watch before he says he has to leave.
Geta – Traditional Japanese wooden shoes Kazuko puts on when she goes to Gorō’s house, first time to return the handkerchief, the second time during the fire.Compare with novel
Necktie – FUKUSHIMA pulls on it when he lets Kazuko return to her seat because she can’t solve the problem. TACHIBANA bought this for FUKUSHIMA’s birthday.
After her time leap Kazuko compliments FUKUSHIMA on his necktie saying she liked it when she saw it yesterday. He is wearing it for the first time. TACHIBANA mistakenly thinks he already had a necktie of the same pattern.
Bicycle – Literally „two cycles“, symbolizes the two-timing with the two boys. One bicycle splits up the group of three, making Kazuko move toward Kazuo. Another bicycle is the ride of the one discovering the fire at Gorō’s house.
Bicycle associated with Gorō, or more concretely aspects of Gorō that drive Kazuko away from him.
Lover dolls – A couple of little dolls that look a bit like Amor, with angel wings. Since they have magnets in their heads it looks like they kiss when they come near each other.
At the beginning of the earthquake they seem to move on their own accord, kissing without Kazuko doing anything. They move away from each other again when Kazuko notices and looks at them.
Also used by Kazuko to playfully express her feelings towards the two boys when she wakes up. She makes them kiss and remembers the accidents when she bumped into Kazuo and Gorō, avoiding the bicycle and the roof tiles respectively. Then she picks up the doll she is holding and positions it away from the other doll again.
This can be seen as reluctance towards giving in to her feelings.
Picture of Kazuko with her bow and in hakama – Seen in the background when she plays with the lover dolls. Arrows symbol of love, hitting target symbol for finding the right person.
Traditional doll – Seems to watch Kazuko in her sleep before she wakes up. When the earthquake starts it moves its head and closes its eyes before shaking terribly and jumping at Kazuko. Until the whole room starts shaking and she and the viewer realize that the doll was moved by the quake the scene creates the impression of a horror movie.
Mirrors – Kazuko looks at herself in a mirror at school to clean the remaining soot from her face. On Sunday, after talking to her mom she looks at herself again in another mirror.
During PE class, Kazuko talks to Kazuo in front of large mirror. It reflects all of Kazuo but only half of Kazuko.
She looks into the mirror at home before rushing off to school on Tuesday.
When Kazuko was little she was playing with one of the two boys, singing the song about fruits maturing, drinking tea and playing tag during a thunderstorm, the boy chasing her. The scene doesn’t appear scary despite the lightning striking outside until the boy bumps into the mirror they had been circling, knocking it over and breaking it. Kazuko saw herself in that mirror and asked if she is pretty the moment it falls over and knocks her down as well. Kazuko lies on the floor, her hand around a mirror shard that cuts it and makes it bleed. The boy tries to pull out the shard and cuts his finger, bleeding also, then lifts her hand and kisses it to make it feel better. She returns the gesture and kisses his thumb.
At the end of the movie when Kazuko is already grown up and studies to be a pharmacist, her sister Ryōko combs her hair in front of a mirror, complaining to her mother that they should think about replacing with a new one. Her father replies that old things have value too.
The mirror is a symbol for identity but also for sameness, being like someone else. For example Kazuko being motherly, i. e. like her mother, Kazuo being feminine, like Kazuko.
Kazuko’s father commenting that old things have value too can be seen as a nod to nature and traditions, which are threatened of extinction in the far future SF literature describes.
Pajamas and nemaki – After the fire, before Kazuko and Kazuo split up she pulls at his pajamas to make it look neat.
When Kazuko visits Kazuo in his room for the first time, the intimacy is increased by her asking to see his pajamas. She apologizes for the strange request. He shows her his nemaki, saying his grandparents don’t buy new things like pajamas.
As she cannot confirm that they’re the same he wore during the night of the earthquake and fire, she decides to confide in him about the strange things that are happening to her. He is the only person she discusses her power with.
