Despite Okabe being the founder of the Future Gadget Lab, being Lab Member 001, and becoming the father of time travel, among other accolades and accomplishments, he’s never really felt like a leader. He just seemed like the one who cared too much and bossed others around for his own selfish purposes. And we know at times, like the past few episodes, he took the entire burden of messing up time and Mayuri’s numerous deaths all upon himself. But that’s all changed. It finally feels right to call Okabe a leader, especially after all he did in this episode.
Perhaps it was a gradual change but I feel the turning-point in Okabe’s role came around in the last episode when Kurisu’s inspiration altered his outlook on the situation to include the help of all his friends and Daru (I kid, I kid). But since that moment, Okabe has seemed to mature. With that, he’s taken on more authority on the dire situation, worked together with everyone, and has made strides into solving the problems that are occurring. He is now the unquestioned leader, not just in name anymore, of the Future Gadget Lab, working to foil SERN while saving his childhood friend, Mayuri.
What do I base this judgment off of? Well, over the course of the episode, Okabe seemed to have a managerial mindset when he went back to two days before the completion of the Time Leap machine. He took control of the situation immediately, calling everyone together (minus Moeka, Faris, and Ruka) and, through his command, got everyone to work on the situation on the various fronts and all in new and exciting realms of technology and time-travel.
Having Itaru work on Suzuha’s damaged time machine from 2036, Kurisu work on completing the Time Leap machine (again), and Mayuri spearhead the search for Suzuha’s secretive father (whom we’re all sure is right under everyone’s noses given the obvious clues), all gave Okabe a chance to sit back and surf Google Image for pictures of insignificant badges. Yeah, that’s what he did when everyone was working on time machines or searching for mysterious people. Thrilling.
But back to the main point, I don’t think the old Okabe could’ve done that. His inane personality, the one everyone still loves, would’ve seeped out and ruined the mood when he was dictating commands and assigning jobs to everyone. The fact that he remained serious throughout the entire situation, without updating himself on his cell phone or breaking into another nicknaming frenzy, really shows Okabe’s growth as a leader among his friends. And with this stage of growth, there will likely be some progress along with it, hopefully enough to reverse all these mistakes from all the various D-mails. That means fending off the onslaught of SERN’s world domination, saving the life of his childhood friend, Mayuri, and probably the most important of all, returning everything back to normal (male Ruka and all).
But that doesn’t solve the mystery behind Moeka at all. We might solve all the major problems here but we’ll never know who FB is, what Rounder is, and why Moeka is doing what she does regarding Okabe’s time machines. Maybe that’s the next path the anime will take, perhaps examining some terrorists who function to prevent all time-travel, meaning they’re against both Okabe and SERN. Or maybe something entirely different. Or we could completely answer these questions in the next episode without needing to dive deep into that organization. Who knows. We still need more information on Faris and Ruka and I have a feeling we’re not even halfway done with Suzuha’s character either. And Kurisu and Mayuri, too. Everyone needs some more screentime to develop their characters a little more! But with the anime steadily building the drama and tension in each episode, it doesn’t matter where it goes since the story has been captivating this entire time. And with all the questions answered in this episode, we know we’ll get heading somewhere critical soon. I can’t wait.