Time travel is an often-used plot element in both fantasy and science-fiction literature and cinema. Characters from these stories most often venture into the past, but they also often travel into the future. In both cases, the protagonists find themselves in a new and usually strange world to which they have to adapt. Such themes and stories are also featured in various anime adaptations and in this article, we are going to bring you a list of the 20 best time travel anime series and films you absolutely need to watch. Enjoy!
Original Run: April 6, 2011 – September 14, 2011
Number of Episodes: 24 + OVA
The story of Steins; Gate takes place in Akihabara and is about an experiment by the very strange scientist Rintarō Okabe, who has sometimes been described as insane. He manages to convert a microwave oven so that he can use it to send text messages into the past. However, what he only becomes aware of later is the fact that he is influencing his own present and this is exactly what makes him seem crazy.
However, he is not the only researcher in the field. He soon finds himself confronted with an organization called SERN, which is after both him and the other initiates of the experiment. After repeatedly changing the future through this news, Okabe gets caught in a worldline in which his childhood friend Mayuri dies. To avoid her death, he travels back in time and tries everything possible, but without success.
It is only when he consults with Kurisu that he receives the decisive clue from her. He needs to undo all the text messages he’s sent so far. But before Okabe is about to send the final message, he realizes that in the original worldline, his love Kurisu is dying. With that thought, Okabe falls into a reluctant and desperate state, because he doesn’t want Kurisu to die.
After someone from the future tells him that Kurisu can be saved, after all, Okabe’s final operation begins. In his first attempt, he fails and Makise Kurisu dies, however, in doing so he receives a message from himself from the future that gives him instructions for the plan. Ultimately, Okabe manages to rescue Kurisu and moves out of the original worldlines into the new Steins Gate line where Mayuri and Kurisu survive.
2. Mirai Nikki
Original Run: October 10, 2011 – April 16, 2012
Number of Episodes: 26 + OVA
Yukiteru Amano is a solitary young boy who takes refuge in his imagination to escape the social void that constitutes his daily life. He considers that he can avoid any annoyance by observing the world from an external point of view, and records all the events happening around him in the form of a diary which he keeps using his mobile phone.
One day, one of the imaginary entities serving as his playmates, Deus ex Machina, god of time and space, and Mumur, Deus’ helper, offers him to participate in a game. Yukiteru realizes that the phone on which he recorded his observations begins to contain entries about the future around him. Initially, he uses this power excessively and is happy to possess it until his diary predicts his own death and a girl from his class, Yuno Gasai, who also has a diary from the future follows him; he then ignores that she wishes to save him.
Original Run: October 16, 2000 – September 13, 2004 / October 3, 2009 – March 29, 2010
Number of Episodes: 167 + 26
The plot featured in the InuYasha anime series is based on the adventures of a half-demon, a teenager from modern Japan, a pervy monk, a fox demon, and a demon exterminator from the Sengoku period, as they search for all the fragments of the Sacred Jewel and try to keep it away from criminals, especially Naraku.
Throughout the series, InuYasha is constantly torn between the desire to have the Sacred Jewel and his feelings for Kagome, considering that his demonic side is what gives him the most power; however, it is revealed that his human side is the strongest, the side exploited when InuYasha finds the Tessaiga sword.
4. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
Original Run: October 3, 2020 – March 26, 2022
Number of Episodes: 48
Some years after the events of InuYasha, Sesshōmaru’s four-year-old daughters Towa and Setsuna flee a fire in the forest where they live until the two are separated by a vortex that transports Towa into the modern age, where She is adopted by Kagome Higurashi’s family and raised by her younger brother, Sota.
Ten years later, Towa is reunited with Setsuna, who (alongside Moroha) traveled to modern times through the power of the Tree of Ages after a battle against a yōkai. During their time apart, Setsuna became a demon slayer, and finds herself working for Kohaku, but she has no recollection of her past or her relationship to Towa.
In order to restore Setsuna’s memories, they embark on an adventure accompanied by her cousin Moroha, who is the teenage daughter of Inuyasha, and Kagome Higurashi, who also does not remember her parents. During their journey, the girls discover that they own three of the seven Nijishoku Shinju which have powers as comparable as the Shikon no Tama, so Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha must also solve the mystery in relation to the aforementioned pearls.
