El Psy Congooview

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.


8 thoughts on “El Psy Congooview

  1. Comparing the first half of S;G to Endless Eight? Oh you..

    But seriously, if you had the choice to watch E8 now or S;G’s first half a second time, I’d strongly suggest S;G. You’ll get a lot more out of that (especially while your memory of the second half is fresh) then watching the same mediocre Haruhi episode 7 times.

  2. Great review!

    Now that you mention it, Rintarou was a great male lead for an otaku show with a mostly female cast. I would have liked a little more background about him, but he certainly goes through a wide range of emotions not seen in many other lead characters in this kind of show. He’s definitely up there along with Kyon and Keima in my book 😉

    I agree that the final episode of Steins;Gate wasn’t as epic as episodes 22 and 23. But I couldn’t have thought of a happier ending for the show at that point. Rintarou practically killing himself in order to create all that blood was a bit over the top though. Couldn’t he have quickly bought some red paint, or ketchup, or some other red liquid before time-traveling (and not relying on that weird stick thing he had?) But oh well, guess they wanted to make that scene as dramatic as possible.

    All in all, Steins;Gate surpassed the expectations I had for it prior to episode 12. A great sci-fi anime!

    • The flaw with the idea of red paint or ketchup is that it would not have the right consistency as blood… and as a side effect, it would not fool most people.. Fake blood is also a little harder to make then you might think.

      That being said, it probably was done in the story for dramatic effect, as well as the fact that he was kind of in a hurry and didn’t have time (ironically enough). Plus it would be real blood…

      Doesnt really resolve the issue i guess.

    • It’s funny that you mention Kyon and Keima as they are really the only other two male leads that I think carry their respective shows (even though Koizumi’s my favorite, Kyon does carry Haruhi). I would like background, but that’s what fanbooks/visual novels are for. I imagine it’s out there, but not easily available for English audiences.

      It is a good ending in the sense that it accomplishes what it needs to do. Okabe had to accomplish two things:1 save Kurisu from her father and 2. fake her death with red liquid. In that hectic a situation, he chose what really would be the most realistic option (behind faking the blood with her father’s blood). As Skorp said, blood is a strange liquid that’s hard to fake. Okabe always chose the first option that came to mind and in this case it was to sacrifice his body to save the future.

      Steins;Gate‘s progression in ratings show just how amazing it became. If it was just the second half, I’d likely have graded it in the upper 80s, but the dull first half dragged it down. It’s certainly one that I’m recommending to others.

  3. I need to rewatch episode 24. I was capped, and was streaming it before I went to school. I didn’t finish after streaming for 1 hour and a half and go to 15 minutes or so, just as he had put his hand/fingers into his wound.
    Convinced he was going to die, I ran to school to not be late.

    Then I got home and spent another hour streaming the rest.
    The thing is, I really liked this anime (otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten up so early), and I do admit it was really slow at points. I got E8 jibes from those Mayuri episodes. Especially with the train being white by that boy. Heh. It’s stuff like that.

    That said, episode 13 was awesome (by that, I mean the beginning). I was thrilled when he did the time leap, and with his shouting of Time Leap as well if I recall correctly.
    I even watched 11 episodes a day on school days to catch up to airing at 22.

    Can’t wait for the movie or OVA. Maybe. Though the OVA will probably not be very story driven. Hope the movie isn’t just an adaption though. Maybe another arc.

    Heh. Metaaal upa!

    • 24 was a good episode and a good ending to the series. Like i said, it just suffers from being behind two much better episodes that make it seem worse by comparison.

      I’m surprised i didn’t see a lot more comments about Endless Eight during those loops. It’s still a good episode and the first one where I didn’t fall asleep during it.

      Glad to see you like it. I think both the OVA and movie will be different from what I’ve read rumor-wise.

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