Steins;Gate Review

This is review number one hundred and fifty three. It’s part of the Spring 2011 anime lineup and it’s one of the best shows you can ever watch. It’s Steins Gate, a twenty four episode anime about time travel. It’s an amazing show.

Story

The story is about a guy named Rintarou Okabe. He’s a self-proclaimed mad scientist who, along with his friends, was trying to build a time machine. Along with the help of a genius named Kurisu Makise, their curious mind soon explored the possibilities to time travel. Little did they know though about the consequences their actions caused. Rintarou soon find himself in the busiest three weeks of his life challenging fate and defying the impossible.

Taking the Pants Off

I remember Steins Gate. It was just a year ago when I watched this anime and I was completely in love with it. I love a really great story in my anime and this show was able to meet my expectation and go beyond that. I remember when it was first announced and cringed at the oddly familiar title. There were rumors that it’s going to be like Chaos Gate, an anime so diabolical that I wanted to cut myself after watching it. It was probably a great way to lower expectations because Steins Gate is nothing like the other show. The only thing they have in common is that they were set in the same world. They never mention each other as if the other doesn’t exist. You don’t really have to read my lengthy review because anyone can tell you that Steins Gate is a must watch. The way it presented its story was familiar yet unique yet also gripping and thrilling. This is one of those anime I can watch ten years from now and I’ll still be eager to watch it.

The anime is about time travel and that is the only clear thing about it when you first watch it. I have to admit, it was a bit confusing at first and the pacing felt like it was dragged a bit. The anime only introduced us to this weird guy who talks to his cell phone with a girl that greets people with an annoying sound and a fat otaku who is into computers. The first few episodes of the anime felt a bit muddled because you were expecting people to travel time but instead, we are forced to watch conversations between two people who live in Akihabara. Some side characters are introduced and the element of time travel was hinted but never really focused as much. The slow start of the anime was intentional though and there are good reasons while the anime didn’t rush the time travel aspects immediately. It went out of its way to introduce the characters first and their role in the anime.

The first half is where the anime laid all the groundwork. The characters are introduced, the status quo is slowly established, the setting is clearly set and the notion of time travel is introduced. The slow start is also a bit confusing at first but things does start to get clearer as the anime progresses. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of the anime. It was indulgent in its theories and scientific backing around time travel that everything the anime presented felt legit. It played around different theories and demonstrated some of them very clearly. Some of them will go over your head though as stuff like the Kerr Black Hole Theory, Butterfly Effect and Parallel world theories are explored by the anime. It feels a bit technical but you can just google them to get a better idea. They feel familiar though if you’ve ever seen time travel shows because Steins Gate plays around the same idea. The time travel aspects of the anime are really well done with the way the show presented theories and ideas.

Towards the end of the first half, after the characters are introduced and the background around time travel is established, the story began to move. This is where the premise of the show was actually introduced: the time travelling part of the show. It was a slow paced move towards the second half. The characters explored the capabilities of their time machine, discovered its restrictions and functions and made some tests to see how effective it is. Everything was flowing organically at this point. Characters are introduced further and certain relationships are established. The first half ended with the introduction of the conflict of the show.

One of the really amazing aspects of the show is despite the slow paced feel it has, certain twists and surprises can really catch you off guard. The endless possibilities behind time travel coupled by certain theories are put into practice. Those stuff like the Butterfly effect and Parallel world theories the first half played with was amazingly incorporated into the story. As the conflict was heading towards its resolution, certain things will still catch you off guard and really deliver a strong punch as you progress to the anime. The effects of all the tests Kintarou and his gang made are now coming back to bite them in the ass and the guy is now forced to clean up the mess he unknowingly made.

The characters are one of the strongest elements of the anime. They all have a wonderful personality to them and the anime really draw strength from that. The main characters are really great stand outs to the story that they liven up the anime during the slow parts of the anime. The relationship they established gets stronger and further revelation of the character’s backstories is used to enhance the story. This simple time travel anime soon becomes so much more than that because of the powerful cast. Everyone was utilized pretty amazingly and, despite the limited cast, the story was able to still deliver unusual surprises that seem pretty hard to execute. The anime made it look easy though. The incredible transformation of the characters is also pretty incredibly pivotal to the story. They just go hand in hand that it really elevates the anime.

Even the side characters had amazing purpose to the story. In the first half, the anime was certain to introduce the side characters and even dedicated some screen time on them. Some episodes are dedicated to them and the anime made use of that time. The minor characters are heavily introduced, their background is revealed and their transformation was also used by the anime to create some pretty memorable scenes. I’m really amazed at how the anime was able to balance everything so perfectly that even minor characters were important to the show’s success.

