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燎子とてASTの隊長。魔術師として、それなりに修羅場を潜ってきてはいる

<プリンセス>や<ハーミット>など、何体もの精霊との戦いに、DEM日本支社を舞台とした乱戦、それら全てを、無傷とは言わないまでも生き残ってきた。

けれど、そんな燎子をしても、この光景は異常に過ぎたのである。

いつもの戦闘とは、あまりにも様相が、規模が違い過ぎる。街の上空全域を舞台とした大混戦。

I know the bold は is contrastive は. But I’m not sure how to understand the bold てきている.

  1. Is it a combination of てきた (something was continuing from a past time) and ている (stands for a remaining result)?
  2. If so, how is it different from 潜ってきた? My thinking is 潜ってきた indicates that 燎子 has gone through that until now, but doesn’t say anything from now on. While 潜ってきている indicates 燎子 has gone through that until now and will be going through that in the future. Does it make sense?

だが、それらのコンプレックスも、少し前までの七罪と比べれば、随分と改善されてきてはいた。七罪は、あれほど嫌いで仕方なかった自分の本当の姿を、次第に受け入れられるようになってきていたのである。

I have the same question for this quote.

I have read several similar threads on this topic, but they don’t seem to answer my questions fully.

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In a case like this, there is not much difference between 潜って(は)きた and 潜ってきて(は)いる. Both sentence say nothing about the future. But the more important the result of this event in the past is now, the more often the ている form will be chosen. See my previous answer here: Why is a verb in the past (た形) contradicted with ~ていない?

On the other hand, ていた is the "past perfect" conjugation, and it's different from the simple past tense or the present perfect aspect. See: Is 寝る a stative or active verb?

  • 改善されてきていた。
    had improved (over time up until some time point in the past)
    (The improvement had happened in the past and its results was important in the past)
  • 改善されてきた。
    improved / has improved (over time up until now)
    (The improvement was happening until now and its results is important now)
  • 改善されてきている。
    has improved (over time up until now)
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  • Thank you. I see. So how about the third てきていた? Does it also stand for a remaining result (like the first two bold parts)? By the way, I think, since these texts are narrative part in a novel, probably there is not much difference between てきていた and てきている. We know it’s common practice to mix た form and る form at the end of sentences in novel. – chino alpha May 3 at 14:29
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〜てきた and 〜てきている are not much different. They are mostly interchangeable.

However, I detect a slight difference in that the former seems to focus on the changes or experiences the subject (Ryoko in your example) has undergone, while the latter seems to focus on a certain property the subject has taken on through those changes or experiences. Ryoko is a veteran of sorts as a magician now.

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  • Thank you. So you and naruto-san mean the first two bold parts stand for remaining results, rather than progressive actions, right? Then how about the third てきていた? Does it also stand for a remaining result (like the first two bold parts)? Or the third one is more like "has been gradually accepting her true self" (a progressive action) and implies the accepting will continue into the future? – chino alpha May 4 at 9:40
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    @chinoalpha: I would put the second and the third in the same category: a past state resulting from earlier continual changes or continuous change. 改善される and 受け入れられるようになる both describe changes, not actions. The third is like “had gradually become able to accept her true self”. It doesn’t say anything about the future, as naruto says. I would call the first a current state resulting from earlier repeated actions. – aguijonazo May 4 at 10:56
  • Thank you again. I see. So do you have any examples where てきている describes a progressive action rather than a resulting state? – chino alpha May 4 at 11:05
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    @chinoalpha: In general, [V て-form]-くる describes a process of change (if not a sequence of doing something and then coming back). For its 〜ている form to describe a progressive action, I think くる would have to retain its original sense as an action verb (来る). The verb before it describing an action should not be enough. I think this condition is satisfied only when [V て-form]-くる describes a sequence of doing something and then coming back, but I don’t think that’s what you were looking for. I might be missing something here, though. – aguijonazo May 4 at 11:38
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    @chinoalpha: When 〜てきている describes a progressive change, the reader might sense continuity into the future. For example, 改善されてきている in the present tense may describe a progressive change (“has been improving”) and may imply the same trend will continue. But the construction itself, or the 〜ている form in general, says nothing about the future. – aguijonazo May 4 at 13:11

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