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24 of 24 episodes seen
Initiating Operation Ragnarok - putting Stein's Gate into perspective.
2011 AD: Stein's Gate (SG) had a huge fan base
2012 AD: The popularity of SG has not faded. We see the epilogue (that in itself does not contain much substance receiving extraordinary scores) getting very much undue popularity.
2014 AD: The hype dies down. The fanboys (and girls) from the FateZero campaign take over. Some die hard SG fans convert. SG is no longer #3 on MAL.
I had BIG expectations prior to viewing Stein's Gate. This was especially since it was able to top other strong contenders in 2011 such as Puella Magi and AnoHana. I was told that it was "well executed with a touching and deep plot that tackled upon darker themes". However, after completing the SG I couldn't help feeling disappointed.
Stein's Gate works with concepts of time travel and uses it as a foundation for its narrative. It's refreshing that they're including real life references such as the LHC and other theories to back themselves up but ultimately the explanations and techno jargon used to verify the plausibility of time travel did not prove convincing.
SG’s synopsis about a group of friends avoiding SERN is misleading. While this does occur, it is not the focus of the series. In fact, SERN remains a mysterious organization after SG concludes. Stein’s Gate is more about attempting to return to one’s initial world line. The series has a slow start but does pick up its pace later on. By slow start, I mean the first 10 episodes were mundane with a few comedic moments that were not that funny. The plot thickens at the end of episode 11. At this point I thought to myself “okay now it gets serious, way to pick up the pace”. It was entertaining for a while… but then came episode 14, and my expectations of SG were shattered. In general, the arcs following this subscribe to a similar format: The problem, problem solving and finally resolution and reflection. It doesn’t seem as if SG is ready to challenge itself and present its rather well thought out story in a different manners. While some argue that the use of arcs was ingenious, I think otherwise. Despite the direct relationship between individual arcs and story events, these arcs feel disjointed from one another and the series did not flow as well as it could have. Another problem was that each arc did not receive sufficient screen time. Often, the resolution/reflection part of things seemed rushed. In all honesty, these parts should have been given extra care especially when they dealt with the more delicate themes.
Throughout SG, there were also ‘unnecessary’ inserts. Special mention goes to the intro scene in episode 12. This serene scene is sometime referred to again in the show. But what does it mean? What is its significance? Is it a figment of Okabe’s imagination or an actual event that he remembers subconsciously like how other lab members recall events of different world lines? These questions like many others in the series remain very unexplained. The dialogue makes no sense in this scene. Original Okarin? Original Mayuri? If time could be traversed in both directions, the past, present and future should be undefined. As a result, how can one say that one, from a certain time period (presumably from the “original” time period which should not exist), is more authentic than any of the others? Moving on, what was the point of showing Okabe’s ‘timeshift-like fever’ when he was young? It didn’t tie any loose ends. It contributed to the poor time management of the series. But hey, it was nice to know anyways!
The twists in SG were not as great as people made them out to be. Admittedly, some twists were unexpected like the one involving Suzu and Daru or Moeka and FB, but like much of the show they were not given much significance. You shouldn’t give 5 minutes to explain the aftermath of a twist. It undermines any cleverness behind the twist. As a result, they seemed like afterthoughts. Other twists regarding the cause of Kurisu’s death were obvious a long time before the second last episode. This brings us to that fated scene that filled me with many questions; how does failing to rescue Kurisu allow Okabe to see the video from his future self? This is especially since he did not cause any changes to that past, how could the present have changed? Also why doesn’t Suzu help him at all? Why does Kurisu’s Dad flee from a half dead person pointing a knife at him? How does Okabe with 170+ IQ make such a mistake that forces him to improvise at the heat of the moment when he had all the time to prepare? How does Okabe, with that amount of blood loss, stay conscious? And finally, why does reaching Stein’s Gate cause everything to conveniently fall in place? That, my friend, is bullshit. If someone can fill me in as to why the SG’s story deserves anything more than a 7/10, I would appreciate it.
There are other issues with the story, but for length’s sake I will stop here.
