It’s the end of Steins;Gate as we know it

But before we take a look at the series as a whole, let’s get the final episode out of the way.

The final episode
There actually isn’t much to write about. Okabe does everything he said he was going to do in the previous episode. The only question is how he’ll manage to fool his former self into believing that Kurisu is dead when she is, in fact, not. Some bloggers were coming up with complicated plans and everything, but Okabe’s “Plan A” is just some toy with a red liquid inside. Unfortunately, he has to opt for his own blood after, uh, failing to check whether or not “Plan A” would even work.

I’m bemused by the fact that a mad scientist apparently has no contingency plan. I would have brought back some animal blood at least, but maybe that’s just me; I’m not a mad scientist. Another minor quibble is the way Okabe easily shrugs off a horrific injury. It’s one thing if the man was stabbed once, but Okabe later stabs himself with his own hand. Oh well. The last third of the episode is also pretty much pure fluff. Mr. Braun even ends up hiring Moeka and befriending her.

The first two-thirds of the last episode plays out much like a spy thriller. Instead of a suave secret agent, however, Okabe’s running around in a floppy lab coat. It’s actually quite funny to see Suzuha in her skin-tight outfit, wielding a silenced handgun only to end up doing pretty much nothing. Anyway, the loose ends are tied up but I still feel as though something’s missing. I’ve written before how I think this ending lacks thematic finality so I won’t beat a dead horse again. Skipping that, how does the rest of the anime all add up?

Harem-like
The major contrivance of a harem anime is that the main character almost always has only one male friend. For the rest of the show, our eligible bachelor goes from one female to the next as if he was in some bizarre procession. Still, although harem stories feel fake, we aren’t exactly watching this genre for narrative immersion. Steins;Gate, on the other hand, isn’t exactly a harem. The end game isn’t about which girl Okabe picks. Rather, the fate of the whole world rests upon his hands… so why does the anime work against itself by being harem-like?

People have and will continue to disagree with me on whether or not Steins;Gate is harem-like. So most of the girls aren’t actual candidates in capturing Okabe’s heart — so what? The point is that in a time-traveling, “save the world from impending doom” plot, the story is structured so that Okabe only goes from one girl to the next. We only ever delve into the minds and hearts of cute, attractive females. Hell, although Okabe does have a goofy best friend in Daru, if we ever learn anything about Daru, it is incidental.

Case in point, we learn that Daru’ll have a daughter in the distant future. We learn this, however, only because one of the major characters is his daughter. Had Suzuha not existed — had Okabe not spent time with her — Daru would just be a Barney-sounding dude who hacks stuff and fixes time machines on the side. And for most of the anime, he pretty much is just this. While the female characters on the show get to have actual problems and issues, Daru’s a side character who cracks dirty jokes every now and then.

The same contrivance that thus plagues the harem genre also plagues Steins;Gate. Like I’ve said, however, the former can shrug off this criticism rather easily. This would be like calling Playboy out for having only naked women in it. Steins;Gate, however, fancies itself a serious science fiction story. The fact that Okabe deals only with women goes from mere coincidence to immersion-ruining. No, I’m not saying that the story should be ruined for everyone. If you don’t care that the entire show features one man girl-hopping, good for you. But for me, this particular quality about the anime draws me out of the story.

Steins;Gate hinders itself from reaching greater heights. The story just feels too trapped by the common pitfalls of the anime medium. Why are we — both anime and its audience — so allergic to male relationships? Just look at how No.6 is being derided for even daring to have its protagonists care for each other. Every now and then, even Tiger & Bunny gets called fujoshi fanservice in a pejorative sense. As an audience, we want an identifiable hero, but he can only ever have a comic-relief best friend. Should he dare to come close to another man, we seemingly can’t help but recoil and our anime reflects this.

It’s a pity then to see a potentially worthwhile story like Steins;Gate’s follow this male-allergic formula. Rather than having both genders send the D-Mails that Okabe has to undo, he only has to deal with hot, nubile anime babes. Why couldn’t the anime be more balanced? In a harem, the aim is to ostensibly please the straight, chauvinist audience. In a science fiction anime, however, this contrivance creates an artificiality that hinders immersion. And I’m sure some of you will say, “I can look past this and enjoy the story for what it is!” Fantastic, but let’s not assume everyone should be in the same boat.