The story just kept building and I really can’t help but admire how the anime was able to keep making the story so exciting. The concept of time travel was heavily utilized but I also love how the advancement of technology was incorporated to the time travel theories. Some time travel shows just have advance machines that go back in time with little explanation on how it’s done. Steins Gate actually had a pretty basic machine and then heavily explained how to travel back in time. I also admire how theories and conspiracies are used to really deepen the story. The butterfly effect, attractor field theory, and fatalism was told so clearly in the anime that it was easy to follow and their implications was effectively incorporated into the events of the anime. You aren’t just shocked an event happens but you also understood how the theories relate to it. It’s amazing.

I also admire how the anime was able to shift moods as the story keeps progressing. In the first half, there was a light hearted feel to the way the characters interact. Some otaku mannerisms, the ever so familiar eight grade syndrome and some tsundere notion were nicely delivered. It was fun and fluffy that grounded the anime despite all the scientific elements to it. It was able to change mood though and deliver something completely opposite to its light hearted fluff. There were some really grim moments in the anime, romantic ones and depressing ones that can really get to you. The focus was on Rintarou and his experience with time travel. It sounds so simple but the roller coaster ride the anime presented is so amazingly executed that you often feel like you are in Rintarou’s shoes.

steins15

This anime is really amazingly executed that it possesses no glaring flaw to it. It started out slow, that’s about the only downside to the anime. This is just my opinion though but the way it incorporates the sci fi aspects to the story while balancing the characters and the still effectively delivering twists that catches you off guard is outstanding. This anime is not just a cool time travel show. It’s also a thrilling drama, a cute insight into otaku culture, and a smartly paced adventure anime. I ask you, how many anime deliver more than what it’s expected as perfectly as Steins Gate?

Sight and Sound

The character design is pretty awesome. The male characters have normal looks to them that complement their personality. They don’t stand out as much but there are some pretty amazing details to them. The girls have this cute little face to them and sharp chins that looks pretty damn awesome. They also have some awesome outfits to them. I personally love Kurisu’s ensemble with the tie and the jacket hood that makes me think it looks pretty damn hot in cosplay. Mayuri also has a cute look to her with her noticeable hat and frilly dress. The maid and shrine girl outfits are also nicely made. The girls in the anime really visually stand out. I also love how the anime often focuses on their face. Their sharp chins, petite nose and fierce eyes make me want to stare at them for hours. I literally did that with a picture of Kurisu. Don’t be surprised, everyone has a 2D girl the stare at for hours.

The anime also nicely captured Akihabara. The clean lines and the scenic places are really awesome. The tall building and the angles on how they are shown are also really nice. Some scenes really come to life and I love how the anime was anal on capturing the famous place. I do find the lack of crowds in Akihabara a bit bothering. The anime often has empty streets and deserted familiar places that aren’t really like the real electronic place. I guess animating a lot of walking background characters can be difficult.  It’s not really a big bother. I do find the seemingly gloomy atmosphere of the anime a bit concerning. I understand the anime needed the gloomy aura of the streets and the buildings but they weren’t able to capture Akihabara because of it. It’s still a minor complaint though because the setting does establish the entire feel of the anime.

The animation is pretty awesome. There are a lot of scenes where the characters fidget around or walk all over or run frantically that the animation was able to capture it all. The smooth transitions and steady flow of movements is really nice. There aren’t a lot of scenes that truly defined the animation aspect of the anime though because the anime is keen on retaining it slow paced feel. Oh, there are scenes where the anime turns into sketches with moving lines in a white background and I believe this is where the animation truly shined. There aren’t any glorious fight scenes or graphic deaths to truly sweep you off your feet though. The CG work in the anime is outstanding though. I love how it blends with the rest of the background and I love how the palette of the anime complemented the CG aspects of the anime. The details on the time machine at the later parts of the anime are amazing and the movements of the CG cars are pretty smooth.

The anime’s OP is “Hacking to the Gate” by Kanako Itou. The song is pretty awesome nicely capturing the spirit of the anime. It talks about time travel and destiny that fits the anime’s theme. Kanako’s voice is pretty impressive and it nicely stands out. The OP sequence introduced all the characters but it also has a very cryptic feel to it. I personally like it because the various images flashed in it started to make sense you progress to the anime. It’s pretty awesome.

The anime’s ED is “Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku” by Yui Sakakibara. It’s the same as the OP. It has a nice slow beat with Yui’s voice nicely standing out. The song is also about time travel and destiny that really captures the anime. The ED sequence features broken glass and shots of watches that only makes sense halfway through the anime.

