If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? “It will get better”? “Don’t stress too much about fitting in”? “Yes, what you’re feeling is love, and that’s okay”? “The future is awful and sad and I want you to work tirelessly to make sure you don’t end up a regret-stricken wreck like me”? Orange takes this last approach, and the result is a series that I have a barrel full of mixed feelings about.
Spoilers and content warning for suicide ahead.
On the first day of the new school year, protagonist Naho finds a strange letter addressed to her, which was apparently sent from herself, ten years in the future. Naho is confused and dubious that such a thing can be real, but then the events the letter describes start coming true: the letter tells her that a new student, a boy named Kakeru, will be joining their class that day, and he’ll sit next to Naho. Naho’s friends will attempt to be welcoming and invite the new kid to hang out once school is over, but, the letter warns, they should absolutely not do that. Not that day, at least.
Naho soon realizes that the letters are full of specific advice from her future self, chiefly about things that Future Naho regrets and wants to change. These mostly concern Kakeru, since, as Naho is shocked to find out, ten years in the future Kakeru is no longer alive. In Future Naho’s world, Kakeru died—in an accident later discovered to be suicide—when he was seventeen, and she’s sending these letters back in time to try and stop that from happening.
Crossover fanfiction is usually not for me, and neither are time travel stories, for that matter. But every once in a while, I come across one that, against all odds, works really nicely. Visitorverse is one of those stories. Written by three different authors, Visitorverse is, at the time this article is being published, a series of nineteen fics taking place in the world of Assassin’s Creed, only the rules of the universe are the same as those in Sense8. Six Assassins—Desmond, Ezio, Altaïr, Edward, Avaline, and Connor—as well as two Templars—Haytham and Shay—find themselves connected across time and end up visiting each other at seemingly random moments in their lives.
Time travel is not my favorite storytelling trope, if only because if not done well it can leave a narrative more than a little confusing and hard to follow. This can especially be a problem when a narrative jumps around in time completely out of order and without warning, which is something that both Final Fantasy XIII and The Grudge did. This trope’s big crime, however, is that it all too often results in plot holes or creates events that either cannot happen or that nullify the importance of other events. Worse yet is when the time travel in question has no actual impact on the rest of the story and ends up being a pointless waste of time. A good example of this would be Star Ocean: The Last Hope, where Edge goes back in time to an alternate reality of Earth, blows it up, and the entire subplot serves no purpose other than to turn an otherwise generic protagonist into a detestable murderer.
That is not to say that time travel itself cannot be used well. Plenty of stories have utilized it in ways that improve their narrative and add to the plot and worldbuilding. There is, however, a wide chasm between creative and cliché, and for every good use of time travel, there’s a dozen or so bad uses.
I didn’t think I’d be so into the 2016 Rio Olympics, but as it was, I ended up watching it for literal hours every day, enchanted by the gymnastics and the diving and the soccer and everything in between. That’s why I ended up seeing a commercial for a new fall show of NBC’s called Timeless countless times per hour. Since I like science fiction, I finally went and looked up some information on the show and found out that it’s co-created by Eric Kripke, who created Supernatural but left before it jumped the shark several times over, and it has a cast including Sakina Jaffrey from Sleepy Hollow. That all means that the show should be good, right? Well… not so much.
Multiverse theory says that there’s an untold quantity of universes out there, and each one might be different based on a single choice that one person made. There’s a universe out there where, for example, I live in outer space, because the Library of Alexandria never burned down and the advancement of human knowledge wasn’t set back by centuries. If you had the opportunity to fix this, would you? That’s a pretty huge reset, so it’s hard to begin to imagine the ramifications of doing so. What about, say, going back three hours to create a timeline in which your friend’s pet isn’t murdered and your godfather doesn’t receive the Dementor’s Kiss? This presumably creates a better future, as it results in Sirius living, which gives Harry access to Grimmauld Place, which gives him access to Kreacher and the story of Regulus, etc. As an author, resetting the timeline is something you should only do in the worst possible circumstances, and even then, it’s hard to argue that retconning a given set of circumstances that are bad for your characters is worth retconning an entire universe for.
I learned while writing this post that ‘retcon’ is a portmanteau of ‘retroactive continuity’.
My refusal to watch Doctor Who finally bites me in the ass.
While my mind is still on the topic of films that make me cry, I recall a point a couple years ago when I sat and watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo). The 2006 Mamoru Hosada film follows the life of protagonist Makoto as she gains and learns to utilize time travel powers, and what effect it has on her and her friends’ lives. With my current piqued interest in Life Is Strange, I’m noticing a trend in popular media (or at least the media I’m consuming) concerning the presence of time magic and, in this case, the young women who receive and use it. From Makoto and Max (from Life Is Strange) to Harry Potter’s Hermione, time travel is not only an important means for people to experience things as selfishly as they want, but also allow them to grow into their own sense of responsibility.
Spoilers for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Life Is Strange beneath the cut.
Well, as Sleepy Hollow has been getting consistently worse these past few weeks, with only the occasional good episode shoved in with a myriad of bad ones, I had no hopes that “Awakening” would have any redeeming qualities. Even worse, I didn’t care. I literally only watched this episode because I’m the person scheduled to review it. So, was it any good?
Well, yes, actually, it was. “Awakening” had a lot of moments in it that I was happy to see. Unfortunately, it also had a lot of bad moments, too, that had me rolling me eyes. I’m also beginning to question if there’s a single part of American history that Ichabod Crane hasn’t shaped. Did you know he’s the one who cracked the Liberty Bell?