Saturday, August 31, 2013

Anime Review: Steins Gate

STEINS GATE: The story really takes a lot of time to take off, but once it does, you’re in for a ride

Steins Gate is about a group of friends who has customized their microwave into a device that could send messages to the past. This has led them to the peculiar world of time travel. However, it turns out that researching and experimenting on such a controversial thing also has negative repercussions. Now, they have no choice but to play a game with fate using the things that they have learned.

This whole concept of time travel is rather a cliché nowadays, so some viewers might find Steins Gate’s premise to be unoriginal. But there is a big difference between the ordinary time travel story and Steins Gate. This series has utilized a number of scientific theories to create a solid foundation of its time travel concept. This means that Steins Gate follows a set of rules and technicalities in its time travelling; it’s not just about simply going back to the past.

Personally, I really enjoy stories that are bound by rules, for this trait prevents the exploitation of deus ex machina. Aside from that, it triggers the viewers to utilize their brains on coming up with strategies that exploit the rules.

However, Steins Gate’s overload of rules also has a negative effect. It makes the story so hard to establish, because there are just too many things to explain. This becomes very evident in the first half of the series, which is dedicated to the various experiments of the group of friends, so the viewers could understand the rules and technicalities of time travel.

What makes the first half even more problematic is its lack of a major conflict. Sure, there are immediate conflicts here and there, but they are not solid enough to sustain the interest of the viewers. Their conclusions aren’t even gratifying, for they seem to be too simple as conflicts in the first place. However, this portion is not all bad. The seemingly random experiments turn out to be not random at all. They are not just included to the series to present the rules and technicalities of time travel, for they are actually legitimate plot points that affect the second half of the story.

Speaking of the second half of the story, this is the part where the real fun begins. This portion is where the rules and technicalities of time travel shine so much that they make the information overloading of the first half worth it. The series also starts to employ a darker tone, as the characters are drawn to the effects of their experiments. By the end of this portion, the viewers will realize that all the plot points of the series fit together. This just shows that Steins Gate is a very planned-out story.

However, the characterization is a different case. The only fleshed-out character of the series is Okabe Rintaro, the main protagonist. I’m not saying that the other characters are paper cut-outs. The problem I have with them is that they are not given much focus in the story.

The story is just so plot-oriented that the viewers couldn’t even get to know the characters aside from Okabe Rintaro. These characters actually have very distinct personalities and leave an impression, meaning that they have the potential to be great characters. It is just too bad that they don’t enjoy much screen time to fully show their worth.

Characters of Steins Gate

As for its animation and music, they are not really groundbreaking, and I can’t even remember a particular scene or soundtrack that stood out in their own department. However, the entertainment value of Steins Gate does not rely on these technicalities. It is in its story.

Overall, Steins Gate is a series that I would highly recommend to both anime enthusiast and not. The concept it portrays, no matter how cliché it seems to be, is actually very original because of the way it has been executed. But I must admit that it could have been more gripping if the first half has been a lot more solid.

            Related posts:
            Anime Review: Steins Gate: Burdened Domain of Deja Vu
            Anime Review: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time


  1. I watched Steins Gate a couple of weeks ago and the series completely blew me away. As you said, it is an original take on time-travel, which is difficult to do considering how many time-travel stories there have been.
    While I do agree that the first few episodes are somewhat slow, they appealed to for reason and I was completely hooked by after the second episode. I do not know exactly why, but I really liked all of the characters from the start.

    *Spoiler* Anyway, after Mayuri's death the show really picked up and became incredibly suspenseful, intense, and intriguing. As you did, I liked all of the rules placed around time-travel.

    By the way, did you watch the OVA? It did a good job of wrapping a few things up. I also cannot wait for the release of the Steins Gate movie with either subtitles or dud.

    Excellent review!

    "El Psy Congroo"


    1. I was kind of indifferent in the first half, primarily because there was no solid conflict to keep the story going. But yeah, their experiments were pretty fun so I continued watching, and I was still expecting it to get better because the show was ridiculously popular. I agree, the turning point would be Mayuri's death. Everything just becomes suspenseful.

      I haven't seen the OVA! I guess I have to check it out soon.

  2. dude... the first part half and tge first episode is truly important. It may be slow at first but a story so complicated like steins gate needs more strong foundation than a girl who leapt through time. It may be good too but I loved science fictions that makes people think and listen to significant infos. After watching the last episode, I knew that the first episode is very important. It may be confusing at first but the story 'Steins Gate' are for those who can keep waiting until the real fun begins. Have you watched the Kdrama 'Secret Garden'? At first you'd think its lame at first while you wait for the time the main characters' bodies swap together but after a few eps, the drama begins. Its the same with Steins Gate, baka!!! t's SciFi!!! It's not Slice of Life like The Girl Who Leapt Through time,so, Steins Gate is better than The Girl Who Leapt Through Time!!!

    1. You seem to misunderstand this review. The reason I said The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is better than Steins Gate is its ability to interweave exposition and action, which Steins Gate obviously falls short. In storytelling, it is important to sustain the interest of your viewers by constantly having a sense of conflict, and Steins Gate lacks in that sense too because the first half is almost pure exposition and the conflicts are weak. It's about the structure of the story, and the fact that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is Slice of Life has nothing to do with it.