A while back, I finished watching the above anime and something got stuck in my head due to the plot. I apologize in advance for spoilers, so don’t keep reading if you think you’re going to give this show a try. Personally, it was okay, but I’ll give it credit for being ambitious.
‘Plunderer’ felt like it was attempting to use both time travel and alternate dimensions within its plot. It wasn’t entirely clear to me as I watched in regards to the latter, but I got that kind of vibe. Let me say now that I’m not only talking about the multiverse concept, which has been a staple of science fiction since Michael Moorcock’s ‘The Sundered Worlds’ released in 1963. It’s been a big part of DC comics since the 1960’s as well. I’m saying this primarily to show that alternate dimensions (and time travel) aren’t new concepts for fiction. They are difficult to use though.
The challenge with time travel is that you need remember that the present will be altered if you change the past. Only way around this is to explain how things are fixed. For example, ‘Futurama’ having any paradoxes get eliminated by freak accidents to revive the true timeline. The problem is that many authors go into this plot device with the idea that it’s a trendy gimmick. When added to an established lore, time travel can undo the foundation and create plot holes even in older movies if used without caution. This is a big reason why I don’t think I’ll ever use it. The risks are too high for the payoff since the audience will pick up on things the author never considered. Still, that’s just me and the stories work if time travel is the core mechanic like in ‘Back to the Future’.
Alternate dimensions are slightly easier to work with because they’re supposed to be different than the mainline one. You can introduce variations of characters and even replace if you feel that the current one has grown stale. Of course, the ease of use and limited impact on the main dimension is why this tactic can become rather dangerous if overused. An author can create so many versions of their world and characters that they’ll fracture the fanbase with everyone wanting their own favorite to get the spotlight. So, you need to introduce an alternate dimension and keep the perspective of the true cast if you’re going to use this as a gimmick instead of a core mechanic.
So, how does this work if a story attempts to use both of these complicated devices?
It can get confusing. ‘Plunderer’ actually used the time travel to reveal that there’s an alternate dimension type of scenario. I think. It’s one world having been created high above the other with its own rules and not knowing the old, dying one exists. It was also established that while the time travelers could be killed and interact with those in the past, the events were locked in. Although, this still created issues. For example, they interact with the guy holding a sword when he was younger, but previous episodes had him not recognize any of them during the present. This brings up the question on if you are now watching a new timeline or if the time travel effects don’t kick in until after the period that they jump back. See why I don’t touch this thing?
Clearly, I prefer alternate dimensions to time travel. It’s easier to juggle and less risk of breaking a storyline. I do think that using the two together can help clear things up such as one being responsible for the other. They are just similar enough in that they change primary dimensions/timelines that they can mesh. The flaws in one can be offset by the benefits of the other to some extent. If anything, the alternate dimension would be a clear explanation of why all previous events no longer mean anything in terms of plot holes since it’s no longer that world. It’s a rather blunt and nuclear way to do it, but that gets the job down if time travel has created too big a mess.
So, what you think of alternate dimensions and time travel? Ever try to use them yourself?