“Hey, what does it mean to change world lines?
Maybe the second you go to the beta world line, you’ll just disappear from this world.
Or maybe you trade places with another Okabe.
…Even if I’m dead in the beta world line, there’s no guarantee that I’m going to die here!
There could be another me, amidst all the other, infinite world lines.
And our minds are connected and comprise “me”.
Don’t you think that’d be wonderful?”
back with a full review for the time-bending series, Steins;Gate. Originally released as a visual novel in October 2009, Steins;Gate was adapted into anime and aired earlier this year from April to September. Steins;Gate follows the story of the mad scientist, Okabe Rintaro (Houin Kyouma, Okarin) as he and his lab members work to save the future from dystopia after developing a Phone-microwave that can send messages to the past. For a full plot synopsis, I outsource (or turn lazy, take your pick) to Wikipedia: (As with any synopsis, spoiler alert, I highly recommend closing this window immediately if you have gotten more than halfway through the 24 episode series, and not returning until you have finished, you won’t regret that decision, trust me, it won’t hurt my feelings if you leave now to finish)
Steins;Gate takes place in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. On July 28, 2010, Rintarō Okabe and his friend Mayuri Shīna head towards the Radio Kaikan building for a conference, where Rintarō finds a girl named Kurisu Makise lying in a pool of blood. As Rintarō sends a text message about the incident to his friend, Itaru “Daru” Hashida, he experiences a strange phenomenon and the people around him disappear, with no-one else noticing anything had changed. After later running into Kurisu, who is strangely alive and well, and discovering the message he had sent to Itaru had arrived a week before he sent it, Rintarō soon deduces that the ‘Phone Microwave’ he and his friends had been developing is, in fact, a time machine capable of sending text messages to the past. He and his friends soon learn that SERN, an organization that has been researching time travel for some time, has actually succeeded in sending humans into the past although they seem to have all resulted in the test subjects’ deaths. Rintarō begins experimenting with “D-Mails” (short forDeLorean mail), which begin to cause major differences in the timeline. Kurisu also manages to create a device to send a person’s memories through the microwave, allowing that person to effectively leap into the past.
However, SERN learn of the time machine and send a group to retrieve it, killing Mayuri in the process. Using Kurisu’s time leap machine, Rintarō travels back in time numerous times to try and save Mayuri, but to no avail. As Rintarō reaches wit’s end, he is approached by Suzuha Amane, a girl from a future ruled by SERN due to their possession of a time machine, who tells him that he needs to return to a Beta worldline in which Mayuri won’t die. By undoing the effects of the D-Mails that caused shifts in the time line, Rintarō regains possession of an IBN 5100 PC that they lost earlier, allowing them to crack into SERN’s systems and delete the evidence of Rintarō’s original D-Mail. However, Rintarō realizes that by doing so, he would have to return to a world line in which Kurisu is dead. After realizing their feelings for each other, Kurisu tells Rintarō to save Mayuri. Reluctantly, Rintarō agrees and deletes the evidence of his D-Mail from SERN’s database, returning him to the Beta world line.
Some time later, Suzuha appears before Rintarō, having arrived in a time machine from the future. She tells Rintarō that the only way to prevent World War III in the future is to prevent Kurisu’s death at the hands of her father, Dr. Nakabachi, who stole her time travel theory to present to SERN. However, this operation ends in a disaster as Rintarō ends up killing Kurisu himself by mistake. After this failure, Rintarō receives a message from his future self, telling him that the way to save Kurisu without altering the events that led to him developing a time machine is to fool his past self into believing Kurisu had been killed. Returning to the past again, Rintarō puts his own life in danger in order to save Kurisu’s life, prevent Nakabachi from successfully escaping with the time travel theory, and fool his past self, setting him on his journey through time. Returning to a world line safe from the threat of SERN, Rintarō and Kurisu manage to reunite by chance in the streets of Akihabara.
As you can tell, the plot is multi-faceted and definitely not the least bit linear. Though it did a great job keeping the details easy enough to understand, implicating twists in a manner that either had obvious cause and effect, or was later explained (by “later”, I do mean within a reasonable timeframe). Though continually plot-driven, the derivations, such as Okarin’s date with Rukako, didn’t distract too much from the main story as to become annoying. Each side story, although integral to the story, really, gave character development, not only to the side characters involved, but also served to help develop Okabe into the man/hero he needed to be to understand the moral implications of what he was about to do when he made time leaps, and also just how much his friends meant to him as well as how he should cherish each and every one of them.
If you’re like me, you’re still hung up on the future events set at the end of the story. I’m fairly certain Daru and Feyris get together to have Suzuha, but I honestly can’t conclude on the fates of Okabe, Kurisu, and Mayuri. I mean, after everything he went through to save her, I’d like to think Okabe and Mayuri become an item, and I’m convinced Mayuri has deep feelings for Okarin that would make her happy to end up with him. But all that happened between Okabe and Kurisu leaves me in doubt, especially as they meet up at the end, maybe it would depend on if Kurisu remembered what happened during those repeating three weeks as to how their relationship turned out.
It kinda makes me want a movie to continue the story and show, for certain, who ends up with who. Though I doubt, after everything that’s been lost and regained only to be lost again, Okabe has absolutely any desire to mess with time travel anymore. There is a film adaptation in the works, but it looks to be like the first Eden of the East movie, just a silver-screen rendition of the television series.
Overall, Steins;Gate was a thrilling series and I’m glad I picked it up. The animation was beyond expectations and the visual effects were stunning. As for the music, let’s just say I’m addicted to “Hacking to the Gate” (the opening theme) and enjoy the rest of the series audio as well. My biggest quip after watching Steins;Gate, and this goes out to any thermodynamic or otherwise metaphysically-oriented engineer, is that now time travel seems more of a bad idea to me, especially when the risk of a dystopian future or WWIII hang in the shadows…
High recommended to anyone who likes a good sci-fi, twisting plot with life and death consequences around every corner. My only regret: I would’ve gotten much more enjoyment if I had the suspense of waiting week-to-week when this was airing…if only I could possibly send some sort of message to myself in the past to watch this series, maybe also including the added benefit of turning bananas to gelatin.
Until next time,