Overall Score

10/10 “It’s an amazing time travel show and it has more to offer than just that.”

I do not like handing out a perfect score to an anime especially since I believe there is no such thing as a perfect anime. This anime has the qualities of a perfect one though that has no glaring flaws to it and brilliant execution that I’ve never seen done in any other anime. I stand by the perfect score. I highly recommend this anime.

12 thoughts on “Steins;Gate Review

  1. What is your opinion on English dubs? Do you plan on reviewing any English dub anime in the future? Do you take requests? How do you feel about the english dub of Stein’s;Gate?

    • Not all anime gets an english release so I often don’t bother tracking down dubbed versions of anime. I don’t really thing there is much difference in dub and sub except that some cultural references are taken out, the dialogue is often fast to match the movements of the lips and they also put in some western references from time to time. The story is always intact and the progression of the plot is still the same. I mostly review those points so really, there’s not much difference.
      I have never seen the eng dub of Steins Gate. Why? is it better than the japanese version? I wish I can obtain an english dub if I can. 🙂
      I don’t really take requests cause I already have a list of anime in my backlog. basically, I’m watching everything from 2011 going backwards and from 2012 going forward. I’m currently watching all the anime of winter 2011 and winter 2013.
      What anime do you want reviewed anyways? 🙂

  2. well I like the dub better then the sub by far I’ve seen fourms where lots agree with me and forums where lot’s hated it but there are 2 different kinds of forum topics one full of elites and weaboos where people bash the shit outta a perfectly fine dub and another where they legitmently review it and say it’s better or not bad in the dub the side charter sound better along with the main charters and their traits are still there just kicked up a notch combined with back to the future the girl who lept through time and doctor who references and leat speak it’s much better in my option if you wanna rewatch it go to animepalm and check out the dub relive me it’s worth it an don’t judge it by the first episode it’s good but they improve more and more with each episode

    • That sounds fair. I actually like the fact the references included flatter the anime a bit. Besides the slightly better side character voices and references though, does the dub change the story in any way?
      I’m not critical with dubs but as long as the story is the same then i don’t really need to see the anime twice.
      Thanks for the input though. I’ll grab me some dubbed version and check it out some time.

  3. Considering how complex the story is, it’s impressive how your review flows as smoothly as the anime itself. Yet I am curious about how you felt about the change in tone for the final two episodes. As the show progressed, it became more and more fatalistic and tragic. The protagonists usual schizoid charm became forced and dead as he began to realize the futility of his actions. I was expecting a conclusion where he would have to accept his loss and somehow come to terms with his pointless struggle. Yet instead, I found the conclusion to have deus ex machina and put all of the protagonists sorrows to rest, returning him to as he was. It felt to me like the creators were too concerned for our well being at the expense of the anime’s. I’m curious if you also noticed this shift, or if perhaps I was merely interpreting it too fatalistically?

    • I do agree that the anime seemed to have pushed the story to a “forced” happy ending instead of just setting a grim tale of the effects of time travel and messing with things you shouldn’t mess with. I felt that show was clearly wrapping things up though. there were enough tragedy in the second half that I feel like a happy ending was worth it. After all, it soon became about a guy travelling in time desperately trying to fix things.
      Dues Ex Machina was present towards the end but I felt like it was a decent surprise for the story. That’s just my opinion though. The ending also gave the confusing start of the anime so needed clarity.
      Go and rewatch the first episode and you can see how brilliantly timed everything in that episode was despite being absolutely confusing when you first watched it. 🙂
      and thanks for the comment. 🙂

  4. This is definitely an anime deserving of a 10/10 and you review summed it really well. In my opinion it is one of the best as well as being one of my personal favorites. Like you mentioned in your review, this is one of a very few shows that I know for sure I will be re-watching at some point in the future as well. This is also another what I call “gateway shows” which are basically shows that I think someone who doesn’t really watch anime will probably still enjoy.

  5. Assuming you’ve seen Robotics;Notes, would you recommend it? I’m interested in checking it out because I love Steins;Gate and read they have a similar feeling? I expect it won’t be as amazing as Steins;Gate, but I don’t want to feel disappointed. What do you think?

    • I have seen RN and it’s disappointing. The story was a bit iffy. It was too fast and the episodes are too short. I was also expecting something as great as SG but I was thoroughly disappointed.

