Posted by Lenlo on 28 September 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by Lenlo, Steins;Gate 0

Before I begin this review in earnest, I have to ask, who doesn’t know about Steins;Gate? The amazing, beloved original series that Steins;Gate 0 is an offshoot of. Well if you don’t, if you haven’t seen the original, then stop now. Steins;Gate 0 is not worth it. It is not for you. Without having seen the original, Steins;Gate 0 will make even less sense and fall apart even faster than you than it did me. Because, long story short, Steins;Gate 0 tries to do everything and in doing so fails to do most anything.

Lets jump in!

Animation/Art

To start this off, let’s go with the most obvious part of any anime, the Animation and Art. Steins;Gate was never the best looking series. It didn’t have to be. The washed out color palette with occasional bright greens, reds or blues to really make certain aspects of a scene pop worked. Steins;Gate 0 continues this style, using it to really push Okabe, the lead characters, depression early on. As the series progresses there are some truly striking scenes and colors that would make fantastic wallpapers or pictures for a wall. However these scenes make up a minority of shots in the 23 episode run, leaving most of the episodes to just look the same and bleed together. In a marathon setting I can imagine Steins;Gate 0 getting very dull to look at eventually. However the real problem comes in with the animation.

To put it simply, Steins;Gate has never been an action series, and Steins;Gate 0 shows us why. Most of the animation is serviceable, as our characters mostly stand around in picturesque locations talking. But when push comes to shove and action has to happen, it does not look good. Every action scene has problems. Whether it be a noticeably lack of frames making it a bit choppy or the terrible shot composition throughout. There are also issues with choreography, but keeping it purely to an animation stand point, the fights are terrible. The action sequences are dull and just boring to downright aggravating to watch. That’s simply not excusable for a series with so many action scenes in the second half. It completely ruins any tension in the scene when a character in a down-to-earth sci-fi is dodging bullets point blank.

Direction

Next up I have to mention the Direction of the series. Steins;Gate the original, while with its fair share of awkward shots, was all around good. It used things like Dutch Angles to convey a sense of wrongness when our lead was stumbling his way through time travel the first time. Steins;Gate 0 attempts to continue this and for the most part does a passable job. But the Dutch Angles really started to wear on me when they are used for almost every other scene. It successfully made me uncomfortable where it should, but if the entire series is built around that discomfort and sad tone, you need to find a way to vary it up. As is, Steins;Gate 0 rely’s to much on the originals style without trying to do anything new for its differing overall tone, and ends up suffering for it.

That isn’t to say there are not good shots in Steins;Gate 0. As I said in the Animation section, there are plenty. But its hard for there to not be some good scenes when you take a shotgun approach like this. Steins;Gate 0 seemingly went for a dramatic shot in almost every scene, so naturally some had to land. Typically, those are ones where our lead character Okabe is having some kind of argument or dramatic revelation. It seems that White Fox took extra care with those scenes, as they should considering their narrative important, and for that they ended up working out. The average shot though fell short of my expectations.

Story/World

Now onto the meat of Steins;Gate 0, the story. First a preview overview of how this hodgepodge mess came to be. Steins;Gate 0, as a visual novel, naturally has many branching paths and endings. In its quest to cover all of the content in these multiple branching paths, Steins;Gate 0 ended up mashing them all together into an almost incoherent mess of a singular story thread. The result is a lot of fat, a lot of waste and a whole showroom floor of potential just left behind in a dumpster. The series started strong, with a lot of potential for where the story could go. I truly enjoyed the first half of this series following Okabe, Maho and their mutual grief over Kurisu’s death. That worked. But after that grief got resolved, Steins;Gate 0 had a choice on what story to follow, and it chose wrong.

The story Steins;Gate 0 chose to follow was that of Mayurii and Kagari’s relation, how Mayurii would go back in time to encourage Okabe to try again to save Kurisu. But that’s not the important part of episode 23 of the original Steins;Gate. The important part of that episode, which is the inciting incident for this entire side-series, is the video message sent back in time to tell Okabe how to save her. That is the story I wanted to see. How Okabe and co survive to the year of 2025, using their time leaps and D-Line messages to always stay one step ahead of their opponents. How Okabe figured out how to save Kurisu, dedicating this entire world line to save a future he will never get to see. To me, that is vastly more interesting than sending Mayurii back in time to slap Okabe awake.

Characters

Speaking of Mayurii, now seems like a good time to talk about the characters. Most of them are good, Steins;Gate 0 does a fine job here. It doesn’t spend much time with any characters from the original not named Okabe, which is a true shame. It expects me to care about and for them, but puts no work into it, knowing I will have a hold over from the original series. But most of the new characters it introduces, like Maho and Leskinen, work well. Leskinen in particular was probably my favorite addition Steins;Gate 0 made. His jovial attitude, his accented Japanese and just general personality made every scene he was in before the twist a joy to watch. To put it simply, Leskinen is the best part of this new series. But it does make some major mistakes. You ready for a quick rant? Cause I am.

Kagari and Reyes. To terrible, underused, might as well not exist new characters that for some reason I am supposed to care about. First off, Reyes. A character introduced as a threat early on, and someone we are supposed to be on the lookout for. She gets maybe 5 minutes of screen time total across 23 episodes. Complete waste of potential. Why even have her? But the real offender is Kagari. This blank slate, 0 personality, Makise Kurisu look-alike that we are supposed to care about… why? She has no redeeming qualities, she has no personality to speak of really. She is a tacked on “waifu” in tight fitting leather that exists for no reason but pandering. The story would actively be better if she was just removed, because all she does is take away from this series. Long story short: Kagari ruined Steins;Gate 0. Onto music.

Music

A lot of Steins;Gate 0’s music comes from either the original or the VN, which is to be expected. There is a certain style associated with Steins;Gate and I feel that only the original team could replicate it. And boy, is this music good. If nothing else, Steins;Gate 0 has a fantastic sound track. Messenger, Fatima, Last Game and Lyra are some of my favorites, just to name a few, but I don’t think there was a single one I could say I didn’t enjoy on some level. Sure, some of the tracks weren’t chose well for the scene’s they were included in. But the tracks themselves? Credit where credit is due, Steins;Gate 0 continued the record of great music for the series.

Conclusion

So, overall, where do I fall on Steins;Gate 0? Well its simple. If you have watched and enjoyed the original series, then I think its worth a watch whether you leave disappointed or not. There are definitely some standout scenes and interactions that are worth it. Episode 8 specifically is the standout of the series for me, giving me a lot of what I wanted even if it doesn’t fit into the final product perfectly. However, if you haven’t seen the original or didn’t like it, then don’t bother with Steins;Gate 0. It’s not worth your time, it assumes a lot of knowledge of characters and setting from the original and mostly runs on hype and love of the characters to get you through its content.

Before I close out, I feel the need to mention that a 50 is not a bad score. Unlike Game Reviewers, 7 is not average to me with anything below it being utter trash. A 60, to me, is a series I don’t regret watching. Steins;Gate 0 had potential, a lot of it, and I am disappointed it didn’t reach it. Not by a long shot. Is it possible I am being a bit harsh on it? Sure, but I don’t regret watching it and I hope you didn’t either.

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