Here’s a question: what’s your favorite time travel anime? Is this type of science fiction even full of good books?
Time travel anime is one of the more popularly used story hooks in modern anime and it can take unique shapes!
It doesn’t have a lot of great titles every season like isekai does, but it’s not hard to find some good ones.
From tradition time travel anime stories (Steins;Gate) to ones that use “time reset” (Re:Zero), there is no shortage of creativity at play.
Check out my list below if you’re in the mood for some twists and turns that will blow your mind (or even small bits of time travel in an otherwise normal anime).
And fair warning: (in some cases) there will be surprises ahead. Some of these books are about time travel, and it’s a big part of the plot or a big surprise.
If you don’t want to know more, just skim the names and pick one that sounds interesting.
Here are some popular time travel anime that fans should watch.
- 25. Natsu-iro no Sunadokei (Sandglass of Summer Colors)
- 24. Buddy Complex
- 23. Doraemon
- 22. Punch Line
- 21. InuYasha
- 20. Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (Iroduku: The World in Colors)
- 19. Charlotte
- 18. Natsu no Arashi (Summer Storm!)
- 17. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
- 16. Orange
- 15. Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)
- 14. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)
- 13. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- 12. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
- 11. Zipang
- 10. Noein: To Your Other Self
- 9. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
- 8. Thermae Romae
- 7. Nobunaga Concerto
- 6. Occult Academy
- 5. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- 4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
- 3. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
- 2. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World
- 1. Steins;Gate
25. Natsu-iro no Sunadokei (Sandglass of Summer Colors)
This anime is quite old. Really old, like.
But even though its character designs, animations, and general quality haven’t held up over time, it’s still a good show with more time travel than Nobunaga Concerto.
Also, there are only two episodes because it is an OVA. Still, the show is interesting.
Yes, it’s about a teen boy again. This time, his name is Kotaro Makimura.
But in this case, Kotaro travels through time by waking up in the next school year and then going back and forth to different days of his summer break.
He finds out some very strange things about his girlfriend, Kaho Serizawa, as a result. It gets deep.
24. Buddy Complex
It’s called Buddy Complex, and its appealing trio, interesting story, and solid execution set it apart from other games in the same genre.
At the beginning of Buddy Complex, the main character, Aoba Watase, is almost killed by a huge robot from the future.
Hina Yumihara saves him and takes him 70 years into the future so he can learn about beating robots and maybe stop himself from dying.
Can he return to his real past? Or is he stuck in a future where armed forces fight each other?
Yes, Doraemon is a time-traveling anime, and it’s a pretty good one.
Some people say that the time travel is just a trick. But I really love what they did with it in the anime.
The story isn’t about someone trying to save a bleak future by going back to the past.
No, it’s about Sewashi Nobi from the 22nd century sending his grandpa Nobita Nobi a cat robot to make his life better, which is great.
Doraemon has shown that this style can be good for kids with 1,700 episodes.
Also, who wouldn’t want a four-dimensional pouch that can pull out different sized gadgets?
22. Punch Line
After Garo: The Animation and Zankyou no Terror, Punch Line was the third original anime made by MAPPA. Zankyou no Terror is one of my all-time faves.
No, I didn’t think Punch Line was at all a modern classic.
It didn’t have the same level of seriousness or ambition as those other shows.
But Punch Line took a creative risk that should be praised and even reevaluated by anime fans.
I know it’s silly, but I don’t care.
How stupid! It has to do with ghosts, nosebleeds, and poop shots.
Also, as a spirit traveling through time, the OP can’t look at underwear. If not, a rock would kill all life on Earth right away. That’s cool.
I have another piece from Sunrise Studio to show you.
The story of Kagome Higurashi takes place in old Japan, hundreds of years ago. The only change is that instead of a general, he meets a man with white hair and dog ears.
Also, it’s not hard for either Kagome or Inuyasha to go between current Japan and feudal Japan.
And I recommend InuYasha because it is one of the best shounen shows ever. Can you go back in time?
20. Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (Iroduku: The World in Colors)
Original anime is one of my favorite things. To keep going with a story you’re not sure will work takes a lot of guts.
It isn’t based on a comic, light novel, or video game, so it doesn’t already have fans.
Iroduku: The World in Colors wasn’t just an original anime, though.
It was a visually creative and beautifully drawn show, and it was clear that P.A. Works put a lot of effort into it.
A grandma sends her emotionally distant granddaughter 60 years back in time, but she doesn’t say why.
