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Who doesn't love the concept of time travel? Many scientists have been fascinated by the idea, yet there hasn't been any real progress on this field in today's world. Not only is our technology still lacking from accomplishing this feat, but ethical consequences also remind some of us why time travel may not be "ideal". Putting this in perspective, think about what would happen if you were suddenly transferred into a future twenty years from now! You may meet your future child or grandchild and you wouldn't even know it. However, by meeting them in this way, you're also changing history itself, and that could have some serious implications on the present world you live in. Steins;Gate explores the interesting concept of time travel by taking the form of an enjoyable thriller.
Story --- 9/10
Basically, we have a group of college students who have discovered a way to send text messages to the past, and in doing so, they can alter the world. This ties back to what I talked about earlier --- should time travel really be attempted? Well, the group experienced first hand just how incredibly wrong things went after tempering too much with time. For each message they sent back to the past, the world around them has slowly, but surely, changed. All of this eventually led to a secret organization named SERN, catching on to the group's experiments, and brutally murdered one of the members. From there on, the story took a serious turn, shifting genre from a normal Sci-fi/Slice of Life to a Thriller. The protagonist of the story is ultimately caught in a dilemma, between saving the life of his childhood friend (who was killed by an agent of SERN) and saving his new love interest from dying. For the majority of the second half, the protagonist travels back in time repeatedly in attempt to save his friend from dying. It is also in this second half that we can clearly feel the protagonist's pain and suffering, since he is the only character who retains any memory after travelling from one world line to the next. The plot has successfully constructed a "believable" thriller without too many inconsistencies, and it is subjectively very entertaining all the way.
Character --- 10/10
In my opinion, almost all characters in Steins;Gate are either well developed or just plainly likeable. In fact, Steins;Gate wouldn't be half the show it is without these characters. The group of college students I was talking about earlier get together in a shop keeper's basement, which sort of serves as their secret lab. Here's a quick run down of the lab members.
Okabe Rintarou- He is the protagonist of the story and the founder of the lab (which really isn't what you would call a lab... but I digress). Love him or hate him, you will definitely remember this guy. He introduces himself as a mad scientist and calls himself Hououin Kyouma (he actually prefers others to address him as Hououin or Kyouma, rather than his real name). From talking to himself on his own cellphone to giving other characters strange nicknames, you will probably think he's an idiot. Personally I think he's part of the reason why this show works well, since the overall tone in Steins;Gate is dark, his character manages to provide enough comic relief to balance the mood. In a nutshell, this man is usually a goofball, and only becomes serious when it counts.
Makise Kurisu- She is the main heroine of the story and the "assistant" to Okabe. She often serves as the voice of reason and logic to Okabe's spontaneous decisions. Her interactions with Okabe are arguably some of the most enjoyable moments in Steins;Gate. On the surface they would constantly bicker, but it's clear from the start they have strong chemistry together. And as one would expect, she becomes the main love interest for Okabe. Thanks to Okabe, she has at least 8 nicknames, the most common one being Christina. She can be best described as calm and intelligent. Also, she's one of the few tsundere characters I actually like.
Shina Mayuri- The other central heroine of the story. In a sense, her role in the story is just as significant as Kurisu's, since the actual thriller part of the story doesn't begin until she has been killed. She is the childhood friend of Okabe, and has an unusually cheerful demeanor; she often refers to Okabe as Okarin, and calls herself Mayushii.
Hashida Itaru- Usually referred to as Daru, he is the super hacker in the group who does most of the technical work (e.g., hacking into SERN's system and learning their secrets). When he's not busy hacking, he is a perverted otaku who likes to make dirty jokes in the presence of girls.
Akiha Rumiho- Normally addressed as Ferris, she works as a maid and has a habit of ending all her sentences with "nyan".
Amane Suzuha- From the beginning we can easily see that she knows a great deal about time travel. It is later confirmed she is John Titor, the enigmatic time traveller who told Okabe to save the world. She feels insecure when around people, probably due to the fact that she lives in a dystopian future governed by SERN.
Kiryuu Moeka- A girl who is pretty much mute, constantly relying on text messages as her primary method of communication. In reality, she works as a spy for SERN.
Urushibara Ruka- An extremely effeminate boy who deeply respects Okabe. He wishes he was born as a girl instead because other guys often made fun of his looks.
In short, all these characters have their own quirks and serve their purpose well in the story. Definitely Steins;Gate's strongest point.
Art --- 9/10
Animated by the relatively new Studio, White Fox (the producer of another great work, Katanagatari), the animation style is pleasing to the eyes for the most part. It isn't comparable to high budget productions of Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works, and Ufotable by any means, but it serves its purpose for a thriller like Steins;Gate. The animation is pretty consistent for characters and backgrounds, with backgrounds being more pronounced. Character designs are sufficient enough for the average viewer to stay interested. Last but not least, I should mention that the visuals in Steins;Gate have somber colours, which work well in reminding the viewer that this is a Mystery/Thriller title with an underlying dark tone.
Sound --- 9/10
The Opening song, along with two other insert songs, are done by Kanako Itou, who in my opinion is a talented artist. The songs are pretty catchy and memorable. The original soundtracks are not especially awesome, but they do contain some great pieces, namely "Gate of Steiner", "Christina", and "Farewell". However, I can say that most of the soundtracks fit the animated scenes well, effectively accentuating the mood of those scenes. Moreover, the voice actors did a great job on voicing their respective characters. Miyano Mamoru, well known for his role as Yagami Raito in Death Note, did another fine job in his role as Okabe; his evil laughs were spot on and effectively captures Okabe's insanity. Hanazawa Kana and Seki Tomokazu voice Mayuri and Daru, respectively; both are experienced VAs who excelled at bringing out the best emotions in their character. I have to say I have never heard of Imai Asami before her role as Kurisu, seeing how she isn't exactly a seasoned voice actress. But after her performance as Kurisu, I really think she ought to have more roles in the future, for she has successfully displayed emotions on a level I think only a veteran could have accomplished. Special mention goes to Tamura Yukari, who did a nice job on Suzuha's part. The voice acting is overall consistent and excellent.
Enjoyment --- 10/10
At this point, you should already know I absolutely enjoyed this show. There aren't many anime out there that have impressed me as much as Steins;Gate did. The first half of the series did well to introduce the characters through witty conversations and dialogues; it's light hearted and comedic at the beginning, then it gradually gets darker as the story approaches its climax. The transition from the light hearted, comedic first half to the more serious, dramatic second half feels smooth and natural. That isn't to say this show has no flaws, because every anime has a flaw in it somewhere. In the case of Steins;Gate, it left a few questions unanswered, along with some minor plot-holes. But that doesn't make it any less enjoyable for me.
Objective Score --- 9/10
Looking at it from an entirely objective standpoint, the story is imperfect and prevents the series from being a total masterpiece. However, the strong characterization more than compensates for the few flaws it possesses.
Subjective Score --- 10/10
If you only look at the overall enjoyability and overlook the minor issues, then it's a freaking perfect anime. If you're a fanboy, then this will probably be a 11/10 for you.
Final verdict? Steins;Gate is a gem among anime. A must-see for any anime fan, especially for those interested in time travel. It is a title to be remembered for many years to come.
El Psy Congroo read more