What if our current view of reality was wrong ? What if what we call reality was only one of the infinite lines that « time » could offer ? It’s an example of the type of question you will ask yourselves after watching Steins Gate, an artwork mixing time travel, conspiration, and appealing characters, that will keep you hooked, and in whose complexity you will certainly lose yourselves.
But what is Steins Gate ? It’s a visual journey as well as an audio journey, from the beginning till the end, in which we will follow Okabe Rintaro, a young student of the Tokyo Denki University, self-proclaimed « Mad Scientist, Houyinn Kyouma » and his « future gadget laboratory ». It’s an adaptation of a Japanese visual novel, produced by White Fox, which released a first season in 2011, then a movie in 2013 and finally a second season in 2018. How can you produce this amount of content, without falling into the trap of repetitiveness and fan service ? The answer is simple. The story is so well directed that it gives them various possibilities to exploit. In fact, we follow Okabe Rintarou, a extravagant character, who loves to be called by his self-invented second identity, Houyinn Kyouma, who is surrounded in mystery, and his crew, composed of Itaru, one of his university friends, a experienced hacker, and Mayuri, a childhood friend of Rintarou. After a slow start, presenting a usual « slice of life » artwork, the spectator will be taken by surprise by a unexpected series of events. That will mark the beginning of the plot and the mystery and rhythm will greatly increase. This plot will continuously be rhythmed by unexpected and surprising events, mixed with other funnier scenes, the goals of which are to light up the series of all this drama. This great mix with also time travel, romance, and the Houyin Kyouma presence will keep you captivated throughout the series.
Besides the story, it’s also with its Character Design that Steins gate differentiate itself from the others, with the development of most of the characters in a way that we are bound to feel connected with them, and in a certain way starting to understand how they react and feel. But the closer you get to them, the harder it will be to let them go. Although the graphism paints a luminous world, it will be the dark and creepy path that Okabe take that we will follow, in which we will see, beside his strong character, how human he is.
As we are talking about graphics, it might be a topic on which Steins Gate is lacking. In fact the saga didn’t have much financing at the beginning which explains why the overall quality of its graphism is less spectacular than most of the anime that are released today. Although the financing was limited, I can assure you that every Yen was used properly. The overall art level is not jaw-dropping compared to other artwork of the same kind but the drawing and colorization fit the overall ambience focusing more on a realistic and detailed representation of our society today, making it different to the anime that we see the most.
A last point that I didn’t talk about is the soundtrack. It has a well rythmed opening and ending, perfectly fitted to the images. The background music is incredibly fitting to the scene, and, like the graphics, it also gives some weight to the accompanying scene.
To conclude, I enjoyed the series overall, as well as the way time travel is tackled, and all the theory related to the « butterfly effect ». It’s also interesting to observe the effect of these time travels on our main and favorite character Okabe. Despite the slow start, I started to be hooked after a triggering event that occurs in the sixth episode and by the way the events were going on. It’s also the infinite possibilities of development that the story offer that surprised me. For the film, Steins gate movie : Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu, as well as for the second season : Steins Gate 0, I found that these sequels perfectly continue the story started in the first season. To me, there is a lot to experience/discover watching this story. There is a lot of mystery to solve clue by clue, at the same time as the main character does, but you will also have to go a little further, like making your own theory or finding it on the internet. You will also learn how much endearing and captivating Okabe is. I have done my best not to spoil any moments of this amazing anime, and I will let you discover the series by youself, and lose yourself in this amazing colored, animated, and auditory journey.
El Psy Kongroo