This episode is fantastic. THIS is how I wanted Steins;Gate to end. One of my only complaints with the original series is how they had to have episode 24 and how it felt like they undermined the tragedy in the story to give everyone a happy ending. To me, it was like the creators were afraid of leaving it as a tragedy for fear the fans wouldn't like Kurisu actually dying as if to discard the entire point of the series itself: The choice. Who do you choose to let die? Your childhood friend who has become part of your identity? Or the
only girl you've loved?
I honestly enjoyed the throwback with the art and animation. I appreciate that they didn't update the look and instead it felt like a alternate version rather than an addition. I understand completely that Steins;Gate 0 will look relatively different (it'll be 1080p, have the look of the VN, and will obviously be better funded) and I have no problem with that, but it was really nice that they stuck with what they did in the original series in this one.
I thought that the mini-development Okabe went through in this episode is terrific. Obviously having previous knowledge about his character helped our foundation, but we could see before our eyes him mentally snapping. He just crumbled. With this crumbling, he matured. We could see at the end how Okabe is now a college student, he's accepting adult responsibilities, dressing in a more conventionally appropriate way, and he even remarked that he's socializing. I could be wrong, but the phone call Okabe had sounded like he was either going on a date, or meeting up with some friends to eat or go to a movie. This is something the Okabe of the original series wouldn't have done. His development is masterfully portrayed.
After watching this episode I am even more excited about Steins;Gate 0 than I already was, and that's all a special really is, isn't it? A way of putting out something for people to see and get excited about. This is a wonderful "prequel" episode to the events that are about to unfold and I, personally, can't wait to see what comes next.
Thank you for reading my review, and as always, feel free to leave a reply on my profile if you liked or hated it and need to tell me why. Either is fine, I don't mind.
*This review contains spoilers along with my own opinion bias, read at your own risk, and I really mean it when there's HEAVY SPOILERS for at least the first watcher.*
* Also if you're a first watcher, don't watch the regular episode 23 followed by this alternate episode, watch the series then probably the movie, followed by this.*
Steins;Gate episode 23 β is an episode that was aired on NicoNico when the countdown for newest visual novel from the Steins;Gate series, Steins;Gate 0 ended, which was on December 3rd, logically every S;G fan began to get hyped and anxious about this new episode.
This alternate episode starts off
just like the regular episode 23. (Only about 7 minutes towards the end are different) Oh, you don't remember what was going on in the episode 23? Here's a quick reminder!
Steins;Gate (regular) episode 23 title is "Open the Steins Gate" and it beings with Suzuha explaining that Okabe MUST save Kurisu and avoid World War III, and enter the world line known as Steins;Gate, these two time-travel together to the past, most precisely to the building from episode 1 where everything started, and Okabe hides in the room where Kurisu was stabbed. Kurisu's father, Dr. Nakabachi meets Kurisu in this room and goes berserk on her trying to kill her, Okabe tries to save her... only to kill her herself, oh how cruel is the fate that the mad scientist must go through to save his loved ones. When Okabe returns to the present accompained by Suzuha, he keeps muttering "I killed her..." in a very despair-inducing tone while refusing Suzuha's attempts to return to the past a second time and save Kurisu. While he is on such as traumatic state, Mayushii slaps him and gives him a pep talk insisting that he should never give up, followed by Suzuha telling him that he should have failed saving her... that it would unlock the video message that was unwatchable the day Kurisu died, which contained his future self telling him how to achieve Steins;Gate.
But on the alternate episode... Suzuha tries to slap Okabe so he will try the second attempt, but is stopped by Mayushii, who proceeds to comfort the devastated blood-stained Okabe, hugging him while he cries.
This scene ends and we Okabe lying on the lab couch, with his lab outfit thrown on the ground... in a chill inducing epic post traumatic stress disorder scene hearing some words over and over and over. Shortly after, there's another scene transition where Okabe (damn he looks good in black) meets Mayushii in a park, they walk around for a while while talking, but as we get to know from their conversation, Okabe doesn't go to the lab anymore, meaning he dropped his mad scientist persona.
Okabe then has a monologue "Mayuri is safely here with us. Not this town... Not myself... Nothing at all... has changed." which is followed by the ending music, which completely gave me flashbacks from episode 9 and a complete chill on my spine.
After the ending ends, we see Kurisu... on what appears to be a TV, and Okabe looking at it dumbfounded hearing voices in his head, and accepting the fact that fate is converging yet again.
I personally can't wait for the wild ride that Steins;Gate 0 is gonna be, and this alternate episode is the hype generator for it! The art seems the same as the original S;G which I'm all up for it, since I enjoyed it a lot, the soundtrack is ever-so great along with the voice acting (Mamoru Miyano as Okabe is so freaking good that I can't never have enough), and the plot had a magnificent introduction here. As I finish my review I'll leave these final words.
El. Psy. Congroo.
It's made up of over half of the content for the original episode 23, so adds very little extra content. Certainly don't watch it too soon after having watched all of Steins;gate and the movie as I did. After knowing the events of episode 24 and 25 this alternative episode has very little impact and feels quite empty. Perhaps the best time to watch it would be as part of a re-watch of Steins;gate (which I would heavily recommend at some point anyway) instead of episode 24/25 and just before watching Steins;gate 0 when it comes
out as an anime.
As it stands, I didn't enjoy it at all, but may re-watch it again before the release of Steins;gate 0 to get a better feel for it. I believe that I would find it enjoyable under different circumstances, so haven't rated it too low.
With the advent of Steins;gate 0 I have gone and rewatched this and many of the initial statements in my review still hold true. Most true of all is the final sentence; 23b is beautiful and I couldn't recommend it more, so long as you haven't recently watched the end of the series.
I will not be changing any of my review or my score, however, as I believe it is an important insight.
With this special you are treated to the typical Steins;Gate feel. The story, albeit one episode was fantastic. The Art and Sounds are remarkable yet again. For the Characters, you get the simple step into. Nothing too exceeded, neither sucked to dry. Really nice enjoyment.
To go further with the story, well firstly it's an amazing way to have a little preview for the upcoming Steins;Gate 0. In spite of it being a mostly recycled episode, the subtle additions at the end were fantastic. Giving me more and more hype for Zero. To mention the characters as well, well they are the same. Except a nice
little change for Okabe at the end. Gave him a little more "come to terms with it" look. Until he realized it's not over yet. Really the enjoyment was top notch, even with it being a mostly recycled preview to Zero.
To finish the Art and Sounds. The sounds are a mirror, recycled. But not put dull. But did seem to be a bit sharper, so it seemed more lyrical to the ears. And the art, again recycled but a sharper view. It was more absorbing, you saw and felt it was nice. With the extra scenes the art seems great, advanced but still sticking to the Steins;Gate style we all come to love.