Later that night when the fire occurs again, he wears new pajamas his grandmother bought for him.Compare with novel
Melon – Kazuko has an appetite for melon. They’re not ripe on Monday yet but they are on Tuesday. Signifier for her having traveled back in time. Also symbol of maturity, which makes Tuesday, the day of the almost deadly accident, the day of maturity.
Kazuko’s note – After Kazuko’s first time leap the solution to the kanbun text has disappeared. It becomes one step in Kazuko realizing she went back in time but doesn’t come up again afterwards.Compare with novel
Picture of Kazuo’s deceased parents – At Kazuo’s house, Kazuko stands in front of the shrine that is decorated with the picture of his deceased parents.
Places and sceneries
Kazuko’s room – Decorated with a picture of Judy Garland and a poster of the movie The Wizard of Oz, a traditional Japanese doll, her bow and hakama, lover dolls, picture of her with her bow.
It’s a mess after the earthquake.Compare with novel
Mountains – On their ski trip Kazuko and Gorō watch the stars, Kazuo joins them.
Later, in a different mountain setting Kazuko finds Kazuo collecting rare flowers and climbs along a steep mountain wall to reach him. She wanted to meet him but she also wants to go back in time to find out the secret of the lavender. He tries to stop her. The camera shows them from above, on the cliff with its red flowers on the right side and the turbulent blue sea on the left side. Then we see only Kazuo’s face, urging her to not become lost. Cut to only Kazuko’s face, listening to his words and closing her eyes.
They both start emanating a blue aura when he pushes her off the cliff to trigger her time leaping power. He jumps after her into the sea and a wave washes over the screen following their downward movement.
The lab room is seen, their blue aura bodies falling onto the scene in a spiraling motion. The scene turns into a whirlpool, then into the sky. A spiral of floating clocks comes out of the spot where they disappear.
The mountains are strongly associated with Kazuo, time traveling and escapism, indicated by the use of black and white footage.
The past – The second big time leap (really a series of time leaps) starts on the mountains and takes her 10 years into the past (all through this sequence the leaping Kazuko has a blue aura). There she sees herself in 3 different places.
The 6 year old Kazuko visits a temple with her parents. She runs off, her parents start looking for her. The future Kazuko recognizes her parents. Then she realizes she can’t exist twice at the same time and takes off again so her younger self can be found by her searching parents. A wave washes over the screen.
The 6 year old Kazuko cuts her hand on a mirror. She disappears because of the future Kazuko’s arrival. Kazuko notices it is Gorō not Kazuo there with her younger self, which just disappeared. Looking for Kazuo she takes off again. Because she made the young Kazuko disappear Gorō didn’t try to pick up the shard and cut his finger. His present self’s scar disappears because of this.
A funeral. Kazuo and his parents died when he was six. The funeral guests express their condolences. One says „if at least the grandson could have been saved“. Kazuko’s mom asks her dad where Kazuko is. She must have disappeared because of the future Kazuko’s presence. She takes off again, her young self reappearing, crying for the dead Kazuo. A wave washes over the screen.
Kazuko is seen confused in front of the turbulent sea. Gorō is seen sleeping in the classroom. Kazuko is seen in front of the cloudy sky. The dark shadow, with blue aura runs up to her, picks her up and is revealed to be Kazuo. He leads her to the lab on Saturday, a wave washing over the background behind Kazuko in the middle.
She is seen running, the scene shown through a transparent clock. Another wave washes over her.
Kazuko is standing on a field of yellow flowers. Part of the screen is covered by white smoke. Kazuo joins her, says let’s go. She says okay, the smoke disappears.
The future – The year 2660. Because of overpopulation and highly advanced science there is not much green left, and plants like lavender have become hard to come by. Highly advanced educational system. Supernatural powers are common place.Compare with novel
Major plot points
The strange power – Kazuko starts using it unconsciously after smelling the drug at the lab room on Saturday. Making a bicycle go away faster, making little jumps in time like when she got up late on Sunday and her tea is already cold she jumps back far enough to make it hot again. She feels ambivalent.
When she shoots an arrow during archery exercise in school and it doesn’t hit bull’s eye she turns back time and leaves the class without shooting the arrow. She does this both times actually.
