The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 5: The Parody
In June 1983, one month before the first screening of the movie adaptation TSUTSUI also returned to his story and published a parody of it called Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo in SF Adventure, a popular SF magazine of the time running stories of that genre. It was later collected in Kushizashi kyōju (Impaled Professor, 1985) and is only about 10 pages long.1 Pages 155-164. TSUTSUI assumes his readers already know the original story and only uses some key scenes to retell it. Instead he introduces new story elements taken from the contexts of contemporary society like school violence and let’s his characters comment on the upcoming movie version.
In the same month, KENMOCHI’s script for the movie was also published using the same title: Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo. The word scenario in the first instance refers to the screen play and TSUTSUI’s parody approaches the style in which such screen plays are usually written, describing what the camera shows and giving the lines of the characters. Yet it only loosely follows this format and there are some major differences. In the second instance scenario refers to a potential outcome, like the future envisioned in the original story with a highly advanced educational system. Which doesn’t seem so likely with a present that sees violent outbreaks of students against adult authorities and teachers in particular.
Self awareness – The parody story juxtaposes its main plot, based on the original story, with another plot in the background. The characters speak their text stiffly and monotonously, as if by rote. This highlights the fakeness and the fictionality of the main plot, as TSUTSUI the narrator himself comments. The background action shows violent students attacking adults and the results of their destructive behavior. It is said to feel more alive and real and clashes with the fake main plot. The story characters try to ignore what is happening around them but the background invades the foreground and obstructs the advancement of the fictional plot.
Since the story is so short and very unlikely to ever be officially translated, I decided to translate it in full.
(No screening without permission)
Kanojo (she) – The female protagonist. Appears in scenes 1-2, 4-13.
Referred to by Gorō by her surname as YOSHIYAMA-kun. Otherwise only referred to as “she”. This makes her an icon for females in general. Instead of being one individual, referred to by a distinct name, she is the very idea of the girl.
Kanojo can also mean girlfriend, making her an icon of the fictional girlfriend.
Kanojo begins with the syllable ‘ka’, same as the character’s actual name Kazuko, and her male mirror image Kazuo, and the word kagami (mirror), and the word kaa-san (mother).
Her power is the the result of a trauma. Fiction is an escape from the violent reality which reminds of the trauma.
At the end she refers to herself as Tomoyo, the name of the actress who plays Kazuko in the movie. This again highlights the fictionality of the character and reveals that there is a real person assuming the identity of “her”.
In scene 7 she speaks as the narrator, in chapter 13 she speaks to the audience and apologizes she can’t continue telling the story, as an actress playing the role of the girl who leapt through time.Compare with novel
Kazuo – Appears in scenes 3-6, 9-10,12-13. Absent minded (scene 12), mostly passive, reactive to actions of others.
Touches the female protagonist’s body when she is passed out (scene 4). Begins to stutter and to cry when the violent students suggest he should have sex with her (scene 13). Knocked out by one of the violent students because he felt fake (scene 13).Compare with novel
Gorō – Appears in scenes 3-6, 9-10. Dislikes YOSHIYAMA-kun’s overly motherly behavior. Usually the first to talk. Probably the one who has issues with the parody affecting the dignity of the source work (scene 10).
Touches the female protagonist’s body when she is passed out (scene 4).Compare with novel
FUKUSHIMA-sensei – Appears in scenes 6, 9-11. Struggles to keep his composure when talking to her in the sick room because of sexual tension occurring in the background scene (scene 6).
Instantly believes the story about her power (scene 9). Has an interest in SF, feels the need to justify himself for this interest when he addresses the audience in scene 10.
Thinks that phenomenon like the one occurring to her are needed to advance science. Is confused by real life problems, which he calls bothersome, begins to stutter. Comes to understands that wanting more SF phenomenon to occur is like asking for more traumatic violence like the one that caused her power.
Has an idealistic view of science and SF, is optimistic about the future. Compared to that the violent students seem only interested in the action of the SF anime shown in cinema. Is torn between his idealistic view of SF and education and the bleak reality.Compare with novel
Tramp – Appears in scene 7. Alluded to be Tora-san, the iconic travelling merchant tramp from the long running Otoko wa tsurai movie series.
In each of the Otoko wa tsurai movies Tora-san meets a beautiful woman, the so called madonna of that movie, they get somewhat close but at the end there is some reason why they can’t get together. In that regard he is like Kazuo, who is also attracted to a motherly woman which he can’t be intimate with.
