People are calling Stein;Gate one of the better mystery animes in recent memory. And for good reason. Steins;Gate has been gradually building a captivating mystery along with a healthy dose of science fiction and, of course, time-travel. But for me, I see Steins;Gate as something even more. Right now, it is the greatest comedy of the season and it isn’t even close.
In a season with plenty of potentially strong comedies, I am surprised at how much I am enjoying the bizarre and unpredictable nature of the cast of Steins;Gate. Leading the characters is our beloved and slightly deranged protagonist, Rintarou Okabe. His mannerisms and personality allow for a level of comedy that would rival those found in any number of gag anime. Okarin’s constant level of energy helps drive what would be otherwise peaceful scenes into ones that leave us thoroughly amused. For example, in the third episode, when Kurisu visits Kyouma (I still can’t decide on a single name for him) and Itaru at the Future Gadget Lab, Kyouma steals the show with his astounding vocal talents, turning simplistic words like “bitch” and “Christina” into memorable sound clips. Even if every sentence is not aimed at humor, his voice certainly makes things more interesting.
Another strong comedic feature of Steins;Gate is found in the versatility of the cast to provide comedy. Itaru comes to mind here, being able to play the straight-man in a joke or provide the material himself, although usually limited to otaku humor or trying to distance himself from the absurdity of Okarin’s words or actions. Mayuri does this well, too, and I’m sure the rest of the cast are able to do either role when the time comes. Okarin does this as well, although it is preferred if he’s the joker all the time. However, as the series progresses and begins to fade into a more serious story, I’m sure we’ll be seeing less comedy from the secondary characters but it is nice to know they can provide humor when it is needed.
Regarding the mystery aspect of the anime, Steins;Gate has done a fine job hooking its audience by continuingly adding answers to questions raised in previous episodes while adding something more. In this episode, we received information on what happened regarding Okarin’s broken text message in the first episode with an analysis of the phone-microwave device. It was further confirmed when they replicated the experiment and achieved similar results. But what’s unknown is what happened physically to Kyouma. And now there has been a turn of attention toward SERN, the organization supposedly ruling the world in a dystopian 2036 through the monopolistic use of time-machines. What Steins;Gate does the best, however, is end its episodes on a cliffhanger, each time at a pivotal point in the story where any number of possibilities can happen. Certainly makes you feel motivated to jump right into the next episode to get those uncertainties answered, doesn’t it?
One thing I do have concern over is how Steins;Gate will explain time-travel. The path I hoped the series would follow would be something along the lines of the cast not fully understanding how it works but knowing how to use it. These theories using advanced particle physics and explanations using multiple time-line theories are okay but only to a certain point. If they come out and explain that time-travel works like ‘whatever’ then I can’t help but feel cheated scientifically. The same thing happens when you see someone explaining some scientific topic and there are a bunch of random equations and graphs in the background that absolutely have no tangible meaning. That’s not how science works. But then again, this isn’t real-life science or something educational. I realize the use of a blackboard overflowing with the Greek alphabet and assorted lines shows that the person is intelligent. It’s just a representation and nothing real. I just hope that I can recognize that, too, should Steins;Gate choose to explain time-travel through pseudo-physics or some other avenue of scientific explanation.