Original Run: January 8, 2016 – March 25, 2016
Number of Episodes: 12
The 29-year-old manga writer Satoru Fujinuma has the ability to travel back in time. If a life-threatening situation for a person arises in his environment, he is suddenly sometime earlier and has the opportunity to avert the danger. However, he cannot consciously use the ability. When his mother, Sachiko Fujinuma, recognizes a serial killer and tries to call in the police, she is murdered and found by her son.
He is suspected and suddenly Satoru is 18 years back in the past – in the body of himself as a 10-year-old. He remembers that a series of murders happened back then and suspects that he must find the perpetrator in order to save his mother.
6. Your Name.
Original Release: July 3, 2016
Running Time: 107 minutes
The film is about Mitsuha and Taki who undergo a transformation at night. They live two completely different lives. Mitsuha is a high school girl in a rural mountain village where her father is the mayor. Mitsuha finds the countryside boring, her biggest dream is life in the big city. Taki, also a high school student, lives in central Tokyo and is deeply involved in architecture.
One day, the two find out that a metamorphosis took place overnight, and they are now in another body. Taki and Mitsuha communicate with each other through notes and notes on their cell phones, helping each other with relationships and popularity at school. After Taki is back in his own body, he decides to visit Mitsuha.
A restaurant owner recognizes Taki’s sketch of the village of Itomori, and says it was destroyed by a comet impact. Taki learns that Mitsuha’s life happened three years ago, and she didn’t survive. Taki tries to contact Mitsuha to warn her of the comet impact. This succeeds and she tries to evacuate the village with her friends Tessie and Sayaka.
Eventually, the comet hits and destroys the entire village. Taki wakes up the next morning, remembering nothing of the events. Five years later, Taki learns that the people of Itomori survived the disaster thanks to the mayor. One day, Taki and Mitsuha recognize each other when their trains pass. They both get off at the next stop and ask for each other’s names.
7. Summer Time Rendering
Original Run: April 15, 2022 – present
Number of Episodes: 25
On July 22, Shinpei Ajiro, an eighteen-year-old boy, returns after two years to Hitogashima, his native island; there he finds numerous acquaintances, all reunited after the death of his adoptive sister, the seventeen-year-old Ushio Kofune.
On the day of her funeral, however, some strange events occur, which even go so far as to make Shinpei doubt that Ushio’s death was – as initially believed – accidental death by drowning. Shortly after trying to find some more information on the affair with Mio, Ushio’s younger sister, and going to an isolated area of the island, the two are killed by a mysterious “copy” of Mio herself.
The next day, Shinpei finds himself again in Hitogashima and lives again on July 22, only to meet Ushio herself two days later, on the occasion of the Omiokuri festival; on the same day, however, he has murdered again, along with numerous other inhabitants of the island.
8. Sailor Moon R
Original Run: March 6, 1993 – March 12, 1994
Number of Episodes: 43
Shortly after defeating the Dark Kingdom, Usagi and her friends see Chibiusa, a mysterious little girl from the future, arrive. The Sailor warriors discover that Chibiusa has traveled back in time to help her mother, trapped in the Tokyo of the future. The warriors thus meet Sailor Pluto, guardian of the Gate of Time, and travel to the 20th century. There, they discover an Earth ravaged by the Black Moon sect, new enemies that Sailor Moon must destroy.
9. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Original Run: January 7, 2011 – April 21, 2011
Number of Episodes: 12
In the fictional city of Mitakihara, Japan, high school student Madoka Kaname and her friend, Sayaka Miki, stumble upon a strange magical creature called the Kyūbey. This offers them the possibility of making a contract with him, by which they would see their greatest wish fulfilled, whatever it was, in exchange for obtaining supernatural powers that they will use to transform into puellas magi (magical girls) and fight against the diabolical beings known as witches.
Emerged from curses and invisible to human eyes, these witches are highly dangerous and responsible for many of the disasters, suicides, and crimes of modern society. Meanwhile, a mysterious exchange student and fellow puella magi named Homura Akemi tries at all costs to prevent Madoka from adhering to the contract with Kyūbey, attempting to assassinate him on several occasions.