Tora-san was also a school drop out and never got a decent job, yet is the likable hero of his movies. He refers to himself as a yakuza, is part of that shady subculture. In that regard he is like the violent students which could be referred to a furyō shōnen (no good juvenile delinquents), the junior yakuza so to speak.
Is beat up by the violent students, who in a way attack their potential future self.
Teachers – Appear in scenes 6, 8-9. At war with the students. The female ones get sexually assaulted (scene 6 and 9), a male one strangled (scene 8). One retaliates with a knife attack (scene 9).Compare with novel
Mariko – Appears in scene 8. Hasn’t seen the math problem before. The protagonist insists that the problem came up in class before.
In the background the violent students strangle the teacher, as if to mute out what he is saying.Compare with novel
Violent students – Appear in scenes 6-9, 12-13.
Three of them rape a young female teacher while the female protagonist tells Kazuo, Gorō and FUKUSHIMA-sensei what happened to her in the lab room (scene 6).
Around ten of them hunt and kick a tramp (scene 7) when the female protagonist is on her way home from school.
They strangle a teacher when Mariko tells the female protagonist that she has never seen the problem before (scene 8).
They riot in the staff room and fight a group of teachers (scene 9). One of them gets stabbed in the chest with a fruit knife, just as FUKUSHIMA-sensei is lecturing about science, taking digs at “normal people” with limited understanding of science (in the original story this was mostly about Gorō and his reaction to Kazuko’s claims about knowing the future).
Around 10 of them broke the interior of the lab room (scene 12). They molest the female protagonist and Kazuo, knock out Kazuo and proceed to rape her (scene 13).Compare with novel
Tomoyo – Appears in scene 13. The female protagonist’s true identity, the actress playing the fictional role.
In the original story it was Kazuo who revealed his true identity and returned to the future. In the parody it is the female protagonist who reveals her true identity and escapes from her traumatic reality into the future.Compare with novel
Windows – Window glass is broken in scene 1 and 8. Windows can be seen through in their usual state already, the breaking of the glass can be seen as a metaphor for the exaggeration of the parody, making things that are already apparent even more obvious.
The frame of the window in scene 1 is also broken in places, this is a metaphor for the association of two images with each other. Usually each image is inside its own frame, by breaking these frames the images are enabled to become mixed.8 This was also a new stylistic method of manga for girls of the 1970ies, breaking up panel layout to arrange smaller panels inside larger ones and putting text outside of speech and thought bubbles to converge images and text and create a more literary style of comics.
So the windows in the story express the stylistic tools of exaggeration and association used in the parody.
Camera – Appears in scenes 1, 6, 9-10. It reveals things by drawing attention, even molests the characters. It has an appetite for sex and violence and brings unpleasantness to the characters.
It connects fiction and audience, is an avatar for the voyeristic audience. The female protagonist and FUKUSHIMA-sensei several times face the camera and in some scenes even talk to the audience.
Places and sceneries
After school – No piano playing which would indicate high brow culture. Instead there is noise from the violent students.Compare with novel
The outside world – In the first scene the outside of the school is seen through the broken window. It is a mixture of contradictory features, the inner city and the country side. This symbolizes the numerous examples of such contradictory mixtures in Japanese culture.
The lab room – Is filled with piles of garbage, the result of the destructive behavior of the violent students. Symbolizes the detrimental effects this trend in society has on science and education.Compare with novel
The toilet – The stall walls and doors are removed, making it completely devoid of privacy. The bare toilet bowls are rowed up, expressing how people using these toilets must feel.
Of course privacy is already impacted in functional public places of personal hygiene. Urinals aren’t separated and showers are often shared in school bathrooms. They thus become places of homosexual tension.
It is here where Gorō expresses his aversion towards the female protagonist’s overly motherly behavior to Kazuo.
