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Someone has really got to stop me from talking about time travel all of the time. It’s such a fun topic, so I can never help myself. Either way, I didn’t want to go for a standard “top 5” with time travel shows, since I’ve probably done a variation of that in the past. Instead, I’m going to try something different and talk about five different time travel concepts and the shows that propose them.
5. Everything already happened – Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
I couldn’t come up with the greatest name for this theory, but it’s essentially the idea where a time traveler has no real control over the events in the past. Because the future relies on events that the time traveler orchestrates, any variation would end up being a paradox. In many senses, the ending is already decided. It seems like a weird idea for reality, but it’s perfect for a story.
In Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, the main character, Hitomi, is sent back to the past by her grandmother, where she ends up meeting her grandmother’s younger self. As a result, Hitomi’s grandmother, Kohaku, is inspired to research time magic to make sure her future self can successfully spend Hitomi to the past. This is an example of the Bootstrap Paradox. Still, the story itself is a lot of fun, and it goes in surprising directions despite how rigid its time travel premise is.
4. Shared movement of time – Time Travel Shoujo
I can’t come up with a good way to label this concept. Basically, I’m talking about shows that feature a future time stream and a present day time stream side-by-side. Somehow, time seems to move at the same rate despite the fact that one of those time streams has already happened. I think the best
3. The infinite loop – Buddy Complex
Sometimes, the time traveler is completely helpless to change a course of events, and must constantly go back to . I won’t go into too much detail since it’s kind of a spoiler, but Buddy Complex is a good example of this. You always think that your extensive knowledge of the future can only be helpful in the past, but maybe you’re just engaging in an act of futility.
2. Just destroy the world – Sakurada Reset
Time travel always seems like such a surgical endeavor. By making small changes in the past, you can try and achieve a much more favorable future. Well, Sakurada Reset takes a slightly different approach. When the character Misora uses her ability, she completely destroys the world and rebuilds it in an earlier state. The physics of it makes no sense, but it’s pretty darn effective for avoiding a paradox.
1. Traversing the multiverse – Steins;Gate
I’ve said this many times, but this tends to be my favorite time travel theory. Treat the various timelines as alternate universes, and the time traveler is just a visitor in a foreign land. It gets past the paradox problems in other time travel proposals because you’re not directly affecting your own past. You’re messing with an alternate universe’s future.
I think Steins;Gate captures this concept better than any other show or movie I’ve seen. Rather than trying to fix his world, Rintarou is attempting to find the timeline with the best outcome, firmly acknowledging that all of the other tragedies he has seen will still exist.