Top Time Travel in Anime watch before 2021 Ends
In 2021, anime has been catering to various types of fantasies, from portal-based fantasies like Isekai to time travel themes. While there have been numerous Isekai anime, time travel anime has also made a notable appearance this year. These time travel stories fall into four general categories: timelines (parallel realities), time loops, time leaps, and a borderline Isekai that involves debating its classification. Some may refer to timelines as parallel timelines, stemming from the concept of quantum physics, where every variable has multiple potential outcomes, creating different realities. This concept has led to various imaginative and unconventional scenarios in time travel anime.
|Noein: To Your Other Self
Noein: To Your Other Self between two possible future earths which can only be resolved by two modern day middle schoolers for complicated reasons in general though anime that draw on science or pseudoscience like this tend to be a bit more grounded at least at first limiting the scope of their dimension hopping and time travel in interesting story complicating ways steins gate with its microwave that sends text messages back in time and also organic matter if you’re okay with it coming out the other end a little more gelatinous is the archetypal example its conceit really only allows for one small thing in the past to be changed at a time but by targeting the right event it can cascade out in a butterfly ripple that changes who people are and even how the entire world around them works you don’t need me to tell you that steins gate is essential time travel anime though and you don’t need me to spoil anything that happens in it either most other series in this category tend to follow its lead with different restrictions on how much data can make.
The jump in “Orange” for instance the heroine Naho sends an entire letter back to her teenage self in an effort to prevent the death of the boy that she’s about to fall in love with it plays quite deathly with those what-if feelings we all have about our high school experiences and the tragedies of our past digging into how much regret can shape our lives for better and for worse and asking tough questions about how much one choice or one friend can really do to alter someone’s fate it’s a bit of a heavy watch or read the manga is one of Yazhi absolute favorites and as she helped me discover the anime doesn’t really do it justice but no matter how you experience it it will give you a lot to think about and even more to cry about of course limiting the future information that characters have access to doesn’t always lead to grounded human storytelling Mirai Nikki
Future Diary is also about people reading their future phone messages and altering their actions accordingly and it’s well it’s Mirai Nikki zero chill the animation a real roller coaster of a show but a rickety one with low hanging supports that are liable to rip your head off if you’re not careful far better constructed is the anime roller coaster that opened up this spring.
|Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song which technically follows the rule that only data can be sent across timelines but fudges it somewhat by making that data an entire hyper-advanced ai sent back to stop all the other ai from doing a terminator 100 years in the future to accomplish this Matsu moto must team up with a robot idol named diva Vivy to her friends who is the first of her kind to be given full autonomy and has been tasked by her creators to use it to make everyone happy with her singing which is a bit of a far cry from altering the century-long chain of robot related disasters and terrorist attacks that create the conditions for the great ai genocide but as Matsu moto points out everyone can’t be happy if everyone is dead and while Vivy isn’t built for combat the nice thing about being a robot is you can just download kung fu Vivy does a lot of really cool high concept sci-fi stuff with its premise delivering many of the year’s coolest action scenes but at its heart it’s really a story about the heart what exactly the heart is and what singing your heart out really means across a hundred years Vivy will struggle with those questions and find answers in the very action-packed experiences she thought would distract her from them and ultimately well i’ll leave you to see and hear that for yourself in its achingly beautiful finale as i said when i first discussed it in the spring seasonal it’s no surprise that Vivy turned out as great as it did or that its timeline is as thoughtfully constructed as it is given that its writer Tappei Nagatsuki has quite a bit of experience writing time travel albeit of a different sort thankfully that sword is a lot more self-explanatory in a time loop a character or characters is forced or sometimes chooses to repeat the same events over and over with the only variation coming from their own choices and occasionally not even then the progressive time loops of Tappei Nagatsuki
Re-zero which see its hero repeatedly throwing his own corpse up against the scariest threats its dark fantasy world can muster looking for the one slim path through all the chaos and on to the next even more horrifying challenge have made it one of the most iconic Isekai out there though funny enough that defining feature was missing entirely from the half season that aired this year as all the hard-earned growth that Subaru underwent in 2020 thoroughly prepared him to take on all the threats facing the sanctuary in one go and while watching that big plan come together over the course of 12 episodes would have been satisfying enough on its own after 36 episodes characterized by the same trademark stop and start story rhythm it feels positively triumphant in a way that only this show could pull off. The qualities of Re-Zero though so let’s not dwell too long time loops don’t have to be painful though even the apocalyptic.
Ones in Punch Line case for instance our ghostly hero Yuta never actually sees the bloody end of the world that he’s fighting to prevent on account of how just glimpsing a different kind of and specifically one with its own Punch Line sends him into a superpowered nosebleed coma that lasts until reset it’s a quirky little action comedy with a psychic a superhero and a shot-in super genius .
All living together in one tiny dorm that hides somewhere within its walls the key to preventing Armageddon(Korean anime)and also a lot of potentially disastrous panty shot angles don’t underestimate.
It on account of that though this show was written by Zero Escape and AI: The Somnium Files genius creator Kotaro Uchikoshi so rest assured that both the time travel logic and the underlying mystery are super solid and very rewarding for viewers.
|AI: The Somnium Files
Who like to keep their eyes peeled for small details with the few exceptions like Masaaki Yuasa “Tatami galaxy“.
