Welcome again to the continuation of The Time Traveler’s Guide. Today I will be discussing a particular problem that time travelers will face, and that is keeping their mental state intact despite changing the past. This problem also exists for those who are part of an effected world line. If you don’t know what a world line is check out my previous post. Essentially, if a world line is altered than everyone within that world line will become altered as well. A person may cease to exist, or their memories will change accordingly to fit the new world line.
Understand that world lines exist as part of the parallel universe theory where many divergent future exists. Say you live in world line ‘A’ and currently you exist in time and space at a point on this line. If you were able to move back to a previous point and alter a significant event or perhaps even an apparently insignificant event, the future beyond the previous point would no longer belong to world line ‘A,’ but would belong to a new world line because the path has branched off from ‘A’.
Steins;Gate and the Reading Steiner
Now I will introduce the concept made by Steins;Gate, the Reading Steiner. The main character Okabe Rintarou, an eccentric, named the ability, not me. The Reading Steiner is the ability to retain one’s mental state including all the memories they have experienced so far after a world line shift. Okabe is the only person aware of the shifting line, while others are oblivious to the change. Everyone’s memories except Okabe have in a sense been deleted and replaced by the memories of the new world line. This is the Reading Steiner. Other characters begin to show signs of having memories from other world lines, but only after a significant provocation. The other characters could be said to have the Reading Steiner ability, but at such a degree that it is almost untraceable.
Many time travelers exist in fiction, who despite changing the past remain the same person. They too must have the Reading Steiner ability, or their own memories and experiences would be altered.
While these next anime series don’t necessarily have the Reading Steiner ability, they do share some similarities.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
In Hitman Reborn!, the character Byakuran has an ability very similar to the Reading Steiner. After he meets the same person in two different world lines, Byakuran awakens the ability to share the knowledge and experience of every Byakuran from parallel universes.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
In Madoka Magica, Homura travels back in time and essentially replaces the consciousness of herself in the past. Unlike conventional time travel, where meeting oneself is possible, Homura completely takes the place of herself in the past. Similar to Steins;Gate, Homura is unable to make significant changes along the world line to reach a different future through many of her attempts. Strangely enough, by making so many attempts Homura finally creates a path to a new future–not by a single action that changes the future, but through the entire process of going back in time over and over again.
Dragon Ball Z
This series uses another theory where despite changing the path of a world line, one is able to travel the original path back to the future. When Trunks goes back in time and changes the events of the past, he is still able to return the future from which he came. He has effectively changed the world lines path. Doing so in Steins;Gate would mean that Trunks path to the future would now move along a new path and lead to a different future, but he is able to return to the same future he traveled from.