Sunday, February 08, 2015

Time Spiral (2014)

The idea of being able to move along different points in time, of having the ability to change untoward events and prevent the loss of a loved-one are just some of the possibilities associated with the concept of time travel. Time Spiral  builds on the same premise that maybe the past is not etched in stone and conceives of a situation where one man tries to alter events yet finds himself unable to change the fate of another person. The series actually possesses an interesting treatise on destiny and free will subsumed by its portend mystery and drama. The problem, however, is that it reaches this conclusion in a rather oblique way. Of course, it doesn't help that the whole cast appear to be totally in the dark about where the story is headed---which accounts for extremely odd and mismatched acting choices.

The genre in itself requires a measure of good will and suspension of disbelief, and more often than not, in the absence of logic or clarity, its saving grace lies in the story's ability to capture the imagination and/or evoke an emotional response. Time Spiral  fails on both counts. Based on a web novel by Mizumori Eren, the cause for this drama's disorganized state is due either to a weak source material or a weak adaptation of the said material. Sluggish and mostly confusing, it can be described as a sci-fi fantasy series with a dollop of romance, even though the latter may not instantly be apparent or even convincing in the long run.

The series utilizes two narrative threads to track the movement of its two main characters, highlighting their various encounters with each other. It shuttles back and forth from 1999 to the present (2014), to the year 2020.

Aizawa Natsuki (Kuroki Meisa) is a graduate student in physics who tends to have debilitating anxiety attacks as a result of a childhood trauma. By her side is Yuki Kentaro (Hiraoko Yuta), a childhood friend who always comes to her aid and is highly protective of her. Ready to take care of Natsuki for the rest of his life, Kentaro decides to propose marriage to her but the same is foiled by an enigmatic stranger (Gackt), who aggressively pursues and lays claim to the former. The said stranger is revealed early on as a time traveler. He is shown to have the capability to weave his way through time, going back and forth into the past and the future, trying to retrace his steps. His purpose is shrouded in mystery but he appears to be continuously working on changing the past, expecting a different outcome for the future. Unfortunately, all his meddling has brought about is a chain of consequences---none of which has led him closer to achieving his desired objective. This time around, he's fairly convinced that the answer lies with Aizawa Natsuki. 

Who is he? How is he connected to Natsuki? What are his intentions and how does she figure into his plans? More importantly, how does he travel through time? As a viewer, one can't help but come up with a barrage of questions at the onset of the series. The show just takes too many things for granted without even attempting to provide an explanation, plausible or otherwise. What's equally unsettling is that it doesn't subscribe to a particular canon nor attempt to supply a set of rules even though it touches on topics such as special relativity, the twin paradox and the non-linear theory of time.

The central premise of accidentally creating a snag in the timeline shows a hint of brilliance but the process or logic which leads the characters to this conclusion is clearly absent in its eight-episode run. Furthermore, the impetus for all these attempts to introduce changes to the timeline is so weakly portrayed that viewers will not be wholly inclined to root for it. On the upside, Time Spiral has two interesting scenarios to offer as a consequence of the main character's intervention. The kidnapping incident and the rigged clinical testing of a trial drug offer sufficient points of interest in contrast to the overarching love conundrum that is the show's primary focus. It could have certainly done away with Gackt's theatrical leering and his vain display of ear piercings, both of which---provide no further insight into how a professor of architecture devised a formula to travel through time.

From the phoned in performances of Kuroki Meisa and Hiraoko Yuta to Gackt's creepy attempts at seduction, the series never manages to hurdle its preposterous assertions long enough to appeal to the human emotion. There are better time travel dramas out there.  



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