The 2011 anime series STEIN’S;GATE (I’ve seen it punctuated wildly different ways) is one of the best things I’ve seen for my time-travel book.
The premise: Okarin, a wannabe mad scientist (he actually calls himself that) works out of a rundown lab with his best friend/surrogate sister Mayuri and their nerd buddy Daru. Their attempts to create a phone-operated microwave fail miserably but in the process they discover a method for sending emails back through time. It shows the series’ sense of humor that Okarin considers calling this The Mail That Leapt Through Time (see here for the reference) before settling on Dmail—for DeLorean Mail.
One of the first effects of Dmail is to save the life of Cristina Makise, a brilliant physicist and time-travel theoretician (the photo—all rights to current holder—shows Mayuri, Okarin and Cristina, l-r). More changes follow as they send more Dmails, and Okarin soon discovers some of them are not predictable. To further complicate things, CERN (yes, the super-collider people) is actually a sinister conspiracy with its own time-travel agenda and they don’t want the competition.
The show switches to dark as it gets closer to the end: Okarin gets hit by a personal tragedy and no matter how he tries, he can’t change history to avert it. In a nice touch, he confesses at one point he’s stopped caring because he keeps telling himself he’ll get it right next time, so no big—but he realizes this isn’t a healthy attitude (in contrast to Jay Mohr’s jerk in Christmas Do-Over). Finally he learns there’s a way out, but it has consequences he may not be willing to accept.
The anime (available on Hulu) has a 2013 sequel, STEIN’S;GATE: Burdensome State of Deja Vu (I’ve seen that translated other ways too) picking up a year after the series ended. Okarin is happy in the new timeline, except he’s tormented by constant memories of the tragedies he lived through. Or are they only memories? And what happens when Cristina tries to avert what she learns is Okarin’s destiny?
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers because this was really good. And I’d never have caught it if not for my book.