Major plot points
The strange power – When FUKUSHIMA-sensei is supposed to explain the female protagonist’s power he starts to talk about the real world outside the fiction. He talks about watching SF at the cinema and mentions (Crusher) Joe and Genma (taisen), both being SF anime movies that feature characters with PSI powers. He further mentions Hiroko-chan (YAKUSHIMARU Hiroko),6 Footnote preview: YAKUSHIMARU Hiroko was a young singer and actress of the time and a peer of HARADA Tomoyo who played Kazuko’s role. In 1981 YAKUSHIMARU starred in another movie by director ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko called Nerawareta gakuen as a female student who used PSI powers to stop other PSI power enabled beings from building a fascist regime at her school. Although her PSI power is different from Kazuko̵... another young actress and singer of the time and peer of HARADA Tomoyo. At that moment he is interrupted and the scene changes, the female protagonist taking charge and advancing the dialogue to the lines FUKUSHIMA won’t get around to saying.
In this way Hiroko-chan and Tomoyo are compared with each other. Both actresses starred in movies by ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko. YAKUSHIMARU Hiroko’s role in Nerawareta gakuen was that of a female student who used PSI powers to bring back peace to her school. It is a power fantasy typical of literature for boys, including manga for boys. HARADA Tomoyo’s role in Toki o kakeru shōjo is that of a girl who travels in time to escape traumatic memories. It is maybe more realistic since the power doesn’t offer a simple solution and is akin to the stories in manga for girls.Compare with novel
Parody and dignity – When Gorō and Kazuo become aware of their roles in the story and talk about the parody aspect of it, at first an accusation is made of the parody being an attack on the dignity of the source work. This sounds like a criticism of TSUTSUI the author because with this parody he compromises his work and thus the movie he sold the rights of. But it turns around by saying the movie makers did a parody before so it implies that they could possibly compromise TSUTSUI’s work with their version.
In the end both are entitled to their interpretations of the story as they have the rights to it. But the reason why TSUTSUI chose to write a parody in 1983 might not just be due to a mainstream popularity of that form. One cannot ignore that fans of manga and anime called otaku had been publishing fanzines (dōjinshi) with anime parody for several years by that time. Since they were using characters and worlds of authors not themselves they were effectively plagiarizing those authors’ works. So Kazuo and Gorō’s dialogue indirectly applies to otaku and their favorite mode of writing.
Yet ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko’s debut movie House which is mentioned by the boys also shared quite a few parallels with otaku culture, like borrowing/plagiarizing other work’s characters and utilizing styles from manga for girls and putting them in explicitly sexualized contexts. House also shares death as a metaphor for becoming a bride/first sex with with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.Compare with novel
Leading and supporting roles – In scene 10 the female protagonist is referred to as the lead role. Kazuo and Gorō are referred to as supporting roles. This is turning the usual gender binary upside down in which the man is the provider and out working and the woman at home supporting him. This might reflect the changes of gender identity thanks to feminism and emancipation.
Yet it also constitutes a perceived paradox. One cannot be the lead role and the supporting role at the same time. One cannot be a woman and a man at the same time. This perceived need for gender segregation is reflected in the strictly separate publishing categories of manga for boys and manga for girls. In the original story by TSUTSUI this kind of gender segregation is reflected in Kazuko’s house being seemingly only inhabited by females and the house itself being female gendered, whereas Kazuo’s house seems more male gendered.
In the early 1980ies some manga magazines appeared that weren’t distinguished by a certain gender target group. One example would be Duo,9 Schodt 1983: 105. another Manga Burikko.10 Ōtsuka 2004: 99. Real all gender manga publications were mostly short lived and are still rare today but readers were increasingly also buying publications advertised for the other gender and stylistic crossover has blurred the boundaries. This is largely the result of the success of female manga authors since the 1970ies which first claimed domination in manga for girls and then also competed with male authors in their home turf, manga for boys.
Otaku culture is based on these new manga for girls by female authors. They choose the sources for their parodies from anime, which anyone can easily watch on TV no matter what gender. Female otaku use the male homosexual romance pattern established in the popular manga for girls genre shōnen ai of the 1970ies in their yaoi parodies, male otaku use the female perspective and style of manga for girls for their lolicon parodies.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time can be seen as a precursor of this aspect of otaku culture as it was also published in an all gender publication and features a female protagonist in a story read by an audience including male readers. ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko’s body switch comedy Tenkōsei (Exchange students, 1982), in which the boy Kazuo and the girl Kazumi exchange bodies, can be seen as catering to the otaku taste, who choose protagonists of the opposite gender for their stories. Tenkōsei also became the reason why ŌBAYASHI picked Toki o kakeru shōjo as his next project because he felt it was similar in theme.Compare with novel
Violence – The violence of the students is supposed to represent reality invading the fiction. Between the publishing date of the original story and that of the parody the student movement occurred, sexual liberation, student riots, the red army activity. But the political dimension of this kind of rebellion against authority is missing. Instead it is depicted as excessive and sexually traumatic. It is both an obstacle to education and escapism, yet it is also the reason for it in the first place and further escapism.
