The Cat who Walked by Herself
This movie is an experimental Russian feature presumably based on Russian folklore which relies on too many techniques to name offhand. The film takes the viewer through the history of nature and mankind, with a cat who was there all the way since the dawn of time. For the most part, this is a great movie, but is brought down in my opinion, by a seemingly ever present narration which seems downright militant in crucial dramatic scenes, as the preachy environmental tones are shoved down your throats during the scariest moments of the film. The movie starts off well enough, but at the end seems like a prehistoric bad trip version of Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind.
The Girl who Leapt through Time
You're probably already aware of the basic plot, seeing the popularity that this movie has gained and the fact that a DVD release is due out in the U.S. next fall. Sometimes a popular film isn't a truly good one, and I think this film is better than most anime, but still an overpraised incoherent soap opera with a pretentious pseudo-poetic ending. The characters are rather typical of anime and despite attempts to broaden their two dimensional personalities with secret crushes and repressed angst, none of the characters ever feels very human. The script clearly needed a few more drafts, and the attempt to combine science fiction with a slice of life story simply didn't work. There are interesting segments of genuine emotion, but they don't fit into the actual movie or come together to reveal any sort of actual message. All the interesting animation is truly wasted and the musical score is mostly Beethoven which only emphasizes the fact that every element of the story has been used better somewhere else.
If you want to see a fast paced movie with drama that combines time travel with adrenaline, watch Run Lola Run.
If you're looking for a casual romance story revolving around a young girl, watch Whisper of the Heart.
For an anime or two that combine romance and science fiction successfully, watch Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, both directed by Makoto Shinkai.