When she thinks she and Gorō will be buried by roof tiles it triggers her power and makes her go back a whole day. They would actually have survived though as on the next occasion she saves him and herself by doing exactly the same thing as last time.
The power had already faded but she regains it by smelling the drug again in Kazuo’s green house. She then jumps to a mountain scene where Kazuo is collecting rare flowers. She is determined to go back to where it all started and with Kazuo’s help uses the time leap to explore her past.Compare with novel
Experiencing the same events again – After her first time leap Kazuko experiences the same day and the same events again. Kazuko uses her knowledge of the repeated day to do many things differently.Compare with novel
Guilt and Blame – Gorō says there was no one there when they found the fainted Kazuko. It’s as if he wanted to say there was no criminal. Kazuo says the beakers were all where they were supposed to be. That’s because he cleaned everything up of course, to not be found out. Gorō is guilty of breaking the mirror and Kazuko having her scar. Kazuo is guilty of using the lab without permission and of Kazuko acquiring her power and becoming a time traveler like him.
Gorō blames FUKUSHIMA for Kazuko fainting since it was too much work for so few people. It’s as if he blamed the older generation for not having enough children to do all the work.
He defends Kazuko facing Mariko, saying she wasn’t slacking off or anything. It sounds as if he were defending himself, for sleeping in class and getting scolded, which makes Mariko put up a gleeful face. Kazuko also gets in trouble because of him. She doesn’t blame him, instead growing distant.Compare with novel
The paradox – The same person cannot exist twice at the same time. So when Kazuko leaps back in time her other self already present disappears.
When she leaps back into her early childhood, when she was visiting a temple with her parents, the little Kazuko disappears and her parents look for her. Once she realizes what is happening she takes off again so the parents can find their daughter.
Just before she arrived there Kazuo warned her not to become a wanderer of time, not to become a lost soul of time. He warned her to not become like him, dead, lost in time.Compare with novel
The two accidents – On Monday night an earthquake occurs and later a fire near Gorō’s house. When Kazuko wakes on Tuesday morning it’s already after 8 o’clock, she’ll be late. Rushing to school she meets Gorō and they talk about the fire last night. Suddenly tiles loosened during the earthquake fall down from a rooftop threatening to crush them under it. Kazuko jumps to the side, pushing back Gorō as well. Though not on purpose, she did the same with Kazuo when she avoided a bicycle.
It is interesting that the deadly traffic accident from the novel is replaced by a purely natural calamity (without human responsibility but still linked to the earthquake). Instead a traffic accident occurs earlier with Kazuo and is not really dangerous. Thus Kazuko experiences accidents with both her male friends that show many parallels, yet the one with Gorō is much more serious. Compare with novel
The nightmare – After the fire, Kazuo walks Kazuko halfway home, then she has to cross a bridge on her own. A cat meows on the way side. After she crosses the bridge, her geta clapping, she hears a second set of geta in the distance. A shadow appears behind her, covering her mouth so she cannot scream. She then wakes up in bed, the assault by the shadow revealed to be a nighmare. Following the moving doll just before the earthquake, this is another horror scene in the movie.Compare with novel
Memories – The real Kazuo died when he was six years old. Kazuko attended his funeral. The presence of the visitor from the future makes her forget this as he assumes his identity and makes people believe he is Kazuo and has lived with his grandparents after their son and daughter-in-law’s death.
When she bumps into Kazuo on the snowy mountains, Gorō asks who he is, until Kazuo’s power kicks in and gives Gorō and Kazuko fake memories about him. On the train ride back, when Kazuko voices frustration about his frequent absence and says that she never knows if he’ll be there or not this shows that she somehow remembers missing Kazuo after his death.
At one point she remembers Kazuo visiting and them cutting their hands on a broken mirror. This really happened between her and Gorō, as the scars on their hands prove, but Kazuo used positive memories to create fake childhood memories about himself.
When Kazuo returns to the future not only will the fake memories disappear, because he has broken the rules he must erase both her and his own memories about them falling in love.
