First Impression – Steins;Gate

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Overcooled: Let’s be honest, you were all won over the second you heard “use microwaves to send text messages to the past.”  With a premise like that, it’s hard to argue. It was enough to pique the interest of 3 of us (Hime, Kyokai and myself) to do a first impression, if that says anything. Apparently it was enough to get YOU, dear reader, to have made it this far. It’s amazing what some time traveling plot elements can do for business.

In case you didn’t know what you were in for by now, Steins;Gate politely reminds you with a series of random images and some philosophical musings to set the mood. That’s all the intro you get before stumbling right into the life of Okarin, an oddball science dork who is dragging his flighty female friend Mayuri to a press conference about a time machine. Did I mention he likes to pretend a group called “the Agency” is after him and speak into his cell phone for fun?

5 minutes in and the crazy is already set to 10.

Considering it’s time travel we’re talking about, it’s not exactly going to convince flocks of skeptical scientists to come and check it out. The building is practically empty. Before the conference starts there’s a sudden earthquake, or at least a sudden rumble of the building. Okarin, desperate for anything interesting, runs to see if anything’s going on but just sees some guy making hand signals on the roof. Assuming it to be nothing he returns to his female companion who is pouting over not having money for a capsule machine. It must be nice to be such a simpleton.

Leave Mayuri alone for 2 seconds and she loses her goddamned super metal turbo kawaii panda thing. Okarin listens to the conference all on his lonesome, causing trouble immediately by shouting out that the guy is committing plagiarism. By the look on his face, he definitely is. All of a sudden, a girl breezily grabs him and leads him outside of the room for questioning.

Off to the principal’s office with you!

The poor girl just wants to ask him what he was trying to say to her earlier, but Okarin is more interested in indulging his fantasies and pretending to be a mad scientist for kicks. That and he has no recollection of talking to her. He was in the conference earlier, and with Mayuri before that. He knows that she’s Kurisu, a genius girl who has published some science articles, but talk to her? Nope, can’t recall it. It still doesn’t give him the right to laugh like a hyena and then run away.

After getting some static on his phone, Okarin reunites with Mayuri who can’t find her metal…whatever the hell it is…for the life of her. But there are more pressing issues right now, such as the bloodcurdling scream bouncing off the walls. Always the first to run headfirst into action, Okarin once again races off and stumbles upon Kurisu’s dead body by chance. Why is she dead when it was clearly a man who screamed? Anyways, the only other girl in this show has now been murdered.

The dead body and puddle of blood is replaced with the almost blinding sunlight pounding mercilessly on the streets of Akihabara. Confused, Okarin sends a text to his friend saying that Kurisu was stabbed. Pressing ‘send’ was a bad decision. A decisions that seemingly alters Akihabara so there are no people, just Okarin. He panics, naturally, until he sees Mayuri who doesn’t seem to have experienced the same delusion he did. If that wasn’t enough madness for you, a satellite crashed into the building they were supposedly just inside for the conference.

To make sure it all settles in, we move on to character introductions. Okarin leads a 3 man lab team consisting of himself, Mayuri and the super hacker Daru who invent..things. I’m not really sure they know themselves what use they are to society, but boredom leads to picking up just about anything as a past time. While talking to his companions, he’s told the conference was called off despite his distinct memory of attending it. Weird. Before that thought goes any further, his TV breaks and he rages. Lulz.

Forehead introduction, complete

Okarin takes the TV to a repair shop with Mayuri, who claims to just be his “hostage” hence the reason she bothers with Okarin’s immaturity. Which isn’t a reason at all. Okarin and Mayuri enjoy a DOCTOR PEPPER afterwards because IT IS SO DELICIOUS AND REFRESHING, YOU SHOULD ALSO BUY IT. More craziness on Okarin’s part too. The final little distraction before returning to today’s murder event is trying to microwave a banana using a microwave controlled by a cellphone. The banana turns to gel. That’s the end of that invention for now.


Returning to the events during the time travel press conference, Okarin asks Daru if he got the text he sent him. He did, but a week ago. Cue elevator doors opening and Kurisu leaning casually against the wall, definitely still alive.

Bonus Screenshots:

Otaku stereotypes: YOU’RE NOT HELPING

What, can’t a bro enjoy some tea?

If this ever becomes a martial arts anime, we’ll let you know, Okarin.

Why are they worth so much money? Because they capture souls, much to poor Mayuri’s dismay.

 

End Thoughts:

Kyokai: Ah man, I wish I could review Steins;Gate this season as it seems right up my alley but with increased workload and lots of planning for Metanorn, I will be bowing out of this while Overcooled would be regularly blogging this. I still remember my jubilation when I read the summary of this as time travel and I go, well, quite back in time! Having not watched Chaos;Head and hearing much good about it, I just fear one thing, failure of my high expectations. But, hey, this is too soon to make up my mind.

