The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 6: Return, Reset and Finding That Person Again
With his movie ŌBAYASHI made the connection between The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Wizard of Oz. This children’s book classic represents a number of similar youth novels in which a protagonist from the real world travels to an unreal fantasy world. TAKAHASHI mentioned Narnia in his text on Mother; there is also Alice in Wonderland which comes to mind, or The Never Ending Story. This last example is interesting as the fantastic world traveled to is actually the narrative of a book, which emphasizes the common theme in these novels: The reader is supposed to identify with the real life protagonist and his journey to the strange world is actually the reading of the story. When the story ends, the protagonist returns to the real world.
Now let’s compare this to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Here instead of one (or few) real person(s) traveling from reality into the fantastic, one person from a fantastic future comes into reality. He does return but to make the fantastic disappear his influence has to be undone, so in place of a return for Kazuko there is a reset. Kazuko never leaves reality, cannot return in a spatial sense, instead she returns to an earlier point in reality, before the fantastic occurred.
The movie version of Oz has the same actors who play the characters in the world of Oz also play the people from Dorothy’s reality in Kansas. This indicates that fiction is based on reality, that the made up characters are reflections of people that live in reality. In Fushigi Yūgi, a manga for girls from the 1990ies, after going on an adventure by being sucked into a book that tells of a fantastic ancient China the story doesn’t end with the return to the real life setting. Instead there are several volumes dealing with a guy resembling the love interest from the fantastic part transferring to the school of the female protagonist and them falling in love again.
It is a more pronounced version of Kazuko meeting Kazuo again, minus the reset. Fushigi Yūgi’s Miaka doesn’t forget her Tamahome, instead she returns from the fantasy and meets his reincarnation Taka. I have talked about how The Girl Who Leapt Through Time influenced Final Fantasy in part 3 and how another video game, Mother, fits in with the same themes present in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in part 4. There are more video games that share themes from it and I will give two examples that use the “reset and finding a person from the fantastic adventure again in reality” motif. Both came out for the Playstation and after Final Fantasy VII.
Let’s start with Chrono Cross by director and writer KATŌ Masato. It’s a sequel to Chrono Trigger for the earlier Super Famicom, which shared a lot of staff with Final Fantasy VII. Basically the team which usually did Final Fantasy helped out with Chrono Trigger before moving on to VII and KATŌ, a member of the main team and the story planner of Chrono Trigger later worked as one of the many event planners of FFVII.
Chrono Cross is set in a fantasy world from the outset so there is no need to travel to the fantastic or have it come to reality. Still, the more limited world of an archipelago, with borders that cannot be left, is closer to the player’s reality than the usual grand RPG worlds that often are a full globe that loops when you try to leave the borders of the map. And there is someone coming to protagonist Serge’s world, the thief Kid who heads a group of bandits called the Radical Dreamers.
With her arrival, Serge starts to travel across time, between two realities, one in which he lives and one in which he has died at a young age and where his friends and relatives don’t know the almost grown up Serge. It’s almost as if the movie Kazuko and Kazuo switched places and a male protagonist has to unravel the mystery of his own death.
In the latter half of the game Serge is cursed with the body of his nemesis Lynx, who is really his father. Since his friends only see the appearance, he is met with enmity and is treated like the villain. This is similar to Kazuko being thought insane by Gorō and potentially accused of setting the fire herself she only knows about in the novel.
After regaining his proper self and being treated friendly again, Serge draws close to the end of his journey. The long explanations about what really happened, found in the computers of Fate and from dialog with the already dead heroes of the predecessor Chrono Trigger, remind of the long explanation Kazuo gives Kazuko in the novel, even more so since they appear as younger versions of themselves, like Kazuo was revealed to be younger than he appeared.
Then after defeating the last boss reality is reset, everything that happened during the story is undone and thus forgotten.
The last pages of the book that is the story read like a letter from the narrator to the player. It implies that the same story is being told over and over again.
As the ending credits role, scenes from the game take turns with scenes showing a girl in various backdrops from real life Japan, which were not part of the game. This is the real life version of Kid that can be found in reality. A mixture of black and white and color is used for these scenes, a similar technique as in the movie by ŌBAYASHI. One scene even shows the girl passing a clock store and the clocks running backwards, very reminiscent of the 1983 movie. The last scene shows her standing at the middle of a cross-walk, the place where Kazuko and Gorō were run over by a truck in the novel.
Persona 2 Innocent Sin
Now let’s talk about a spin off to another long running video game series called (Shin) Megami Tensei, based on the Digital Devil Story light novels by NISHITANI Aya. Like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the original DDS novels are set in the real world and many of the games share this setting. So whereas Chrono Cross approached reality, Megami Tensei is actually right there. The spin off series Persona by writer SATOMI Tadashi has the high school as its main theme, something that was a minor part in the DDS novels already but never played a big role in the Megami Tensei games until the third one for Super Famicom, Shin Megami Tensei if. Here the real world hub from which the fantastic is visited is set entirely in the boundaries of the premises of one school, as opposed to the borders of Tokyo in most other Megami Tensei games.
Persona uses this school setting and one of the characters from if as its base but contains exploring the city as well. In the second game of this new series protagonist SUŌ Tatsuya has to make an important decision concerning his school education and this is where the story begins. During the story he and his friends meet AMANO Maya who they at first don’t recognize because of suppressed memories but actually used to play with when they were younger.