“It gets better!”
Steins;Gate‘s first eleven or so episodes are really dull. Sure, it gets better, but ideally, every story should get better. The issue of whether or not “It gets better!” is a legitimate argument is thus a non-starter. Instead, we should just look at the base line, i.e. from where does the anime get better. In Steins;Gate‘s case, the base line is really, really low. I agree — the anime is much improved by the time Mayuri gets shot (coincidence? I think not!). In fact, there were times during the past month when Steins;Gate was actually the best anime on TV.

The problem, however, is that the story took forever to get to this point. And even when Steins;Gate does get better, this doesn’t erase the fact that the first half of the series is an utter bore. I simply could not watch another second of Feyris or Ruka, so as a result, I disengaged myself from the show until it got interesting. In the end, some people will give Steins;Gate a near perfect score because of the “It gets (way) better” argument, but I won’t. Even if I do go from a Big Mac to a mouthwatering filet mignon, I still have to eat the goddamn Big Mac to get there. Likewise, I’m not going to dismiss nearly half a season of dreck just because the second half is laudatory.

The bottom line
Okabe is an interesting character with a good mix of strengths and flaws. For an anime hero, he actually does quite a bit of emoting and thus isn’t your standard bland protagonist. Essentially, the man carries Steins;Gate well. Despite the fact that the anime is female-centric, however, only Moeka and Kurisu somewhat shine in their roles. Mayuri, the girl seemingly at the center of the conflict, is more like an elusive Holy Grail that the hero must pursue than an actual character with any depth. As for Feyris and Ruka, they mostly left me feeling cold.

As a result, the anime’s viewing experience is much like a roller coaster. It goes from really high highs to lows so low that I couldn’t help but nod off at times. As always, I don’t believe a two-cour structure is an excuse for any anime to mix in dull, boring episodes. If I could excise half of the cast and combine a couple of the characters, I would. The result would have been a tighter, more suspenseful anime. There are times when the show would pretty much put on a giant “TIME FOR EXPOSITION” sign and while these moments aren’t necessarily boring, the story had potential to be so much better. For what it’s worth, Steins;Gate is solid once the dust settles but nowhere near perfection.

43 thoughts on “It’s the end of Steins;Gate as we know it

  1. Seinime

    “There actually isn’t much to write about.”
    I agree. I really don’t know what to write towards the ending.

    “It’s one thing if the man was stabbed once, but Okabe later stabs himself with his own hand.”
    Well, he is mad…or at least “re-maddened” after abandoning all despair and suddenly getting all hyped up.

    “There are times when the show would pretty much put on a giant “TIME FOR EXPOSITION” sign and while these moments aren’t necessarily boring, the story had potential to be so much better.”
    I really want to just tell anyone who hasn’t seen it to watch it from the second half and just go through summaries, but part of me says they might miss out on something…

    All in all, a decent show. One of the good ones this year, and I’ve yet to see Madoka yet. Seems like a good time.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, he is mad…

      Well, I’m not disputing the fact that the man stabbed himself again. I’m just incredulous that he could survive such a great loss of blood.

      I’ve yet to see Madoka yet. Seems like a good time.

      Oh yes, Madoka is a rip roarin’ hilarious ride. ;o

      Reply
      1. Seinime

        I’m more surprised at the fact that, after 10000+ or more time leaps, he never got killed in a single one of them without an accident or mistake occurring. Surviving a great loss of blood is a typical determination, “I will finish this to the end” thing.

        And got it all set, just need to find the time to watch. D:

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Well, his ability to survive anything just stands out even more in the ending because it is the conclusion. Everything just seemed to wrap up a little too tidily.

          Reply
        2. zhuinden

          Please don’t forget that the reason why he didn’t die from his injury was due to that in both the alpha and beta attractor fields, his death was determined to be in 2025, and thus no matter what happened, he was unable to die prior to that date.

          Reply
  2. KING OF NIGERIA

    >Mayuri, the girl seemingly at the center of the conflict, is more like an elusive Holy Grail that the hero must pursue than an actual character with any depth.

    Of course. The slap that she gave Okabe seemed so uncharacteristic of her, not because it actually was uncharacteristic of her, but because we don’t actually know anything about her or what she’s really thinking, because she was only set up to be a macguffin, and, when she does speak, she just acts so fucking autistic that she can’t be taken seriously.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      she just acts so fucking autistic that she can’t be taken seriously.

