While science fiction dramas can be downright mind-boggling, there are some aspects of the genre that allow you to just enjoy the content without putting too much thought into it. One such aspect is Time Travel, which, if done right, can entertain the viewer without confusing them. Even though some intricately crafted time travel dramas lean too much into the science aspect of it, many light-hearted dramas focus on the comedy aspect. The utter chaos of the time travel journey, followed by witty situations as the time traveler adjusts to their vastly different time periods, is side-splitting to behold. Take a look at the top Japanese dramas that focus on time travel!
1. Suteki Na Sen Taxi (Time Taxi)
Penned by writers Bakarhythm and Ohkura, Suteki na Sen Taxi is a comedy science fiction drama. Eda is the driver of Sen Taxi, a mysterious vehicle that has the power to transport its passengers back into the past. Passengers are hauled back to a past moment they regret the most and wish they could do something different about that particular moment. While the plot sounds straightforward, some fun ensues when the whole “time-travel” aspect doesn’t go according to plan. The writing of the drama is clever and keeps the audience hooked with twists and turns.
2. Proposal Daisakusen (Operation Love)
Also known by its English name, Operation Love, Proposal Daisakusen is a blend of romance and time-travel genres. The story has a bittersweet aura surrounding the series, and the main focus is on second chances and love. Our protagonist, Ken Iwase, played by Yamashita Tomohisa, has an epiphany on his best friend Rei’s wedding day that he loves her. As Ken prepares to watch the love of his life marry another man, a fairy appears and sends him back in time so that he has another shot at love. Operation Love is a fun, romance-filled drama with sci-fi elements.
3. The Girl Who Lept Through The Time
While The Girl Who Lept Through Time has a drama version as well, it’s the movie version that is superior. Originally a science fiction novel penned by Yasutaka Tsutsui, The Girl Who Lept Through Time has undergone over three adaptations in anime, movie, and drama forms. The plot revolves around a brilliant pharmaceutical researcher who is left unconscious after a car accident. She asks her daughter Akari to travel back in time using a formula she made to convey a message to her first love. Akari gets a little side-tracked as she uses her stay in the past for her benefit, but playing with time can have grave consequences.
4. Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song
Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song is a 2021 animated series created by Tappei Nagatsuki and Eiji Umehara and directed by Shinpei Ezaki. The series tackles the dark subject of AIs taking over humans. The world’s first autonomous AI, “Diva,” was created with the singular mission to make people content via her songs. The singer AI’s only mission was well thought out, as humans believe that AI can only be functional if they have a singular objective. As Diva prepares to headline her first music show, it gets halted when a cryptic AI Matsumoto, who is from 100 years into the future, crashes her show. Matsumoto tells Diva about future AI’s mission to wipe out humanity and seeks her help to prevent it.
5. Nobunaga No Chef
Nobunaga was a feudal lord back in Japan’s Sengoku period. He was a revered figure back then and now, too, as exemplified by the constant presence of characters based on him in modern visual media. Several Japanese dramas feature Nobunaga as a character, the 2020 drama Nobunaga No Chef being one such drama. The series is about the personal chef of Nobunaga. Modern-day chef Ken finds himself transported back in the past to 16th-century Japan, right in the middle of a war. Chaos ensues as Ken deigns himself to life in a new era.
6. JK kara Yarinaosu Silver Plan
Also known as Silver Plan to Redo from JK, this drama is about a young, arrogant woman who has everything money can buy. Affluent and well-bred, Sayuri Ninoyama enjoys comfort owing to her family’s endless wealth. She is very showy and spendthrift in nature. Until one day everything comes crashing down when her family loses all their wealth due to Japan’s poor economic condition. Sayuri loses everything in one fell swoop and starts living as a homeless person. One day, she is attacked by delinquents and mysteriously finds herself in her high school self’s body. Given a second chance to prevent her family’s eventual downfall, Sayuri hatches a “silver plan.”
7. Bushi-Stant Aisakakun
Bushi-Stant Aisakakun is a short Japanese drama consisting of ten episodes. This comedy is full of light-hearted sexual innuendos. In 1761, Japan, during the Edo period, revered samurai Sojiro Aiskas moonlights as a shunga painter. Shunga painting is a form of erotic art and was often seen as an art form that would morally corrupt the public. Sojiro is banned from making shunga paintings and is ordered to be executed. Just before his execution, Sojiro timeslips to the present day. Wowed by the modern-day art form of “manga” and the abundance of erotic arts in modern times, he decides to work as an apprentice for a manga artist Miyagami. Past and present eras collide as Sojiro and Miyagami fall in love.
8. Seishun Cinderella
29-year-old beauty consultant Hagino Shion leads a perfectly content life. Despite the absence of a boyfriend and love in her life, she manages just fine. On a whim, she signs herself up for a blind date party. However, Shion gets overwhelmed by the traumatic memories of her past, when she was rejected by her crush because of her looks. Staggered by the memories, she travels back in time and finds herself in her 17-year-old self’s body. Armed with extensive knowledge about makeup from the future, Shion vows to turn around her high school self’s life.
Edomoiselle is a modern-day time-travel comedy about a courtesan who time-travels to the present. The drama opens with the male lead, Kuraji Shunsuke, who works as a part-timer in his uncle’s café. He is shocked to find an Oiren (high-ranking courtesan in historic Japan) in his uncle’s home. With no way of returning to the past, the lady, who calls herself Senka, starts working alongside Shunsuke at the café. A love story develops as Senka becomes attached to her newfound home.
Jin draws inspiration from the manga of the same name, written by Motoka Murakami. Neurosurgeon Jin Minakata leads a life of turmoil as his fiancée lies in a coma after a procedure he performed on her. Following a scuffle with a patient, Jin time warps into the Edo period. The narrative unfolds as he finds a temporary job and finds a way to get back to the present.