Anime With Time Travel
Time travel in anime has become increasingly popular within the last few years. It’s essentially the power to rewrite history, to change anything you want; it’s the danger of paradoxes and rewriting your beloved memories, inevitably changing your future self. Time Travelers often use a trial-and-error method to the point of driving themselves to tears or trauma as they try to understand their power, making this genre a bit masochistic
Most of these anime are really worth your time, and I would thoroughly recommend them (unless specified otherwise). Also, I’ll be keeping this entire article spoiler-free, so you can proceed without any caution!
Here are the best anime with time travel-
1. Steins Gate
Aired: Apr 6, 2011 to Sep 14, 2011
Studio: White Fox
Type: Dimension travel anime
If you thought this wouldn’t be on the list, you’d be kidding yourself.
This anime is widely regarded as one of the best out there. With a 9.17 out of 10, it sits comfortably on the third place in MyAnimeList’s Top Anime of all time. But what makes Steins;Gate one of the greatest anime to ever grace our presence?
– it’s time travel-
I’m not joking when I say that ‘time travel done right’ is the perfect catchphrase for this show. Our protagonist Okabe Rintarou is a self-proclaimed mad scientist, inventing gadgets with hacker Daru and childhood friend Mayuri in his flat. The plot is set in motion when one of their gadgets is shown to be able to send texts to the past, changing history.
This is where the aforementioned trial-and-error method is used. During Steins;Gate, Okabe is continuously pushed to his emotional limits as he sees everything he cares about crash and burn one timeline after another. Slowly but surely he moves towards his goal, but at what cost?
Time travel is what forces him into showing what he’s really made of; into showing who he really is and what things in his life really mean something to him. Like this, Steins;Gate does a sublime job at dissecting Okabe’s character.
Aired: Jul 5, 2015 to Sep 27, 2015
Studio: P.A. Works
Type: Anime about time travel to save a girl
Charlotte tells the story of Yuu Otosaka after he gets caught using his power of mind control in class. He transfers to a high school for people who are, like him, gifted with a superpower.
Though the multiple superpower-trope has been done quite a lot before, this anime gives us a fresh look at power-wielding teenagers and children, by placing them in a society where they are considered dangerous and are hunted by scientists to be experimented upon. A lot of these superpowers are similar to powers we see in other stories and media, like super speed, flying, invisibility, but also the god-like time travel ability
It’s safe to say Charlotte bit off more than it could chew when it added ‘time travel’ to its gigantic roster of superpowers. Time travel is fine as a minor power, but bringing it into a plot filled with different powers and giving it to a major character is like throwing the entire anime in a 180° spin, sweeping all plot build-up under the rug. That is mostly what’s wrong with Charlotte: the moment time travel is introduced, the series stops being what it was before and enters new (and unfortunately worse) terrain.
3. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Anime: Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Aired: Currently Airing
Studio: White Fox
Type: Time travel anime
It might be rather bold to talk about an anime that’s only halfway finished, but we’ve probably seen enough of Subaru’s time travel power to judge. Now, the basic guy-gets-sucked-into-anime-world plot has been done before to the point that it is nowhorribly overdone, so what makes Re:Zero stand out from all of the other ones?
Right, you guessed it: time travel.
Re:Zero’s first few episodes show a struggle Steins;Gate has merely touched upon: the Hard Reset. This is when the protagonist winds back up before he has met someone, completely erasing their memories of him. Subaru has to deal with this quite a lot. Whenever he dies, he has to start over, renewing his relationship with everyone.
Another thing that Re:Zero really has going is the testing of Subaru via the death rounds. Unlike other time travellers on this list, Subaru has to diebefore being sent back. This horrible idea is paired with the fact that characters he cares about will completely forget his existence.
That does a lot to a person, and yet we still see Subaru smiling, drooling over Emilia-tan and being the kindest soul. He’s either handling this ‘power’ really well, or he’s putting on a mask of happiness. It truly makes you wonder when his façade wil
l drop. How many deaths are too many deaths for poor Subaru?
4. ERASED/Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi
Anime: ERASED / Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi
Aired: Jan 8, 2016 to Mar 25, 2016
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Ah… Erased. The anime no one could stop talking about this Winter season.
Erased narrates the story of Satoru Fujinuma, as he pi
eces together clues from both the present and his childhood in order to find the person that kidnapped his childhood classmate Kayo Hinazuki. What made this anime such a hit? Undoubtedly, part of its charm would be the time travel element, as it introduces a childlike nostalgia to the dark themes of the series.
During the story of Erased, we quickly find out Satoru has zero influence on his time travel power called ‘Revival’. Revival is there for Satoru at the exact moment his investigation hits a dead end; Revival feels like one of the characters, helping Satoru on his way to gather clues and uncover the notorious kidnapper.
Whenever Revival happens, Satoru has enough leads to return to the other time to investigate further. This way, he switches on and off, present to past, past to present, in order to piece the puzzle together. However, even though he can change things in his past, he cannot control Revival to send him to specific dates and specific times.
5. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Anime: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time / Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo
Episodes: 1 (Movie)
Aired: Jul 15, 2006
All previous titles on this list use time travel in service of the plot. The Girl Who Leapt through Time, however, is a blank slate. Time travel is the plot.
This movie tells the story of Makoto Konno as she comes to terms with her new power of, well, time travel. Who would’ve expected? The Girl Who Leapt through Time introduces a relevant topic not touched upon by the other series on this list: compromise. Time finds a way to mend the parts you break when you try to change its course. But Makoto doesn’t care about this, because, as she puts it: “Whatever happens, I can just go back.”
So changing time begets compensation. It’s the ‘Butterfly Effect’: even something as innocent as saving a butterfly could result into utter chaos if it turns out the flapping of this butterfly’s wings bring forth a hurricane. An example of this is our protagonist’s friend Kousuke turning down a confession because he thinks he doesn’t study enough. This is because our protagonist Makoto went back in time to suddenly start getting high grades.
The movie is the best showcase of the compromises you make when altering time. Save one person from death, the burden falls on another person, or perhaps even two other people. This is a brilliantly executed but heavy side-effect of Makoto’s power.
Hope you enjoyed this read, and don’t forget to let us know your favorite time travel stories or most heart-breaking character developments in the comments below!