Lets Do the Time Skip Again

hisuiconIn a strange coincidence I have been partaking an inordinate number of properties that have time skips in them. On the manga front Zettai Karen Children and One Piece have recently had significant time skips. On the video game front Infinite Space has a 10 year time skip between the first and second parts of the game. And that are just what I have seen in the last month. I can also think of major time skips in Claymore, Naruto, Gundam 00, Gurren Lagann, Death Note, Twentieth Century Boys, xxxHOLiC, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. And that is just in series I am aware of. This started me thinking about time skips in general. What is the appeal of the time skip? What does it add to a narrative that it has become such a popular tool?

hisuiconThere are a several very good reasons to skip ahead in the plot several years or more. One of the most dreaded parts of any shonen fighting series is the training arc. The time skip lets characters get stronger while not having to go through the tedium of explaining in detail how they got their new powers. One Piece and Claymore remove the main characters from the plot so they can be on an equal level with the new challenges they have to face. The time skip is also a great way to have a characters mature and grow. They may start the series as children or naive adults but a time skip will show how experience and time has changed the way they look at the problems they faced when they were younger. Those who started as inexperienced adolescents deal with matters much differently in Zettai Karen Children and Infinite Space after the time skip. A time skip will also let the events of a climax in the plot unfold. After a major event in the plot the full ramifications may not be realistically evident until years later. The time skip allows the author to skip ahead to the juicy parts when the dust has cleared. Twentieth Century Boys and Gundam 00 throw the cast into situations were the world has changed and they have to play catchup to deal with it. Of course the cynic can always see the dollar sign reason behind such a decision as well. With a time skip you can make a whole new line of merchandise and sell people an entirely new sets of products they already own. Brilliant.

hisuiconLike any other literary device a time skip can be effective in a proper author’s hand and aggravating in a different instance.  I myself can’t say I have any particular strong feelings on the subject. This was more of a gentle musing. But I know like flashbacks and amnesia it is a literary device that annoys some people to no end. I am curious if any readers could tell me of stories where the absolutely loved or hated a time skip and why.

7 thoughts on “Lets Do the Time Skip Again

  1. Evan (Vampt Vo) says:

    It’s not an anime, but one of my most loathed time skips of all time is the one in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Heathcliff disappears for two years partway through the story and returns as a mysteriously changed man. He’s become a total jerk, and just when you expect Brontë to explain this completely unexpected change… she doesn’t. She NEVER mentions the details of how Heathcliff’s personality was completely turned around.

    Time skips like this really bother me because they’re basically excuses for the author to get from point A to point B without the task of actually creating a logical pathway between the two.

    • reversethieves says:

      A time skip can easily be a crutch that hand waves away “messy details” like character development and continuity. If time skips have a bad reputation I think this sort of writing is a main factor in it.

      – Hisui

  2. Lothos says:

    A time skip which worked well, though it was in the opposite direction, was Berserk. Basically jump back I’m guessing around 10 years or so and watch Guts grow into the one-eyed, one-armed badass he was when first introduced.

    A literary time skip which also works well, seeing as it’s essentially where the story predominately takes place, is Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. A well thought out revenge plot such as that in the story would require a huge amount of planning, and we get to see the results of 9 years of Edmond scheming against his enemies.

    • reversethieves says:

      In medias res can be like the love child of the flash back and the time skip.

      The count of Monte Cristo is a perfect example of a useful time skip. It lets us gloss over all the unnecessary details and jump right into the juicy part of the story.

      – Hisui

  3. melgyp says:

    I agree with the things you’ve written in this post. Most anime/manga I follow are shonen anime/manga. Time skip is no stranger in their plot development, and just this week we see yet another time skip in Bleach. I must say I’m quite the fan of time skip because it sort of speed things up for the story development. Like they’re just suddenly matured and much stronger. I’m no fan of flashback but in terms of time skip, it is important because it tells me how or why they reach to the point they are today.

    • reversethieves says:

      Well Bleach seems like it need to downtime after Hueco Mundo. I am not exactly sure were this new plot line is going but I am interested to find out. Bleach has been sort of boring of late so this is a need kick in the arse. (hopefully)

      – Hisui

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