Okay, so my post about Stein’s Gate 09 was a complete disaster. I had problems with the episode but blamed them on something completely stupid and irrelevant. I still hold that Daru needs to shut up, though, but more on that below.
First of all I want to say that before watching this episode, I got intrigued by a message of PL on the shoutbox, where he (she?) claimed that “Suspension of belief cracked”. With that, I assume that that referred to the scene in which Okarin assaulted Rukako. And yeah… that was out of place. If everything around Okabe changed, wouldn’t it at least have crossed his mind that the thing they tried to change in the first place? I mean, it’s a ridiculous scenario, but when the entire area I lived in changed dramatically, I’d at least consider buying flying pigs.
In a way, the more realistic a show is, the more these small inconsistencies tend to stand out. That’s what makes these kinds of series tricky to do, but that does make them really interesting. This episode may indeed not have been the best of the series so far, but I still really liked the turns that the plot took in the end.
In any case, let me try to actually explain exactly what has been bugging me about this series. It’s got nothing to do with plotholes or cliches that may or may not be there; that kind of suspense of disbelief is just the effect it has. Instead this is about storytelling versus characters. Steins;Gate is brilliantly told. It’s a pity that it chose the same season to air in as Hyouge Mono so that it can’t exactly boast the best dialogue of the season, but the camera work, pacing and atmosphere: I’ve said plenty of times that they’re amazing.
When looking at the characters though, I’m missing something. I keep praising other shows this season for adding to their cast, and giving their characters more depth by developing them, but I can’t really do that with this series. In fact, this episode finally took an in-depth look at one of the characters: SuzUha. With this episode her character finally changed, or at least our perception of this. In the meantime: all we know about Okabe is that he once got sick in the past. Mayuri meanwhile has a sad past that caused her to remain with Okabe, Daru meanwhile is a typical Otaku and it feels like all Christina has been doing is either be quiet or act tsundere.
Instead this show has been fleshing out its characters, and that’s another thing that it can be really good at. As much as I dislike Daru, I really like how he in this episode went out to a meeting of various members of a forum. The times that the characters spend shopping and doing the laundry are also quite cute. But at the same time they feel repetitive. Especially Okarin, Daru and Christina are guilty of this. Okabe’s monologues were once fresh, but after ten episodes they sound too much like each other. Daru was better in this episode, but generally he feels very repetitive whenever he’s not involved in the plot (I also realized that he’s voiced by Tomokazu Seki, and oh my god: he’s really forcing his voice here, making the acting of this guy just bad).
In short: too many characters are just repeating themselves too much. They mostly tend to shine whenever the plot is involved, but that’s because the plot is so incredibly good, not because the characters themselves are enjoyable to watch (or not as much as I’d like anyway).
The big question is of course: is this intentional? With 24 episodes, this could just be a form of build-up. The characters right now are slightly annoying because the creators are building them up, to give them some good depth in the second half. This has been done quite a few times, but there also have been plenty of shows who didn’t. The repetition in the banter right now however is something that’s irking me.
And why did I get a deja vu when I just wrote that?
Rating: ** (Excellent)