12 Days of Anime – Day 1 – Lab Coats in Steins;Gate

It’s time for the 12 Days of Anime, a tradition among anime bloggers to recount 12 Anime moments/influences/thingies that affected them the most this past year.  This is my first time participating in such an event with others, so I am quite new to it, but for a quick rundown of the tradition, check out this post by Scamp for its history and what it is like currently.  So with that being said, I hope you enjoy the 12 biggest Anime moments of the year for me!

Lab coats are awesome.  Beyond awesome if you really want to get specific here.  But most anime don’t seem to realize that or utilize them to their maximum influence.  Instead, they are reserved for classic nerds, one-dimensional villains, and insignificant background characters.  The lab coat is predictably used as attire for characters who play marginal roles while reducing their effect to simply being “oh, so that character is smart.”  But Steins;Gate refused to comply with the norm of anime, and its statement on lab coats ignited a spark in me, becoming one of the 12 biggest anime moments of the year for me and the first of my 12 Days of Anime.

Throughout the length of this outstanding anime, Rintarou Okabe would wear a lab coat as his primary outfit.  From start to finish, this dynamic and electrifying character would be seen manipulating time, deciphering mysteries, and saving the world, all while sporting his lab coat.  Amazing.  Never before have we seen a protagonist such as this do so much while wearing such awesome clothing.  But that alone wasn’t enough for Steins;Gate.  The anime wanted to you be aware of the lab coats, just in case you weren’t paying any attention to the clothing each character wore.  The opportunity arose when Kurisu Makise, the lead female of the anime, selected one from the Future Gadget Laboratory to wear for herself.  Perhaps a short refresher is in order (thanks to orannis0 for uploading this):

This brief and humorous scene where Okabe and Kurisu model their lab coats for themselves (okay, really only Okabe) brought forth the awareness of lab coats to the audience.  We may not have paid much attention to it before or simply dismissed it as “mad scientist” attire but you certainly realized it from that point forward.  And this scene helped establish a new meaning to lab coats, especially between Okabe and Kurisu.  For Okabe, they are white symbols of knowledge and prestige; clothing that defines you both to yourself and to others around you and being essential for mad scientists everywhere.  For Kurisu, they have a calming effect, likely through some pleasant memories of academic accomplishment or colleague respect or something to that degree.  In both cases, the lab coat has a psychological effect, and putting it on influences those around you.  This is completely opposite to the anime previously where lab coats were just there to help you understand who was smart and nerdy.  But Steins;Gate took this plain outerwear and turned it into something more, both for the characters and for us.  It’s even gone so far as to affect me in the real world, too.I’ve always loved lab coats starting during my childhood and continuing to the present day.  I was thrilled when I purchased my first one and began wearing it for college lab courses.  There was no real use after completing all my lab courses, so it soon became retired and began residing in the back of my closet.  Only currently have I working at a hospital.  One of the pieces of approved attire while at work is a lab coat (with stuff on underneath of course).  At first, I never wore my lab coat since I figured it was just another layer for me to take off when it got too hot or uncomfortable.  But after watching Steins;Gate and becoming engrossed in lab coats again, I decided to start wearing them to the hospital, primarily due to Okabe’s inspiration.  I expected nothing from it besides feeling more awesome at the hospital but it has had an interesting effect since I started wearing this impressive outerwear.  It has become noticeable are how patients interact with me now and how they express their emotions, too.  Patients seem to be more understanding when I’m with them, show calmer emotions, and are more likely to accept my word when we’re conversing.  Perhaps they view me as more professional or competent when I’m in a lab coat than when I did not.  Perhaps there is a psychological effect going on here, like with Okabe and Kurisu, that people see me differently with a lab coat on than without.  Well, whatever the reason, the lab coat has significantly improved my time with patients and hopefully improved patients’ time with me.  And going back to anime here, it’s all thanks to Steins;Gate, for inspiring me to wear lab coats again.

It’s rare when anime has an influence like that, from some simple comedic scenes to affecting my real life.  What’s strange is the only reason why I started wearing lab coats to work was because I was inspired by Steins;Gate and wanted to share in the awesomeness of wearing lab coats but the real world effect I’ve seen is something I never would’ve imagined.  It’s all thanks to the way lab coats were utilized in Steins;Gate and how the anime made them important again.  Those various scenes inspired me to wear my lab coat and it has had a positive effect in the real world.  There is no doubt that the lab coats in Steins;Gate are one of the twelve best anime moments of the year, both for how they were used in the anime and how they affected me outside of anime.  And I love lab coats more now than ever before.

I’d love to hear if anyone else started wearing lab coats because of Steins;Gate and if you have any interesting stories to go along with it.

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on December 14, 2011 - 7:07 AM

    It’s pretty interesting that people react to you differently. I wonder if it is a psychological effect on them of the lab coat, or a psychological effect on you, the wearer, feeling calm and confident that had an effect on them. Either way the world has obviously been improved by your experience in watching anime. Just stay away from the microwave.

    • #2 by avvesione on December 14, 2011 - 1:08 PM

      I’m going to guess it’s the effect on the people rather than me. I think when people see me they can identify me as a professional, someone they can trust, rather than some low-level employee who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I do feel more calm but I don’t know if that’s enough to make a difference. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it’s helping me out.

  2. #3 by zammael on December 14, 2011 - 9:19 AM

    Probably a combination of both, @Joojoobees.

    I’m buying one, even though lab coats don’t work as well on us philosophisticators. :)

    • #4 by avvesione on December 14, 2011 - 1:09 PM

      You could start a trend among philosophers. Maybe even start a whole new profession of ‘mad philosophers’ too while you’re at it.

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