Even with her memories erased Kazuko still decides to study pharmacy and to become like Kazuo, indicating that in her heart she still remembers him. As Kazuo also makes more journeys to the past they meet again in university, where they might fall in love again, despite having forgotten about each other. And in Kazuo’s case also about himself, as his was an assumed identity. But his personality is still the same, so if they fall in love again then because they feel attracted again by each other’s personalities.Compare with novel
Comparison of present and past – The big revelations Kazuko learns by making the final time leap are not about the future but about the past. The past: Kazuo dies, Kazuko gets lost, Kazuko and Goro share an intimate injury. The present: Kazuo only exists in fabricated memories, Kazuko travels in time, Kazuko and Kazuo fall in love.
The past becomes the reason for escaping the present. Kazuo’s complicated way of explaining the paradox included the inability to be at two places at once. Escaping via time traveling, i. e. dwelling on the past, results in that person to become absent in the present, like the already dead Kazuo.Compare with novel
The Wizard of Oz – Kazuko doesn’t just decorate her room with related goods, a similar visual effect is used in both movies. When Dorothy is still in Kansas, the movie is in black and white but it turns to color in the land of Oz where the same actors who played people from Kansas play characters in the fantasy world.
In the same way the ski trip sequence in the mountains is shot in black and white and turns to color from the center of the screen as the train runs from the winter in the mountains to the spring in the valley.
The land of Oz can be seen as an escapist fantasy triggered by the hurricane, a natural disaster that accompanies Dorothy’s coming of age. In the same way, the fake memories Kazuko is fed about Kazuo being still alive after the ski trip and her time traveling can be seen as an escapist fantasy. The earthquake is a similar metaphor of a disaster signifying traumatic coming of age. The trauma in Kazuko’s case being the death of the boy that seems like her mirror. The escapist fantasy being the fabricated memories of him still being alive. The return to reality being Kazuko becoming a pharmacist herself and finding a man who is like the one from the fabrication.
The song – Momo kuri 3-nen, kaki 8-nen, yuzu wa 9-nen de narisageru. Nashi no baka-me wa 18-nen.
Ai no minori wa, umi no soko, sora no tameiki hoshikuzu ga hitode to deatte oku man nen.
Peaches and chestnuts take 3 years, the persimon 8 years, and the yuzu 9 years to fall from the tree. The stupid pear takes 18 years.
The harvest of love, the bottom of the sea, the sigh of the sky, it takes 1 000 000 000 000 years for star dust and starfish to meet.
The first part is a variation of a phrase commonly known in Japan but for the movie director ŌBAYASHI added the second part.22 Source
TACHIBANA teaches her class about this song, Kazuko knows it from her childhood and Kazuo teaches her the second part. They sing it when Kazuko is six, in Kazuo’s green house and after the fire.
Maturity – TACHIBANA compares her students to the maturing fruits from the song that recurrs in the movie. Her work as a teacher is thus comparable to that of a gardener, growing plants as she is raising children.
Tuesday is the day of maturity, it’s when the melon which Kazuko had an appetite for is ripe.
Eternity – Kazuko says Gorō will be without a lover for all eternity.23 Goro-chan wa eien ni koibito nanka…, ~0:01:30 FUKUSHIMA says Gorō who sleeps in class will not learn anything in all eternity. The second part of the song about maturing fruits that Kazuo teaches Kazuko compares love to something so rare as stardust from the depths of space meeting starfish from the bottom of the sea, taking 1 000 000 000 000 years to happen, an eternal timespan. And if someone were to come down from a star to earth to meet Kazuko, as she wishes at the beginning of the movie, it would take thousands of years to happen because of the large distance. Eternity is a symbol for the rarity of true love.
The movie begins with a white text on black background that questions this true love:
Hito ga, genjitsu yori mo, risō no ai o shitta toki, sore wa, hito ni totte, kōfuku na no darō ka? Fukō na no darō ka?
When someone encounters a love so ideal that it can’t even be found in reality, is that, for that person, fortunate? Or is it unfortunate?
