Toki No Tabibito
“Toki no Tabibito - Time Stranger” is a 90-minute movie from 1986; directed by Mori Masaki (Episode Director on “Sabu to Ichi”, Conceptual Designer on “Bobby‘s in Deep”, director of “Barefoot Gen”) with character designs by Moto Hagio (creator of “They Were 11”), mechanical designs of Koji Morimoto (director of “Franken’s Gear”, “Magnetic Rose”), and art direction by Kazuo Oga (“Barefoot Gen”, “Dagger of Kamui”, “Wicked City”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Princess Mononoke”).
New Calendar Year 392:
After an apocalyptic nuclear war, three quarters of the world’s population is gone. Humanity is controlled by a totalitarian regime that seeks to forestall any conflict through eliminating all stress and worries by suppressing individual thought; keeping everyone in a constant state of faux-happiness through ignorance, mind control, and memory manipulation. In Neo Tokyo, Subversive Agino Jiro steals a time machine to escape this cage, and travel back in time.
Fired on by pursuing time patrol agent Kutajima Toshito, Jiro’s machine is damaged. He’s forced to “land” in the mid-nineteen eighties and commandeer a minibus filled with high school teens: Teko Saotome, Nobucho Yamazaki, and Shinichi Hase, as well as their teacher. After making a few pit stops at the Fire Bombing of Tokyo, the early Meiji, and the Battle of Sekigahara, the group winds up stuck in the Sengoku Jidai, four days before Oda Nobunaga’s upcoming demise at Honnôji Temple. There they meet another time patrol agent, Sedoudo Jin, and learn that Toshito’s real aim isn’t to capture Jiro, but is to save Nobunaga from Akechi Mitsuhide, and rewrite the Future!
“Don’t you understand? What are you thinking? Do you really want a history with nuclear war?”
“Time Stranger” is a very beautiful anime that presents some interesting ideas. In a lot of Western time travel fiction, it’s shown that either the past can’t really be changed, or that changing history is something intrinsically bad. However, in this movie, no clear distinction is ever made. Even though, at the end, history isn’t changed, you are left with the idea that it could’ve been. And that, if it had been, things may, or may not, have been better. The ending was very wistful. The movie pointed out that even when we think back on what we believe to be the “correct choice”, and how events “should be”, we can never really know.
“I don’t know if I should say we have met, or we will meet in the future. In another time, I met someone just like you.”