Time and the Leijiverse Part III (Time Sphere)
In Part II of this series we left off disappointed with the Ring of Time concept. But already in his manga Miraizer Ban (1976) Matsumoto comes up with a more promising scheme: the Time Sphere. Because I haven’t gotten hold of this work and there don’t seem to be detailed summaries, all of my knowledge of it comes from this page and a few scattered remarks on 2ch.
The Time Sphere begins with a Ring of Time. Remember that a Ring of Time means the universe starts at a point, from which events run their course as time loops back to that very same point, which I call alpha-omega AΩ. Then the process starts again, and again, and again: a single universal time sequence of events repeating itself eternally.
Now, imagine that when the time loop returns to the original point AΩ, instead of going off in exactly the same line, it shifts its course on its way to becoming a second Ring of Time. Provided, and this condition is absolutely necessary, that the second ring moves around the same center as the first ring did, it will arrive at the very same AΩ point. Then let a third ring start the same way, and a fourth, and a fifth and so on. All of these rings share the same center and the same starting and ending point. The surface area described by the sum of all of these motions will be a sphere, and in mathematical terms the Rings of Time will be “great circles” of the sphere. Like this:
For example, in this picture timeline A might be the first Ring of Time. After returning to point AΩ, (from the South as it were) it turns into timeline B, which then turns into timeline C. Eventually all of these black lines would describe a perfectly black sphere: our Time Sphere.
It’s possible for us now to say that timeline A describes a universe where the Mazone invade Earth, whereas timeline C has the Illumidas invading instead. Timeline B in between could have both of these events occurring. That is, the proximity of timelines (or Rings of Time) could trigger similarity in the events: the closer two rings are the more similar their histories.
I know that all of these rings must be concentric and of the same size because otherwise we wouldn’t get a sphere (like Matsumoto claims). Instead we could end up with a contraption like this:
…which would be a monstrosity.
Harlock’s statement of meeting Maya again when the Rings of Time come together might make more sense now, although not literally: the shared AΩ point makes a community (=the Sphere) out of all of these loops, and it might be what allows Harlock and Maya to meet each other in the future (though certainly not at the AΩ point itself).
There are still two worrisome issues here. 1) We’re still in the dark as to why Galaxy Express 999 would take place so many centuries before the original Harlock series, and still have the same characters show up. Nothing in our Time Sphere concept helps us with this problem.
Just for fun, I could solve it like this: the standard calendar in the 999 timeline is the same as our own, where year 1 is the (estimated) birth of Jesus Christ. But in the Harlock timeline, the foundation of Rome (753 BC) is year 1. In this case the year 2200 in 999 is equivalent to the year 2953 in the Captain Harlock (and by equivalent I mean the span of time covered in both timelines measured out from AΩ is the same). If you believe with Edward Gibbon that Christianity was a big factor in the collapse of Rome, then it might make sense that in a parallel world where Christianity never took off, Rome might have continued for a longer time and thus instead of a Christian reckoning we would still be using a Roman reckoning of time. Anyway, we don’t need Time Spheres for this.
2) Of infinitely more importance, the reason why all of the Rings of Time share the same center remains a total mystery. I mean, sure, a sphere is a pretty thing but we can’t justify this in terms of aesthetics. What keeps the rings from spinning out like a Slinky, or like a ball of yarn at the paws of a gigantic cosmo-kitten?
What’s at the Center? My shocking and strangely satisfying speculations in the next installment…