Not your average TARDIS-based time-travel story, although just as awesome.
Time-travel has always been an interesting theme in the realm of science-fiction. Whether it may be movies, novels, or TV series, stories that revolve around the concept of time and the act of time-travellinghas become rather prevalent amongst various pieces of media and visual entertainment in general. Anime, of course, is no exception, although to a lesser extent. There are quite a few anime series that apply the concept of time, interweaving it within the story either as a plot device (see Madoka Magica) or just as a general premise. The anime in question is the latter of the two. However, it doesn’t just use the ACT of time-travelling, but also delves into the more scientific aspects of it.
What’s up, ladies, gentlemen. My name is Ken, from thebuttonsmashers.com, and today, the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey 2012 extravaganza: Steins;Gate.
Steins;Gate aired during the Summer season of 2012 and is under the sci-fi (as you would’ve guessed by now) and thriller genre. Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Satou, and Tomoki Kobayashi, this anime has been produced under the company White Fox and concepted by the people over at Nitroplus. With 24 episodes, does it provide us with intellectual entertainment or just bore us with fact dumps about the conceptions of time? Let’s see.
Shall we begin?
Set in 2010 Akihabara, Steins;Gate follows Okabe Rintaro, a mad scientist (so he claims) who believes that an evil organization is out to create a means to bend time to their will, and the members of his “lab”. What do they do in this lab? Why, create random inventions and innovations that prove to be either useless or unusable or just plain crazy. One day however, Okabe inadvertently sends a text message to the past through an invention that was still in the process of being tested (mind you, they didn’t know it could do that). Upon realizing what has taken place, he and his lab members continue to experiment on their new-found invention by altering past occurrences. Little do they know the consequences that were soon to follow…………………….
Like other sci-fi series like Doctor Who, this show focuses on time-travelling and uses it as its main premise. What sets Steins;Gate apart, however, is how they use the subject of time-travel’s technical side. This is a unique factor, because stories that include time-travel (e.g. travelling to the past/future) are easy to create AND understand. Conversely, a story that revolves around the nooks and crannies of time-travelling itself, is difficult to make and even more difficult to understand. Steins;Gate does the latter, but presents itself so as it is, at the very least, realistic and somewhat easier to understand, which takes away that hurdle of not being able to make the audience understand what you’re trying to project to them because of faulty explanations.
I’M LOOKING AT YOU, 10TH DOCTOR.
Don’t get all wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey with me….
In all seriousness though, Steins;Gate’s plot is rather unique and interesting. It starts off slow and harrowing, something that can immediately turn off some viewers. However, once the plot gets going at around the 6th/7th episode, things get turned up to an 11. Cliffhangers, plot twists, and character development all combine for a mixture of awesome suspense. The slow start will definitely be worth it. The attention to detail in the storyline is really impressive in a way that concepts that seemed irrelevant suddenly becomes the overall defining factor of an event, so just keep that in mind and you’ll be fine.
First off, the lighting and the settings.
I put these two factors together because these two are like peanut butter and jelly: great individually, better when combined. Both the lighting and the setting designs compliment the show’s style effectively. You really get a sense of just how big, and how complex, and how crowded, and how urban-y Akihabara is, a nice contrast (or compliment, depending on how you look at it) to the unnatural events that take place in the show. The lighting definitely “shines” through this show, effectively helping to set the atmosphere of the show. Everything, from the glaring afternoon sun to the common city lights, all add to whatever feeling the show wants you to feel.
Besides the lighting and setting, the rest of the animation is fluid and there are some instances where the animation styles are changed, which is definitely something nice to add to a show such as Steins;Gate. Same goes for the unique character designs, which adds to their awesomeness and style. Lastly, the animation for both the opening and ending themes greatly compliment their respective songs, multiplying their awesomeness-levels, shooting it across multiple beta timelines, before finally crashing into a sun, causing a massive supernova that shines with such majesty for everyone to adore.
A little peek at that lighting style…
The characters for Steins;Gate are, in my opinion, some of the most interesting fictional human beings that I ever had the pleasure of watching on screen. They basically took the uniquely interesting premise of the show and made it 97.3546% more interesting. Each and every character has his/her own special personality trait that makes for very amusing character interactions. This is especially seen in moments when the lab members go through their less-than-normal days in the lab. It gives the viewer a sense of intimacy between the members and builds upon that character interaction so that it appears wacky and crazy and sometimes stupid, but still remains realistic.
The characters themselves, individually, are amazing to watch: from Kurisu’s tsundere attitude, to Mayuri’s gentle and fun-loving personality, every character has their own special trait. And let’s not forget about our main man, Okabe. He is one of the most interesting and awesome anime character’s I have ever seen. He’s basically the 10th/11th Doctor if you gave them a lab coat instead of a suit and a bowtie. Okay, maybe he isn’t ENTIRELY like them, but he’s similarly caring, noble, quirky, and, most of all, HUMAN. Lastly, the amount of character development is astonishingly impressive. This is seen especially with Okabe, as <spoilerific> events allow him to develop into a more <spoilerific> person. And it’s not just him; a lot of the other characters undergo development in someway, and thus makes them all the more interesting.
“I am mad scientist! It’s so cool! Sonuvabitch!”
Steins;Gate’s soundtrack does an excellent job in helping to create a mysterious sci-fi-ish feel to the show. It has the right musical piece for the right moments, and there were some memorably tracks in it as well. The voice acting is wonderful and brings the characters to life even more. Major props to Mamoru Miyano for complimenting Okabe’s quirky personality with quirky voice acting. He wouldn’t be the same mad scientist without his voice actor. The rest of the cast was splendid and did a bang-up job as well.
I’ll be prompt and direct: the first few episodes of Steins;Gate are slow. Very slow.
For an anime that is as widely acclaimed as Steins;Gate, the first few episodes may be quiet a slow start for a lot of people, myself included. I was baffled and lost and, to be honest, bored. However, once you get past the first few episodes, once the plot starts kicking in, then what you’ll get is a balls-to-the-walls, unique, and suspenseful science-fiction story that will leave you at the edge of your seat. Cliff-hangers and thrilling moments are abundant, and the interestingly unique plot sets it apart from other sci-fi stories. Sprinkle it with wicked plot twists, and you’ve got a recipe for great popcorn-material.
Overall, I would say that Steins;Gate is a unique experience that is a definite step-forward for anime. It shows just how exhilarating a complex topic such as time-travel can be without forcing too many information down your throat. It has a slow start that can turn off some, if not most, people, but stick around it for a while; I’m sure you won’t regret it. If you’re a fan of sci-fi series, especially time-travel stories like Futurama or Doctor Who, then Steins;Gate may just be something you’ll love to eat up. Even if you’re not a fan, I still encourage you to give it a spin, as there is a high percentage of seeing something in the show that will appeal to you in some way, shape, or form.
I hereby award Steins;Gate with an overall score of 84 Stylish Mad Scientist Poses out of 10.
Dat pose though…
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the show itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it.
And with that, I bid you all adieu. This has been Kenji, and I’ll see you guys in the future.