The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui, translated by David Karashima
Déjà vu: If the title seems at all familiar to you even though the book’s U.S. pub date happened this fall, don’t be surprised because you’ve probably, already seen various iterations of the story on other multiple platforms. While this is the original 1967 bestselling Japanese novel translated for the first time into English, the story has had many, many lives through the decades, including television dramas, three live-action movies, an anime film (which, amazingly, you can watch in full with a dubbed English soundtrack here!), and at least three manga series! Talk about prolific longevity!
On the printed page, the actual book offers two stories. In the titular “Girl,” middle schooler Kazuko is sharing clean-up duties in the science lab with two of her classmates, Goro and Kazuo. She thinks she momentarily sees a stranger’s shadow, smells a mysterious liquid from a broken test tube, and promptly passes out. When her friends find her, she seems okay enough … for now. That night, an earthquake hits in the middle of the night, and her friend Goro’s house is threatened by a small fire. The next morning, running late because of the near-sleepless excitement, she and Goro narrowly miss a fatal truck collision. And yet Kazuko wakes up in her own bed again …! Was it a dream? What really happened?
In the second – totally unrelated – story, “The Stuff that Nightmares Are Made of,” Bunichi frightens his school friend Masako with such surprise and horror that Masako finally decides to bravely confront some of those fears head-on, literally going to new heights and traveling far and wide to solve her personal mysteries.
Considered one of Japan’s most prolific and lauded writers, author Yasutaka Tsutsui‘s translated-into-English titles are slowly growing in the West. How ironic, however, that derivative-“Girl”-works were so plentiful Stateside long before the original.
“Girl” is clearly the iconic piece here, with “Stuff” (somewhat oddly) not even mentioned on the back cover or the inside first page. “Girl” proves to be the more thought-provoking piece, and you’ll certainly be thinking about the futuristic machinations long after you leap through “Stuff.” And now that I’ve enjoyed the page, I’m looking forward to going backwards to check out that six-years-ago anime. Time is all relative, right?
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 1967 (Japan), 2011 (United Kingdom), 2012 (United States)