I’m so liking this, the whole time skip thing. It seems Okarin just experienced some of the different possibilities of parallel universes as per the Split Universe Theory. There’s definitely a week’s worth of back and forth skip, which cannot particularly be explained by time paradoxes; we’ll have to see the reason of Okarin’s memory muddle to theorize further. What I gather from the events is that he’s going to try his level best in saving Kurisu because his future self did try to talk to her before she got murdered, unbeknownst to his past self. I think I should pipe down my time travel theories before everyone snores to sleep.
Coming to lighters things, Kana why do you always do such moe/megane characters? Not that I hate you for it or anything. And oh yes, Miyano, why you want to sound like a deep-voiced manly man? Well, I understand that your character has a stubble but you sure are overdoing the crazy bit and the evil laughter but for some reason, it’s actually working so you can continue. :3 Overall, the first episode had enough hook for the audience to stay tuned. All I can say is I’m hooked.

Hime: I think these guys are confusing “mysterious” with “annoyingly obscure”. While it’s hard to judge how the show will turn out in the long run, and I have hope it will improve, the first epsiode left a lot to be desired. But more than anything, it was boring. Just listening to an insufferabley annoying character monologue to himself about conspiracies is not exciting, and it’s alienating because we don’t speak this worlds’ technobable.

We have no idea how this world works, why it’s characters are all so “quirky”, and I use that word lightly since they’re shoehorned in so unnaturally that all the characters seem to have just walked out of an insane asylum, and what should have been the main focus of the episode was so glossed over that it really struggles to seem important. The girl getting stabbed, the text that was sent into the past, they are all interesting points, but they were lost in a mess of boring and confusing direction and pacing. A nice little plug for Dr. Pepper, though. Classy.

Overcooled: That was…trippy. Trippy, jarring, nonlinear and very strange. The only thing preventing me from really liking Steins;Gate is the disjointed story-telling, but I feel like it’s just something I’ll get used and grow to enjoy. Although it seems to jump from one moment to the next, it’s surprisingly easy to know what’s going on…something that is often needlessly muddled and overcomplicated when anime (or anything, really) tackles time travel.

The great thing about Steins;Gate is it’s not trying to base every iota of momentum towards the whole murder thing. It goes off on tangents. These little diversions give some  room to breathe without stuffing drama, bogus science, or heavy suspense down your throat. It’s suspense of the subtly unsettling kind and comedy that’s a bit on the dark side. The only thing that’s in your face is Okarin, who is a refreshing lead role free of the wretched “generic male lead” syndrome, and his kooky antics are more than welcomed. Steins;Gate seems to be a really clever anime, one I can’t just let me slip me by just because it’s a bit fragmented. Leave it Cool to review the rest of Steins;Gate *bows* ganbarimasu~

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33 Responses to “First Impression – Steins;Gate”

  1. Bass says:

    It’s interesting to see Hime and Cool’s contrasting views on the disjointedness of the story telling. I for one like it a lot, since I am actively trying to patch up the pieces in my mind (like Kyo)), which makes the episode much more entertaining. I do get that sometimes this will make the series inaccessible to the average viewer, but I thought it created enough intrigue to keep me asking for more.

    And the weirdo characters are part of the appeal for me. I really want to see their backstory and why they act the way they do. Okarin is a clear nutjob, but aren’t geniuses always like that? He seems a lot like Tatsuhiro Sato from Welcome to the NHK, with his paranoia and random spouts of the agency. I love Sato and while I don’t know why I like lunatics, it makes following the character much more engaging.

    • Overcooled says:

      We both reacted quite differently to the same thing, anime is always subjective :3 As long as the overall clarity of the story isn’t compromised, I don’t mind if the order of events is shuffled around a bit. It just takes more work to string everything together, and I wasn’t expecting it right at episode 1 haha.

      The weirdo characters are awesome! Great seiyuu too! Okarin comes off as being crazy, but only slightly. More like he’s just eccentric and wants to act out his fantasy in real life. If he was totally bonkers, he’d be a hard lead to care about XD But yes, crazy people are always the interesting ones~

  2. umi_no_mizu says:

    I think it shows serious potential. Yeah its random and goes off on random tangents… but I was reminded oh-so much of the first episodes of Durarara… Confusing, jumping around, and focusing on random pieces that seemed insignificant (at the time)… its the first episode so they can’t just go around screaming “btw this is the entire storyline!!”, you gotta build some suspenseful-confusion
    I am not going to say it will be equal to the epic-ness that is Drrr!! but I think it’ll be fun to watch the plot come together and see some nice character growth (hopefully) >_>

    • umi_no_mizu says:

      oh and also (spurred from the comment above):
      crazy people >> normal people! =D

      • Hime says:

        I’m amazed at the comparisons to the first ep of DRRRR! It’s blasphemy D: lol, no. I agree they were disjointed and jumped to different characters a lot but you could still follow what as going on, their thread of storytelling was a lot better. Also the characters didn’t speak in the same cryptic way these guys do.

