Time Travel In Anime

Written by one of Funimation’s Brand Managers, Jennifu


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time returning to Blu-ray/DVD Combo (order now!) is coming out on June 7th and we want to celebrate with a listicle! As the main concept of the movie centers around time travel and what happens when a person jumps in different points of a timeline, we want to look at different examples of time travel in anime. However there isn’t just one form of time travel…


(Massive Spoiler Warning!)


Through our observations, there are three main types of time travel that we have seen:

  • Fixed timeline
  • Malleable timeline
  • Multiple timeline (multiverse)


Fixed timeline: There is only one timeline, and traveling to the past can’t change the future because the act of time travel is part of the timeline. For example, if you go back in time and replace infant Hitler with a different baby, the other baby grows up to actually become Hitler. This style is used the least within anime.


  • The Haruhi Series, aside from Endless Eight, does this. When Kyon and Asahina travel back in time and stay in Nagato’s room, the single timeline means that they have been there all along. In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie, Kyon is almost killed (again) by Ryoko Asakura, and is saved by… a different version of himself from the future. In subsequent stories, Kyon, who knows that this happened to him in the past, knows that he needs to travel back in time to save himself.

  • Many anime that involve a character traveling from the present day into the past use this style as well—the past is such a set and distant period that it might as well be another world.


Malleable timeline: Time is fluid, and going back in time can change the future. If a time traveler changes the past and immediately returns to the future, the future changes based on those past actions.


  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Makoto is able to leap back in time with almost no consequences, which she uses to sleep in late, undo embarrassing mistakes, hit every baseball she’s pitched, and sing karaoke for 10 hours.



  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura travels to the past multiple times to redo her first meeting of Madoka, in order to try to make a change that will allow Madoka to live
  • In Haruhi season 2, Endless Eight is an example of this, as the SOS Brigade relives the same days of summer vacation 15,532 times.

  • In ERASED, Satoru goes back in time to try to save Kayo; the first time, he almost does so but fails, and Kayo dies. The future that he returns to has some small changes, showing that the day that Kayo died was slightly changed due to his interaction. The second time he does so, he doesn’t travel back to the future but instead wakes up again naturally after time has passed

  • In Charlotte,  Yuu’s brother has a time travel ability which he uses to constantly go back in time and relive his life over and over to prevent a future in which a dark organization kidnaps and experiments on superpowered children


Multiple timelines (multiverse): Similar to malleable timeline, in a multiverse, there are infinite different versions of the universe, each with different possibilities of events. The important distinction between malleable and multiple timelines is that in multiple timelines, all timelines exist simultaneously and can be traveled between, rather than being one timeline that changes. In other words, in a malleable timeline, once time is changed, there is no evidence that any events progress in the original timeline..


  • Steins;Gate: Okabe sends his mind back in time via the microwave time machine, but it turns out that there are many universes in which the the evil global research group SERN has taken over the world; he must jump timelines in order to arrive at one where this dark future is avoided.

  • The Tatami Galaxy: The protagonist relives several different versions of his college life, exploring different possibilities of clubs that he could have joined, but in the end finds that these were all just different possibilities



  • The Future Diary: By the end of the series, you realize that the Yuno that has been helping Yukiteru the whole time isn’t from this timeline, but from an alternate timeline. She became god of spacetime, travels to “our” timeline, and kills that version of herself to take her place.



There are way more time travel anime—what are some of your favorites? Relive one of the most touching time travel stories in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, out on Blu-ray/DVD June 7.