Bumping into people – A metaphor for falling in love. Kazuko bumps into Kazuo at the mountain resort when he first appears. Kazuko bumps into Kazuo again when she avoids the bicycle. (Both times Gorō acts unfeeling towards Kazuko, driving her away.) She bumps into Gorō on purpose to save him from the falling roof tiles. But the person she fell in love with is Kazuo as she understands in that moment. When she is older and in university, she bumps into the returning Kazuo, holding a tower of books in front of her.
During the play of tag Gorō bumps into the mirror that is showing Kazuko’s image. But the love is one sided, in university Kazuko won’t even go on dates with him as she is too busy.
The Japanese view of the universe – FUKUSHIMA teaches the following haiku by YOSA Buson to his students:
na no hana ya
tsuki wa higashi ni
hi wa nishi ni
the rape blossoms
the moon in the East
the sun in the West
He explains that the pecularity of haiku is that it can compress a scene like yellow fields of rape with the crimson setting sun and moon hovering above it in a short lyric. Another interpretation would be that it expresses the Japanese view of the universe by creating an image of the earth, moon and sun. It’s a special trait of Japanese literature to encompass concepts of human life and the universe in just 17 syllables.
Gorō says he’s hungry during FUKUSHIMA’s explanation and is scolded by the teacher.
This haiku can be linked to the earlier scene when Kazuko and Gorō watch the stars. Kazuko says the starry sky is so beautiful it’s a bit scary yet she wants someone to come down from a star to become her lover. If stars are associated with people then the three subjects of the haiku could relate to the love triangle of Kazuko, Gorō and Kazuo.
As Gorō is associated with fire (breaking out near his home after the earthquake), a notion that is further made plausible by his view of stars as burning gas masses, that would make him the sun in the West, complete with cold rational Western thinking.24 This actually isn’t limited to Europe and America and already includes Chinese thinking, seen from Japan the whole Asian continent is located in the West. Kazuo with his affinity to plants would be the rape blossoms and, following FUKUSHIMA’s earlier interpretation, the earth. Kazuko with her time traveling (escapist) power that makes her look pale would be the moon in the East.25 Fußnotenauszug: Compare also the Taketori monogatari, the oldest known story in Japanese literature and in a way an SF story. It’s about princess Kaguya who came from the moon and was later picked up again by her people from the moon. Kazuko’s romantic idea about her lover coming from the stars is surely inspired by this famous story. By association Kazuko would be the princess of the moon following m... A gray sphere at the center (of the night sky), this is how the screen looks when Kazuko jumps to the mountains looking for Kazuo.26 ~1:16:10 to ~1:17:30 The earlier visual effect of black and white turning color from the center is reversed and the screen becomes black and white only at the center where Kazuko is located, making her appear like the moon.
This also gives another meaning to the childhood memory in which the kids circle the mirror. The sun (Gorō) chasing the moon (Kazuko) and them bumping into the mirror (Kazuo). That would associate the mirror, the symbol of sameness and identity, with nature and the earth, which is everyone’s common ground.
The earthquake would then be a signifier of movement inside the earth, like blossoming buds pushing outward. The red heat of the sun would be the rays that penetrate the earth and give it life.
When Kazuko talks about what happened in the lab room, Kazuo tells her that they didn’t find any traces of the medicine she saw. Gorō points out that Kazuko’s face was black even though she claims there was white smoke, it’s like he’s insisting that she was in fact burned by fire, by him, that they share the scar, not Kazuo who mixed the medicine with its white smoke. Gorō’s fire is real, Kazuo’s lavender -> calendar -> time traveling is escapism. But that time traveling made the scar on Gorō’s hand disappear.
Conclusion: The movie deemphasizes the SF elements of the novel and instead emphasizes a more lyrical view of scientific concepts. Scientific thought is portrayed almost negatively as it becomes linked to the unlucky Gorō, even though his application of science remains a bit superficial as was the case in the novel. The previously heavily science related characters Kazuo and FUKUSHIMA are now associated with (aesthetically pleasing) flowers and (beautiful) language respectively. Western elements are replaced by Japanese ones: Kazuo no longer lives in a Western style house and FUKUSHIMA has no interest in supernatural phenomenon reported in America and instead teaches the view of the cosmos as expressed in haiku. The movie is also more concerned with the past than the future which is seen as a threat towards nature and tradition.