  6. I watched the series and was disappointed. For those who value their time, my humble advice. After viewing the first few episodes you’ll get a sense if you want to hang out with these characters for another 9 hours. If you do, go for it! But if they annoy you, don’t expect the second coming when the plot/ story kicks-in because, even then, you’ll still be sitting around most of the time hearing and seeing these folks interact; which can be grating if you don’t like them. I kept reading reviews, everyone pointing to the halfway mark (5hrs in) where it gets better. While true, you’re still stuck with these characters and their incessant dialogue for another 5 hours; don’t expect it to turn into an action fest. What I’m saying is, It’s still largely a dialogue driven affair, for better (if you like them) or worse (if they annoy you). So use your time wisely.

    Summarized pros/cons:
    +
    Good voice acting (English dub)
    Awesome theme song
    Good job explaining the time travel, easy to follow
    Animation
    Gave you a sense you were part of their lab (team member)
    A few episodes kept you interested in wanting to know what would happen next (cliffhangers)


    Overly dramatic, mushy, cute
    Too much dialogue (getting to know characters), too little story
    The basic tenets of storytelling (5) were imbalanced in this series:
    70% Dialogue (What are they saying?)
    10% Inner Monologue (What are they thinking?)
    10% Action (What are your characters doing?)
    5% Exposition / Narrative (What other infor­ma­tion does the nar­ra­tor (you) want us to know?)
    5% Description (What are they see­ing, hear­ing, touch­ing, tast­ing, and smelling?)
    Took way to long to get to crux of story, characterization is VERY SLOW (5hrs before things get going)
    Characters too quirky, goofy, unbelievable (young cute friend, weird FB agent)
    Conversations seemed overly silly, corny and cheesy. Generally comedy wasn’t funny.
    Motivations seemed fake (a Dad attacking his daughter, FB agent)
    Unlikable characters (Main character, Main female lead, best friend, downstairs neighbor, etc)
    Too much focus on Anime/Otaku culture, took away focus from main plot (time travel)

    • oh dear, while you have valid points, I feel like you completely missed the appeal of the show. The first few episodes are meant to be lackluster. Think of it as a bait and switch because the show wanted YOU to underestimate it and then Mayuri dies. It’s so beautifully executed. I can’t believe you can’t appreciate it.
      The show is meant to be dialogue heavy. it’s adapted from a visual novel. It’s a game where you just read texts and the gameplay is choosing from various choices that affect the flow of the game.There is very little action. The main appeal is the thick narrative itself. I gave this anime a perfect score not just for the face value the anime had.

      It is also a perfectly adapted visual novel. I’ve seen tons and reviewed so many that I can tell you Steins;Gate is in a league of it’s own. Promising titles like Danganronpa or Little Busters is only at the heels of how perfectly arranged this visual novel anime is. It covered all the routes (you end up with the any of the female cast depending on your choice) thus the clunky first half. The anime resolved it all in a smart manner though.
      You don’t need action for this anime. It’s dialogue heavy plot, the smart use of the limited cast and the theme of time travel is enough to warrant it a ten.

      Here’s just three reason to enjoy the anime though, which I fell you didn’t appreciate as well.
      1. After watching the anime, taking the wild ride Okabe had, rewatch the first episode and smile at how perfectly timed every sequence of event is.
      2. Even though the characters are Akihabara nerds, the story is compelling that everyone has a face turn by the time the anime ends. Every single one. This includes the little girl as well who innocently has no good part to be in the story yet she is.
      3. The time travel story is so modern that it incorporates time travel cliche (don’t mess with time, basically) with modern ideologies like gathering info at a forum board, f*cking John Titor (he has a wiki page), and hacking a high security company. The story got so big yet it still utilizes the small cast it originally has.

      I stand by my perfect score. Watch it. Experience it.
      You’re welcome.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with your 10/10 score, this anime is frickin’ awesome, there is not much I can say that hasn’t already been said. Let me just describe one of my favorite anime moments of all time that happens during this show:

    I don’t remember the exact quote but Kurisu is speaking to Okabe and she says something like:

    “You aren’t just, you know, pulling our leg?”

    She asks Okabe this because he is the only person who knows the truth across multiple timelines. He’s been telling the group what he experiences from his time leaps and much of it sounds unbelievable. You can tell from her tone of voice that she really WANTS to believe him, but she also doubts him because there is no way for her to absolutely know he is telling the truth.

    It’s a rather small moment, almost insignificant, but I thought it beautifully illustrated their relationship and what level of trust she has with him. I suppose that this is one of the things I liked about Steins;Gate, the relationships between characters contain subtleties that often aren’t found in most anime.

Thoughts~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s