How Does Tokyo Revengers Time Travel Work?

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Plenty of shows and movies center on time travel, and it can be argued that none have done it better than Back to the Future, so anything that tries it now needs to have a good hook. Tokyo Revengers, one of the best time-travel anime, has that hook. Moments before his death, Takemichi Hanagaki finds himself twelve years in the past, reliving his life, and amazingly, he’s able to alter his future, but there are some strict restrictions.

Takemichi Can Only Time Travel Between Two Fixed Points

Tokyo Revengers immediately limits the scope of Takemichi’s time travel by only allowing him to go back 12 years into the past. The catch is that it’s exactly 12 years in the past, and time keeps moving forward. His first jump on July 4, 2017, sends him to July 4, 2005, but he can’t go back to July 4, 2005, again once it’s July 5, 2017.

This restriction stops Takemichi from being able to go back far enough to stop the criminals responsible for the murder of Hinata Tachibana while they are babies. Tokyo Revengers further limits his jumps by having Naoto Tachibana as the “trigger,” forcing the pair to shake hands whenever Takemichi wants to jump.

The Power To Change The Present

The timeline in Tokyo Revengers is malleable, allowing Takemichi to make changes in the past that will then alter his present. In the first episode, he does this by explaining to Naoto Tachibana that he’s a time traveler, sharing the exact date that his sister will be murdered. Naoto is then, in the present, able to save Takemichi from the oncoming train, explaining he’s now a police officer and has been studying time travel and the Tokyo Manji Gang for 12 years.

Sometimes, the changes made in the past have unforeseen consequences, such as in Tokyo Revenger’s Season 1 finale, when he’s greeted by a limousine and a luxurious house upon his return to the present. Another time, Takemichi finds himself the First Captain of Toman, leading the very group he’s trying to stop. The big problem is that Takemichi doesn’t know how he’s changed the future or even how.

What Happens To Takemichi While Using His Powers

The most complicated part of Tokyo Revengers’ time travel is Takemichi not having any knowledge of the last 12 years when he returns to the present. Technically, it’s only Takemichi’s consciousness that goes back to the past, and when he returns to the present, he’s well…not present for those years; it’s his past self that is. The present Takemichi overwrites his past self when returning from the past.

While in the past, his body is still in the present, in a coma-like state. Time moves forward in both of the time periods at the same rate, so one day in the past is one day in the present, forcing Naoto to take care of the unconscious Takemichi in the present. This becomes a problem as the series continues, and the present becomes increasingly more complex than “slacker guy misses his middle-school glory days.”

How Takemichi Gained Time-Travel Powers

It takes a while for Tokyo Revengers to explain the catalyst for Takemichi’s ability to time travel, in fact, the anime hasn’t made it to that point yet, but it’s been hinted at multiple times. The manga confirms that it’s regret, an intense, soul-shredding level of regret, that provides the catalyst for someone to go back to fix their past. Naoto, through the guilt from his sister’s passing, connects with Takemichi, linking the two and creating the catalyst for further trips.

As Tokyo Revengers progresses, more characters learn about Takemichi’s powers, and some even want to acquire the ability themselves. The consequences are dire and often bloody, but it’s not quite clear if anyone else can time travel. Fans have theories, of course, notably involving Mikey, but they haven’t been proven….yet.

For those interested, watching Tokyo Revengers can be a little difficult; Season 1 is on Crunchyroll, but Season 2 is on Hulu.