It also deemphasizes the hints at revisionism and rather interprets time travel as escapism. Which is conveyed by using an escapist fantasy American movie as its reference point.
The romance elements become the core of the story and the hints of sexual tension become much more obvious. Horror elements are added.
The triangle relationship is quite different. Even when Kazuko only seeks out one of the two boys in the novel she ends up being with both most of the time. Her wanting to be normal results in her always becoming part of a crowd to blend in with and to rely on. Only when she is forced to confront the root of the problem she is alone for a longer while and ends up with just one of the boys.
In the movie she is often shown with just one of the boys, spending more time with Gorō at the beginning then slowly transitioning to Kazuo who is the only one she ends up confiding in, her true love. It is clearly a love triangle in the movie whereas in the novel love only becomes a topic at the very end.
The notions of overly long education cycles and inaptness resulting from it are drawn from the future setting of the novel to the present in the movie and become much more simple in their application. Because Gorō sleeps in class he will never learn anything, because he lacks understanding of aesthetic values he can’t win Kazuko’s heart.
Kazuko on the other hand is „aiming too high“ and decides to stay alone but gets a good education and possibly career, taking Kazuo’s role of the pharmacist. There is also the chance that she will find someone like Kazuo, which was her ideal lover.
- ~0:07:20 [↩]
- In the original screen play by KENMOCHI she was supposed to have a Snoopy doll instead. [↩]
- In KENMOCHI’s screen play his name still was ASAKURA as in the novel but the name was changed for the movie. [↩]
- ~0:04:30, ~0:12:20, ~1:26:10 [↩]
- ~0:09:10, ~0:10:40 [↩]
- ~0:11:00 [↩]
- ~0:17:00, ~0:20:00 [↩]
- ~0:38:10 [↩]
- Gorō referring to Kazuko as overly motherly was still in the screen play, KENMOCHI just added the part about her being like an older sister. In another scene shortly after that one he develops the thought further and has Gorō call her overly motherly as in the novel but it was omitted in the movie, maybe because it seemed redundant. [↩]
- Reading of first name unconfirmed. [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩]
- In the screen play he was still supposed to be a science teacher but the science class scenes were omitted. Instead FUKUSHIMA inherits the role and scenes of another teacher called KAWAI added in the screen play. [↩]
- According to KENMOCHI’s screen play. [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩]
- Chinese texts that can be read in Japanese with the help of annotated signs. Kazuko has to add the correct annotations. [↩]
- In the screen play this was originally still a math problem by another teacher, KOMATSU, but that character was omitted from the movie. [↩]
- ~0:09:30 [↩]
- In the screen play there still was a scene of Mariko meeting Kazuko when she is on the street looking for Gorō. In that scene she makes assumptions about Kazuko liking Kazuo, comments on Kazuko waiting on Gorō. It was omitted from the movie. According to the script she was supposed to be the best in math class until recently, when Kazuo started beating her in tests. But that scene was omitted together with the role of KOMATSU. [↩]
- ~0:21:30 [↩]
- ~0:03:20 [↩]
- ~0:14:20 [↩] [↩]
- ~0:13:40 [↩]
- ~0:30:00 [↩]
- Source [↩]
- Goro-chan wa eien ni koibito nanka…, ~0:01:30 [↩]
- This actually isn’t limited to Europe and America and already includes Chinese thinking, seen from Japan the whole Asian continent is located in the West. [↩]
- Compare also the Taketori monogatari, the oldest known story in Japanese literature and in a way an SF story. It’s about princess Kaguya who came from the moon and was later picked up again by her people from the moon. Kazuko’s romantic idea about her lover coming from the stars is surely inspired by this famous story. By association Kazuko would be the princess of the moon following my interpretation. [↩]
- ~1:16:10 to ~1:17:30 [↩]