The art in SG is clean and the animation fluid. Upon first glance, character art seems a bit awkward to look at. But after a while it does grow on you. Character designs were okay. The wardrobe was fine but the faces of some female characters were close to identical. If you swapped the hairstyle and hair colour between Ruka and Feyris, or between Mayuri and Kuruse they could pass off as one another. On the other hand, the backgrounds were very very very well drawn.
Despite the OP and ED songs not being catchy by themselves, they do fit the show very well. Voice actor/actresses also did a fine job in giving life to the characters. Track insert choices and sequencing throughout the show did not overpower or undermine key scenes; instead they improved the atmosphere. In terms of sound, SG excels.
As for the characters (note I didn’t include some supporting characters because their role in the show was minimal):
• Okabe: Great lead. Definitely fascinating and different from many others who fall into specific stereotypes. He undergoes good character development, which was one of the things that kept me from dropping the series altogether.
• Mayuri: Tuturu? She’s a burden. It’s not her fault. She seems to be an ‘airhead’ but she isn’t really… just a boring girl.
• Kurisu: Tsundere for the sake of being tsundere
• Daru: Perverted and otaku-like dude. He’s a decent guy when he’s serious but that doesn’t occur very much.
• Feyris: The try to be cute character nyan.
• Suzu: The active character who was unlike some others quite real in her reactions.
• Moeka: The quiet character. Everyone should hate her. Everyone will hate her.
• Ruka: lolwut? No comment here.
• Mr Brown: Caring father and the landlord for the lab. He has a nice backstory. Wish they elaborated. Might have made him a better character.
I think what we see here is a recipe for a harem. At times, the show does feel like a harem, especially since many characters seem to be attracted to Okabe for one reason or the other. Owing to the little bit of harem in it, the drama in character arcs felt wrong.
One of the biggest issues I had with the characters was their selflessness. It’s quite hard to believe that a normal person would surrender their dreams so readily (in a matter of days) to a claim that cannot be factually verified (Mayuri’s death). Is their trust in Okabe, who calls himself a mad scientist and is known for making up stuff, so strong? Any sane person would do away with such claims. But hang on, these parts show “true” friendship someone says, and man tears need be shed. No correction, if anything this illustrates that these characters are naïve selfless freaks. Another issue I had was how the characters strangely faded away after their respective arcs and seem to have been forgotten when they could be ‘selflessly’ helping.
Overall, SG really wasn’t bad but it most definitely wasn’t great either. “Deceive yourself, deceive the world”. You can make believe that SG is a masterpiece well deserving of a 10/10. With sufficient effort you might even succeeded in making it the rage of 2011. However, understand that even if you found the series magnificent it should be reviewed free from personal bias and according to its actual worth. That is a combination of its literature value, its ability to induce emotions, visuals, sounds etc. Stein’s Gate does decently when you assess it according to the criteria above, but it certainly receives no nobel prizes in any one department. Consequently, the series always felt like it was missing something.
El Psy Congroo.
12 of 12 episodes seen
*Please stop reading here if you have not seen the show and do not like spoilers*
The story is of a young sheltered girl trying to free herself from the clutches of her very strange family - namely an abnormally obsessed father and an indifferent mother. The main story itself was quite interesting but that is where the positive ends. In trying to establish a deeper story, Sankarea poorly spends its time revealing the back-story of some of its characters.
To begin, episode 7 which was dedicated to explain how Wanko developed feelings for the protagonist had issues. It begins by her crying as she runs alone in a cemetery. Viewers are left confused as to the reason she cries. Did she seriously just run into a cemetery to get scared? The point is, for a show that feeds the viewer information and does not employ undertones, this one scene is poorly explained.
Moving on, the show never makes clear if Chihiro's family is aware of Rea's 'zombie' circumstance. For most of the show, his Dad and sister seem confused as to why Rea chooses to only eat those hydrangea leaves, however in episode 9, it seems that Mero is fully aware that Rea is a zombie. On that note, did they seriously place that filler episode 9 in between the "climax" of the show? Talk about terrible sequencing.