      Doot doo doo! No, I’m not disagreeing with you. I loathed her character. I felt like she was only in the story to add an emotional component to a convoluted plot, but being anime, they added a character that’s all moe and no depth whatsoever. I still liked my Mayuri video…

      Reply
  3. Son Gohan

    The harem-like qualities are the result of this show being an adaptation of a VN, where you get to choose between multiple routes. It didn’t bother me much because the harem aspect was really downplayed here, I think. We had no accidental groping, panty shots, excessive blushing, etc. Comparing S;G to the ToAru series or Hidan no Aria, there is an abyss!
    I know you will say “they weren’t compelled to follow the VN storyline” but you have to take into account that the first customers for this show are the novel players and you don’t want to piss off your primary market.

    Concerning the duller episodes in the beginning, I think that they were needed to get attached to the characters. Without some time to know the characters, we would have felt nothing for poor Mayuri’s death. It was thanks to those episodes that I became endeared to Kurisu and I really felt for her in the final arc. I don’t think that those initial episodes were a complete bore fest either. There was always something that made me interested, like the mistery of what happened in the Radio Building and the aftereffects of the various D-mails.

    In the end I agree with you that this show doesn’t deserve a perfect score due to the use of certain plot devices (like Okabe always managing to escape the Rounders and the idea of “fooling” the Attractor Field). I’d rate S;G a 8.5/10, Madoka remains the anime of the year for me.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The harem-like qualities are the result of this show being an adaptation of a VN, where you get to choose between multiple routes.

      You seem to always remind me that the story is based on a game when I’ve always known it was based on a game. Had I been writing about the game, I would have said the same thing about its harem-like qualities.

      you have to take into account that the first customers for this show are the novel players and you don’t want to piss off your primary market.

      I take into account what makes a good story. If this pisses off the original fans, I don’t really care.

      Without some time to know the characters, we would have felt nothing for poor Mayuri’s death.

      Disagree. Mayuri’s character never endeared itself to me and the more the anime tried to feature her, the more I disliked her.

      Reply
  4. Joojoobees

    This was way better than Madoka. Although Madoka isn’t truly Science Fiction, it sort of pretended it was, and as Science Fiction, Steins;Gate is much stronger, and grounded in Science. I also think the plot was more intricate, and the ending was far more satisfying than Madoka’s.

    I agree, however, that only a few characters in Steins;Gate were well-developed. In that sense Madoka was superior.

    Reply
  5. Ryan R

    Those are pretty fair criticisms of Steins;Gate. I mostly liked the 1st half of the anime, but then I found the dialogue very witty for anime, and that made me overlook the admittedly slow pacing.

    It’s also true that while Okabe is an excellent character, his plan for resolving the conflicts in this anime were hardly impressive The fact that he had no contingency at all is disappointing, yeah.

    As for “male-allergic” though…

    The vast majority of Visual Novels are basically glorified dating sims. Seriously, that’s what they are. They take the dating sim skeleton, and try to craft a good, in-depth story around it. Steins;Gate is one of the more creative ones that actually crafts a serious sci-fi story around the dating sim skeleton. However, that dating sim skeleton has to be there – It’s what the VN buyers are looking for.

    A dating sim is obviously going to involve a guy and several different female characters – that’s the whole point of it. Another male character or two may be added in to diversify the cast a bit, but since they’re not really what the game is about (and that’s usually part of what a VN is – a game), you’re not going to get a lot of male-to-male character interaction in these.

    Now, I’m not a big fan of the dating sim skeleton myself, but if an anime is based off a VN with it, then it’s going to have the inherent strengths and weaknesses of that skeleton. I don’t see much point in critiquing that unless you’re also going to critique VNs in general.

    I mean, it would be like if there was an anime based on Halo or Half-Life, and viewers complained that about half of it was nothing but gun-shooting violence. I mean, what do you expect? It would be an anime based off of a FPS, so of course its going to have loads of gun-shooting.

    The Steins;Gate anime is so very lauded because its very close to the best that an anime story can hope to be when its limited by the dating sim skeleton. But those limitations are very strict, definitely.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t see much point in critiquing that unless you’re also going to critique VNs in general.

      You can extend the critique to VNs too for all I care. Even so, either Steins;Gate deserves to be judged like any other serious story or it is just an easily-dismissible dating sim. It can’t be both. We shouldn’t sing praises for Okabe’s characterization and the story’s intriguing themes only to then hand wave away the harem-like qualities cheapening the rest of the narrative.

      I mean, what do you expect?

