Time loop

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A time loop or temporal loop in fiction is a plot device whereby characters re-experience a span of time which is repeated, sometimes more than once, with some hope of breaking out of the cycle of repetition.[1] The term "time loop" is sometimes used to refer to a causal loop;[1][2] however, causal loops are unchanging and self-originating, whereas time loops are constantly resetting: when a certain condition is met, such as a death of a character or a clock reaches a certain time, the loop starts again, with one or more characters retaining the memories from the previous loop.[3]

History[edit]

An early example of a time loop is used in the short story "Doubled and Redoubled" by Malcolm Jameson that appeared in the February 1941 Unknown. The story tells of a person accidentally cursed to repeat a "perfect" day, including a lucky bet, a promotion, a heroically foiled bank robbery, and a successful wedding proposal.[citation needed] Other early examples include the 1973 short story 12:01 PM and its 1990 film, the Soviet film Mirror for a Hero (1988),[4] and the Hollywood film Groundhog Day (1993).[5]

Japanese popular culture[edit]

The time loop is a familiar trope in Japanese pop culture media, especially anime.[6] Its use in Japanese fiction dates back to Yasutaka Tsutsui's science fiction novel, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (1965), one of the earliest works to feature a time loop, about a high school girl who repeatedly relives the same day. It was later adapted into a 1972 live-action Japanese television series, a hit 1983 live-action film, a 2006 anime film, and a 2010 live-action film.[7][8][9] The 1983 live-action film adaptation of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was a major box office success in Japan,[9] where it was the second highest-grossing Japanese film of 1983.[10] Its success was soon followed by numerous anime and manga using the time loop concept, starting with Mamoru Oshii's anime film Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984), and then the manga and anime series Kimagure Orange Road (1984–1988).[11]

The time loop has since become a familiar anime trope.[6] Other popular Japanese works that use the time loop concept include Hiroyuki Kanno's science fiction visual novel YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World (1996),[12] the light novel and anime franchise Haruhi Suzumiya (2003), Mamoru Oshii's Japanese cyberpunk anime film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), Hiroshi Sakurazaka's sci-fi light novel All You Need is Kill (2004) which was adapted into the Tom Cruise starring Hollywood film Edge of Tomorrow (2014),[11] and the sci-fi visual novel and anime franchise Steins;Gate (2009).[13]

Time loop as a puzzle[edit]

Stories with time loops commonly center on the character learning from each successive loop through time.[1] Jeremy Douglass, Janet Murray, Noah Falstein and others compare time loops with video games and other interactive media, where a character in a loop learns about their environment more and more with each passing loop, and the loop ends with complete mastery of the character's environment.[14] Shaila Garcia-Catalán et al. provide a similar analysis, saying that the usual way for the protagonist out of a time loop is acquiring knowledge, using retained memories to progress and eventually exit the loop. The time loop is then a problem-solving process, and the narrative becomes akin to an interactive puzzle.[15]

The presentation of a time loop as a puzzle has subsequently led to video games that are centered on the time loop mechanic, giving the player the ability to learn and figure out the rules themselves. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Minit, The Sexy Brutale, Outer Wilds, and 12 Minutes were all designed to allow the player to figure out the loop's sequences of events and then navigate their character through a loop a final time to successfully complete the game. According to Raul Rubio, the CEO of Tequila Works that created The Sexy Brutale, "Time loops allow players to train to get better at the game, faster, smarter, by experimenting from a fixed starting situation, and seeing what it works to move 'forward' within the loop and adding something else to that structure to build a solid process."[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Langford, David (June 13, 2017). "Themes: Time Loop". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Nicholls, Peter; Sleight, Graham (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. London: Gollancz. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  2. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (2009). Eating the Dinosaur (1st ed.). New York: Scribner. p. 60. ISBN 9781439168486. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  3. ^ García-Catalán, Shaila; Navarro-Remesal, Victor (2015). "Try Again: The Time Loop as a Problem-Solving Process in Save the Date and Source Code". In Matthew Jones; Joan Ormrod (eds.). Time Travel in Popular Media: Essays on Film, Television, Literature and Video Games. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 207. ISBN 9781476620084. OCLC 908600039.
  4. ^ Keller, Bill; Times, Special to the New York (23 April 1988). "A Movie Tribute for Stalin Generation". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  5. ^ Stockwell, Peter (2000). The Poetics of Science Fiction (1st ed.). Harlow, England: Longman. pp. 131–133. ISBN 9780582369931.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Steve (26 August 2018). "Revue Starlight ‒ Episode 7". Anime News Network. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  7. ^ "THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (2006)". Deptford Cinema. August 9, 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  8. ^ "THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (2006) at Deptford Cinema". TicketSource. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b Walkov, Marc (2016). "The Girl Who Leapt through Time". Far East Film Festival. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  10. ^ "過去興行収入上位作品 一般社団法人日本映画製作者連盟". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. 1983. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  11. ^ a b Osmond, Andrew (29 November 2017) [30 September 2012]. "Edge of Tomorrow, and Kill Is All You Need". Manga UK. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  12. ^ Kalata, Kurt (2019). "1996 – YU-NO: Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shōjo". Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents: Japanese Video Game Obscurities. Unbound Publishing. pp. 108–109 (108). ISBN 978-1-78352-765-6.
  13. ^ Eisenbeis, Richard (2013-04-19). "Steins;Gate Might Be the Best Anime I Have Ever Seen". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  14. ^ Douglass, Jeremy (2007). Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media. Santa Barbara, Cal.: University of California, Santa Barbara. pp. 333–335, 358. ISBN 978-0549363354. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  15. ^ García-Catalán, Shaila; Navarro-Remesal, Victor (2015). "Try Again: The Time Loop as a Problem-Solving Process in Save the Date and Source Code". In Matthew Jones; Joan Ormrod (eds.). Time Travel in Popular Media: Essays on Film, Television, Literature and Video Games. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 206–209. ISBN 9781476620084. OCLC 908600039.
  16. ^ Batchelor, James (July 31, 2019). "Learn, reset, repeat: The intricacy of time loop games". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved July 31, 2019.