And now that she’s back in 2018, Hitomi Tsukishiro, a young girl, has a lot to learn about self-discovery and how to connect with other people. Go see it.
Look, I get it — Angel Beats was a great anime series.
All of the kids on that show became my favorites in just 13 episodes.
Also, I’m sure that most people will never forget how it ends.
Since then, people have been begging Jun Maeda to do something similar.
Still, Charlotte is a school drama with time travel and other skills that has its moments.
Also, this is a new anime, and I think the best parts make up for the story and pacing problems by the end.
18. Natsu no Arashi (Summer Storm!)
It’s interesting that I didn’t see this until last year, even though it came out ten years ago.
But hey, this is a great example of the saying “better late than never” because it is a great mix of time travel and comedy.
Again, Natsu no Arashi is about a young boy who meets a pretty girl.
But Sayoko Arashiyama isn’t like other teenagers at all.
Hajime Yasaka gets a picture of her when she was in her 60s. This means she might not even be a teenager.
What’s happening? And why does Sayoko still look young?
You should look at Natsu no Arashi. Since it was made by Shaft, you can expect it to look good.
17. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
We’re getting closer to the top spot, so let’s be extra careful. I did say there might be spoilers, so be ready.
It turned out to be a murder riddle with a time loop on top of that.
Also, it might be the only anime that is both scary and goes back in time.
One minute, you see a bunch of happy kids playing together. The next thing you know, they’re covered in blood and have angry looks on their faces.
I hate what happened to the anime version here, even though the animation quality and consistency of the movie Orange: Future was much better.
I read the book, and there were parts in it that could have made the anime a classic.
But the anime didn’t live up to or go beyond what was expected.
Orange wasn’t much better than normal. But it is still good enough to be here.
If you liked the anime and how it made you cry and laugh, you might also like the manga, which is much more beautiful and emotional.
15. Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)
Yes, this is a very big surprise.
I’m sure you’ve already seen the highly acclaimed movie or read the book with the same name, which broke records all over the world.
People gasped in the middle of the movie because it was about time travel. Kimi no Na wa seems to be about just two people who live in different places… But people didn’t know that they lived in different times as well.
I can still remember how shocked everyone was in the theater, where I saw this movie twice.
There is nothing quite like seeing a Makoto Shinkai movie in a theater, where you can hear and see everything at once. And if you’ve seen Five Centimeters Per Second, you’ll love how it ends.
14. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)
But I was a big fan of Yuasa’s directing skills even before that.
He is a very skilled man who makes sure that both content and style are way ahead of the rest.
Since it’s about a young man’s life (and love life), there’s a lot going on in The Tatami Galaxy. If you like subtitles like me, you’ll have to read quickly.
See him go through something like Groundhog Day, but in a much more magical and artsy way.
I promise you that it will be a rewarding journey across space, time, and tatami.
13. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
At this point, I don’t know which of my top choices has a big turning point that involves time travel.
In the second part of this series, there is one episode that makes it go from being a good show to being one of the best anime of all time.
You might not agree that it is a “deconstruction” of the magical girl type. But it’s clear proof that Gen Urobuchi could change the game if he had the right team.
Also, this original anime is stunning to look at.
It’s scary, exciting, and full of ideas.
Shaft had a chance to make a classic, and they didn’t waste it.
12. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was one of Kyoto Animation’s first big hits. In 2006, when the anime community was still small, it took the world by storm.
It was funny, had great characters, a catchy opening song that went viral, and shows that didn’t go in order.
Still, the order of events didn’t make the story any less interesting.
The story’s nonlinear framework gave us a new way to look at how the characters interact with each other. And it made it more fun to watch again in the right order.
You can enjoy The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya after you’ve seen the series (and God bless you if you’ve seen the Endless Eight arc).
If you haven’t heard of Zipang, I don’t blame you.
Even though Zipang came out two years after Naruto, it looks more like something from the past.
The military and historical setting, on the other hand, makes it a good pick.
Simply put, it’s about a Japanese warship called Mirai, which is a missile cruiser. Mirai gets caught in a storm, but it’s not just any storm.
Once Mirai is out of the storm, the crew learns that they have all gone back in time to 1942, which is during the Second World War.
Isn’t that cool?
The most interesting part is that they have to do their best not to change history. But can the team stay in the background when everyone around them is dying?
10. Noein: To Your Other Self
Quick pitch: In the future, a violent war between two dimensions threatens the existence of space-time. A group called the Dragon Calvary is dispatched to search for the Dragon’s Torque, which is said to be the only thing to stop the war.
9. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
Episodes: 26 + 1 OVA
Quick pitch: Yukiteru Amano spends his days writing a diary on his cell phone and talking to two imaginary friends, Deus Ex Machina and Murmur.
Deus reveals himself as a god of space and time, and grants Yukiteru a “Random Diary.” This device shows descriptive future events to Yukiteru and he must use it to survive a deadly battle royale against 11 other people with similar diaries.
8. Thermae Romae
Quick pitch: Lucius is a Roman architect who has trouble coming up with ideas. One day, he discovers a tunnel underneath a spa that leads him to a modern Japanese bath house. Inspired this discovery, he creates a spa based on modern ideas from Japan.
7. Nobunaga Concerto
I’ll start with Nobunaga Concerto, which is an anime about time travel that is also more of an isekai.
Because of this, I’ve put it on my list, but it’s not the best. So what’s going on?
As you might have guessed, it has to do with Oda Nobunaga. Possibly one of the most well-known people in Japanese history.
He was a cruel boss, but he was also smart and a big part of how Japan got back together.
Nobunaga isn’t the OP, though. In Nobunaga Concerto, he meets Saburou, a man from the 21st century who strangely travels back in time to meet him. Saburou looks just like him.
Saburou was just a regular high school student, but now he has to take over for Nobunaga, who wants to take it easy in his last years.
6. Occult Academy
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Quick pitch: In 2012, the world is invaded by aliens. To stop this from happening, Fumiaki Uchida is sent back to 1999 to prevent the apocalypse from occurring by destroying the Nostradamus Key. In order to find the key, he forms a partnership with Maya Kumashiro, who is a girl with a strong hatred for the occult.
5. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Episodes: 12 + 3 (kind of remakes / sequel) movies
Quick pitch: Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are friends who live normal middle old school lives, but everything changes after they meet a cat-alien named Kyuubey and a transfer student named Homura Akemi.
Kyuubey offers to grant them a wish in exchange of becoming magical girls, but Homura urges the duo to decline or they will enter a world of despair.
4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Mamoru Hosoda is one of the best anime directors working today, along with Masaaki Yuasa and Makoto Shinkai.
He has also made many other great movies, like Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast, to name just a few.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time works so well because it’s not just a story about time travel.
It thought about how to shape the character and the story as a whole, making the second part more tense and emotional.
Also, I think a lot of us can understand Makoto Shonno. You’re in your last year of high school, and you know that things are about to change, but you don’t know what will happen to you.
It’s scary, funny, and has a heart at its center.
3. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
Putting this so high on my list, am I making a risky choice?
Sure, not everyone liked how it was changed. I’ll admit that the tension thriller part was a bit too much.
But, like how I feel about Zankyou no Terror, the high points in ERASED are so good that they easily make up for the bad points.
I think it’s a classic, even though it has flaws.
The first episode was a 10/10 because it was easy to keep my attention by the end, when the aspect ratio changed to show how much time had changed. It’s very interesting.
Asian Kung-Fu Generation makes a great opening theme for ERASED, and I still think that Kayo’s birthday scene is one of the most heartbreaking and moving moments in anime.
Also, I don’t like that some people think the show was bad just because the guy didn’t end up with the girl he saved (and tried to save again and again) in the past.
Look, just because you saved someone’s life doesn’t mean you can marry them. You help someone because you should, not because you want something in return.
2. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World
Re:Zero is a good isekai and time travel show, in my opinion.
After all the talk about Sword Art Online, it could have been like any other isekai. But it made its own mark on the past.
Re:Zero makes you think that the main character is just another guy who goes to a dream world. But the time loop takes the series to a whole new level of fear and hopelessness for Subaru.
It’s not just a way to flee to a better world with waifu characters like Emilia and Rem; the show as a whole is very interesting. I can’t wait for the second season.
Is there even another show that could be No. 1?
If you ask most anime fans what the best time travel anime is, this is the first show that comes to mind. And with good cause.
Also, Steins;Gate isn’t just praised for being the best time travel show ever.
It’s also in the running for the best anime of all time, usually against FMA: Brotherhood.
Steins;Gate is a great show to watch if you’re new to anime, but it also gets better the more anime you watch.
Some people say it’s overrated, but one thing is for sure: it set the bar for how brilliant and entertaining a time travel anime could be.
Don’t Forget to share it with your fellow otaku’s and bookmark MOW.