      Few people confuse Halo for having a great story. There are plenty of people ready to sing praises for Steins;Gate‘s story without taking into consideration how it is limited by the medium it originates from.

      Reply
  6. Marcomax

    I started picking up on the harem like qualities around once the story introduced Moeka. She just seemed to be there for no reason. The show was still enjoyable and I just said to myself “Well I guess this is what a well written Harem show would look like”. But as time when on and the story ramped up, the flaws associated with harem shows started to surface. Especially during the Feyris and Ruka episodes.

    I agree with you point about showing relationships between men. If I think back to some of the shows I watched last year like Rainbow, Heroman and even High school of the dead. One of the things I enjoyed the most about them was the interaction between the main male characters.

    Reply
      1. Marcomax

        I read your post on it and the show remains as retro as it starts. But while Joey and Lina are the main couple, a good chunk of time is spent on his friendship with Psy and Professor Denton. Though it’s not the same as No. 6 and Tiger and Bunny, it’s still feels good to see the boys or men interact with other men on some level.

        I just wish Daru had more of a role to play in the story. When I think back I realize Okabe didn’t spent much much time alone. Its a shame since I wanted to learn more about him and his relationship with Okabe.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I just got a very “you’re not macho enough but this stoic doll come to life will fix that for you” vibe from the first three episodes of Heroman that kind of turned me off from the series. But you said you read my post, so I won’t bother to repeat myself again.

          Reply
  7. Rob

    This is probably what you mean, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a cast that’s mostly female. Certainly if it was a standard sci-fi show with six guys and two girls as the main cast, no one would blink an eye. But I think what the real problem here is that all of the girls are islands except for their relationship with Okabe. None of them have relationships with the other girls or really with any other human beings (other than I guess the Suzuha/Daru thing.) Okay, Kurisu and Mayuri play dress up once but that’s really about it. When your show has a mostly female cast and still doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, you’re in trouble.

    All in all a pretty solid show, I would give it a B+. I actually enjoyed the first half, although it was more of a quiet “let’s hang out with these weirdos for half an hour a week” type of show. I think you also need it there to build up the social scenario that Okabe is so desperate to save, and provide the neat formal device of having the second half of the show be all about reversing the first. But I can see why you would be bored

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Okay, Kurisu and Mayuri play dress up once but that’s really about it.

      Even then, the story mostly panders to the male audience.

      I think you also need it there to build up the social scenario that Okabe is so desperate to save

      Emphasis obviously mine. I was quite interested in the second half of the season despite not having watched most of the first half’s episodes. As a result, I’m not sure how true this assertion is.

      neat formal device of having the second half of the show be all about reversing the first

      Sure, but as with molecular gastronomy, you can play around with food all you want, but it still has to come out tasting good. There’s no point demonstrating a neat technique if the food tastes bad. Likewise, you can employ all sorts of narrative techniques to tell a story, but if this process leads to something boring, then we’ve lost sight of the original point of storytelling.

      Reply
  8. KizukuKanshi

    I know this show came out a while ago to the point where you probably don’t even remember much of it, but I’d just like you to know that oddly enough, I was reading your posts about Steins Gate almost a year ago as they came out while not having watched the series. Just recently a friend recommended the show to me and I just blazed through in about 3 or so days (mostly today) and I feel like I would’ve hated to have watched the first part of this as it was coming out weekly. It’s kinda given me a bit of hope for pushing through cues I would normally take to drop something. I mean the first episodes weren’t terrible, but they did drag a bit. I think now, though, I’m going to push through any kind of drag like that when I know I can watch something all at once. I know not every show is going to be paced like this one, but I feel like I could be missing out on some actual good shows, ’cause I know absolutely that I wouldn’t have gotten past episode 6 or so of Stein’s Gate had I been watching it at its airing time. By the end of it, I definitely enjoyed it.

    Anyway, to get to the semi-relevancy of this necro-comment, what I’m really getting at here is that on my next trek through some of the longer anime of past seasons, which do you think I should try and push through? Mawaru Penguindrum, Hanasaku Iroha, Tiger & Bunny or…some other 20 something episode (or already aired) show that you’ve finished?

    Wait, did you actually finish Penguindrum…?

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Steins;Gate is an interesting show. I do find it odd though that people universally regard it as one of the best anime ever. Or maybe I just shouldn’t put too much stock into AnimeNewsNetwork’s algorithm.

      As for the shows on your list, I would recommend watching Tiger & Bunny. I did finish Mawaru Penguindrum; I just don’t feel like detailing my thoughts on the series.