Which condenses three years of college regret into every single episode time loops tend to run short focusing on a few meticulously crafted days as we see in the girl who leapt through time a massively influential sci-fi novel from 1967 that was adapted into a brilliant anime movie by Mamoru Hosoda in 2006. in it a teenage girl named Makoto stumbles literally onto a mysterious high-tech walnut that grants her the power to travel back in time by physically jumping from high places which she instantly begins abusing to improve her grades prevent herself from ever being embarrassed and generally enjoy her youth to its fullest this of course has profound unintended consequences for everyone around her she is with one of the underlying principles of reality after all that lead to her learning a very important lesson about what really matters and how to take charge of her own future powerful stuff if a bit cliched but you can get away with that when you invented the cliches almost every series I’ve talked about so far is influenced by that original novel in some way particularly the way it uses its time loop to explore the inner world of a specific character.
|Iroduku: The World in Colors
The girl who leapt through time also perhaps unsurprisingly helped to establish the concept of time leaps which i define as a character traveling through the span of a single human lifetime usually to undo some past mistake or regret though there are outliers like Iroduku: The World in Colors where the heroine or hero’s goal is to recover something from the past that can’t be found in their present generally while trying their best not to effect too many butterflies or get themselves Mike Marty flied.
Zipang is a fascinating example of this it follows the crew of a modern japanese battleship the JDS Mirai which as it’s crossing the pacific for a training exercise with the us navy slips back through time 60 years just in time to catch the start of the battle of midway the patriotic crew is tempted to use their modern weapons to intervene and defend their homeland but of course that homeland is at present the heart of an expanding fascist empire ruled by uncaring monsters whose defeat will directly lead to the creation of the peaceful prosperous nation they actually call home realizing this Mirai’s crew resolves to find a way back to the future without changing the past though obviously that’s a lot easier said than done the same conundrum on a smaller scale is faced multiple times by the stars of link click.
A Chinese Bilibili original Donghua that was simulcast this spring on Funimation about a pair of apparent entrepreneurs Chang and Liu whose time photo studio is actually a front for it’s kind of hard to explain basically Liu is able to see 12 hours into the future from any photo that he lays his eyes on while Chang can jump into the body of whoever took it for 12 hours using these abilities and their trans-temporal telepathic link the pair do everything from odd jobs to corporate espionage trying their best at all times to avoid changing the past which is already a compelling enough concept but then episode 1 hits you with let’s just call it a whammy because i really don’t want to spoil nothing in this show link click is a hidden gem among hidden gems that i myself passed over during my sweep of spring anime but if I’d seen it at the time it almost certainly would have pushed something off my spring list maybe even.
The next show i’m about to discuss Tokyo Revengers is an exceptionally good manga that’s been turned into an exceptionally okay anime in my opinion the music and voice acting are about the only good parts of its production but that manga’s story about a wannabe tween delinquent turned 20-something wage slave who must travel back to his traumatic past and become the badass he never was to save the only woman he’s ever loved from being murdered in the present by the street gang that once made him their is more than compelling enough to make up for any of its many animation shortcomings it’s easily one of the year’s biggest hits and with good reason Tokyo revengers combines the escapist appeal and character building potential of a race time-leaping murder mystery concept with the by and large forgotten fun of a good old-fashioned delinquent manga a genre about passionate young men claiming the freedom society denies them using only their own strength like the best delinquent tales of years past it shines a light on both the dark side of that violent lifestyle and the genuine strength of character that it takes to live in that world without losing oneself it also gets complicated and fast in the best possible way as Takemichi Hanagaki investigations into the past gradually reveal a sprawling web of characters relationships and conspiracies which he must untangle if he’s ever gonna set things right with Hinata Tachibana in the present clocking in at 21 Tankobon volumes and counting this manga’s scope is a lot wider than your typical time traveling tail and the writing is genuinely smart enough to make that length work.
|Remake Our Life
If you’re looking for something on the chiller side this season’s Remake Our Life offers a lot more escapism and a lot less violence with a lot better animation in its tale of a failed 28 year old game developer who’s found that his sensibly chosen economics degree just isn’t cutting it in the creative world the night after he’s laid off he drifts off to sleep wishing that he’d taken a chance on an ultra-competitive art college instead of boring old university and awakens 10 years earlier with the opportunity at hand to do just that i just talked this one up in the summer wants to watch and not much has changed since then besides the show hitting a very nice beach episode so go watch that if you want to hear more about it Remake Our Life is one of the more adult time travel series out there in more ways than one but above all else it’s really fun offering a laid-back escape not unlike what you’d get from a chill high quality Isekai though.
|Dr Stone just frozen in rock thus
As i said at the top time travel can get closer to that experience series like Dr stone and Inuyasha send their heroes and or heroines so far through time in one direction or another that they may as well be in a different world entirely in Dr stone’s case one could make the case that the stone world still operates on the same rules as our own and contains.
|Isekai but Inuyasha’s Vision of Feudal
All the same people just frozen in rock thus not Isekai but Inuyasha’s Vision of Feudal japan is so permeated with strange magics and ancient powerful demons and so light on actual history that it’s basically just a Jidaigeki inspired fantasy world especially when you put it next to the relatively normal modern Era that Kagome calls home Inuyasha is definitely in a different class from the more down to earth Nobunaga Concerto and all the other anime about modern people meeting Oda Nobuna and from the far less down to earth.