Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate anime cover art featuring the Lab members
Steins;Gate Cover Art

Overview

Steins;Gate is one of the most popular and highly rated anime of all time, almost as much so as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. But what makes it so appealing to the masses? It’s not a fantasy anime like many of those that rise to the top of the most popular list.

Instead, Steins;Gate is simply one of the best sci-fi anime around, a genre which doesn’t seem to get as much love as its fantasy counterpart. Maybe this is because in fantasy, anything goes, and so it’s easier to write a good story, while in sci-fi, things should still be grounded in reality to an extent.

Steins;Gate takes the common, futuristic idea of time travel, and makes it more attainable with our current technology. Sure, the science behind the various forms of time travel in the series is still made up, but we’re not getting a protagonist who easily invents the perfect time machine with our current technology.

Instead, the first time machine is created by accident and can only send short text messages to the past because there’s a limit to how much data can be sent back in time (using the current technology). By putting this limit on the concept of time travel, the series is both more grounded in reality, and has room to grow.

Now, you may think that time travel in any capacity (and there’s definitely true time travel in this series) is completely absurd and in no way grounded in reality, but take a look at other sci-fi anime, such as those in the mecha genre, in comparison.

When you think about giant humanoid mechas weighing thousands of tons running around fighting aliens, sending a small amount of data to the past doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. This is what appealed to me the most about the series.

Further, Steins;Gate works with the theory of multiverses, meaning that there are an infinite number of universes, each branching off from each other when a decision is made. This means that when the past is changed, it isn’t really changed, you’ve just now moved to a different branch of the multiverse in which things happened differently in the past.


Characters

Okabe Rintarou, also known as Hououin Kyouma, is the protagonist of the series and self-proclaimed mad scientist. Despite being a college student (who doesn’t appear to actually go to college) he shows signs of an extreme case of chunibyou.

The next member of Okabe’s group, the Future Gadget Lab, is Mayuri Shiina. Mayuri seems to be Okabe’s best friend, but it’s unclear for exactly how long the two of them have known each other.

While Mayuri doesn’t have any technical skills to contribute to the group, she serves as the glue that holds the rest of the members together, although they don’t know it. Her happy personality gives the lab a warm, welcoming feeling.

Itaru Hashida, or Daru, is the third original member of the Future Gadget Lab. He actually has technical skills which contribute to the lab and serves as the primary programmer and builder of the gadgets. Daru is into otaku culture pretty deep and frequents a maid cafe in town.

Makise Kurisu, or Christina as Okabe refers to her, is Okabe’s “assistant” at the lab. She’s a prodigy who wrote a paper on the science behind time travel, but is also against the concept at the same time. As the tsundere of the series, she appears to be everyone’s favorite character, but I still think I like Mayuri more.

Suzuha Amane is a time traveler from the year 2036 and part of a resistance which is fighting to protect the future from becoming a dystopia. It’s clear from the start that she knows more than she lets on, but over the course of the series we learn more about exactly who she is and her relation to the lab members.

The next three characters are still lab members, but less important ones. Ruka is a male shrine maiden who has a feminine appearance, Moeka is a quite woman who blindly follows the orders of someone known simply as FB, and Feyris runs the maid cafe at which Mayuri works and Daru frequents.

Mayuri Shiina holding a knife from the anime Steins;Gate
Mayuri Shiina

Conclusion

While I enjoyed Steins;Gate, I didn’t find the series to be as good as most people seem to believe it is. It’s a solid 8/10, but I wouldn’t rate it any higher than that. In fact, I don’t think I have a single sci-fi anime above an 8, but there are a few others at that rating such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, and Parasyte.

The first half of the anime was pretty slow. I understand that it was setting up the events that come in the latter half, but it was still slow even with that in mind. Then, although I enjoyed it immensely, I found the second half to be somewhat predictable such as how Kurisu died (spoilers).

Finally, at the end of the series I was left with a number of questions, but I’ll end by asking just the one that’s bothering me the most. Did Okabe ever give that Metal Upa to Mayuri? Maybe we’ll find out in Steins;Gate 0, so stay tuned for a review of that some time in the future of this world line.

The OP for Steins;Gate is available here.

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