The violent students are all male, their victims are of both genders. Yet when the victims retaliate it is a male teacher who does so. There seems to be a male monopoly on violence, which is often sexually motivated.
The result of the violent destruction is also sexually baring for males, as seen in the toilet scene. The male homosexual tension implied in that scene finds a parallel in the above mentioned shōnen ai and yaoi manga by female authors.Compare with novel
The rape – Sexual components to the events in the original story were hinted at, in the parody they become explicit. This echoes how first sexual encounters in manga for girls of the 1070ies to the early 80ies were often depicted as scary or even taking the form of rape11 Fujimoto 2001: 1. and how otaku parody manga retell this trope in more explicit and detailed imagery. In manga for girls rape becomes a metaphor for the traumatic process of growing up as a female, of being at the whim of male power. In otaku lolicon manga feelings of guilt over this male villain role resulted in the perpetrator of the rape not even being shown.12 Ōtsuka 2004: 93-94.
This concealment of the perpetrator is similar to how Kazuo and Gorō insist that nobody was there with her in the lab and that she was anemic. The female protagonist in the parody insists that she wasn’t anemic, repeats it several times, while in the background a young female teacher is sexually assaulted by violent students. In the last scene she herself is assaulted by the violent students who have knocked out Kazuo because he was unable to have sex with her.Compare with novel
Escape into fiction – In the original story Kazuo gave everyone fake memories about his person, which didn’t really exist, in the parody it is implied he (or someone else) gave them a scenario, a script by which they play the “fake memories”.
In manga for girls of the 1970ies, feminist thought and visions of emancipation were often displaced in Western settings, both of the past and present. Or they were displaced into the future, in SF settings. Or they were displaced in all male settings, with feminine male protagonists, who were sometimes raped by violent males just the same as the female protagonists.
A certain degree of emancipation was achieved or reflected in fictional escapist settings away from Japanese reality. In this context, Kazuo can be seen as the female protagonist’s male avatar, and Tomoyo as the reality of the female protagonist who escapes into the future, or manga for girls SF stories.Compare with novel
Comparison of fiction and reality – The end of the parody neither tells of an utopian future nor reveals truths about the past, either of which could be compared to the present. Instead throughout the story a fictional scenario is compared with a supposed reality. Both sides are mockingly exaggerated, as is the style of the parody.
Yet despite what the narrator comments, many of the scenes shown in the fictional part aren’t as unbelievable as is claimed, especially since most of the SF part of the narrative is skipped. And the events in the reality part, although possible to have happened, are a bit too excessive and too frequent to be fully believable. In this way the “reality” constructed by the narrative is a kind of near future negative utopia, which could become true in light of actual occurrences of such student violence.
Let’s take scene 8 as an example. Surely it is possible that students have attacked a teacher and strangled him, that they broke window glass and overturned tables. The fictional part has Mariko talking to the female protagonist during class and not knowing a math problem that according to the female protagonist is being reviewed. Both background and foreground show things that are possible. Yet students talking in class and missing curriculum content is extremely common, whereas violent outbreaks like the one portrayed are comparatively few.
So the fictional part of the scene contains a very real aspect too, just as real or even more so than the extreme example of the reality part, which is a hyper reality, illuminating the common with the exception.Compare with novel
A future that is predicted by the past – In the original story TSUTSUI describes a future of highly advanced education. Although this future creates new challenges and problems, his utopia can be seen as a wish for his readers to get a good education. The fact that he has a female protagonist who prevails in the face of danger and changes her fate to not become married at an early age, instead waiting for her ideal significant other shows he’s also embracing equal rights for women. Yet he does warn about waiting too long and predicts that equality will not be fully achieved because of unequal distribution of wealth.
TSUTSUI’s prediction of the future is of course based on a process that has started in the past and the effects of which were already evident in the 1965 present. Before Japan modernized itself during the Meiji restauration beginning in 1867, education was the privilege of the higher class, notably the samurai. The samurai privileges were abolished and compulsory education established, the length of which increased over the decades. This brought more equality but the political leaders of Meiji Japan and their successors didn’t do this for the sake of equality. They needed to compete with the Western nations which were colonizing parts of Asia and for that required a capable work force but also a strong army which wasn’t limited to soldiers from the samurai class, which formerly had the privilege of using weapons.
