Steins;Gate – 8

Despite being my favorite anime right now, there are still some things that irritate me about Steins;Gate. (Note: I still love Okabe and Kurisu, so don’t worry about those two)

For most of the series, I’ve been happy with everything Steins;Gate has done.  The characters have been above expectations, especially with the versatile comedy the cast is capable of.  The use of time-travel has been rousing especially when you see only Okabe retaining his memories when time changes.  The mysteries are one of the more attractive aspects of Steins;Gate, helping keep each episode interesting as they answer a few questions while asking some more.  And the pacing, too, has been pleasing.  But there have been a few developments lately that seem to get on my nerves.

The first is Kurisu’s quick recognition toward D-mail changing timelines.  For one, how is Kurisu so observant toward Okabe’s behavior that she can discretely tell when he’s being make-believe mad scientist and being seriously frightened that everything has changed?  Everyone should just assume it is a part of his act because he’s always been partially absorbed in his fantasy world.  For her to quickly dismiss that notion and go forth with D-mail, something that she’s not fond of in the first place, seems out of place for both her character and the series in general.  But I suppose they need someone to recognize the change in timelines and no one is more intelligent than Kurisu, so I guess she needs to be pinned with this role for storytelling purposes.  Still, I don’t like how they she can guess that when there’s no real proof.

Another thing that bugs me about Steins;Gate is Okabe is able to sustain relationships across time.  When arriving in a different timeline, all the characters seem to have the same relationships with everyone else despite there being some minor differences.  Differences which might have changed any of the relationships around.  Okay, let’s ignore Moeka for a sec since that actually DID happen and some relationships happened to vanish.  But the point here is different.  I’m focusing on the characters Okabe has just recently met, such as Kurisu and Suzuha, and their relationships with everyone else.  It’s almost like whatever changes happened had zero effect on these relationships, that they’re not missing a beat with anything going on.  Perhaps later on there’ll be deeper changes but I would have expected more by now.  Perhaps we could see Kurisu wondering whatever happened to a different nickname that was developed during another timeline or Suzuha learning more or less about Okabe’s time-machine due to other character relationship changes.  I guess I should be thankful that the relationship between Moeka and the rest of the lab was severed when she failed to buy a new phone and I hope to see more of those events in future episodes, where relationships are vastly altered.  Actually, I’m more interested in seeing Okabe repair these relationships and see what happened to the character to change the world so.  These relationships are one of the more interesting aspects of Steins;Gate, especially the ones we do not fully understand yet.

And I may sound vacillating here but I’ll toss Ruka into this category, too, even though I like him (or her?) as a character.  For one, I hated his idea for an experiment to send a D-mail to try to change his sex.  For one thing, all the scientists there should’ve told him eating vegetables during pregnancy won’t change the baby from male to female (that’s not how science works), although it is still an excellent idea to produce a healthy baby.  There are these things called chromosomes which ultimately decide on sexual differentiation, unless of course there are disorders, such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, but even then, the genetics won’t change.  And doing such an experiement with potential to drastically alter all sorts of events, especially after Okabe learned about what happened with Moeka during his last experiment, should have raised some flags that told him this was not a good idea.  So it sounds like I have more of a problem with Okabe here but I’m putting the blame on Ruka here for suggesting this unethical experiment in the first place.  I still like Ruka as a character, regardless of sex, but I am disappointed in his ideas for uses of time-travel.  Hopefully there’s an explanation behind this.

While there are a handful of elements of Steins;Gate that drive me up the wall, the rest is satisfactory, if not enjoyable.  With the use of time-travel beginning to pick up and its effects becoming more visible and understandable, I can’t help but be extremely excited with where the anime is going.  Each episode fuels my love for this anime, especially with its uncapped potential on areas to explore, both for the characters and for the mysteries.  I am elated that the comedic ingredients of this anime have remained unchanged and as funny as ever.  And despite this episode highlighting a few flaws, the show has been steadily improving and this has been one of my favorite episodes of Steins;Gate thus far.  It’s always a wonderful sign of an anime where I can critically whack parts of it while still loving it overall.  But I guess Steins;Gate is just that kind of anime.

