Which Time Travel Protagonist Has It Worse?

Tokyo Revengers’ Takemichi and Steins;Gate’s Okabe have extraordinary abilities, but one time traveler really got the short end of the stick.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Tokyo Revengers, currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

The science-fiction genre has blessed the anime world with some impressive series, and stories about time travel especially seem to hit the mark. Perhaps the similarities between characters and storylines provide fans with familiar, enjoyable traits that can be traced from one series to another, almost guaranteeing one show will be as enjoyable as the next.

Although they are similar in terms of plot, Tokyo Revengers and Steins;Gate each have their own charm. These anime have starkly different atmospheres and takes on time travel, but both feel fresh and unique. The stakes are high in both shows, with time-traveling protagonists facing massive trauma and consequences throughout their respective journeys. But between Takemichi Hanagaki and Okabe Rintaro, which one has it worse?

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The Key Differences Between Tokyo Revengers’ Takemichi & Steins;Gate’s Okabe

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Tokyo Revengers has taken the anime world by storm in 2021. It takes up the mantle of a solid shonen anime with the fiery Takemichi as its focal point, but it ramps up the drama with life-or-death scenarios. By activating his powers with a handshake from his friend Naoto, Takemichi travels to the past in a bid to save his ex-girlfriend from dying in the present. Along the way, he befriends a handful of delinquents with entangled fates and attempts to save them as well.

Unlike Tokyo RevengersSteins;Gate started as a visual novel and is more of a thriller than an action-packed adventure. It follows the self-proclaimed mad scientist Okabe, who is determined to keep his friends alive even when the universe itself is against him. He undoes and redoes his actions — and the actions of others — in his attempts to return to a favorable timeline, but sometimes his struggles seem utterly futile.

A simple difference between the two-time travelers is that Okabe has friends who can help him in Steins;Gate, while Takemichi is more or less on his own. Naoto can activate Takemichi’s power and has access to police materials on the delinquents, but he isn’t as helpful as Okabe’s friends Kurisu, Daru and Suzuha who are all directly involved in altering the timelines.

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This is a major hurdle for Takemichi, who must rely on his own judgment and make the best decisions he can in Tokyo Revengers. One downside to Takemichi’s ability is that he can’t necessarily try again if he fails to create a favorable future. He can only travel back to the corresponding day in the past, and that day is set once he sees it through. Takemichi can attempt to counteract any consequences of his actions, but he can’t directly change situations that become permanently set in the timeline.

Okabe’s Time Travelling Is More Curse Than Gift

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Okabe is able to jump timelines hundreds of times to try and save his childhood friend Mayuri from her inevitable death. Sadly, this cannot be avoided in particular timelines, so it’s extremely lucky that Okabe discovers he can move further back in time than Takemichi can, creating countless futures.

However, the Steins;Gate method has its downsides. Even with help, watching his friends suffer until he figures out the correct sequence of events to save everyone weighs on Okabe heavily. While Takemichi’s actions in Tokyo Revengers tend to have clear consequences, Okabe is often left wondering if he has any power to change things at all. Also lurking in the background of Steins;Gate is a corrupt time-traveling organization that threatens the world, so the stakes are even higher for Okabe.

In the end, Okabe has it worse than Takemichi. His ability to endlessly retrace his steps is truly a curse — it leads to a level of obsession the human mind can’t cope with, and Okabe eventually breaks under the pressure. Neither time traveler is in an enviable position, though. They don’t escape their situations without some amount of trauma, and both even manage to get stabbed while trying to save their friends. Nevertheless, both Okabe and Takemichi are fighters who refuse to give up in their struggles against fate, and that’s what makes them such lovable characters.

KEEP READING: Tokyo Revengers: Takemichi’s Voice Actor on His Character’s Strength & Growth

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