Based off of a visual novel released in 2010 of the same name, the anime adaptation of Steins;Gate proved that a show cannot be judged based on the first part alone. Running for 24 episodes, it was only after episode 12 that the story reached the “visual novel” portion of the actual story. Creating lots of buzz for the second half of the show, it’s been labeled as one of the best shows of the year, and the best by some, in a very difficult year to claim that title. So what did I think about while going into the gate?
I was intrigued by the premise of the show. It seemed to have a “realistic” science fiction aspect as well as a slice-of-life aspect; and so I began watching it. Not really enthused at the main cast, except for Kurisu, I began to get bored. I said that the show needed more “Houuin-san?” from the second episode and that the minor characters were subpar. The pacing of the first half was incredibly slow and literally put me to sleep more times than I want to admit. But then episode 12 came along…
Episode 12 of Steins;Gate is one of the episodes that could make a show. It’s a dramatic turnaround from what the theme had been beforehand, yet not illogical either. It moved the show from a “slice-of-life” to a full “science-fiction” category and revitalized my enthusiasm into the series. Following it were several dramatic episodes where Okabe attemps to save Mayashii and then has to erase the d-mails that were sent, thus getting into the “visual novel” aspect of the series. The shift helped make the show more palatable for me, leading up to…
There are episodes in shows that shine more than others. It’s a fact that there can be one or two episodes that you think of when you think about a show. Episode 22 in Steins:Gate is that episode for this series. Wonderfully directed, animated, and, most impressively, 95% of the episode is voiced by only two characters in a range of emotional states. The performances by Mamoru Miyano and Asami Imai show why they were the perfect seijyu cast for those roles. It is an incredible work of an episode that outshines the finale tremendously. I came very very close to importing the series after that episode.
So the ending comes afterwards when everyone is saved and neither World War III nor SERN taking over the world occurs. Okabe’s actions to save Kurisu are logically, yet somehow unfulfilling in a sense. There is a very dramatic scene with Kurisu’s father, but other than that, it’s relatively simple. It’s almost too contrived, but that’s how the VN ends as well. I think it works well, but seems lacking after episode 22.
Artistically, the show is well animated by White Fox. I like the character designs from the VN more, but the designs for the anime aren’t bad. The CGI is used well and the effects of line-changing are done very well. The “camera angles” are chosen well throughout the series to highlight Okabe’s growing despair and hope. It’s a very good job by White Fox overall. I am going to miss that OP animation though.
I greatly enjoy the OP also for the song itself. Hacking to the Gate is a wonderful introduction into the world and never feels out of place somehow. The ED on the other hand, is not so wonderful. It’s tolerable, but too mellow for the show somehow. The original VN’s Opening in episode 23 and Ending in 24 suited the show a lot more, especially with what happened in episode 23 near the end. I can’t say anything good or bad about the OST.
I have to make a special case for Rintaro Okabe. In a genre where the male lead is typically a weak character so the player can insert themselves into that role, Okabe not only defies that unwritten rule, he shatters it. Whether it’s the introductory “I am mad scientist” or “I’ve seen her die so many times I’ve lost count” hopelessness. Throughout the series you see Okabe go from wanting to time travel to wanting to be normal in a completely realistic manner. He reminds me some of Kyon in that sense. It’s rare to say that a male character carries an otaku show, but damn if Okabe didn’t take Steins:Gate on his shoulders until the fans cried “I’ll get you a Dr. Pepper!” I can’t say that he’s one of my favorite characters, but I will say that he is one of the best written males I’ve seen thus far.
So after giving the show scores of 69 and 67 in my earlier reviews, Steins;Gate gets an overall score of 83. Points are taken off for the slow-paced introductory arc, but the latter half was one of the highlights of my week. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, and so the score suits that. The slow introduction is needed, yet is somewhat boring to go through. I would imagine this is what people felt during Endless Eight. I would recommend this show to any science fiction enthusiast.