** This review is spoiler free for Steins;Gate 0, but there are spoilers for the original Steins;Gate**
Steins;Gate was the first anime show I watched to completion, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Apologies for anyone who liked this show; I'm going to be brutal.
The problem with Steins;Gate 0 is that it doesn't know what it wants to be. It tries to juggle multiple plot lines but ends up dropping the ball on every single one. Things show up not when it would make sense, but when it's convinient for the plot. The writing for this show in general is apalling. Deus ex machinas pop out left and right, subplots just disappear and never come back again, and the plot holes are so big you could drive a truck through them.
Why is this classified as a thriller? There is nothing 'thrilling' about watching the lab members host another useless party and do things completely irrelevant to the driving conflict. And since we already know how this conflict ends, any attempt to build "suspense" falls flat on it's face.
If this wasn't an adaption, this easily could have been trimmed down to a feature length film. Heck, I might have even liked it if they condensed things, cut out the useless subplots and useless characters, rewrote the entire thing... oh wait.
Did you like the characters in Steins;Gate? Well too bad; they don't make an appearance in this show. Instead, we get stuck with one-note, bland, uninteresting replacements that happen to look just like the characters from Steins;Gate.
The character writing here is like a bad fanfiction. Let's break it down.
Okabe has gone from a complex, multifacted character to a depressed person constantly dressed like he's attending a funeral, with zero complexity or nuance. His actions in the story are just one note of him sobbing that he can't do <insert thing> because emotional trauma and then wallowing in despair for five minutes. This becomes repetitive very fast, which makes it all the worst that he is the focal point of the story and the main character. Rule #1 of story writing is that the protagonist has to be making decisions and doing things. That's how a story is *interesting*.
Think, for a second, how this could have been written better. Okabe could have actively distanced himself from the group and gone into isolation. That would have made a lot more sense. Maybe there could have been genuine conversations about depression, the trauma of time travel, and Okabe could have expanded his relationships with the other characters of the story in a significant way.
Nope! Too complicated for the writers! Instead, the first 2/3rds of the story is Okabe wallowing in sorrow and getting nowhere, padded out with filler, fanservice, and horribly-written conversations that don't develop the characters in the slightest. There's a 'mystery' element here that is so backwards and retarded I can't believe what I was watching.
The rest of the original cast gets very little development. Daru gets a suprising amount of screentime; unfortunately he is probably the least interesting main character from the original show, and they don't make him any more interesting in this.
They added some new characters. None of them are good. Some are so actively annoying I had to fast-forward the episode when they appeared.
To go back to what I was saying: one of the worst possible mistakes you can make when writing a fanfiction is to change the characters and their personalities. Mayuri in particular, acts way different in this story, for no apparent reason. Someone could make the excuse that 'well Okabe is depressed, so that affects the other characters'. To that, I say: no, it doesn't, simply because they didn't act like this at all back when he WAS depressed in the original show. They're different mainly for plot reasons, and to create more useless drama. Once again, this whole show plays out as a bad fanfiction.
Digibro does a great breakdown of why the characters suck, so watch that if you want an even more complete analysis.
Coming a full 7 years after the original show, Steins;Gate 0 is a downgrade in the animation department on every single level.
Let's start with the direction. It's bad. Really bad. The coloring is bland and completely dissonant from the look of the original, which had a unique and defining aesthetic. Camerawork consists of still shots, panning shots, and... that's about it.
Animation in general is slightly worse than the original, but there are some points where the original looks way better.
And then there's the fighting sequences. Not to spoil anything, but episode 18 has some of the worst fighting sequences I've ever seen.
If you were a fan of the art direction in Steins;Gate, well it just ain't here.
The voice actors are great as usual, but since the story never does anything that would require exceptional voice acting, there isn't much to be said.
The music is completely unforgettable. The OP is *fine*, but the ED is just plain bad. The background music is forgettable and often put in the wrong places.
There is nothing positive I can say about the sound design really, so this gets a solid 4.
I dropped this TWICE before I finally finished it. I wish I hadn't. The 'best' episodes of this show are probably about on par with the worst episodes of the original show. The fact that episode 21 has a *9.7* on IMDB is cringeworthy.
Steins;Gate 0 is a failure on every single front. I cannot recommend this to anyone. Steins;Gate 0 may have even hurt my impression of the original series. From my perspective, it's a blatant cash-grab that doesn't need to exist. Go rewatch the original series and realize how poorly this holds up in comparison. Have a good day.