        It’s just gimicky.

        Maybe I’ve seen too many of these types of “crazy” characters for these guys to appeal to me, but they just come across as a tired concept these days. Their “unique-ness” is so forced and I honestly just found it annoying.

        I don’t expect them to tell us the whole storyline in the first episode, of course not, and they did make a point of interest with the girl being murdered and that, but what I was saying is that it was lost in all the other unnessisary technobabble.

  3. Reaper says:

    Haven’t exactly watched it all yet per se but the story is interesting for me; I agree with the whole disjointedness, it’s like Durarara!! in a way, with the whole different perspectives of different characters, because seriously, animes like this are way better than mainstream stuff. Clean animations, with initially confusing story and interesting characters always pull people back from the “what’s going on” to the “oh my god! no way!” phase. Hence the formula for a good anime :)

    • Overcooled says:

      It’s certainly reminiscent of Durarara!! with the added spice of some events actually NOT happening thanks to time travel. Makes it a bit harder to unravel, but it’s kind of cool…I love this kind of oddball anime and I can’t wait to see how it pans out.

  4. Carla says:

    the animation looks great (compared to the others anime from this season) *Downloading*

    • Hime says:

      The style and animation is really nice. I like the washed out colours, with ocationally spritzes of bright ones.

  5. Joojoobees says:

    As far as the question of disjointed story telling goes, I actually like things that way, and am a fan of shows such as DRRR that employ it. Maybe that is why I had no bad feelings about it.

    I also liked that they brought in a real Internet hoax ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Titor ).

    • Overcooled says:

      I need to get used to it, but it definitely has the potential to do great things like Durarara!! :3

      Huh, interesting little reference that flew over my head.

  6. a_l_2606 says:

    Well… yeah. While waiting for the 2nd episode…

    I spoiled the whole VN already. =)) And yeah, it is quite a doomtrain (don’t know if spelled right) to the world of mind*******, which is… awesome.

    • Overcooled says:

      I might just go and find that VN after this whole anime thing is done with. I’ve never played a VN before =O

  7. amado says:

    liked chaos head, just needed an epilogue for it to be good. I heard this was made by the same guy.

    mayuri interests me, must be because of kana hanazawa.

    • Overcooled says:

      I should probably watch Chaos Head for research, even though it’s supposed to be horrible.

      Kana Hanazawa instantly brings life to characters, it’s like magic.

  8. MikADo says:

    whooooooooohoooooooooooooo
    i love this i love this i love this!!
    cant have enough of this stuff
    disappointed that huke’s artstyle was not fully adapted
    but i guess thats asking too much for an anime 😛
    as for the story im not afraid at all
    just worried that the anime would be able to
    follow the original right

    • Overcooled says:

      The original artstyle is gorgeous, but I don’t mind this approach either. Visual Novel adaptations are known to be on the iffy side, so I hope they do it justice. :3

  9. anaaga says:

    Dr. Pepper is disgusting

  10. TRazor says:

    Your banana is soft and squishy?

    Use Viagra.

    • Hime says:

      What if it turns green? Surely then you should seek a doctor.

  11. Eri says:

    I like the amount of resemblances to Chaos;Head ’cause if it weren’t for them, the show wouldn’t feel like a continuation of the first season.

    The whole issue with time paradoxes are still as amusing as in Chaos;Head and since I liked the first season a lot I wouldn’t mind it being a clear copy of it. However I’ve already noticed that there’s a more dark and mysterious aura in Steins;Gate. Definitely following this even if it sucks >8D

    I’d sooo like to try Dr.Pepper. A beverage drink with pepper? Count me in!!!

    • Overcooled says:

      I thought everyone was supposed to hate Chaos;Head o_o

      I doubt steins;Gate will suck though, it has so much room to grow. Where there is Dr. Pepper, there will be win. (wait, you’ve never tried it before?)

  12. Namika says:

    I am stunned speechless with this. If every episode of this anime made me want to actually THINK about the plot, I would be a very happy fangirl ^,^

  13. BlackLagoon187 says:

    I have Kana Hanazawa deficiency syndrome now
    Can’t wait for next ep to hear her voice xD
    Bu..Bu..But I watch it for the story too o-okay?

    • Overcooled says:

      Kana Hanazawa is in like every anime I watch now, I couldn’t possibly be deficient in vitamin K(ana) XD Personally, I’m all for the Miyano Mamoru aww yeah~

      • MikADo says:

        Kana Hana is in 2nd place for participating in most animes this season i forgot who was first 😛

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