Madoka and Sayaka later meet Mami Tomoe, a high school classmate from the same school who is also a puella magi, and who offers to accompany her on her witch hunt so that they can understand the responsibilities of the task in all its magnitude and decide accordingly.
As Madoka considers whether or not to accept the contract, an overwhelming series of events unfold around her, joined by one more mage, veteran rebel Kyoko Sakura. Confusion, fear, the painful double edge of one’s own desires, and even despair and death pave the way for a puella magi, all revolving around the concept of “entropy” and the laws that govern the Universe.
10. Now and Then, Here and There
Original Run: October 14, 1999 – January 20, 2000
Number of Episodes: 13
Shū a young schoolboy passionate about very carefree kendo, meets a very reserved young girl, Lala-Rū. Falling in love with a sudden thunderbolt, he tries to cheer her up by all means when futuristic robots suddenly appear and carry the girl through a kind of energy door.
Shū, armed with his wooden saber, pursues them but ends up being separated from Lala-Rū. She will nevertheless have had time to give him her necklace. Shū realizes in the meantime that he is no longer in his hometown at all, nor even in his world (we guess, during the anime, that this is a very distant future). The Earth is made up of arid deserts where nightmarish creatures live, and water has become a luxury.
Original Run: July 5, 2019 – present
Number of Episodes: 35
The story of Dr. Stone revolves around Taiju, a regular high school student, who tells his best friend Senku, a science genius, that he’s about to reveal his feelings to Yuzuriha, a girl he’s been secretly in love with for a few years. As the young man is about to declare his love for her, a brilliant light appears in the sky and transforms all of humanity into stone statues.
When Taiju finally manages to free himself, he finds himself facing a completely different world where nature has taken over. But he is not the only one to have woken up. His friend Senku, who preceded him in his awakening, tells him that 3,700 years have passed since the mysterious event. Together they will have to combine the exceptional scientific skills of one and the physical abilities of the other to save the 7 billion still petrified human beings and discover the origin of this disaster.
Original Run: October 7, 1994 – December 23, 1994
Number of Episodes: 12 + 3 OVA
DNA operator Karin Aoi travels 100 years into the past to take down “mega-playboy” Junta Momonari. This is said to be responsible for the overpopulation of the earth in Karin’s time, since he had 100 offspring due to his exceptionally good genetic material, which in turn had 100 offspring each, which also continued in the following generations.
Oddly enough, however, Junta exhibits none of the qualities that are said to make him a mega-playboy. Despite this, Karin decides to carry out her mission as ordered and alter Junta’s DNA, accidentally turning him into a mega-playboy in the process. Many other girls stand in her way, and her own affection for the junta makes her task difficult.
13. In Search of the Lost Future
Original Run: October 4, 2014 – December 20, 2014
Number of Episodes: 12 + OVA
The plot of the novel takes place at Uchiyama Academy, where the number of new students in the school increases every year, which is why it was decided to build a new school building. Before they move to the new building, the school will hold one last General Club Festival in the old one. Each of the clubs decides to make every effort to succeed.
The protagonist, Seo, is a member of the astronomy club, and before the festival starts, the student executive committee asks the club members to calm the students down regarding the mysterious incidents in the old building. When the quiet girl Yui Furukawa transfers at the end of the school year and appears in front of Sō, the mechanisms of fate slowly begin to move.
14. Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia
Original Run: October 5, 2019 – March 21, 2020
Number of Episodes: 21 + 1 Special
In 2017, the foundations of humanity were cremated by the Magi King Solomon. Chaldea, a secret organization of mages with a mission to preserve the future of humanity, predicted the extinction of humanity for 2019. Thus began the operation to repair the Oddities of History caused by the Holy Grails scattered in time and space – the Grand Order initiative.
Using time travel technology, the Rayshift, the last Master of Chaldea, Ritsuka Fujimaru, and his half-servant Mash Kyrielight traveled and resolved six Singularities. Upon their return from the Camelot Singularity, they must travel to their most dangerous destination yet: Mesopotamia, in the year 2655 BC, during the Age of the Gods.
