Image source: TVアニメ『時間の支配者』公式‏ on Twitter

When you read the premise of Chronos Ruler, there’s a small part that reads, “Demons that eat time.” But, what exactly does it mean to “eat time?”

A man named Victor Putin and his son Kiri Putin hunt demons called Kei. The Kei are no ordinary demons though, because they eat a persons “time.” In order to fight the Kei, Victor and Kiri manipulate time by slowing it down.

Sometimes it’s easy to imagine what an anime series is about just from the description. Fist of the Northstar is about a guy who beats up thugs, but is also one giant manly family feud. Magical Circle is about two teens on a journey to defeat an evil lord. Yet, every once in a while, you’ll get an anime series like Chronos Ruler where you have demons that eat time. It’s a fascinating concept, but not one easily explained. The first episode of Chronos Ruler, However, does a wonderful job of illustrating this for the audience as well as gives a little exposition to fill in a few gaps.

When we first hear, “Demons, called Kei, eat time” it’s hard to grasp what is meant by that because “time” can be difficult to describe. So, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is the characters who’s time is eaten age rapidly. It makes sense because we only have a finite amount of time in the mortal coil. However, this isn’t the case. In actuality, what the Kei do is reverse your ageing a la something like the 2008 movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When put in this context many things about the series begin to fall into place, especially the horror of the Kei.

Consider, while aging can be a scary thing, becoming young is also an unpleasant thought. Yes, it’s nice being able to retain our youth, but in the series the process is of becoming young is incredibly rapid and is shown impeccably well with the teacher character named Emily. It’s alluded that she’s been bitten by a Kei prior to the events of the episode and said she looks as young as her students at the beginning of the episode. However, by the climatic action scene, we see she’s become a toddler and rapidly reverts to a baby, then nothing. It’s an unpleasant sight to look at and drives home the point the Kei are not something to be toyed with.

The episode goes even further than this. Being shown the horror of the Kei helps the audience recognize how immensely freighting they can be. But, it’s the short exposition by Victor that cements why the Kei need to be defeated. A Kei has also bitten Victor, but his son and partner Kiri has managed to slow the de-aging process. The result is Victor slowly becomes younger but also loses his memory as well. In essence, Victor is suffering from what can only be described a Young Onset Dementia. It’s a very freighting thought because here we have a character who looks young, is becoming younger, and is slowly losing his mind all because he was bitten by a Kei.

Image source: TVアニメ『時間の支配者』公式‏ on Twitter

In this way we have some interesting stakes at had with Victor and Kiri. It’s not just the two characters fighting to keep the general populace safe from the Kei, but also fighting against time to save Victor. Yet, it’s not enough to tell the audience this is what they’re doing. We have to see it and let it sink in; we need to be shown what’s at stake for the principle characters, and why they do what they do. That’s why the description for the series is weak because it has to explain concepts we need to see. But, when we’re shown them for the first time everything begins to click and makes us want to see if Victor and Kiri can beat the odds against them.

Important details and facts can get lost in the description of an anime series. Some of that is on purpose to get the viewing audience interested in the series. Sometimes it’s because certain concepts are hard to define. Chronos Ruler falls in the later category. Yet, after seeing the first episode it’s understandable why this was done. After all, it’s hard to explain how demons “eat time.”

Chronos Ruler is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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