      Reply
      1. KizukuKanshi

        Best ever? I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s more in that category of shows where the concept and execution is good enough to where I’ll turn off all the lights in my room and stare ominously at no one in particular while stroking my chin and saying, “Omoshiroi.”

        This isn’t always how I enjoy things, of course. I’m gonna go ahead and load up Tiger & Bunny, though. This time I didn’t read through the majority of your posts on the show since I felt like I would watch it at some point since it seemed like something different, definitely.

        Speaking of which, I’m going to start up Natsuyuki Rendezvous sometime soon as well.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Tiger & Bunny does have a lot of episodes that felt rather extraneous. They wanted to show to last 24 episodes, but not every episode is very compelling. I would’ve honestly dispensed with most of the cast and just condensed the entire season into a taut 12 or 13 episode long series. Also, that final episode is full of contrivances.

          Reply
      2. alsozara

        Oh, you did actually finish Penguindrum. I know you’re probably sick of people pestering you about it, but if you ever do feel like giving your thoughts on it, even just general overview stuff, I’m sure it would be welcomed by a fair few of your followers.

        Sorry if this comes across as entitled or demanding.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I’m sure it would be welcomed by a fair few of your followers.

          Oh, I dunno about that. I get the feeling that everything that can be said about Penguindrum will have already been said by others. After all, the show was mega-popular when it was airing. I doubt I could add a unique perspective to the mix. I won’t lie and say the thought of doing one overview post hasn’t once crossed my mind, but yeah….

          Reply
        2. alsozara

          I don’t deny that just about everything that can be said about the show has been said. I’d probably put a qualifier on that mega-popular statement though: with the aniblogosphere. Most people I’ve talked to either haven’t watched it or don’t care about it. I was in Japan shortly after it aired, and its striking lack of presence in any of the stores suggests that perhaps it didn’t do that well in Japan either. Anyway, that’s tangential.

          I think a fair few of us would still be interested to hear about your personal experience with the show. Whether you ended up liking it or not, what you thought the biggest missteps were, if you thought the conclusion was satisfying, final observations, maybe even some meta commentary on the insane amount of analysis that was going on all around the aniblogosphere etc etc. I’m not sure you need to worry so much about being unique, you bring enough of your own flavour to your writing that I think it’s pretty differentiable. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. Wouldn’t want to push you if you feel no inspiration to write such a post though. Just saying that I don’t think it would be unwelcome.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            I’m not sure you need to worry so much about being unique,

            Oh, but I do. Maybe ‘unique’ wasn’t the right word to use. In general, however, if I have nothing new to say, I’d rather say nothing at all. I’ll keep Penguindrum in mind, but at the moment, I’m focused on finishing a post on Sakamichi no Apollon, then probably Hoshi o Ou Kodomo and Tsuritama in that order.

            Reply
  9. Strident

    I found the beginning episodes of Steins;Gate to be rather enjoyable. It was slow, yes, but it kept me interested, especially by episode 7, and that’s probably because of my background.

    I’m a science nerd. I enrolled in every AP, college level, and actual college science class while I was in high school I cound find, from phyiscs, to biology, to chemistry, to whatever.

    So when Gel-nanas appear from the phone microwave and the characters start trying to perform experiments, I’m genuinely interested. It’s not a simple “It’s time travel durrrr” thing I get from the scene. It’s the actually questioning of ‘how does this work, what are the rules, conditions, etc.?’

    And granted, people can’t all be like that, or interested in Kurisu’s time travel thorey lecture, or philosophy, or the tropes that Steins;Gate makes references to. And unlike several animes, Steins;Gate gives its characters real problems and hard choices that aren’t superficially resolved as in other animes. Daru is an otaku who can’t control himself or his weight. Faris has difficulties coming to terms with her father’s death, which she thinks she’s to blame for being spoiled, while Okabe has to make the hard choice of reversing someone’s death to prevent another. Okabe has to come to terms with throwing away what people could have in favor of what people actually have, and that’s an extremely important distinction. It’s easy to sit back and let things go with the flow, but here, Okabe lives in the future and has to walk back to the past.

    While Mayuri is really, really annoying, what was more important to me was Okabe’s fondness for her, which I could sympathize with.

    Side Note: Although you may debate Ruka as a girl, to me having a homosexual character who is uncomfortable with his gender is a real step forward. Especially when Okabe asks if he has anything to say to him, or feeling about him, after Ruka’s gender is swapped, and Ruka holds it all in. That’s legitimate social commentary and helped justify his character for me.

