Imagine for a moment that Kurisu, not Okabe, is the person adventuring through time to save Mayuri (or Okabe or whatever you desire) and restore order to this time-travel chaos. Totally awesome, I know, but you have to wonder how different the entire series would have been if we were following Kurisu’s struggles rather than Okabe’s.
Let’s make this simple and imagine the paths are the same for both Kurisu and Okabe. They go through each event and timeline but with their positions switched, so that Kurisu is the one retaining her memories after each D-mail and time leap and Okabe is the helpful friend providing assistance to Kurisu in her time of need.
But I don’t see Okabe being as helpful to Kurisu as she has been to him. Okabe would likely dismiss the warnings and concerns and mock Kurisu with his playful and erratic side like we saw in the first half of Steins;Gate. Kurisu would need to cry every time to get Okabe to understand the dire circumstances at hand each time to bring him back to reality. And even then, I doubt Okabe would be nearly as much help with the clear gap in intelligence and awareness. Okabe just doesn’t seem like the person who would design these strategies to overcome these timeline issues. One area where Okabe would be invaluable, and do a much better job than Kurisu did, is provide the emotional support for our supposed new heroine. I figure Okabe would perform better in this regard since Kurisu has more feelings for him than he does for her. But even with that consideration, I feel that Okabe would make a inferior support character than Kurisu does now.
But how about Kurisu as the main, the one who preserves her memories through time and fights against all these adversities? If we were following Kurisu through all these timelines and various scenarios, I have a feeling she would eventually breakdown sooner than Okabe. She doesn’t seem to have the same drive and motivation as our current hero. Her psyche seems thin and her composure fades under pressure. I fail to see Kurisu endure through such hardships, imagining her time and time again witnessing those countless deaths and being overcome with fear and isolation. It does depend on how frequently she’d reach out to Okabe, though, since he is her rock, just as she is to him. Secondly, Kurisu is a bit of an outsider to the group, having just recently joined and befriended these characters. Being the generous and compassionate soul that she is, I could see her helping these new friends but not to the same extent as Okabe does. The bonds are much deeper and stronger between Okabe and the other six than Kurisu, (although that could be because of the harem cast and switching the sexes could have a parallel effect) meaning Okabe would be more motivated to fixing these mistakes than Kurisu (entirely subjective, I know). So I see Okabe as having more perseverance and enthusiasm than Kurisu and being the better overall lead.
We now arrive at the conclusion that, even though it’d be tremendous and incredible to see Kurisu as the main character of Steins;Gate, travelling through time and solving problems, that thing just make more sense the way they are. While that was a fun exercise in futility, is does help us realize the how perfectly Okabe and Kurisu fit their roles in the anime. Okabe needs Kurisu just as she does need Okabe and they work together much better than any other pair of characters in the anime.
Moeka has always been one of the characters I liked better in Steins;Gate, probably placing third or fourth, battling it out with Suzuha (miss her already). It seems that she was never really popular before the twist at the halfway point. Since then, she’s probably turned into one of the more hated characters of the series with her malign and emotionless behavior. But these episodes show an entirely different side to Moeka, showing her lack of confidence and belief is what led her to being manipulated by FB. Compound the fact that she already is wary socially and prefers to stay away from people, even toward Okabe after he reached out to her in this timeline and worked together with her to discover who FB is, and you can see another fragile character in the series.
You should be able to feel bad for Moeka, in this timeline at least, seeing her constantly battle depression and dependence, only to be tossed to the side when she served her role for the greater good. She’s been one of the more depressing characters of the series now that we’ve realized it. Consider the fact that Ruka and Faris wrote D-mails for their own selfish reasons: Ruka wanted to be a woman and Faris wanted her father to be alive, and compare that to Moeka who sent her D-mail to help out FB. Ruka and Faris ended up with what they wanted in their timelines, happy times until Okabe reminded them of the truth. Moeka’s D-mail eventually lead to her abandonment and unfortunate suicide. There never seems to be a happy ending for her, not even in the ones where she’s the unforgiving, masterful ninja hunter, since she’s still dependent on FB. At least we’re back to the timeline where Moeka has been reduced to a nervous background character whose peculiar communication behavior is used for humor and tension relief. But we know just how gloomy and deep Moeka is now after all these events.
And lastly, some storytelling that I enjoyed in this episode. The times when Okabe and Moeka were chasing down the IBN-5100 were pretty enjoyable and stimulating. But what I liked the most was that Okabe would use time leaps to give himself clues on who was going to take the computer next. And the direction for those shots, too, immediately going back to when he received the new information, was performed perfectly and maintained the tension in the scene. One thing of what I don’t understand is that if all these people were participating in exchanging the computer between each other, how did they know where to be, what to do, and who was before and after them if they never really met and did this all through messages? That whole sequence exchange would require so much practice to pull off perfectly that it seems impossible given the circumstances. And if most of these people are like Moeka, then shouldn’t they be uneasy and unhappy in such crowded places? But those are just small details. I enjoyed the whole sequence, seeing Okabe and Moeka chase the IBN-5100 and track down who FB was.