I love time travel. I don’t know what caused it; possibly an early exposure to Doctor Who when I was a child, or perhaps it was just me living a life filled with regrets. Either way, it made me a huge sucker for a time travel stories. When my friend told me about an anime called Steins;Gate, I was hesitant to start it. Not because I was worried that I wouldn’t like it – but because I knew I would, because it was a time travel story, and it would end in my wracking sobs. A few days ago, I decided to take the leap and start the 24 episode anime.
I finished it the next day.
Now, Steins;Gate isn’t your typical anime. The anime is based on a visual novel which is the second in a series; the series is called the Science Adventure, done by 5pb. and Nitroplus. This is in the same series as Chaos;Head and Robotics;Notes. The story of Steins;Gate is a very simple one at its core; a group of friends, headed by a “mad scientist” named Okabe Rintaro, discover a microwave that can send text messages into the past. They end up calling these messages D-mail, and sometimes, just sometimes, it ends up changing the past. Of course, Okabe is the only one who realizes that the past has been modified at all.
This results in a plethora of dilemmas for the characters. The anime can be divided into two halves; around the twelfth episode, the entire mood and tone of the anime changes, and none of the characters feel the same again. It’s something quite amazing, actually; watching the first half, one might even be convinced that it’s intending to be a comedy anime, with the amount of fun that the characters all appear to be having. And yet, by the end of the thirteenth episode, it’s quite clear that it is not at all a comedy. Something that it surprisingly does really well.
Without giving too much away, the first half of the season is all about them discovering the d-mail, and what it can do. Various characters discover it, and send messages back into the past to shift things slightly in their favor. The first half of the season is exploring what happens when you shift time; it explores the butterfly effect that occurs when you shift seemingly small things in time and space.
One of my only complaints is that a good number of the twists are highly predictable. By the second or third episode, I figured out a good number of the plot twists that were prevalent in the series. However, on the other hand, I didn’t expect the ending in the slightest. It was something that completely took me off guard, and I am happy because of it.
Another thing I really enjoyed about it were the characters. There was not one character I didn’t like, either as a good guy or as a villain. And I could sympathize with almost every one of the characters. Each of them have their own reasons for doing what they do, and it’s really just utterly amazing.
The other thing about Steins;Gate is that the anime is only a fraction of the story. As I mentioned earlier, it’s based on a visual novel – and the anime is only one or two of the routes of the game. On top of that, the Steins;Gate visual novel is getting an official English translation – the people over at JAST USA are working on it now, and you can go and preorder it on their site now!
All in all, Steins;Gate is a fantastic anime. Good on plot, storytelling, pacing, and everything. Sure, some of the twists are clear from the start – but it’s still an amazing journey to get to the end, and that’s what I love most about it.
I give Steins;Gate a 5 out of 5 chicken tenders!
You can watch it on Hulu in either dubbed English, or subtitled.