Posted by SuperMario on 12 March 2018 with categories: 2011 Anime Retrospective, Mirai Nikki, Steins;Gate

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As per usual, you can check out psgels’ original reviews right below:

Steins;Gate

Mirai Nikki

Steins;Gate (White Fox)

It’s hard to discuss about Steins;Gate without mentioning its current legacy. Both tremendously popular among anime fans, as well as being a critical acclaimed hit, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see its name among the list of modern classics. In a way, it’s part of the point of this retrospective: to form an opinion of a show in today’s lenses, and Steins;Gate, as I put it simply, stands the test of time. Having said all that, with this re-watch I can clearly see the strengths, and the shortcomings of this behemoth and while my grade remains the same as the first watch, my admiration of it has lessened somewhat. The main issue this show has lies in the way Steins:Gate can’t escape the convention of Visual Novel. The first half, in particular, paces significantly slow BECAUSE it tries to pair Okabe up with various different girls. Many of them, especially Nyan-Nyan and Feminine Boy (and just right after Wandering Son, this depiction of trans person leaves a bitter taste here) don’t feel like they belong to the main story at all and as a result they were discarded quickly after their arc is over. Moreover, the “mission” mechanic is so apparent later on when Okabe has to solve these challenges in order to advance the plot. It would’ve been fine but when he asks a girl to give up his father (yeah, really!) or goes to a date in the middle of high-stake drama (what the heck!), it just feels more silly than appropriate.

The second issue I have with Steins;Gate this time around is the comedy. Considering the drama to come, I have a sense that some of the comedy feel just off and don’t blend well with the whole picture. Okabe’s eighth grade syndrome is lousy and makes little sense in this second viewing to the point I had to wonder why any character needs to take him seriously. All the ecchi jokes just fall flat and like I mentioned a paragraph above, the recurring gag involving Luka’s gender is worrisome. There are some plot conveniences regarding Okabe’s ability as well (he happens to both create a time travel machine AND remembers all the time lines. Well?), but I’m not going to fault the show for that. On a positive note, I like the wash-out visual palette of this show and as a whole White Fox does a decent job production-wise.

What Steins;Gate compensate for those issues, however, is the brilliant and certainly inspiring execution of time-travel subject. Time travel has always pique my interest so naturally I have seen a fair bunch of them, and even then Steins;Gate still makes it right at the top. Those time-travel theories are well-researched and all the decisions they made make sense to me. Steins:Gate also explores the possibilities of time-lines and how small change from the past could lead to completely different outcomes to the future. Add those several times and the mystery, as well as the implication just keep tangle up like a giant spider web, but never at once the show loses its direction or confidence. The alternate time-lines have some well-thought-out outcomes, and all the plot progression is believable and relatable. My hat off for one of the best writing in recent years.

But I wouldn’t rank this show so high if all it does is well-research implication of time-travel, it’s the drama that makes this show so gripping, thrilling and ultimately rewarding. Okabe gets himself pulled into some serious conflicts, and the more challenging the conflict, the harder he pushes himself. The harder he pushes himself, the more we relate to his problems. He and Kurisu also have to go through some tough but believable development and I don’t kid myself when I feel I would behave just like him if I was in his situations. The stakes keep getting higher and the price paid just keeps piling up, but in the end I can safely say that Okabe has one of the best character development I’ve seen in a while and the cast has a varied personalities but each one of them reveals their deeper side throughout the course of the anime, and every pair have some sort of distinct chemistry that make them feel like a part of this lab club. The sequel will be out next season so finger-crossed that it can deliver the same magic as its predecessor.

El Psy Congroo

Rating: 93/100

Geek’s Corner: As I mentioned that time-travel is one of my favorite topic, allow me to throw some recommendations on the subject. Normally, the impact from time-travel can splits into 2 theories: 1) the consequences will happen in the same timeline, hence what you change in the past will directly result in what happening in the future (simple example would be: someone broke the vase, you time-travel to find out just to realize it was you who break it) and 2) the consequences will create a parallel timelines, and with the butterfly effect will result in complete different outcomes. Steins;Gate falls into latter category and I’d suggest checking out Primer and The Butterfly Effect if you want more of this theory. (Primer is your definition of mind-fuck indie film but it is hailed as one of the most realistic depiction of time travel. The director himself is a physics so he knows what he was talking about). For the first category, you can watch 12 Monkeys or the Spanish movie Timecrimes. They’re all rewarding, I assure you.

