The Girl who Runs Through Time

Review covers the full series

When I think of a time-travel related story then I'm usually thinking of something quite epic in some way.

Probably the first thing that springs to mind for most people when time-travel is mentioned is Back to the Future, with it's cleverly woven storyline. If you take someone of my generation then you might also get memories of Day of the Tentacle springing up as well, with it's equally clever time-travel related plots.

I'm digressing a little, but my point is that if you bring up a story with time-travel in it then you raise expectations of a long, clever, overly complex plotline - something which I happen to really enjoy ^_^;;

Unfortunately the Manga I've most recently finished reading, The Girl who Runs Through Time, is none of these, despite featuring time-traveling. But... don't write it off just yet, let me review it in its own right first.

The Girl who Runs Through Time stars Kazuko, a Japanese high-schooler who suddenly realizes that she has the power to travel through time. So does she use this power to stop her parents meeting and erase her own existence? Nope. Does she get stuck 200 years in the future where the world has been taken over by lab-created mutants? Again, no.

She actually uses the power for comparatively mundane things, such as getting to meet her deceased Grandmother again and attempting to stop one of her friends breaking their leg in a traffic accident. All of this makes for a far less exciting plot, but I can't help but feel that Kazuko is being far more sensible than Marty et al. were.

Anyway, what I've just said probably sounds like a criticism of the Manga, but in fact it's probably the Manga's best point. The Girl who Runs Through Time isn't aiming to be overly complex or clever. It's just aiming to be a charming little story, and it succeeds brilliantly. The main focus of the Manga is about people's feelings and relationships rather than the threat of world domination, and it pulls it off very well.

While reading I always found myself getting drawn into the plot, wondering what Kazuko would do, or wondering what would have happened had she done something different. In fact, while it was a very nice short story, I think my main disappointment when I finished the series was that I found myself wishing that the ending hadn't happened. I wanted there to be more, the plot to still going and Kazuko to still be time-traveling. But that's all most likely a sign that the story opened my imagination a little, which is a good thing.

Any bad points? Well, sorry but there is one: The flow of the book can be quite hard to read.

Kazuko often recaps past moments of her life to the reader before they come up in the plot. I've no complaint about this; we wouldn't understand the context of what Kazuko is doing when she time-travels to the past without the recap beforehand.

What is confusing is that the story uses the same style recaps for when someone is traveling back and changing time, and when this happens there's no announcement made to the reader, so as a result it's sometimes difficult to know what exactly is happening when the Manga shows a scene in the past.

All of this makes The Girl who Runs Through Time one of those series that will probably lose the reader on the first read, but suddenly make a lot more sense if given a second chance. Knowing what's about to happen is enough to get past the confusion when re-reading the two books, and knowledge of the characters also helps.

You might have noticed that I ran this review back to back with a review on the Time Guardian Manga. The idea was that at first there seems to be quite a few similarities between the two. Both feature time, both focus on exploring relationships, and both are only two volumes long.

You might also have noticed that I've given them both the same score. But between the two I think I liked The Girl who Runs Through Time just a little bit more; while I wish it were longer the story doesn't feel like it was delibrately cut short, and I also felt that it succeeded at what it was trying to do a little better.

Okay, so it's not epic, it's not grand, but it is a charming little story.