At that time Tatsuya and the older girl Maya (another older sister/mother type) were locked in a temple that was set on fire. He and Maya managed to save themselves by manifesting their personas for the first time (in the game’s setting personas are summoned demons that represent facets of our personality). Tatsuya’s persona uses fire, so he fought fire with fire to survive.
Yet ever since there have been rumors about him being an arsonist. In the world of Persona 2 rumors become reality, a metaphoric exaggeration of the fact that in the views of people rumor and prejudice can be as real or even more so as fact, which might either elude our knowledge or just be ignored. What we belief to be true and what we know to be true are two different things. So the fantasy of rumors becoming reality is based on a very real aspect of society that affects young high school students like the protagonist and player.
The rumors turning into reality aspect becomes even more dangerous as the theories of the teacher KASHIHARA Akinari spread in town. KASHIHARA believed the history taught in school to be incorrect and wrote a prophecy called the Oracle of Maia based on hallucinations by SUDŌ Tatsuya, the one who actually set fire to the temple. So the similar names of the older SUDŌ and the younger SUŌ Tatsuya result in the protagonist getting blamed for a crime he was actually a victim of.
As different rumors are spread by different parties, reality in town changes several times, the super hero team Tatsuya and his friends pretended to be when they were kids arrives in town and is viewed at one time as villains and as heroes at another, an adult version of said team headed by SUDŌ taking the younger Tatsuya’s place becomes the antagonist and finally even Hitler and a nazi army using mobile robot suits like the ones in Gundam arrive. The complex narrative takes up many aspects of escapism and revisionism expressed in popular hero stories and keeps the audience questioning their ideas of the hero.
In the end, the Oracle of Maia fulfills itself completely which results in the destruction of the earth. The only way to avoid it: go back in time to the beginning of the story and make a different decision so nothing the player experienced in the game will ever occur. So here also we have a reset but the game ends with Tatsuya accidentally bumping into Maya near a cross-walk, finding her again even though they don’t remember each other.
Tired of Dreaming
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is retold again and again, not just in the official adaptations like the four movies but also in video games like Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Cross and Persona 2 Innocent Sin. And Lost Odyssey, the inofficial new Final Fantasy by its original creator SAKAGUCHI Hironobu. Here SAKAGUCHI uses the same setting of amnesiac immortals NOJIMA had already used in Glory of Heracles, their lost memories being like novels, like the numerous works of fiction (including games) one might have consumed in their life. For protagonist Kaim, his never ending life burdens him with guilt and pain.
So when NOJIMA says that no one noticed his references to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time he is probably speaking of the audience because other creators, especially ones he worked with, didn’t just notice the connection but took it up themselves. In the same year as Final Fantasy VII, the second movie adaptation also was released and might be another reason why two years later these two other games base their stories on such similar motifs from TSUTSUI’s story, even though the “return/reset and finding the person again” weren’t major parts of Final Fantasy VII.
NOJIMA in turn takes up these two aspects in in Final Fantasy X. There Tidus also was a visitor from another world and age who returned at the end. But he is revealed to be a dream, the Fayth who dreamed him being tired of dreaming. No reset or memory loss but a drastic change to society. Yuna emancipated and teased to meet Tidus again in the sequel Final Fantasy X-2, but the person looking like him turns out to be a tragic villain and his story a history lesson. Instead three other potential love interests are present in the story and for the completionist there are two hidden endings to be found that have Tidus return. But only after replaying the history lesson over and over.
|04/24/1992||Glory of Heracles III||NOJIMA Kazushige, NONAKA I.||ISHII S.||Super Famicom|
|06/20/1992||Fushigi Yūgi Vol. 1||WATASE Yū||manga|
|10/21/1994||Glory of Heracles IV||NOJIMA Kazushige||Nojima Kazushige, NISHIYAMA Eiichi||Super Famicom|
|10/28/1994||Shin Megami Tensei if||MUKAE Kazuya||Super Famicom|
|03/11/1995||Chrono Trigger||KATŌ Masato||TOKITA Takashi, KITASE Yoshinori, MATSUI Akihiko||Super Famicom|
|08/20/1996||Fushigi Yūgi Vol. 18||WATASE Yū||manga|
|01/31/1997||Final Fantasy VII||SAKAGUCHI Hironobu (story), NOMURA Tetsuya (story), KITASE Yoshinori, NOJIMA Kazushige||KITASE Yoshinori||Playstation|
|11/08/1997||Toki o Kakeru Shōjo||ITŌ Ryōji, KATSURA Chiho, KADOKAWA Haruki||KADOKAWA Haruki||movie|
|06/24/1999||Persona 2 Innocent Sin||SATOMI Tadashi||Playstation|
|11/18/1999||Chrono Cross||KATŌ Masato||KATŌ Masato||Playstation|
|07/19/2001||Final Fantasy X||NOJIMA Kazushige||TORIYAMA Motomu, TSUCHIDA Toshirō, NAKAZATO Takayoshi||Playstation 2|
|03/13/2003||Final Fantasy X-2||NOJIMA Kazushige, WATANABE Daisuke||TORIYAMA Motomu||Playstation 2|
|12/06/2007||Lost Odyssey||SAKAGUCHI Hironobu||SAKAGUCHI Hironobu||Xbox360|
Stichworte: Chrono, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, KATŌ Masato, NOJIMA Kazushige, ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko, Persona, SAKAGUCHI Hironobu, SATOMI Tadashi, TSUTSUI Yasutaka