    Okabe’s temporary immortality isn’t debatable. He is set to die in 2025; thus, by Steins;Gate’s own time-travel rules, he cannot die until that time, lest he escape the attractor field by doing something extremely drastic and difficult to prevent, with high impact factor. That’s why even when he tries to kill himself, something intervenes, like Mayuri taking the hit for her. And also why he gets to shrug off that wound. He isn’t allowed to die in that timeline.

    I won’t defend that the show is harem like. It is and that’s a problem with the original medium as a visual novel. However, I will say that there is a bit of redemption in this model, the first and foremost being the time travel mechanic. Okabe, as an observer who is allowed free reign to time travel in his world, has the opportunity to get in with these women, which is important in that it drives home the godhood and power that time travel may confer, though this isn’t conveyed in the anime. On the other hand, Faris only really hugged Okabe just because he was there when she found out her father had to die again, Ruka is a homosexual, and Mayuri barely contends. These interactions can also been taken as sexual tension, which is nice to see that the anime doesn’t ignore that this is a thing in the real world.

    I disagree with the criticism of Okabe not having a contingency plan. Usually, not having a contingency plan is indicitive of bad writing and forcing the issue, but in this case, Okabe has not been characterized as an actually, ingenious mad scientist. He’s characterized as person who’s not particularly exceptional, but has an admirable and believable character, and thus, I don’t blame him for jumping the gun and assuming the plan would work. How many times have people in the real world gone to starbucks, only the realize that they forgot their wallet at home?

    Final Note: I liked the ending to Steins;Gate, very much so. One of my favorites really. They made exceptional call-backs to plot points they set up over the course of the show, from the blood to the button, to Okabe’s dialouge, diction, and syntax with Kurisu, which ends on a sufficiently open-ended, but also resolved ending.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      It was slow, yes, but it kept me interested, especially by episode 7, and that’s probably because of my background.

      I’m a science nerd. I enrolled in every AP, college level, and actual college science class while I was in high school I cound find, from phyiscs, to biology, to chemistry, to whatever.

      So when Gel-nanas appear from the phone microwave and the characters start trying to perform experiments, I’m genuinely interested.

      I’m not sure why you think your AP credentials and college science classes are the deciding factor. What? The rest of us haven’t taken AP classes either? That the rest of us haven’t, y’know, majored in a STEM subject either? You seem like a smart guy. I’m sure you know all about the folly of jumping to conclusions. Don’t you think it’s presumptuous to imply that your natural curiosity for the sciences is the reason why you liked the beginning of the show and others didn’t?

      Reply
      1. Zhuinden

        Hey, you actually still look at this. Did you read what I said about how the anime ending doesn’t really explain it, but the reason why Okabe CANNOT die during any of the scenarios (running over by car, doing any mistake, dying from being stabbed, etc) is because his death was predetermined by the world line to be in 2025?

        Also, to be honest, I rewatched Steins;Gate, and the beginning was much more satisfying on second watch – because you are already invested in the characters. The movie was kinda shit, though.

        Have you seen Madoka Magica yet? I’ve been told the first two movies are essentially the series but in less time, which is kinda neat.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I don’t mean any offense by this, but I wrote this post years ago. I’ve long forgotten much about the show because it isn’t even a show that I particularly love. I look at every comment I get, but it isn’t really practical to respond to every single one of them. This is especially true for old shows. Either I give you a half-assed reply because I don’t remember the details of the show anymore, or I just don’t respond. I think it’s better to not respond.

          Reply
        2. zhuinden

          Haha, fair enough. I liked the show quite a bit, hence why I’m so hyped even after about a year. I’m not going to convert you or anything, at least you responded :D

          Do you still watch anime? I know Madoka Magica is amazing, but I’m also planning to watch Bokurano, and especially Garden of Sinners because I’ve been told it’s pretty much one of the greatest things ever (okay, it’s 7 movies, but still).

          Reply
      2. Strident

        My basis is that with the people I’ve discussed Steins;Gate with this pattern occured:

        If I discussed this with anime-savey students in science heavy majors, they typically found Steins;Gate significantly more interesting. When I talk with people who are not particularly interested in science, they typically find Steins;Gate less interesting.

