Analysis:killer7 as an Alternate Timeline

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When observing killer7 and the rest of the Kill the Past body of work, it becomes clear that killer7 is definitely connected through plot; Elbow and their operative Edo Macalister certainly exist in killer7, while Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes explicitly links the stories together in one of its opening cutscenes. Once these links and others are understood, it's very easy to form theories or ideas on how other, less explicit points might relate.

However, any attempt to understand killer7 and other Kill the Past works as taking place on a linear timeline quickly fails. The world of killer7 goes through major changes to the status quo in the backstory, events of the game itself, and the world's future; changes which are not reflected in any way in other Kill the Past games. This is because killer7 is an alternate timeline to the rest of Kill the Past. This is stated out-of-universe by Suda himself, but also has ramifications in-universe, as Hand in killer7 suggests that history has been deliberately set off its natural course.

This article is an attempt to go over why we understand killer7 as an alternate timeline, due to the large number of people who still try and fit them together despite it being demonstrably impossible.

Part 0: Suda's official statement

In case there is any doubt on the subject, it's probably necessary to precede the in-depth story talk with what Suda himself had to say on the matter in an interview published in Hand in killer7.

"- Is there a connection between Killer7 and your previous games?"
There are cameo appearances. However, there are copyright issues involved, so I created them so that if you asked me if there were a direct connection between the games, I'd say "no." In my head, I'm creating them in one big world, but the individual settings of the stories are completely different, so it's not like these stories can be told in the same timeline.

While Suda's statements can be inconsistent and are open to their own varied interpretations, this does appear to be an explicit statement that A) in his own head, he wrote killer7 with connections to the other works in mind, and B) the setting and timeline of killer7 are knowingly incompatible with said other works.

Part I: Why killer7 is incompatible with other works

Planes and the internet

In the beginning of killer7, the player is thrown into the deep end with Target00: Angel, which gives you very little context for the events of the game. Following this introductory scenario, however, Target01: Sunset begins with a lengthy animated cutscene which recaps the history of the game's world. The text of this cutscene is also paraphrased at the beginning of the game's manual, allowing the player to access it earlier. Either way, this exposition scene is prominently frontended in the player's experience of killer7, and at the very beginning of the scene is the information that air transportation and the internet were banned, with the process beginning in 1998.

The international society, under the motto of protecting the world from international terrorism ... stopped all air transportation and closed every network station in a short span of two years to reduce the likelihood of terrorism.
—Narrator, Target01: Sunset

Of course, it's worth pointing out that the information in this cutscene is not necessarily reliable; Hand in killer7 says that the statement of global peace was a superficial declaration, and in the game itself we see the bans contradicted: the US military still has access to helicopters as seen in Target02: Cloudman, and network communications are still carried out by underground groups as seen in Target05: Alter Ego. However, these appear to be special cases used by the people in power and by criminals respectively. Hand in killer7 further clarifies that only the private use of the internet was banned, with the internet still being used in a heavily regulated state. In any case, it does seem that air travel and the internet as we know them are still not available to regular citizens.

Situated right here at the beginning of killer7 is the initial tip-off as to its timeline being incompatible with previous works, as The Silver Case and Flower, Sun, and Rain involve the internet and airplanes, respectively, as very large key aspects of their stories. Those games just so happen to take place in 1999 and 2001, also respectively; in other words, right after the bans were first put in place. Thus, if you have played Suda's previous games and are going into this game with them in mind, you are told very early on that those works cannot possibly have taken place here.

This is also the case for the No More Heroes series, particularly Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, which has the biggest to killer7. Protagonist Travis Touchdown won his beam katana through an online auction and does other internet activities; Travis Strikes Again even takes us through the process of Travis getting his passport renewed and going on a perfectly normal flight to Japan.

The destruction of Japan, and further changes

The events of killer7, which happen primarily in 2010 and 2011, further preclude the possibility of works that take place afterwards, such as one chapter of The 25th Ward: The Silver Case or Travis Strikes Again from taking place in the same timeline as killer7.

The most major of this is the conclusion of Sunset, which takes place in 2010, in which Japan is struck by missiles, presumably causing enormous amounts of destruction. While Japan as a faction is still a player later in the game, this is due to Japanese agents and their leader, Kenjiro Matsuoka, who were stationed in America at the time of the bombing. We are not shown the exact level of destruction that Japan underwent, so whether society could continue on and if so to what extent is not clear, but there are no signs of any past destruction like this shown in the aforementioned works.

There has been some confusion as to whether the missiles actually hit Japan or not, due to the conclusion of Sunset not being wholly explicit (it has sometimes been interpreted that the missiles watched by Garcian Smith and Christopher Mills are actually sent by the US to intercept the ones headed for Japan). Hand in killer7 elucidates this, and is supported by the dialogue in said scene (in which Garcian speaks about the US destroying nations, etc.).

The missiles hit Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo: the four major cities in Japan. Japan was obliterated.

Further developments in the timeline of killer7 also preclude works past certain dates, due to the world going through large changes similar to those that occurred before killer7.

[ 2017 ]

The United Nations dissolved for the sake of global reform.

