Steins;Gate: A story about a self-proclaimed mad scientist who time travels to save the world. Or rather, a story about causes and consequences, fate, science and free will.
In A Nutshell
Steins;Gate follows the story of mad scientist Okabe, who runs an eccentric small lab along with his childhood friend Mayuri and the otaku hacker Daru. One day they realize that one of their strange gadgets, the Phone Microwave, can actually send text messages to the past. This messages can affect the flow of time and cause unforeseen consequences. Things only get more complicated when they realize that there’s actually a big dystopian conspiracy by the organization SERN (reference to CERN).
Meet the Characters
Okabe, or as he calls himself, Kyouma Hououin, is the main protagonist. He’s an 18 year old who calls himself a mad scientist. He spends his free time in a lab that he shares with his friends Mayuri and Daru. He’s very goofy and believes in conspiracy theories, but he’s also very intelligent and cares deeply about his friends.
Mayuri, also called Mayushii, is Rintarou’s friend from childhood. She’s a very innocent, friendly and sweet girl. She has a passion for cosplay and works part-time in a maid café to help support Okabe’s research. She is not so interested in science, but she loves spending time in the lab and being with Okabe.
Hashida, also called Daru, is also a member of the lab. He’s the stereotypical overweight otaku man who dreams about 2 dimensional girls and often makes perverted jokes. He’s a hacker and knows a lot about computers, being very helpful in Okabe’s lab.
There are many other important members in the anime, but revealing them would be spoiler-y!
A Brief History of Steins;Gate: the When, Where and How
Steins;Gate is a Japanese visual novel developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus. It is the second game of their Science Adventure series. The gameplay follows non-linear plot lines that offer the player branching scenarios with different courses of interaction.
The game was so successful that it was released for different gaming platforms and it was even exported to America. It was also adapted into different types of media like manga, light novel, drama CDs, a film, a board game and a live action play. The anime adaptation was released in 2011 and it aired between April 6th and September 14th. Another anime adaptation of the sequel Steins;Gate 0 is currently in production.
Why It’s Awesome
When I first got into Steins;Gate, it was under the assumption that it would be a very dark, serious show. After all, it’s ranked #2 on MyAnimeList and it’s labeled under “Sci-Fi” and “Thriler” so I was expecting some kind of Death Note with time travelling. It got certainly depressing in some moments, especially from episode 13 onward, but I didn’t expect to laugh so much at the main character’s eccentricities. In a way, he reminded me of the Doctor.
Time travelling is a very complicated topic when writing a story. Not only because time is one of the most confusing and mysterious subjects in physics, but also because it’s the perfect recipe to paradoxes and plot holes. Steins;Gate managed to keep the story coherent and interesting at all moments, so I have to give the series extra credit for that. Despite what the anime suggests in the very first episodes, more than the time travelling being the means to the main story, it felt more like the actual story was about the time travelling itself. It’s the typical case of “what’s important is the people you become attached to along the way rather than the destination”. In Steins;Gate, the conflict of the story lies with changing events for “selfish” reasons and the consequences it can have. Of course we don’t have such problem in reality (for now), but the moral of the story would be that, sometimes, you have to let things follow its natural course, otherwise you might make things worse and lose yourself in the process. That is probably why I wasn’t that satisfied with the ending and the way things turned out, but… that would all be spoilers. .
As for the audiovisual aspects, the colour palette is quite interesting as it everything seems to be desaturated and bright, but you get quickly used to it. The OST doesn’t really stand out at first, but that’s because it fits the series so well that you barely notice it. Listening to the soundtrack after you have finished the show is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.