Full of secret conspiracies, proclivities for showmanship and Dr. Pepper, and inane vernacular, Steins; Gate has become a semi-recent favorite for many, and for good reason. Mainly adhering to the sci-fi genre, Steins; Gate is an anime that doesn’t stop once it gets going.
Okabe Rintarou, who claims to be a mad scientist named Hououin Kyouma opposed by the powerful and far-reaching “Organization,” spends his days skipping his university classes, wearing a lab coat, and going to work in his own Future Gadgets Laboratory. Along with his lab partners, Mayuri and Daru, he focuses on his inventions, which tend to be less than useful until the accidental development of Future Gadget #008, a microwave capable of sending text messages into the past. With the addition of Makise Kurisu, lab member 004, they delve deeper into unraveling the mysteries of the machine and altering the past to unlock the secret to time travel. Everything changes when Okabe discovers that the dark Organization turns out to be less imaginary than he once thought, and he and his lab members are targeted. Faced with overwhelming odds, Okabe uses the only weapon at his disposal, Future Gadget #008.
Steins; Gate walks a constant line between light and dark, adjusting between Okabe’s absurd rants about unleashing chaos upon the world and his dark discoveries of death and ruin lying just under the surface of his newly discovered ability of temporal alteration. The animation itself seeks to mimic this, always superficially appearing the same but feeling different. White Fox, a rather new studio that I myself am not familiar with, utilizes a relatively simplistic and often more realistic style. Coupled with the dialogue, it can at times feel like a Madhouse slice of life and at others like you’ve just crossed into a Production I.G. action noir. These seamless transitions are often accompanied by the sparse but appropriately placed score, which tends to surface during more tense scenes as an underlying accompaniment of strings. The rest of the scenes are mostly left alone, suggesting that realism was probably one of the ultimate goals for this anime, as the scenes are typically only filled with ambient sounds of traffic, people, and birds. Just as the anime walks these lines, so too do the characters, particularly Okabe. He is forced to try and conduct himself as he does normally, but after the horrors he has witnessed traveling through time, it becomes visibly difficult for him to carry on as his breezy self. Okabe, across the span of things, reveals himself to be a less a mad scientist and more just a sensitive guy putting on a brave (and insane) face.
Speaking as a sci-fi buff, Steins; Gate represents and addresses the classic tenets of time travel. Of course, some of these are the scientific aspects like the question of creating time paradoxes. Steins; Gate validly theorizes that adjusting anything in the past would not have any effect on the current timeline but would in fact create an entirely new timeline. But more than just speculative science, Steins; Gate deals with the human aspects of time travel, such as Okabe’s loneliness as he leaps back in time over and over, always the only one with any memory of what’s happened. The anime draws on classic sci-fi and rivals new. In fact, Okabe’s repeated time jumps reminded me to some extent of a certain stretch of Haruhi Suzumiya known as the “Endless Eight,” which by the way, I watched diligently, thought was ingenious, and didn’t complain about even once (but to be fair I had the luxury of watching them after the entire season was already finished). Steins; Gate certainly made a great deal of effort to change the details of Okabe’s time jumps, the key being that he was quite aware that he was in a time loop. More so, it reminded me of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, as the Future Gadget Lab’s seemingly innocuous experiments snowball into horrible tragedies in what we in the biz like to call the “Butterfly Effect.” I appreciated Steins; Gate’s dedication to the science of it all and the exploration of every major speculation such as the possibility of sending a person’s consciousness back in time. It was attention to details like these that crafted Steins; Gate, the very successful visual novel turned wildly successful anime.
Riding the wave that is the wonderful resurgence of time travel, Steins; Gate has made its mark somewhere high on the list. An all-encompassing anime such as this one has something for everyone, especially those fans of time travel and sci-fi. It’s the must-watch of the last couple of years, and if new studios like White Fox and established favorites like Madhouse can keep up the pace, anime has a bright and shining future ahead of it, no time traveler intervention required. Steins; Gate is available subbed and dubbed in its entirety over on Funimation.
Article by: Kris Oppegaard