The world entered an age of total globalization. National barriers ceased to exist.

Travis Strikes Again's opening

The second opening cutscene in Travis Strikes Again is the biggest connection between killer7 and a work that takes place in the timeline of the other works (Travis Strikes Again is heavily linked to The 25th Ward). In this scene, Dan Smith is targeting Shigeki Bikin, aka Badman, and talks on the phone to Mills. The entire scene is done up in the style of killer7; indeed, Shigeki Birkin originates from killer is dead, a spin-off story of killer7.

Although this scene heavily involves killer7 content, and would seem to be a continuation of Birkin's story, it too is not fully compatible with killer7's timeline. As Travis Strikes Again appears to take place in 2018 (precise date unknown), Dan and Mills should be long dead by now if the events of killer7 had happened. While it is not impossible that Dan could somehow be revived and that the Mills he talks to is a Remnant Psyche, with all of the other evidence regarding the timelines being incompatible, another explanation is that the Dan and Mills shown in this scene (as well as Birkin) are, in actuality, the versions of themselves from the "main" timeline and not killer7's. If the world-changing events of killer7 did not happen, Dan and Mills would perhaps not have been killed (at least not for the final time in the case of Dan). There is still plenty we do not know about Dan in this scene, however.

Part II: Maligned history

Jaco's Report

So killer7 must be an alternate timeline. But what is the point of this? Is it just to keep the events of killer7 separate to preserve it as standalone in spite of Suda's habit of self-reference? Well, if we turn to the Jaco's Report section of Hand in killer7, we will find a plot point that sounds awfully like an admission of the "alternate timeline" concept in-universe.

Jaco's Report centers around an FBI agent known as Jaco Checkbox who uses a machine named Miss Jacob that is supposed to be able to predict the future. Eventually, though, it is revealed that Miss Jacob is actually just relaying a pre-written scenario for the entire world that was planned out years ago. And thus Jaco discovers that from a certain point, the history of the world was planned out in advance.

At any rate... back then is when everything was decided. The history of the world became maligned.
—Jaco Checkbox, Hand in killer7

In 1975, at the Asian Security Protocol Meeting, a plan was drawn up for the future and "history became maligned". In other words, history was set off its natural course and put on a manufactured one. Could this be referring to how killer7 began to divert from the timeline seen in the other games?

Time travel

It's worth bringing up here that killer7 was originally planned to prominently feature time travel in its plot and gameplay by way of Sundance Shot, another character who would be shared with the other games. He appeared in early trailers for the game, but is nowhere to be found in the final product. Suda explains his role in the Hand in killer7 interview:

The intention was for Sundance to be appearing continuously throughout the game. Harman would repeatedly go back to the past, and the trigger for that would be Sundance. He would show up here and there throughout the stages, and he would guide Harman to the past.
—Goichi Suda, Hand in killer7

It seems that originally the structure for killer7 stages would involve switching between the present and the past, with Harman Smith traveling back in time via Sundance. Remnants of this idea remain within the game, such as the Time Ring (known as the Past Ring in the Japanese version) which rewinds time on individual objects, or the Soul Shells that suggest past hits undertaken by the Smiths in the stage's location (this is supported by backstory that consistently confirms that the Smiths had previously been to any stage that contains Soul Shells). The two visits to the Union Hotel, the second one being filled with revelatory flashbacks, also suggests this mechanic.

It is also known, from Suda asserting this in various sources, that the story of killer7 is only one-third of the original plan, and various cutscenes and chapters were cut from the final game. If the time travel angle had remained a prominent part of the finished game, could the idea of killer7 as a manufactured timeline have been a plot point as well?

(Bonus trivia: In Flower, Sun, and Rain, there is also a scene that can be interpreted as Sundance Shot sending Sumio Mondo back in time, meaning that despite not being a part of killer7, the linking of Sundance to time travel may still exist in canon.)

Time cops

Of course, these scattered references to time travel are not alone enough to confirm that killer7 was created through time travel or anything; and indeed, we cannot confirm any speculation as to how such a timeline may have come about. But in the remake of The 25th Ward, specifically the chapter #07 black out, time travel is firmly established as an important component of the story.

In this chapter, Akama and Aoyama, previously only minor characters, reveal they are actually "time cops" with mysterious motives. (Although this is presented somewhat jokingly, the supplementary material Red, Blue, and Green presents their affiliations more seriously, and they have a direct influence on the plot of Travis Strikes Again.) In one of the chapter's many endings, they go back in time to investigate the murder of killer7 character Susie Sumner. The year they travel to in order to do this in 1975 - the same year that "history became maligned". (Red, Blue, and Green apparently identifies their organization as the "Union", and links it to the Union Hotel, which was a major plot point in killer7.)

While we still don't know the full story of how killer7's world came to be, it is very clear that time travel is an important concept, and that Suda is definitely not shying away from exploring ''killer7'' content. From this we can speculate further, but hopefully this article serves to explain fairly clearly the idea that ''killer7'' being an alternate timeline is an in-universe distinction. [[Category:Analysis]]