        For a specific example, I had two underclassman and two peers who have watched Steins;Gate. They make similar comments as you do, particularly how they believe Okabe carries the show and the first 11 episodes were slow. They commented on the time travel mechanics, but never in depth, and only spoke in terms of plot. They also are not particularly interested in science.

        I had one underclassman and one peer who adore Steins;Gate. Both these two discussed with me the properties of casuality, googled John Titor, researched the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and were highly interested in the experimentation of the phone microwave. We also played the visual novel and enjoyed listening to the (skipped in the anime) lecture Kurisu gave about time machines, current theories of physics regarding them, and the amount of energy and practically that would go into them. All three of us are science majors and were on the upper end of our classes. And we all put additional focus on episode 4 and 9, the former after whch the human experimentations are revealed and D-mail experimentation begins, and the latter where Akiba’s landscape completely transforms as a result of the butterfly effect.

        At my university, the entirety of the anime society praises Steins;Gate. And we are a highly STEM-field focused university.

        So I while you may think it’s presumptuous that I claim my background helped me be more interested, based on my experience, having extra interest in the scientific process of trial and error, experimentation and testing these limitations significantly improved the experience provided by the beginning episodes.

        I notice that you abhor the first half of the series. I also notice that you, at least in this article, did not take particular note of the science, or the experimentation, or mechanics of time travel, etc. You seem like you care much more about the drama happening than the scientific aspects of the show. So in no way does it seem like to me that the assumption you didn’t particularly (emphasis on this word) enjoy the scientific aspects enough to improve the first half of the show.

        So let me ask you: DID you enjoy the science particularly?

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          No, I did not. And I do have a science background. I merely find it funny that you think you somehow have a special appreciation for it because you take science classes. I think you just come off sounding pretentious. As if there’s a special understanding that you share with the show. You’re drawing broad generalizations based on your own anecdotal evidence.

          Reply
      3. Strident

        And also, as an addition:

        How many high schoolers enroll in organic chemistry?
        In every (to be fair, as many as possible) AP STEM class they can take (in particular: Computer Science, Physics/B/C Elec/Mag and Mech., Chemistry, Biology, Statistics, Calculus BC, and Environmental Science)?
        And yeah, my friends who like this show have done similar stuff, i.e. they enrolled in the same courses (cause we’re, you know, friends who like science a lot).

        The answer is not many. Yeah, yeah, this post is pretty pretentious. Sorry about that, but hopefully you get my point:

        “The rest of us haven’t…”

        If I want to nitpick: Yeah, most of the (natural) English-speaking anime watching community aren’t as interested in science as this, which is why I found it to be a reasonable assumption.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          You keep going on and on and on about the classes you’ve taken and how much you and your friends have been exposed to science, blah blah blah. No offense, but it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. All I’m saying is, don’t assume that the people who dislike the first half of the show are not also scientifically-inclined. I have a BS in physics, man. I don’t go shouting about it from the rooftops because I don’t personally think it’s all that important. I like the sciences as much as the next nerd too. I was not impressed with Steins;Gate. Because y’know what? If I truly wished to sate my curiosity in the sciences, I’d open up a scientific journal or read an article about the latest discoveries. An anime doesn’t personally cut it for me. I’m glad you liked it. I don’t even mind that we have a difference of opinion. You want to defend the show? Great! Just don’t draw broad generalizations about the people who don’t like the show as much as you do when your only evidence is “When I talk with people who are not particularly interested in science, they typically find Steins;Gate less interesting.” There’s an air of condescension in your comments.

          Reply
        2. Strident

          Since I just prepared way too much to say in reply, I’ll just organize my point in points:

          1. I’ve talked to a lot of people, and many of whom are vastly different from everyone else.
          2. I never said that this is ‘definitely’ why I liked Stein;Gate more. I said “probably”, and that’s because I found it probable.
          3. You’re taking this personally, and I’m sorry if you do. It’s not meant to be a personal address, or insult, or anything like that. It’s meant to be an acknowledgement that my opinion may be different from yours for a potential reason that I find probable.
          4. I suppose you could say that I am defending Steins;Gate, but what I’m actually doing is just presenting my portrayal because I would like you to hear it. Maybe even talk to me about it, but I’m extremely disappointed that you want to focus on an aside I made, and I suppose that means you don’t care about the rest of my post.
          5. The only thing I want to defend is my right to have an opinion and to use evidence, no matter how flimsy it may seem (to you), to develop an explanation that I presented to you as food for thought, rather than a pretentious offense as you are making it out to be.
          6. If you think my opinion is wrong, cool. That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion about my opinion, but I’d prefer it if you don’t turn this into a personal attack.
          7. I’m trying to be polite to you, but you’re not really helping me here.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            You’re mistaken if you think I’m taking this personally. I have no reason to. I’m pretty secure in my own educational accomplishments. Meanwhile, you’re the one constantly bringing up your qualifications and talking yourself up. I’m merely pointing out how erroneous your assumptions are, but you seem adamant in your belief that you are not generalizing the people you disagree with. Plus, nobody cares what classes you’re taken or how you and your friends are at the “upper end” of them. Dude, you sound fucking insufferable.

