Gate is an intricate story following an ensemble of characters that accidentally create a time machine out of a microwave. This action could cause the world’s destruction due to tampering with the world’s timeline. Steins;Gate stands out in the oversaturated time travel genre, each section of the plot has something to love about it and how the pieces fall together in the finale is genius. Every character had something to add to the plot, there wasn’t one weak character in the show and the character interactions were believable and realistic.
The use of butterfly effect theory in respect to time travel plays well into the protagonist psyche and overall character development while also progressing the story fast enough to please viewers.
When it comes to any series revolving around time manipulation, there are more than a few ways it can go horribly wrong, you need to convince the viewer that the mechanics of time travel makes sense in the context of the world that you’re watching while not making it too convoluted and makes the viewer lose interest.
Time travel series usually have a dozen plot holes by the time they wrap up. Luckily, Steins; Gate isn’t one of those cases, this is because of how well it establishes its time travel mechanic very early on, but continues to build on it in a fairly believable way. The first half of the show does a phenomenal job of bringing up the idea of world lines, as the characters start understanding them, so does the viewer.
What I appreciate the most about the mechanics of time travel in Steins;
Gate is how it explains world lines, the idea that time isn’t point A to Z, the simplest of diversions can shift you into a world line that everything but one small instance is changed. It may seem miniscule at first but change world lines enough and you might end up in a world you might not even recognize, or in a world where the fate of a loved one hangs in the balance. In Steins;Gate, the main character is a self-proclaimed mad scientist who clearly lives a life of fiction thinking an organization is out to get him and his group of misfits and that they will bend time and space itself. This group becomes extremely entertaining to follow even when the fate of the world isn’t at stake. Okabe is a wild and unpredictable main character, that no matter what words came out of his mouth, they were entertaining yet informative.
The hacker of the group, Daru, was that nerdy friend with an asfiction to the 2-D world that may be a little creepy, but he always seemed like one of the more level headed members of the group as long as anime, manga or maid cafes weren’t the topic of discussion. Kurisu had a straight and narrow persona at first glance but quickly opens up and seems like a different side of the same coin that Okabe was from. Mayuri despite being a main plot device for the anime had a brilliant persona that always made her feel like character first and a plot device second. The list goes on, each and every character in the show felt like there was a need to be seen more without sacrificing the feeling of satisfaction with seeing the characters, no matter who was on screen at any given time there was an entertaining and plot driven scene unfolding.
With the size of the cast and how many insane moments that the show has, it had a surprising amount of downtime that really let this feel like a group of friends first, and a group of scientists trying to save the world second. Where the series truly shines is in the personal motivations of saving the ones he cares about. Mayuri’s constant death due to the many small changes made through email makes her one of the most intense plotlines in anime, what starts out as a game quickly becomes mind shattering pain. This is where world lines really play a great factor, even if you only change the slightest thing that can change your world line from an alpha to a beta, which could then put you and your loved ones in a place where someone like Mayuri always dies on a certain date.
Watching Okabe have to relive this death over and over is some of my favorite content of the show, but it also holds the one and only gripe with the series. Something like a repeat death is painful, it provides some of the most thrilling aspects to a time traveling show seen in entertainment. You feel uncomfortable most of the time with Okabe having to try and try but always failing to save his dear friend, often the lingering feeling of dread got pushed aside to try again a little too easy in the introduction of stages of this death mechanic. After enough repeats Okabe grows numb to this, which is part of his development and its brilliance, but in those early stages, the lingering feeling of failure was brushed aside a little too easy at times. It’s not like they needed more episodes, just an extra minute or two for each failed attempt, really focusing on the torment in Okabe’s face would’ve had more emotional impact overall as a viewer, it can still be felt more times than not, but often when I re-watch Steins;
Gate I come out with more or less the same feeling. If the pain lasted a bit longer before he convinces himself he needs to try again those would have added a more dramatic tone and impact to what he was doing. It just felt like he grew numb to the pain quicker than most would have liked and all it really needed was a few more moments for those early deaths. Even with all that said, it never really ruined the show because there was enough mental shattering to give an uncomfortable feeling with the pain Okabe was going through. Gate overall has given a unique outlook on the time travel/ time manipulation genre. The show uses a unique cast of characters to display it’s unique outlook in a way that viewers will be left wanting more while also completing the series with sense of satisfaction.