July 15th marks the 8th anniversary of the release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Marvelously weaving science fiction, romance, and comedy into a story that’s charming and sometimes heart-breaking, TGWLTT is one of my favorite films, and stands with and above most of the great anime movies of the last 15 years, including anything Studio Ghibli has released. It remains Mamoru Hosoda’s (Summer Wars, Wolf Children) best film.
One of the best parts of TGWLTT is how about midway through the movie, it flips it’s tone. There are charming bits about how Makoto, who has gained the ability to time leap, uses her new power to do all sorts of trivial things, from looping a karaoke session over and over to dumbfounding friends with her sudden surge in test scores. But when she realizes how her ability is leading to unexpected and painful consequences, Makoto seeks to make things right (and much of the drama in the film involves whether or not her decisions can prevent some personally catastrophic events).
We’re not so different from Makoto, as it’s not unusual for people to make sudden changes in their choices as well when faced by undeniable reality. Sudden illness, loss of a relationship, failed job opportunities – these are the kinds of events that kick start something within us, driving us to make changes we’ve long known we should. We may suddenly make big shifts in our lives, including perhaps how we approach health, relationships, religion, etc.
But these are bigger changes – what of the little changes in our lives, those that demonstrate love for others? Note that when Makoto changes the way she approaches her time leaps, she does a total 180 – her choices now are entirely for others, and not for herself. She realizes her priorities – those that she most loves.
Without some vision of future ills, it can be hard for us to make changes in how we approach people, but perhaps it’s done best when we take little steps, taking each choice one at a time. In each of the many decisions we make, we can choose a way of love and grace, or a more selfish route.
This article is actually very timely for me, as I’m trying to practice what I preach. I’m lacking in grace and filled up with anger and bitterness lately, with all of that impatience directly aimed at those I most love. But as I’ve long known about anime (and most of you realize this as well), this medium has a special way of affecting us, and I hope that it’s helping to drive me to make change in my own life, choice by choice, as the Holy Spirit provides an answer through doing an impossible work in me – namely being loving when I’m nothing of the sort.
Most everything we do affects ourselves and affects others – it’s not just a movie cliche, but truth that you can change lives by how you approach the things you do. So I hope that you, too, will make loving choices in your life, and starting now, when it isn’t caused by a heart attack, illness, layoff, or even a time leap.