What do you get when you mix Science fiction, a cleverly written story with nail-biting suspense, some damn good relate-able characters, and the many theories and concepts of time travel? An effing fun and fantastic experience! Hello again, it’s Panda with another spoiler free anime review, and let me tell you this one will keeping you going until you know what the frack is going on.
DISCLAIMER: First thing to note is that Steins;Gate is based off the video game of the same name, however, the show is pretty faithful to it, so it’s not really necessary to play the game respectively. Also, my description will be a little vague seeing as this is a show about “time travel”, meaning almost anything can be a spoiler.
Setting: The story takes place in 2010 (present time) in Japan. The main character is Rintaro Okabe, a university student and self-proclaimed “mad-scientist” whom often refers to himself as Hooin Kyoma (Ho-oh-in Key-oh-ma). He along with his “lab assistants” Mayuri and Daru (part of the self-dubbed Future Gadget Laboratory which Okabe founded) perform various types of experiments and create new inventions. Their latest experiment deals with the theory of time travel.
Story: One day, Okabe attends a lecture on time travel and ge
ts into a heated debate with a young woman, Makise Kurisu, who in the end bests his theories. Later, he discovers her bloody body and she appears to have been stabbed. He panics and later sends a message to Daru telling him that someone had stabbed the girl, but when he hits send, something strange happens, everyone has disappeared. He is alone on the city streets. He runs around for a while and then finds Mayuri waiting for him outside a building and everyone has suddenly reappeared. Frantic and confused, he then realizes that he’s in front of the same building where he attended the lecture and found Kurisu’s body, only there is now a satellite (like from space) that seems to have crashed on the top floor. (This is where shit gets a little crazy and I try to my best to avoid spoilers. Stay with me). After some time, Okabe along with Daru head to a seminar where Okabe accidentally finds the message he sent five days ago about Kurisu’s death. He realizes that his message traveled into the past and when the elevator doors open, Kurisu is standing outside alive and well. (Start Anime intro).
Review: Alright, real talk, this show is so effing good! It’s hard to describe without giving any spoilers away, but I have to say that I haven’t seen an anime this smart since Death Note. Let’s start with the characters, they are so relate-able that I had a hard time coping with how real they felt (I use “real” loosely). I think I mentioned this before, I’m not a big fan of subtitles when it comes to anime, but I can say that the voice actors did an insanely wonderful job. Most of these characters didn’t feel like the typical and exaggerated anime tropes that they’re supposed to be. They felt genially real. Of course, when it comes to main character, Okabe, he’s supposed to be this almost poetic speaking, crazy-weird-mad-scientist that refers to himself in third person and speaks as if he’s working with some big secret organization. It’s nonsensical, but that’s that beauty of his character, he’s self-aware of this and as you find out more about his background you love him for it.
Another thing I really love about Steins;Gate is how much research and fact checking they had to have done for it. Yes, it’s an anime, but let me tell you they refer to a lot of scientific theories and concepts, which I felt proud that I’d at least taken 2 years of chemistry in college to know about some the things they discussed (you don’t really need a background in science, it’s just a bonus)! It’s great how much detail is put into the show and where it feels like the audience needs to pay attention. It’s rewarding when you’re sitting there watching and then, BING, you just put a piece of the puzzle together. I’d often pause it, backtrack a little, and even had a mini discussion with my friends just to make sure I‘d gathered just enough clues to come with the right conclusion before the characters did (It reminded me of watching law and order and trying to figure out who the killer is).
Final thoughts: If you’re a fan of “time traveling” (there’s a reason for the “quotes”), smart and awesome storytelling, fun characters, and a shit ton of twists and turns, I’d say this is an anime for you. The art and production put into this anime is fantastic and they really wanted to deliver the best experience to viewers. My biggest recommendation is to watch it with a group of friends. You’ll have much more fun this way when you’re all coming up with different theories as to what comes next. Steins;Gate is a thrilling adventure guaranteed to keep you and your friends guessing and itching to get to the next episode. I give it 9 time loops out of 10.
And for kicks, here’s a link to the first Episode! Enjoy!