            I’m extremely disappointed that you want to focus on an aside I made, and I suppose that means you don’t care about the rest of my post.

            “I don’t mean any offense by this, but I wrote this post years ago. I’ve long forgotten much about the show because it isn’t even a show that I particularly love. I look at every comment I get, but it isn’t really practical to respond to every single one of them. This is especially true for old shows. Either I give you a half-assed reply because I don’t remember the details of the show anymore, or I just don’t respond. I think it’s better to not respond.”

            7. I’m trying to be polite to you, but you’re not really helping me here.

            Haha, you think I’m being rude? Fine. We’re done here. I tried to be civil even though your comments were smug as fuck, but here’s your self-fulfilling prophecy. This is basically what you sound like: “You plebes don’t understand this show because you haven’t taken science classes! I talk to people! That’s evidence! I’m not at all biased towards the fact that — heh — smart people just like this show more.” Self-important anime fans like yourself are a dime a dozen. Anyway, please do not come back to this blog.

            Reply
        3. zhuinden

          I liked the romance, the two main protagonists (Kurisu and Okabe), the setting, and how they twisted some stuff around at midpoint and at end. The characters were well-designed, even if some better than the other.

          Reply
        4. Strident

          I directly empathized with Okabe, and how his personality mirrored my own in several ways.

          For one thing, I also have a tendency to act erratically. Like Okabe, my friends were few, but close, and I have a tendency to feel shy around strangers, and instead play it off by acting flamboyantly or making unusual comments. I also have fun acting unusualy and hyper-actively when having fun around my friends. There are also some other similarities, but for the sake of length, I’ll omit them.

          What’s also nice is that Kurisu is the genius here. When you look at it from a life-success perspective, she’s superior to Okabe in almost every way. She is the key factor in advancing the phone microwave experimentation; Okabe didn’t really do anything significant, besides pay the rent, which brings up the question of inferiority, participation, self-value, etc.

          Reply
  10. IknowIknow

    Yes this anime didn’t really click with me either. I’m posting this comment here since you said you are reading’em all (ho ho ).
    I didn’t mind the show developing slowly, it’s just that I still felt no real emotional attachment towards all characters even by the end of the show. But on a broader scale, this hasn’t just to do with the show, but with this medium of anime in general:
    What if, say Naru (the computer hacker) and that self-proclaimed “mad scientist” switched roles in terms of their looks, but leaving all character traits intact, would the events still develop as they did? Having said that, why exactly did Kurisu fell in love with Kyouma other than she was clearly attracted by his looks? Again, as already mentioned, this is the inherent flaw of a harem-like show, where the female characters fall for the main guy just for the sake pushing through with the plot. Having said that, I kinda drew a parallel between Kyouma / Mayuri vs Kyouma /Kyouma relationship to that of the anime “Detective Conan”, where Conan wouldn’t go for Ai over Ran despite the former being smarter and arguably more attractive. It’s also what really bugged me, was that Mayuri was really just what you described: An object. The good story potential you mentioned is indeed a valid point: Instead of just going back to the past and undoing all D-mails to avoid the confrontation with STERN, how about instead developing a story for the main character to defeat STERN, using this time travel to his advantage, and collecting data using Naru to hack into their database and going about planning a scheme etc. Instead, we are left with a guy who has this magnificent ability but doing nothing really with it, except ultimately getting a girl…Yes they did mention he “avoided” WW3, but they also said that Kurisu was one of the leading BAD people leading STERN. Later in the show we are told that she is actually needed to avoid WW3, when all Kyouma had to do was discard those Documents of her (which she tried to give to her father). To me it’s just an excuse for those two to get together because of the romance between them. There is a heck of a lot more flaws to this show which I just don’t feel like pointing out, but so much so for the “really good story”. It was very linear, and the “twists” just felt really really stupid.

    Reply

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