They really are the two sides of the same coin here: you can’t really have one without the other. If you’re going to solve certain problems, such as reverse recent death trends, you’re going to need to use time travel in some way to change the past in order to prevent, or at a minimum, mitigate the specific issue. And in doing so, Okabe jumps to a slightly different timeline, one where the problem likely never occurred (but with certain side effects). Both of these aspects go hand-in-hand with each other, yet they are vastly different perspectives on what Okabe and the others are doing right now.
The point of this post is to look at your perspective on this ‘coin’ and how you feel about Okabe trying to go past the 1% threshold shown by the Divergence Meter. Do you see this as the only means to fix said the problems they created and is necessary in order to create a better future or do you see this as a cowardly retreat by Okabe, choosing not to face the realities of the world they created and just jumping to live in one where these problems never existed in the first place? Let’s take a closer look at both sides here.
Let’s start on the more valiant side. What we’ve been watching in the latter half of Steins;Gate has been a world of catastrophe and heartbreak. All these problems, such as Akihabara’s transformation into Boringsville and certain characters’ misfortunes, can all be derived back to one source: time travel. And seeing that the source of these problems is the unnatural phenomena of time travel, it only makes sense that time travel can be used to solve said problems. We’ve seen it used to solve numerous minor problems in addition to preventing other calamities (like Moeka), so it’s not insane to think that the one true way to solve these problems will be to use time travel. After all, it’s the only tool available that can solve these problems.
And on the other side, you see it as Okabe’s escape to another world, one where the problem is thwarted or completely absent. He has the power to leave the cruel and twisted world by altering the past through the use of his arsenal of time machines. The outcome always results in novel and transformed present and future. And while this fresh, new world is always slightly different, this is no true fix to the previous world’s problem. When someone dies, that’s it in that world. When a neighborhood of a city is transformed, that’s in in that world, too. For true fixes to occur, Okabe would need to learn how to revive the dead or spend time redeveloping urban districts of his home megalopolis but those solutions are just not possible. So the only tool he can use is to send a message to the past and try living in the new world he winds up in. In that sense, Okabe is simply fleeing from one world to the next in hopes of finding the perfect timeline.
And that, I feel, are the two perspectives on Okabe’s solution to the problems at hand. On one side, you see this is the only possible method of reversing the matters before everyone. And, on the flip side, it’s Okabe running from world to world looking for one in which problems no longer exist. Supposedly, by crossing the 1% line as displayed by the Divergence Meter, Okabe would cross into a timeline with a completely different present and unknown future. Perhaps all the problems caused by time travel will never have existed and everyone will be residing peacefully in a familiar Akihabara. But isn’t that the same as Okabe abandoning ship and living in a world where he no longer has to face, or even consider, the problems he created?
Honestly, I’m torn on which perspective I should take, and this is after thinking about the choices for a day (meant to have this up yesterday). I thought about it for most of the day, trying to see which side I would eventually favor, but it never happened and I felt both sides have valid reasons to believe they’re correct. I tried to make a strong argument for both and, in doing so, I only reinforced my ambivalence on the topic. I’d be curious to see what people think about the subject, especially if they have words they’d like to add in, too.
Also, I can’t help but wonder how dissimilar the relationships will be once Okabe crosses the 1% threshold. Will he even have the same friends as he does in this timeline? Will he be able to make another time machine? What will he do in order to prevent all the mishaps of the current timeline from happening in this timeline? And what other new surprises will materialize for Okabe when this event finally occurs?
But most importantly: will Okabe try to return to the current timeline and solve all the problems or will he simply live peacefully in the new one? Perhaps I should wait until then before siding with one of these perspectives, since that’s probably the best way, and perhaps the only way, to accurately judge this selection. And it appears I like serious looking pictures of Okabe, so much so that I overloaded on them in this post. But then again, who doesn’t?