Before I start, like all reviews on Anivision this is a spoiler free review. If you are interested in a spoiler based review I recommend you check out the MetaCast Review of Steins;Gate. Jrow joins with Hato and Overcooled to talk about the series and give an in depth review of the anime. It is a great listen and I recommend it to all who have finished the anime already.
When Steins;Gate started airing back in the Spring of this year I avoided it because I heard it had a connection to Chaos;Head. I watched a few episodes of Chaos;Head a while ago and it was such a garbage anime that I stopped watching it. After I learned that it really has no real connection to Chaos;Head and after Jrow’s constant badgering of how great this series was I decided to watch it. The series had just ended so I thought it would be good to watch it over the process of a week. This is where I am at now, finished with the anime stuck here writing a review and I can honestly say.. I really don’t know where to start.
Steins;Gate takes on the monumental task of being a time traveling anime. To me, time travel is one of the hardest devices to pull off successfully. Typically things with time travel in it tends to lose focus, while both the story and plot fall apart. What I find is that the story tends to have less of a serious tone to it because they can always go back and fix things. The plot gets wrapped up in all the rules of time travel and it gets bogged down by what you can do and what you can’t do. Unfortunately, Steins;Gate is no exception either.
Time travel might only be a device used to accelerate the plot of Steins;Gate, but it is the key component to the series. The use of time travel starts off brilliantly. The premise that one text message sent into the past with a limited amount of characters can dramatically effect the world we live in. That was pretty much the first half of the anime. Seeing these various text messages changing the world and causing a lot of conflict for the main character because of the morality of it all. However, the second half takes that entire premise and throws it out the window. The second half of the series deals with destiny that can not be changed even if an entire person goes back into time and changes the direct outcome of the event. If a single text could bring someone back to life and change the world, then why can’t a person going back in time changing the entire event not effect the outcome? That is a complete turn around of what has been happening, which is kind of ridiculous in my opinion. I am being as vague as possible to not spoil it for anyone, but if it were a spoiler review, then I could rip the plot apart.
If there was one saving grace about Steins;Gate, it would be the amazing cast of characters. Mainly Okabe Rintaro aka Hounin Kyouma the Mad Scientist, you son-of-a-bitch! As a title character Okabe, or Okarin to some, was a pretty amazing character. Okarin has the unique ability to cross world lines. That means when time is changed he still retains his memories of what happened in the previous world line. That is what fuels the story. He is the only one capable of knowing what changed and how to change it back. His crazy mad scientist side is a blast to watch because he is just so off the wall crazy. As the series progressed Okarin started to deal with the moral and emotional consequences of dealing with time travel and dealing with the dangers that come with it. The tired expressions and emotional trauma of having to fight the world by himself was handled beautifully. Makise Kirusu aka Christina was the other important character in the series. A tsundere character at heart she was the catalyst that triggered everything in Steins;Gate. Her relationship with Okarin was fantastic and watching them grow closer was almost heartbreaking at times. The other characters also do a good job of keeping the story interesting. Having less of a roll to play, but the characters played off of Okarin well and were integral in keeping the anime good.
Story wise Steins;Gate is actually pretty good. However, with all the plot twists I never was really surprised that much. For a series with mystery elements that was disappointing, but even as predictable as it was watching the characters, or really just Okarin, having to deal with everything and trying to fix it was one of the best parts about Steins;Gate. I was frustrated at times because of how predictable things were. It made me want to shout at the TV because he wasn’t doing what obviously needed to be done. Steins;Gate at its heart is a romance. Based off of a visual novel, the point of the game is to find an ending with the girl of your choice. All of the female characters seemed to fall in love with Okarin at some point or another, but the key relationship was between Okarin and Kirusu. I loved it when he shouted out “Christina!” It was done in bad Engrish and always made me laugh, but the love story behind it all really was fantastic. The ending of Steins;Gate was much like the anime, it didn’t stand out, but was satisfying. They handled it in a way that most will leave Steins;Gate with an accomplished feeling.
If I were to sum of Steins;Gate it would be that it is a great series that fails to do anything above average. Its accomplishments even out with its failings and it comes out to about an average series. Okarin really is a great character, but if the story was less predictable and the time travel worked out better, then I could stand behind it as a great anime, but that isn’t the case. I will say that I agree with Jrow and that this is one of Mamaru Miyano’s finest performances to date. A lot of the reason I like Okarin is because of how he voiced him. However, no matter what I still can’t forgive the series for the time travel problems. The idea of a sending a text message back in time by using a phone microwave sounds pretty dumb, but it actually is great when you see it. Once they gain the ability to send memories back in time that is when it lost me. I won’t even get into the fact that they had to compress the memories to send them, but they didn’t uncompress them when they arrived. Even still, with all my complaints the anime is worth the time because the ride is fantastic. If you have a list of anime of series you need to watch, don’t forget to add Steins;Gate.