Steins;Gate Part One left a pretty indelible impression on me. It had been a while since I’d watched an anime that was so on point with its story, characters, sense of humor and, importantly, its incredibly intelligent themes and ideas, all so neatly wrapped into the pretty package that comprised Steins;Gate Part One. And what a cliff hanger Episode #12 left us with!
Needless to say, I was stoked when I was handed Steins;Gate Part Two. Finally, here was my chance to enter the world of Steins;Gate once again, and immerse myself within its convoluted theories and time traveling shenanigans. Believe me, it doesn’t disappoint.
WARNING: Here be spoilers. So for those who have yet to experience Part One, what are you waiting for? Did you not read my Part One review?!
Episode #13 kicks off with a bang, with Okabe reeling over the Moeka’s fatal actions, leaving the cutesy Mayuri with a gaping hole in her head.
There’s a reason I highlighted this turn within my Steins;Gate Part One review, detailed with this emphatic statement:
“[Steins;Gate Part One’s slow burn pacing leads] the set into an incredible cliff hanger at the end of episode twelve; wherein the stakes are indefinitely raised and the formerly established rules of Steins;Gate’s story/world and characters are suddenly thrown into disarray.”
All of a sudden, the threat of SERN is inherently real. Fatally so. What better way to demonstrate this than by flat out killing one of the most innocent characters who inhabits Stein;Gate’s world in Mayuri? Those “established set of rules” within Steins;Gate up until Episode #12 had been a story that was eccentric, funny, insightful and well considered. From #12 onwards, those rules can add ‘dark’ to the list. All the rules and expectations previously established and set by 12 episodes worth of exposition and development have been thrown out the window in what can appropriately be deemed ‘brave’ storytelling as we careen into a Groundhogs Day-esque nightmare of Okabe’s seemingly impossible attempt to save Mayuri from an impending death. Within their timeline, she simply has to die; which is something Okabe cannot accept. Good thing he has a time machine.
So begins Okabe’s descent into madness, reliving the death of fan favorite, Mayuri, over and over and over again. His grasp on the situation, and his inability to control it or even understand it helps to further his development, allowing us to see elements of Okabe we had previously not been privy to. This is the trigger, the turning point, that propels the rest of the story forward into a wonderful tale of redemption, sorrow, and, of course, time travel. Oh, and sex changes of course. Can’t forget that.
The story is so incredibly convoluted you could wind up easily confused if you don’t give the show your full attention. Hell, a chart or graph may be necessary by the time you hit episode #24. Multiple viewings are practically a must in order to fully understand and appreciate the finer, more subtle, intricacies of the story. When considering time travel, you must think outside the box in order to allow yourself a freedom to contemplate, or comprehend, all the nuances that come with the subject. Steins;Gate effortlessly accomplishes this.
Beautiful animation throughout helps to bring Steins;Gate’s Akihabara and its residents to colorful life, with consistent acting drawing you further into their world. As dark as the story gets, and it truly does explore some dark themes, the twists and turns throughout episodes #13-24 make the trip all the more memorable.
With Part Two shifting its tone so drastically, the series has allowed itself to be easily defined as a tale of two halves. The guys and gals at Manga Entertainment have made a fantastic decision in separating them at a perfect narrative moment within the series, allowing for two very different sets that comprise one fantastic whole. Essential viewing for time travel fans, anime fans or, approaching this more broadly, anyone who simply enjoys a captivating, well developed story.
The only flaw I can find with this set is the totally random Episode #25; “Egoistic Poriomania”. Actually an original OVA for the series, released in Japan a good 5 months once the series actual had finished, #25 brings us back into the world of Steins;Gate months after the events of Episode #24. For completionists sake, I can understand its inclusion. But for it to have been made at all leaves me slightly confused, as it ends a series that was so intricately plotted and detailed with an unnecessary addition. This coupled with the lack of Special Features, which consist of a few Commentary Tracks and textless Opening/Closing Credits, as seems to be the norm of these sets, rounds out an otherwise flawlessly entertaining series.
Highly recommended, no matter what side of the World Line Attractor Field you exist within.
So until next time anime guys and manga girls, or vice versa, this has been The Other Guy!
Steve Russell // @stevetendo
Steins;Gate Part Two is out now at £24.99 (DVD) and £34.99 (Blu-Ray) , courtesy of Manga Entertainment