As with movies, I’m pretty much done.
AJ’S TIME TRAVELERS doesn’t make the cut as this 1990s series is historical lessons dressed up in a (very bad) sf series: AJ is transported about a time machine and has to dig up Fun Facts About the Pyramids (“I know who can explain this—Imhotep, the man who built the first step pyramid!”) to save himself and his crew from the evil Warp. Some of the worst acting I’ve seen in a while.
MEGAS XLR (2004) has two Jersey boys exhume a buried mecha, trick it out (classic car for the new head, videogame based controls), then discover both sides of a far-future space war showing up to claim it (as Megas is so powerful, it will enable Earth to change history and win, if our side gets control of it). Unfortunately the Megas time-control is busted, and the remodel has made it impossible for anyone but the guys to drive it. Amusing enough (though the only female lead does come off very Nagging Girlfriend) but I doubt I’d have followed this if I’d found it in real time. “Coop, what are you doing? I’ve got digits from greenskin girls!”
I watched enough TIME BOKAN to get the feel for this (I can see why one anime reference describes it as Wacky Races in time), as two kids use the eponymous time machine to search for its creator, hotly pursued by the bad guys. Not without charm, but doesn’t really grab me.
TIME JAM is a swashbuckling adventure in which time travelers Valerian and Laureline (one from the future, one from the past) discover their exploits have erased Earth from existence. This leaves them taking on various jobs to keep a spaceship roof over their heads, while trying to figure out what went wrong so they can fix it. As this is French, it goes in the appendix, but it is fun, if standard. “It’s my father’s ashes—I swore I’d bury them on a free planet.”
ZIPANG is a lot more interesting, a Final Countdown with brains: a 21st century Japanese naval vessel goes back through a time rift to the Battle of Midway. With no way home, they must find provisions and fuel, while debating whether to intervene, with issues ranging from the future of Japan (will anything but unconditional surrender turn Japan away from militaristic dictatorship?) to the thousands of lives they could save with their advanced firepower. Slow and talky, but I found the talk worth listening to. “I don’t think the imperial navy just appeared—it’s our ship that just appeared.”
SENGOKU COLLECTION is a fluffy fantasy built around the same concept as Battle Girls and Ambition of Oda Nobuna, of having the great warriors of Japan’s past all be women, or in this case cute high-school girls. Sucked into the modern world they must find jobs, settle old scores, build friendships and maybe find a way to return home. Lightweight, though sometimes quite funny. Of the three series, Battle Girls does best at making the female version of General Nobunaga believably formidable. “I don’t see why you’d give your real name, then tell me that what people call you is a big secret.”
NATSU NO ARASHI is a surprisingly charming story about a young man whose summer in a small village is enlivened by Arashi who’s a)a ghost from WW II; b)very pretty; and c)able to travel back in time when they touch, making it possible for her to save lives lost when the American raids hit her small town. I will keep watching this one, because I quite like it, even though I’ve seen enough for the purposes of my book. All rights to image with current holder. “You have to make it look accidental.”
I’d initially dismissed FLASHFORWARD as precognition, not time travel, but rewatching a few episodes, it seems much closer to people having their minds pulled six months into the future than merely foreseeing it. Then again, when the flashforward moment becomes the present, nobody experiences their past mind jumping into their present body, so maybe not …I’ll give it some thought. But a good series, regardless—a shame it didn’t come back for a second season. “There is no coming in from the cold for us.”