The end of the show signaled the possibility of a second season but I cannot stress how poorly done it was. It did not create the cliff-hanger effect intended, instead it just left the audience feeling dumbfounded. Why would the director even end the show there instead of a bit earlier when some resolution was achieved (after Rea's Dad left)?
The scene where Chihiro fends off the dog to save Wanko was pathetic. The dog just stood there and barked without attacking for ages and was scared away by a little kid who looked like he could support the weight of the bat... unreal but effective in winning over Wanko's heart.
Besides that there was episode 10 about Rea's mother. But that will discussed more in the character section.
The art did not break new grounds. The background and scenery was good but the characters sometimes looked strange from angled shots. The use of changing weathers to create an atmosphere was over-used to the point that it didn't create the desired effect when it really mattered (episode 11).
There are also many inconsistencies in artwork that should not have been ignored. For instance, when Rea fell down and got up there were not wound marks left. Also when Chihiro was stabbed, where is the blood when Rea removes the blade from his body? Why is it that he only starts to bleed profusely once he has collapsed and finished his little "talk"? There is no suitable excuse given how much blood was poured earlier in the show when Rea "died".
The voice actors did a decent job. Although it was probably hard for them because the characters were lacking in personality. The ending song was mediocre. While liking some other works by Nano.Ripe, the opening song may have been good, but did not seem to fit the show very well. The music in the show itself was just okay as it did not really enhance the feel of the show in any way.
I don't know if I have ever seen such a pitiful cast before. The characters are about as uninspired as the title of the show. There is zero character development, mainly because every character is one-dimensional. It is almost as if the characters were given one stereotypical role, and that is all they do, quite horribly though. It is difficult to relate or like any character in the show, because they are ultimately just empty shells. They may think or talk about their feelings but this does not give them extra depth. Additionally, these characters talk about responsibility and things they need to do. Yet none of these things seem to be very high in their agenda. Here is an example: How does Chihiro plan to preserve Rea's body? He decides to stop trying to look into books and follows his grandfather's advice to observe. What can possibly achieved from this is only noting down the rate Rea rots away. But I guess his pervy and lazy desires are satisfied in the process and so he sticks with it.
Strangely enough in episode 10, Rea's mother while wallowing in self pity and filled with tears she continues to watch on as her husband takes naked photos of his daughter. The servant who also knows of this does nothing to intervene. It seems that Aria does not feel enough anger nor does she have enough morality to stop the act. Also, the servant who knows of it does nothing as well... very strange that they aren't calling the child abuse hotline or something. Yes, the characters in Sankarea are unbelievable. Another example is when Chihiro gets stabbed, it doesn't seem to matter to all the maids watching. Their loyalty is truly commendable. Also, after getting up why didn't Chihiro just report Danichirou for assault, did he forgive that bastard after seeing how "cute" Rea was in a nurse outfit?
As per normal, the main character in a shounen is always dense but Chihiro was surprisingly sharp in episode 6 when he told Wanko "She's (Rea) not my girlfriend or anything" as a way to thank Wanko for donating some clothes. It's almost as if he knew Wanko's feelings in episode 6 but not in the rest of the show... Interesting.
Sankarea had potential but was poorly executed. It did not satisfy the genres listed. No horror, lack luster comedy, and little romance... If anything, this anime did not even present romance in the roundabout fashion that many shounen do.
The lack of real emotions and unlikable characters really made this show a difficult watch. read more
15 of 15 chapters read
One cannot expect much in terms of story for any horror manga. As such, many questions were unexplained. Despite this, the mysteries created assisted in making Ibitsu true to its genre.
The art style did not fit the manga well for the most part. Characters other than the main villain looked more suitable to feature in a shounen manga.
The main character portrayed realistic emotions and feelings given those circumstances. The villain was about as twisted and evil as they come. Would of helped to have added more supporting characters (not fodder/ already dead characters), but given it was only two volumes this would be a difficult ask.
Ibitsu is a manga that actually does justice to the horror genre. Its mysterious, dark and twisted nature separates it from other manga of the same genre. read more