So taking away Kazuko’s memories of what Kazuo told her about the future and of the fact of coming wars that could distress her can be seen in the context that equal education also lead to the utilization of those educated as soldiers in a war. In the parody the traumatic display of violence that is war finds an equivalent in the violent students, which represent the negative aspects of the utopian future Kazuo would rather have Kazuko not know about. In the changed reality of 1983, TSUTSUI’s parody expresses his doubts about his prediction of the future as the momentum of the advancement of education standards is taking a turn for the worse.
Another aspect of predicting the future based on the past is that since from the time Japan modernized itself it did this by looking at examples from Western countries that were already more advanced in that regard. The Meiji leaders sent people like IWAKURA Tomomi on missions to study the Western states and modernize Japan based on the findings. Similarly in manga for girls of the 1970ies themes of emancipation are explored by looking at Western settings like the French revolution in IKEDA Riyoko’s Rose of Versailles (1972-73) and in the SF anime Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), which tells of the colonization of other planets, a common SF trope also part of the future described in TSUTSUI’s original story, the future appears like a repeat of the colonization of the American continent and the ensuing war of independence.Compare with novel
|07/30/1977||House||KATSURA Chiho||Director: ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko||movie|
|07/11/1981||Nerawareta Gakuen||HAMURA Shōko||Director: ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko||movie|
|04/17/1982||Tenkōsei||KENMOCHI Wataru||Director: ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko||movie|
|03/12/1983||Genma Taisen (Harmagedon)||MASAKI Mori, KATSURA Chiho, NAITŌ Makoto||Director: RIN Tarō||anime|
|03/12/1983||Crusher Joe||YOSHIKAZU Yasuhiko, TAKACHIHO Haruka||Directors: YOSHIKAZU Yasuhiko, TAKACHIHO Haruka||anime|
|06/01/1983||Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo||TSUTSUI Yasutaka||In SF Adventure (was actually already available in stores on 4/25)||short story|
|06/01/1983||Otaku no kenkyū (Otaku studies)||NAKAMORI Akio||In Manga Burikko. First time the preexisting visitors of the comiket were given the name otaku, that is still used today.||column|
|06/25/1983||Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo||KENMOCHI Wataru||script|
|07/15/1983||Family Computer||First video game console to be released by a Japanese company, namely Nintendo. Started a boom of video games in Japan.||video game console|
|07/16/1983||Toki o kakeru shōjo||KENMOCHI Wataru||Director: ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko||movie|
- Pages 155-164. [↩]
- YAMADA Yorihiko. [↩]
- He is probably talking about House, a 1977 horror comedy also directed by ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko. In that movie the famous tramp Tora-san from the Otoko wa tsurai series is spoofed, among other characters from popular movie series. [↩]
- Crusher Joe, an SF anime that was screened in March of the same year, 1983. [↩]
- Genma taisen, an SF anime that was screened in March of the same year, 1983. It is based on a novel serialized in the same magazine SF Adventures in which Scenario is published. [↩]
- YAKUSHIMARU Hiroko was a young singer and actress of the time and a peer of HARADA Tomoyo who played Kazuko’s role. In 1981 YAKUSHIMARU starred in another movie by director ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko called Nerawareta gakuen as a female student who used PSI powers to stop other PSI power enabled beings from building a fascist regime at her school.
Although her PSI power is different from Kazuko’s, psychokinesis instead of time leap/teleportation, in the first scene in which she uses her power she pulls back a child that was about to be run over by a car, so the first application of the power is featured in a similar scene and used to a similar effect. [↩] [↩]
- HARADA Tomoyo is the name of the actress who plays Kazuko in the movie. [↩]
- This was also a new stylistic method of manga for girls of the 1970ies, breaking up panel layout to arrange smaller panels inside larger ones and putting text outside of speech and thought bubbles to converge images and text and create a more literary style of comics. [↩]
- Schodt 1983: 105. [↩]
- Ōtsuka 2004: 99. [↩]
- Fujimoto 2001: 1. [↩]
- Ōtsuka 2004: 93-94. [↩]