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  1. #1 by lesterf1020 on May 27, 2011 - 4:11 PM

    I understand what you are saying but wouldn’t the story cease to exist if the character relationships changed every time there was a time shift? A change in certain relationships would make the story impossible. If Kurisu or Daru were to have a major shift in their relationships the team would evaporate and it would be impossible to continue the plot. If Okabe had to spend the time after each shift relearning the relationships before he even got to what changed where would we be story wise? Okabe’s ability to remember stuff across timelines is indistinguishable from him just making stuff up to everyone else. He has no ability to prove it. So if Kurisu is a little more skeptical then Okabe becomes a mad man that no one can take seriously and then how does the world line shift project continue if you have no way of telling if it worked?

    • #2 by avvesione on May 27, 2011 - 6:24 PM

      I still hold my stance that I’d like to see changes in the characters’ relationships, either slight or drastic during every time shift. I don’t think the story would cease to exist because the two drastic changes we’ve seen (Kurisu’s murder and Moeka’s disconnection from the group) have been major events in the story. I agree with you that the anime would stagnate if Okabe had to repair relationships every time but what if he was sent to a timeline where he and Mayuri were dating or something positive? I don’t think the story would suffer if the relationships were altered between timelines but with the D-mails we’ve seen thus far, it makes sense to see the relationships remain unchanged (like the lottery ticket one).

      As for Kurisu’s knack for realizing time shifts, you’re right that if she doesn’t point these out then Okabe won’t be taken seriously. But does it have to be Kurisu? I guess if I’m saying that Kurisu doing these things irritates me, then I should have a proper backup plan. Maybe I’d prefer Okabe proving a time-shift with their cell phones or something along those lines. I did say that someone has to point these out; otherwise time-travel would be going nowhere (like you said). I guess my main point is that it bothers me that Kurisu is doing it, not that it these events exist in the anime. Hope that made sense.

  2. #3 by tomphile on May 27, 2011 - 7:22 PM

    In response to the whole character relationship thing: altering all the character relationships between world shifts is a bit time-consuming on the anime staff production’s part. They have to come up with what changes have occured, when, and how it affects the people in the future. Not to mention it would take up a lot of time as air-time as well, where the series could very well be focusing on story elements, much like what @lester said.

    In any case, time-travel is a fickle thing. Plus, nobody’s ever done it, so we don’t even know anything about it, truly.

    • #4 by avvesione on May 27, 2011 - 7:53 PM

      I suppose you’re right, but even just slight alterations would be fine, ones that might not be relevant to the story, but rather, as devices to show a powerful difference between timelines (supplementing the watermelons and Dr. Peppers that fulfill that role in the story). I think we’ll see what I want to see with Ruka and Moeka in the next episode, so maybe I am being a little impatient with the series. But I am thinking more along the lines of seeing a timeline where Kurisu is closer to Okabe only for him to send another D-mail and enter another timeline where they are more distant. And you’ve got to admit that when relationships are changed, it certainly makes things a lot more interesting, like Kurisu’s murder for example. But like you said, doing it every time would be draining for the staff. It would become cumbersome, distracting, and unnecessary for the anime.

  3. #5 by Zel on May 28, 2011 - 2:29 AM

    I see where your coming from on the slight differences. They should have just done animated differences like different clothing, different time of day, little things.I don’t think they’ve done anything too distract yet to warrant different behavior besides what happened in this episode.

    I’ve haven’t read the graphic novel, but I have a feeling Moeka is Kurisu from the future. However, that is just a gut feeling, probably wrong who knows….

    • #6 by avvesione on May 28, 2011 - 12:22 PM

      Yeah, I guess it all depends on the D-mail being sent. Some have had major changes, like Moeka’s, and others have had no reason to change relationships or minor details. I think as the series progresses, I’ll be more and more satisfied with whatever changes (because that’s kinda the point of time machines).

      As for Moeka being Kurisu, that certainly is a novel and interesting theory. It’s always fun trying to theorize about things in anime and I think that’s what Steins;Gate wants the audience to do. With all these mysteries and characters, they want you to think about what’s going on and what will happen in the future (or the past). Be interesting to see how things turn out between Kurisu and Moeka.

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