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Steins;Gate Review

September 18, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime

Steins;Gate is one of the better orchestrated time travelling stories I have seen. Not only does it challenge your ability to piece together different elements of the story, it also entertains fairly well with the wacky personality of its main character, Okabe Rintarou. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, here is the plot summary from MyAnimeList:

Steins;Gate is set in the summer of 2010, approximately one year after the events that took place in Chaos;Head, in Akihabara.

Steins;Gate is about a group of friends who have customized their microwave into a device that can send text messages to the past. As they perform different experiments, an organization named SERN, who has been doing their own research on time travel, tracks them down and now the characters have to find a way to avoid being captured by them.

The original Steins;Gate was a visual novel for the Xbox 360 created by 5pb and Nitro+. Spanning 24 episodes, Steins;Gate initially comes off as a mass of events with little connection to each other. For example, what does a dead scientist, a UFO, and a text message have in common? Not much, unless you come up with some wild story. Steins;Gate does come up with a wild story, but surprisingly, it’s highly ordered and actually has a method to the madness. The story can effectively be broken up into 3 different phases: a fun experimentation phase, a consequence phase, and the Kurisu phase. These three phases work in concert with each other to form the traditional elements of a story: the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.

Random static, or clues to the secrets of the Universe?

The experimentation phase, as I like to call it, consists of the exposition and takes place from episodes 1 to the end of 12. I found this part of the series to be the most boring in terms of plot. Most of the episodes were centered around Okabe, the main character, and his lab members playing around with their time machine for their own benefit. Although not very attention-grabbing, the first half of the series was essential in establishing the conditions necessary to move onto the next phase.

I would consider the end of episode 12 to be the beginning of the consequence phase, which consists of the rising action. It is here that Okabe discovers that time manipulation is not without its consequences. This is when the story started picking up and shifted from a comedic tone to one of dark desperation.

The Kurisu phase is so named because it is largely focused on the cute teenage prodigy, Kurisu Makise, and consists of the climax, falling action, and denouement. In this phase, we see a reversal of roles as Kurisu, who had been the one helping Okabe deal with the consequences of time manipulation up until now, suddenly becomes the damsel in distress.

The entire story is told from Okabe’s point of view (there is not a single scene where he is not present), and if you’ve studied literature, that would make you immediately question the reliability of the narrator. However, the story is more focused on character development through both external and internal conflict. The antagonist is initially presented as the organization of SERN, but slowly shifts to Okabe battling with the consequences of his past decisions. Over the course of the series we see him develop from a goofy nerd to a man struggling through adversity before rising to the title of hero.

A story with a well-written plot and excellent character development deserves top-notch animation and that’s exactly what Steins;Gate received. While White Fox is a relatively new animation studio, they have proven themselves fully capable of creating high-quality animation with Katanagatari, and now with Steins;Gate. One of the ways in which I compare animation quality is to see how characters look when shown at a distance. If their clothes are still the right colour and there are no lumps sticking out of their faces, then I usually consider that good for a TV anime.

One final thing that really helped deliver this series was the voice acting of Mamoru Miyano, who played Okabe. Not many anime voice actors are able to create convincing auditory displays of emotion, but Mamoru is one of them. Okabe is certainly no easy character to act, often jumping from emotions such as joy, hopelessness, anger, and sadness. My favourite part about Mamoru’s performance was that he was able to make his voice sound hollow and devoid of life when Okabe had all but given up on his quest to change fate.

Steins;Gate is definitely one of the hidden gems of the year with its well-organized and written story, and excellent execution. I look forward to seeing what the movie will bring.

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17 Comments to “Steins;Gate Review”

  1. A great ending for a great series!!!

    Where is my Kurisu Nendoroid? ç____ç
    (still in customs in my country ç___ç)
    feal87 recently posted..Kamisama no Memo Chou – Finally they come up with a good story…

  2. Great review. I’d been contemplating watching it, but I’d rather play the game. Too bad my Japanese isn’t good enough. :(
    Coba1tAngel recently posted..Figure ReviewShana (from Shakugan no Shana) Black Hair ver.

  3. Yeah I concur, Steins;Gate was a great and highly enjoyable anime.
    Im glad that White Fox didn’t kill my favorite character in the end like in Katanagatari :D

    Personally I think the middle part centered a little bit too long around Mayuri’s several “accidents”, I’ve enjoyed the experimentation phase and the Kurisu phase the most.

    Okabe’s voice was great, it made a very convincing character out of him .
    Fabienne recently posted..Hatsune Miku – lat type version by GSC

  4. Aah, finally a good spoiler-free review. I’ll probably pick this up in the coming months. Not too sure about the “hidden gem” part though, because the aniblogosphere was all over this bad boy ;)
    TRazor recently posted..Moe Kare–A Lot of Moe but Not Enough Kare- The Manga Review by Moon

  5. So considering to memorize Okabe’s lines and stuff and go as him to some con.
    Seinime recently posted..intermissions: nostalgia drive

  6. @feal87:
    I’m waiting for my Kurisu nendoroid too, it should be on its way right now.

    If there was an English version of the game, I’d play it too.

    I’m not sure if White Fox has much say in the story writing, but I’m glad they didn’t kill off anyone here too. All of Mayuri’s accidents helped drag Okabe down into the depths of despair, but there were a lot of episodes that seemed to focus on that.

