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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Girl Who Leapt
Through Time

Tsutsui Yasutaka

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To purchase The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Title: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Author: Tsutsui Yasutaka
Genre: Stories
Written: 1967 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 170 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - US
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - UK
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - Canada
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - India
La traversée du temps - France
  • Includes the stories The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女) and The Stuff that Nightmares are Made of (悪夢の真相)
  • Translated by David Karashima

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Our Assessment:

B : very basic, but fine young-teen sci-fi

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The two long short stories in this collection, 'The Girl Who Leapt Through Time' and 'The Stuff that Nightmares are Made of', both feature protagonists in their mid-teens, and it would appear the audience they are aimed at is also in that range, if not even younger. The writing and story-telling is very basic and simple, and while of a different time -- Tsutsui wrote these half a century ago -- even then they were surely hardly challenging. Nevertheless, they have some appeal -- including the fact that both admirably feature female protagonists --, and even if the writing is basic Tsutsui still tells his stories well and properly.
       'The Girl Who Leapt Through Time' features Kazuko, and begins with her helping to clean up the science lab after school one day. She hears some strange noises in one of the labs but when she goes to investigate can't find anyone there. There is, however, a broken test tube, and "a slight hint of a sweet scent in the air". Suddenly overcome, she faints. Two classmates find her and she seems fine when she comes around again -- but a few days later, after a traumatic event, she finds herself reliving the past day. Exposure to the substance has made her able to both teleport and time-travel, at least to a limited extent.
       The explanation behind the substance and what Kazuko heard in the lab involves another time-traveling teleporter from much farther in the future -- 2660. The explanations as to how this person from the future came to be here, unnoticed, are a bit simplistic and convenient, but for your (very) basic time-traveling tale it's not too bad -- although it's also neatly tied up very quickly, Tsutsui hardly taking advantage to explore all the possible implications.
       'The Stuff that Nightmares are Made of' is a more nuanced story, in which school girl Masako faces her fears in order to discover the trauma that she had completely blocked in her memory from early childhood. She has some fears -- of certain masks, of heights, of railings (like on a bridge) -- but can't explain them.
       Observing her much younger brother's fear of going to the bathroom at night -- he refuses to, worried about a woman standing there threateningly with a pair of scissors -- she figures out what's behind that when she hears her mother scolding the boy for always playing with the neighborhood girls rather than playing with the boys and standing up to a local bully:

     "Boys need to have the courage to fight back!" their mother continued. "If you want to keep on playing with girls all the time, I'm going to have to snip off your weenie!"
       Yes, mom's pedagogic instincts are way, way off -- but as soon as Masako's brother understands that their mother isn't eager to castrate him he no longer fears going to the bathroom at night.
       Masako's own trauma is buried deeper and takes more to uncover, but resolves itself similarly simply (if slightly more dramatically). A better rounded-off story than the title-piece, it's a satisfying little piece of teenage psychologizing.
       These are decent YA stories, a quick read that doesn't waste much time with unnecessary details, but there's also not nearly enough meat on them (or depth to them) for adult readers.

- M.A.Orthofer, 2 July 2014

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Reviews: Tsutsui Yasutaka: Other books by Tsutsui Yasutaka under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Popular Japanese author Tsutsui Yasutaka (筒井 康隆) was born in 1934.

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