Upon arrival, Ritsuka and Mash quickly discover that demonic beasts are prowling the area, attacking people and towns. Amid the chaos and terror lies humanity’s last defense: Uruk, a fortress city that serves as the frontline for the battle against the beasts. The battlefront is commanded by none other than King Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, who enlisted the help of heroic spirits and took on the role of a mage to protect his city.
They learn that three deities are behind these beast invasions. Ritsuka and Mash must work together to counter the invasion of mysterious beasts in Uruk under Gilgamesh’s orders while investigating the true nature of the three goddesses’ actions against humanity; but without Ritsuka knowing, an ancient entity slowly rises from its slumber.
15. Hug! Pretty Cure
Original Run: February 4, 2018 – January 27, 2019
Number of Episodes: 49 + film
Hana Nono, a 13-year-old girl who yearns to be seen as an adult, begins her year of high school when she rushes into a rush. While trying to get to school, she encountered a strange baby named Hug-tan and a hamster-like fairy named Harryham Harry who had appeared out of the sky.
But in the middle of the encounter, Hana learned from them that they were being chased by the Criasu Corporation, who wanted Hug-tan’s Mirai Crystal (Mirai Cristal), along with one of his subordinates to catch them. Hana’s desire to protect Hug-tan has awakened her inner potential as her own Mirai Crystal appears, which transforms her into Cure Yell.
Together with Saaya, Homare, and later joined by Emiru and Ruru, they form the HUGtto team! PreCure in hopes of protecting the future of the people of the Criasu society.
16. Kimagure Orange Road
Original Run: April 6, 1987 – March 7, 1988
Number of Episodes: 48 + 3 films + 8 OVA episodes
Fifteen-year-old Kyōsuke Kasuka moves to a new town after discovering the “Power”, the force responsible for his supernatural abilities. Kyōsuke and his family (except his father) have extrasensory perception and can use things like telekinesis, teleport, and hypnosis. In the new city, Kyōsuke makes the acquaintance of a girl who he immediately falls in love with. The next day it turns out that this is in his new class. Madoka Ayukawa, as the girl is called, has the reputation of a rebel and lets him feel it.
17. Remake Our Life!
Original Run: July 3, 2021 – September 25, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Hashiba Kyouya is a 28-year-old developer. With his company going bankrupt and him consequently losing his job, he returns to his hometown. Observing the success of the creators of his time, he regrets his life decisions while he lay anguished on his bed. However, when Kyouya wakes up the next day, he discovers that he has traveled ten years into the past before entering college. Will he finally be able to make things right? This is a story about a person who failed in his dreams, but who got a second chance.
18. Iroduku: The World in Colors
Original Run: October 6, 2018 – December 29, 2018
Number of Episodes: 13
In the year 2078, Hitomi Tsukishiro is a teenage girl from a family of witches who lost her sense of color by losing the people she cherished. Not wanting to see her granddaughter suffer anymore, Kohaku Tsukishiro, Hitomi’s grandmother, sends her 60 years in the past to 2018 to meet her 17-year-old self.
Original Run: July 3, 2016 – September 25, 2016
Number of Episodes: 13
Naho is a sixteen-year-old high school student living in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. His daily life is turned upside down by receiving a letter from the future. It would have been written by Naho herself, ten years later. This Naho is now twenty-six years old and consumed with remorse. Through this letter, she intends to prevent Naho from reproducing the same mistakes. Thus, the letter contains material on the events of the coming months and instructions mainly concerning the arrival of a new student in the class, Kakeru.
20. The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Original Run: January 6, 2017 – March 31, 2017
Number of Episodes: 12
The story starts with a simple salaryman. For insulting God, an arrogant Japanese salaryman, at the time of his sudden death on February 22, 2013, is doomed to be reborn in another universe similar to the Europe of the 1910s in true isekai fashion, in an empire torn by countless wars with all its neighboring countries.
The salaryman is reborn in the guise of an orphan girl, Tanya Degurechaff, Tanya the evil is not your typical waifu, at age 9 becomes a second lieutenant in the Imperial Army. According to God, whom Tanya calls “Being X,” if she is unable to die a natural death or refuses to have faith in Him, her soul will leave the circle and be sent to Hell for the countless sins that Tanya the evil has committed in his previous life. This is the perfect unconventional anime for fans of time-traveling anime.