    I try to leave out as many spoilers as possible for full reviews, episodic reviews are an entirely different matter though. Now that I think about it, there does seem to be a lot of talk about Steins;Gate. My mind is still stuck in the spring season when everyone was raving over Ano Hana and Madoka.

    I thought about dressing up as Okabe in the last con I went to. I have the lab coat and some old clothes that look just like his, but cosplay really isn’t my thing.

  7. Steins;Gate was nice and interesting to watch.

    Gonna miss Mayushii… tutt turuuuu
    Shizuo recently posted..Super Glue pawned Nakamura-Sensei for 250 gold!

  8. @Shizuo:
    tu tu ru!
    I’m going to miss her too, she always brightened things up.

  9. While I did like the ending, I felt empty when the series ended. I wanted more, that craving I got over several weeks of watching just never got satisfied completely. I went into it not knowing what to expect and at first it wasn’t extremely promising, but it suddenly bolted into high gear and really caught my interest. I found myself watching it religiously and now I’m going to miss it, until the movie at least. Lots of memorable characters and a great story to back them up. Steins;Gate was definitely a hit for me too.
    Persocom recently posted..Suika Ibuki Figma

  10. I enjoyed the fun experimentation phase the most simply because it’s a bit more relaxing and funny. But if the entire Steins;Gate only consists of that then it’ll be a terrible anime, which is why the other two phases are important and in my opinion played crucial role in making it the anime we all enjoyed.
    Hoshiko recently posted..Things I learn from Ikoku Meiro no Croisée

  11. I’m surprised that an anime based on a Visual Novel could be so well rated, I look forward to watching it
    lovelyduckie recently posted..Selling Some Figures

  12. A very well put together series just like the visual novel (expect for the character endings they did not do. Kurisu/True route only). I same still having trouble seeing how Chaos;Head was such a screw up…

  13. I’ve just finished watching this. I wanted to to finish the series before reading your review but it looks like it was spoiler free in the end.

    Steins;Gate was awesome and certainly lived up to my expectations. I liked the earlier episodes more than the later ones. The darker turn was okay, but I much preferred when everyone was happy. Glad they didn’t opt for a depressing ending as well. I especially liked how everything eventually came full circle upon itself – something we don’t see often. And if we do it’s certainly not executed as well as seen here in Steins;Gate.

    My only complaints have nothing to do with the series itself and more the legal streaming bull that went on here in the UK.

  14. I heard a lot of things on Steins;Gate while it was airing but decided to hold off until it finishes airing. Now that I hear all the buzz around it and blitzed it through (especially the “consequence phase” that you call it), I can finally comment on a review that we both have watched lol.

    It has been a while since I have watched something that puts me a to a smile at the end rather than having a sour taste or an empty feeling. While my experience with visual novel is minimal, this seems to be a very good series that have maanged to translate the visual novel into an anime series, and those who have not played the game can understand it, go through it very smoothly, and not feeling that they have missed anything in between.

    The first half is pretty much like a setup, and while it is relatively slow I agree how it is crucial to build up to what comes for the 2nd half. It’s also interesting how it serves as an opportunity to go through individual character like they have their own little arc each episode when Okabe has to reverse what he has done later in the story, with Kurisu being the final arc as she is the main heroine in the story (best thing is left to the last kind of thing).

    As for Okabe’s voice, despite the fact that Setsuna F Seiei from Gundam 00 still can’t escape from my mind when hearing Okabe speak, Okabe really has a great variety of emotions there from madness, happiness, to utter sadness, and you can really feel the character there. I’d say Miyano would deserve an award for the role. Now I wonder how the movie will come about; apparently it’s going to be an alternate story line?
    Q recently posted..Me and watching anime

  15. @Persocom:
    I actually found it to be a good length and I was satisfied with the ending. On the other hand, I wasn’t expecting much out of it so that may have played a factor in how well I thought it did.

    The experimentation phase was fun to watch at first, but I was starting to get bored of it after a while, even though it was important to the story. It’s a good thing that they moved on to the next phase of the story soon after that.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Having alternate endings for each of the characters would’ve made it seem like a pick and choose ending, and I don’t think that would’ve made the anime better. I’m also wondering how Chaos;Head did so bad after watching Steins;Gate.

    It’s just personal preference, but I thought the darker part was better because it was more attention-grabbing whereas the peaceful parts didn’t compel me to watch more.

    The amount of information they included in the anime from the visual novel is impressive. While I haven’t played it myself, it does seem like they covered all of the characters in enough detail for the viewer to understand their situations and their resulting actions.

    I haven’t heard what the movie wil be about, but if it is an alternate storyline, I wonder if Kurisu is still the main female character.

  16. I would agree that the experimentation phase was boring. In fact, it was so boring, I ultimately decided not to follow through with the series. The fact that it’s super wordy (perhaps because of its need to address a lot of exposition) doesn’t quite help. It’s a shame really, because it seems like this is a really good take on time travel, and has an excellent plot. :(

    Maybe some other time, I’ll get around to finishing it.
    Yi recently posted..Learning the Art of Love: Yuri versus BL

  17. @Yi:
    It’s too bad that the first part put you off the rest of the series. After it gets through all of the explanations and introducing all of the characters, it dives straight into the action.


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