Anime review – Steins;Gate
Posted June 17, 2011on:
A little bit of Otaku spoof, some time travel, some mad scientists, maid cafes, and cosplay, Steins;Gate has it all. And then the writers take the expected anime tropes, and bash them to hell. While college student Okarin plays at being a mad scientist being chased by rival organization SERN, his hacker buddy Daru makes sure the rent is paid and cute little Mayushii makes sure the boys remember to eat. Their lab space is a tiny studio apartment above an electronics shop, but really, what else does a mad scientist need besides a computer, a microwave and a few loyal lab assistants?
To be honest, I felt completely lost during the entire first episode. Okarin goes to a university sponsored seminar on time travel, is approached by a beautiful woman only to later find her dead in the building’s basement. A few minutes later, she is alive and well, and as Okarin is returning to his lab he sees a satellite has crashed into a building, and his friend Daru tells him the time travel seminar has been cancelled. Talk about getting thrown into the deep end. But the voice acting was probably the best I’ve ever heard and the animation was top notch, so I decided to keep watching.
It turns out the beautiful redhead at the Seminar is an exchange student named Kurisu. Okarin keeps coming up with silly nicknames for her, all of which she hates. When Kurisu sees Okarin’s lab, she’s impressed with the microwave oven they’ve rigged up as a time machine. Yes, they have a phone microwave time machine (nothing like a hot tub time machine, I swear), and it sends cell phone text messages to the past.
If you could go back in time, what would you change? How many other things would change, just by you being there, just by you saying hello to someone, or holding a door, or buying an ice cream or meeting someone or not meeting someone?
As the secret of the phone microwave grows (Daru tells a girl he has a crush on, Mayushi tells one of her cosplay friends), more and more text messages get sent to the past. Okarin starts getting headaches, and visions, and suddenly his friends can’t remember things that happened 10 minutes ago. Butterfly Effect’s a bitch, isn’t she?
How is it possibly that Okarin remembers a different past than his friends? How much have they changed the past? I need to go back and watch the first two episodes, because I feel like everything would suddenly make sense. The plot is sort of written backwards, almost in a Memento or 12 Monkeys type fashion. You’ve gotta watch more than just the first 20 minutes for anything to make sense, and one it does, you simply have to learn more. After seeing eight episodes, I can say I am happily addicted.
So we’ve got time travel, and a little bit of melodrama, and quite a bit of flirting epic fails between Okarin and Kurisu. And did I mention this show is hilarious? That’s the fun thing about manga and anime, nearly everything is mixed genres, and Steins;Gate is a perfect example of a well balanced show.
Doing some research online, I was surprised to find that Steins;Gate is based on a video game. I’d be interested to know if the anime just follows the game line for line, or if they split off into different storylines.
If you are looking for a new anime to get into, one that is contemporary, funny, suspenseful, and well written, I highly recommend Steins;Gate. Everything about this show is stunning – the scripting, some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard, the graphics, even the music.