Posted by Lenlo on 7 September 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

Sometimes, even problem children will surprise you. This week, Steins;Gate 0 did just that. I was not expecting a leap to the future, and now that I have seen it, I want more. Sadly I don’t think I will get it. Not much anyways. Lets jump in!

So, outright, this episode wasn’t bad. I like that we got to see the dystopian future in more than just flash backs (flash forwards?). But after the initial enjoyment, all it really did was remind me of what a waste of potential this series is. Take this future episode as the perfect example. Why should we care about Ruka or Suzuha or Ferris here? Suzuha just “died” 2 episodes ago, and now Ruka is “dying”, but we are about to go back to 2011. Steins;Gate 0 hasn’t spent enough time with these characters to make me care about them. We didn’t see them suffer through this war, we didn’t see any of these experiences. Its like they are copy-pasted from the 2011 timeline into now, with military redesigns. Animosh, from our chatbox, said it very well. Everyone but Okabe feels like a character from a mediocre fan-fiction.

Now before I rail into it to much, what did I like about Steins;Gate 0 this week? Well for one I did enjoy the designs, for those that actually aged. Okabe and Daru, with their stress lines and signs of undernourishment, were good. Okabe, at least in terms of anime old man characters, really pulls off the aged and weathered scientist look. Sadly everyone else is basically unchanged. Ruka got taller sure, grew out his hair. But just like Ferris and Maho, for people supposedly in their 40’s, they don’t even look old enough to drink. The failure with aging up most of the characters here really takes you out of the moment and makes you think “Is this really 25 years in the future?”. All of them, excluding Okabe, just feel out of place in this supposedly war torn future.

The other interesting thing Steins;Gate 0 did this week was how it justified this episode in the future. I wasn’t expecting the Time Leap machine to fail, and the idea of a “backup Okabe” from 2011 was a good one. It makes him an audience surrogate, just as uninformed about the future as we are. It also isn’t that far out there from what we have come to expect from Steins;Gate. Supposedly the VN’s handling of this was a lot… messier. With some sort of Amadeus like backup involving Okabe’s Reading Steiner and such. Personally, I thought this worked well as an excuse to jump to the future and see what happened. It still isn’t anywhere near as good as it could have been, because as I said this episode is a massive waste of potential, but the setup at least wasn’t bad.

With what praise I can give out of the way, what did Steins;Gate 0 do wrong this week. Well, its less what it did wrong this week specifically and what it has done wrong the entire season leading up to now. I have said multiple times in this post that this week was a waste of potential and here’s why. Steins;Gate 0, for all that it is a time travel anime, is stuck in 2011. The entire plot revolves around this WW3 possibly happening, and all these terrible events in the future. All the battles and being on the run from the world that the gang goes through. Yet instead of showing us this, Steins;Gate 0 leaps into the future for one episode to show us the aftermath, then seemingly prepares to leap back to 2011. Its dull!

What Steins;Gate 0 should have/be doing instead is letting us follow the gang through that war. Let us see them go on the lamb. Watch as Okabe and co run from STRATFOR and SERN. Watch them struggle to build a time machine, and all the battles they will have to survive. It would have been interesting to see Okabe struggle, using his intelligence and resourcefulness, his Time Leap to jump back 48 hours, always staying one step ahead of their enemies. Always progressing just another day or two, for years, until the stress finally gets to him. We could have seen him die, get captured and tortured, and THEN have this 2011 version uploaded into him. Imagine how it would feel, after a few episodes of him gone, to see him back but naive again. This is, in my opinion, a much more compelling and interesting story.

Most of all though, it would be unique. It would be different from the original, while really building on its lore. We would get to see exactly, in person as its happening, the future that Okabe is so desperately avoiding. It would enhance our experience and memories of the original Steins;Gate. Instead, Steins;Gate 0 is just retreading the same beats and lines are the original. It feels like its been done before, and better. Because it has. It’s times like this, nearing the end, that you can really tell that Steins;Gate 0 is a bunch of different VN story lines meshed into one for the adaptation. So many characters are underutilized or completely wasted, such as Reyes or Amadeus. In a longer VN, with failure routes, these characters would get fleshed out. But an anime can’t have a failure route. It has to go all the way.

So yeah, that’s where I am at with Steins;Gate 0. I still enjoy parts of it, I love these characters and want to see this to the end. But only because of my love of the original. As a standalone production, which is what I must judge it as, it fails in numerous areas. Its a terrible shame to because all the building blocks for a great sequel, drama, new characters, unexplored paths, are all there. But Steins;Gate 0 is seemingly to afraid to commit to anything, to change anything to drastically, that it just retreads the original. And if I wanted the original, I would just go rewatch Steins;Gate. As it is, I don’t blame anyone for not watching or sticking with Steins;Gate 0. I know I would seriously consider dropping it if I wasn’t writing these, and I am a self professed fan-boy.

But what do you think? Did this episode work for you? I admit I like the future setting, but seeing it and thinking of what we could have had, considering the series as a whole, I just get depressed. If there is something I missed though, please point it out below. I want to love this series. It’s just making it very difficult. See you next week!

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