Mirai Nikki (Asread)

Here comes a show that *nearly* blows up on my face. I always have mixed feeling on shows about survival game from a bunch of psychopaths trying to outsmart the others. They provide some great entertainment, mind you, but with the plot-ridden development containing many quick twists and turns, the story can go off the rail very easily. Mirai Nikki has some good premises, about a group of 12 participants using their own future diary to kill each other. Seeing the show as a pure thriller, it was a bumpy ride with a small dose of ups and a big bag of meh. In the bright side, most of the cast fulfils their role. They’re nothing stellar, mind you, but at least they aren’t thrown-away characters. I like the fact that some characters, especially Ninth, are not one-off character but change her own role rapidly throughout the story; others like Seventh pair or Fourth use their time on-screen sufficiently. In the negative side, the story does get dull as it speeds on with plot holes, an intolerable plain male lead, some stupid decisions AND WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT ENDING? I mean, the show really falls apart in the last few episodes with the world-blending subplot.

In fact, what keeps me engaged to Mirai Nikki is Yuno and her obsession with Yukko. She’s the star of the show and basically delving into her insanity is the one pleasure of watching this show. She’s the glaring example of yandere at its most fully formed and normally yandere traits can be really off-putting, but here in Mirai Nikki, she fits in with the theme like a glove. Mirai Nikki works as a construction to how an unhealthy relationship is form and developed, the way Yukko agrees to be Yuno’s boyfriend just so that she can protect him, to her over-reliant to him because she needs someone to obsess over. I also appreciate that while other shows display yandere character as normal at first and then imply something wrong within her, this show makes it clear from day 1 that Yuno is one insane bastard, yet Yukko still feels safe enough to get drawn to her. It’s the reason why the plot twist near the end works for me, but the same can’t be said with the redemption part in the last episode. You telling me she can go soft and learn happiness? LIKE HELL SHE CAN. It’s better she’s insane and stays insane.

I also feel like Mirai Nikki has a love/hate relationship (mostly hate) towards its female characters. In the show, female characters are often repressed by the power of men (Sixth and Ai from Seventh are rape victim for example, or how Ninth is chained up by Twelfth), and Yuno is an female empowerment symbol of a girl who takes matter into her own hands, a girl who would go extra length to be together with the one she loves. The issue with that view is that, there are hundred better ways to present women in repressed situation without relying on rape (I ask myself why rape? WHY), or occasionally show them in nude for no apparent reasons. Even with Yuno, as empowered as she is, still functions for the sake of one boy so for me it’s just the bad representation of female characters as a whole. As a sum up, Mirai Nikki has some thrilling premise and it’s still fun to watch crazy characters blow up other characters, moreover Yuno is the poster girl of Mirai Nikki (Boy. She deserves to be remembered fondly), but with the terrible whiny useless male lead, plot inconsistency that comes to pieces like a shattered glass and a closure that is just downright terrible, it just barely crosses the passable line.

Rating: 63-/100

Welp, what do you think about those two shows. I bet you have lots to talk about Steins;Gate and Yuno, right? Shoot them down in the comment. Next post, I will have a light watch with Working!! 2 and Yumekui Merry. Ideally, I’ll have the post ready before the start of next season. Till then, guys.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar aefj says:

    what is the point of this retrospective series even? It’s only been like 7 years since 2011. What’s changed?

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      The main point of this project, quite simply, is for me to catch up with shows in 2011. I want to have a detailed outlook to what the year 2011 had to offer.

      As I said in the post, one of the other point is to rate them in today’s lenses. Like it or not, few years after its release, the general consensus of those shows are formed to the point people often overlook the show other qualities. I want to give them a fair chance without all the hype, buzz and bias.

      This also works for shows from auteur anime directors (like 2011 Ikuhara’s Penguindrum) and see the direction he was taking with the knowledge of his recent outputs.

      7 years don’t seem much but I intend to go all the way back to the naught and the 90s (God knows when but I will), so anyways it can serve as a guideline if you want to check out certain shows from those years.

      • Avatar aefj says:

        A penguindrum retrospective would be super fun, especially since it marks the beginning of the ‘Kevin’ saga. It is a huge part of this site’s history.

  2. Avatar Firechick says:

    I remember my college anime club showing the first episode of Mirai Nikki once, many years ago. But I didn’t like it. I thought it was trying a bit too hard to be scary, and I thought Yukiteru was bland.

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