The time in-between anime seasons is a difficult one since the new batch of shows hasn’t started yet, so there’s not much of me to write about. Then I noticed that today is the 40th anniversary of the release of one of my favorite films, Somewhere in Time, a simple yet beautiful time-loop story about a modern writer (Christopher Reeve) who becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman in a photograph (Jane Seymour) and finds a way to travel back in time to be with her. This got me thinking about time travel stories in general, and how there are quite a lot of good time travel anime series and films out there. So here’s a blog post with some of my favorites!
Why I Love Time Travel Anime
I am, as I’ve written before, a card-carrying fan of time travel stories, including sci-fi stories involving time dilation. I’ve always traced this fascination to watching Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which two ape scientists named Cornelius and Zira travel back to 1973. Humanity is thrilled to learn that there are intelligent apes living in the future, though a plot is hatched to ensure the two can’t ever have children and possibly influence mankind’s destiny. Long story short, the female ape from the future gives birth to Caeser, the intelligent ape who eventually leads the conquest of the apes over man. The circular nature of the story really blew my 7-year-old mind at the time.
The 6 Best Time Travel Anime Stories
What if a modern Japanese warship was teleported back in time to the middle of WWII? That’s the premise of the outstanding Zipang!, a military anime in which a modern JSDF Aegis destroyer finds itself in the middle of the War in the Pacific. At first the ship tries to remain neutral, but ends up being attacked by both the U.S. and Imperial Japanese Naval forces. A great anime if you like hard-core alternate history. (And the manga is even better.)
A popular anime about a group of Japanese high schoolers who have various superpowers, it’s written by Jun Maeda, who brought us Kanon, Air, and Clannad. That should be reason enough for you to watch it, right?
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Another legendary time travel anime, about a girl who discovers she has the power to leap through time, so she uses her power to fix small mistakes in her life…with the usual bad results for the future. It’s a classic animated film from 2006, based on a Japanese novel from 1967.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The delightfully complex story of a bored high school girl who wishes aliens, time-travelers, and ESPers…so they naturally come into existence, because she is God. Already being a fan of the Hyperion books by Dan Simmons, which happens to be the book Yuki gives Kyon in the first series, I liked the little cues the series took from that book series.
Aim for the Top! Gunbuster
One of my favorite anime series ever, Gunbuster is the story of humanity’s battle against evil space monsters, which spans the entire galaxy across 12,000 years, despite being just six episodes. Along with the Macross: Do You Remember Love? film, It’s one of the reasons I love animator Hideki Anno.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
The influential “post-modern” magical girl anime in which characters can and do die when they’re defeated by the witches that they fight. Each magical girl has a different power, shy Homura’s being to stop and rewind time. When she’s unable to protect Madoka, she ends up rewinding time so often, she becomes the most experienced badass character in the series.
The best time travel anime in my book, this show has it all: young scientists posing in lab coats, Dr. Pepper, and an incredibly well-structured story of characters trying to save the world from a terrible future. We love Steins;Gate so much, we translated the original English PC release!
Honorable Mention: Punch Line
A goofy story about a boy who gets separated from his body. As his soul travels back through time, he must avoid seeing girls’ panties, or a meteor will destroy the Earth, forcing him to go back in time again and undo that damage. It’s not one of the best shows ever, but a lot of fun, and I wanted an excuse to post these fine pantsu for your enjoyment.
Thanks for reading this post! We hope you’re getting ready to have a great weekend. Make sure you pick up something nice from the site during our J-List 24th-anniversary sale, where you get 10% off all the cool items you want! (Source for blog image is here.)