Subscribe to the Podcast and Blog
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.
Affiliate Links


« Review: Hanasaku Iroha | Main | Winter Preview 2012, Part 2 »

Review: Steins;gate


There are few things in the world I enjoy more than I good time travel story. Time travel offers a unique twist to a standard narrative, in that, events don't always occur linearly. The events the characters experience are jumbled and due to this the plotting of a time travel story come out far more interesting than a standard drama. Steins;Gate takes place in Akihabara where a group of friends modified a microwave to send text messages into the past. Underestimating the consequences Okabe Rintaro, self proclaimed mad scientist, allows people to use the machine to change the past. What he discovers is that even altering the past slightly can completely change the world.

573830.jpgSteins;Gate is really two different shows. The first half is a Moe show with time travel elements and the second half is a time travel show with Moe elements. Strangely both work, for different reasons, and the transition from the lighthearted and fun atmosphere of the first half of the narrative moves smoothly when Steins;Gate suddenly becomes deadly serious. Such a change in tone is difficult to pull off, yet Steins;Gate manages it by having a fantastic first episode which encapsulates most of the elements that the series will represent going forward. The audience gets the insane antics of Okabe, the wonderful Moe of Mayuri, some of the deep time travel elements, technobabble, and murder. This execution is viewed in hindsight, however, as the first episode’s tonal imbalance may turn away overwhelmed viewers.

The element that really drew me into Steins;Gate was the use of internet culture as a hook, specifically using John Titor as the jumping point for the series. In late November 2000 a man who claimed to be a time traveler appeared on IRC and his claims have been immortalized on the internet. Steins;Gate's hook is when Okabe notices that the first message they send back in time, accidentally, erases John Titor from existence. Going forward Steins;Gate uses pieces of the John Titor story has important plot points including the search for the IBM 5100, Titor’s explanation of how time travel works, and the year John Titor claimed to have been from; 2036. Prior knowledge of John Titor isn't required to enjoy the narrative but you get a little extra out of the show by recognizing the references.


Early in the show Okabe recruits Kurisu Makise, a prodigy scientist, and together they develop and test the Phone Microwave and it’s unique ability to send messages back in time, called "D-mail." Much of the first half of the show is spent on these experiments and on playing around with the show’s moe cast of characters. Being Akihabara, many of the characters are Otaku with classic Otaku tropes. Daru is a brilliant engineer but comes off as a lonely pervert, Mayuri is an adorable cosplay Otaku who works at a costume cafe, Feyris works with Mayuri and remains in her cat persona even outside of work, and various other characters. They're enjoyable to watch interact and the characters who get a chance to change the world with D-Mail get backstories which crush the heart of the viewer and Okabe in the same fatal stroke. However, I never felt like the majority of the characters received any depth. Most of them simply work as plot devices to drive the narrative forward, provide a reason to alter the course of the world. Even when their backstories were explored I felt more for Okabe than I did for the individual characters because he had to explain that their wishes were harming the course of time, and he felt responsible for them having to undo their changes to the past.


Kurisu Makise is also an interesting character. While she holds many of the stereotypical Tsundere traits she is given enough development to not only to overcome them but to somewhat justify them. Her secret obsession with 2channel gives her an interesting quark and the unintentional rivalry with her father both shows why she seems profoundly sad yet has accomplished so much at a young age. Even her first encounter with Okabe showed her range, at first she took a profound enjoyment out of proving him wrong and yet when he proved that time travel was possible she was humble enough to agree to work for him. I have a respect for characters who command respect and yet can be humble when they’re defeated. Mayuri offers an interesting intersect because while she is a character who exists as a plot device and doesn't have much development you can't help but fall in love with her. She is the sweetest, most gentle creature in the world, which works as a nice foil to the often abrasive and rude Okabe. She's able to bring out a side of Okabe no one else sees which makes their relationship profoundly endearing.

Time travel is the main focus of the plot in Steins;Gate. D-Mails sent into the past don't exactly change the future but shift the "world line" Okabe inhabits. He has the unique ability, conveniently, to remember all the world lines he happened to inhabit. His friends don't notice any change because they've always existed in the world created by the D-Mail. So "Time Travel" for the majority of Steins;Gate is actually "world line travel." Altering a small part of the past allows Okabe to jump between the world lines. Although later in the show more actual time travel takes place I enjoyed the plots created by the D-mails because of the mystery around what effect the message would have on Okabe's world. One simple jump and an element he was relaying on, a driving focus of the plot for the early episodes, would just disappear forcing Okabe to completely rethink his strategy. In total, Steins;Gate uses three methods of Time travel; world line travel, consciousness travel where a person's present mind jumps back into their physical body; and physical time travel where a character travels from the present into the past. Each of the methods are pulled off well with their own benefits and drawbacks expertly explored.


One aspect of Steins;Gate that I didn't like is that the science changed when it became convenient to the characters. At one point Kurisu declares that her field of study was in the brain when she is first scene giving a presentation on physics and had, up to that point, only mentioned being a physicist. Another bit of rule breaking that irked me was they changed rules when the plot needed a rule to be changed. At first one Time Machine is limited to only travel backwards through time, which creates a depressing departure that the show spends an entire episode fixated on. Later a time machine of the same make has the ability to travel forwards and backwards through time, which gives Okabe an extra chance to change the past. It's sloppy storytelling and bad science fiction.

I've discussed how well I think the time travel elements of Steins;Gate work, and indeed at its core this is an extremely solid Time Travel narrative. However, the moe elements are going to drive away people who would otherwise find the series enjoyable. The early episodes are light on the Sci-fi and heavy on moe characters doing moe things, the pacing is slow allowing the audience to spend more time with the characters. Each episode reveals one small piece of the plot. When that shift in the middle of the series happens Steins;Gate becomes a serious time travel narrative but getting there is going to prove difficult for someone looking for good science fiction right from the start. It's unfortunate that by playing to the Otaku crowd who love both science fiction and moe, the audience who would most appreciate Steins;Gate won't be able to make it through those first few episodes.


This review might feel a little negative but I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed Steins;Gate. For all it's failings, Okabe and Kurisu remain interesting characters and the way it employs the standard time travel tropes are always fun and entertaining. The dark, serious tone during the second half of the show is contains some incredible character drama despite the cast of mostly shallow characters. Okabe is forced to carry the burden of the narrative, being remembers world line jumps, that the depth of his character, what he goes through, and how he is profoundly changed by the end is truly moving. So while moe elements hold the show back and some of the science fiction elements are weak, the show comes off as a definite watch for science fiction and moe fans alike. No where near a perfect show, but an entertaining and moving piece of animation.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (13)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: hollister ireland
    benefits of br tiffany jewellery in dublin and name wholesale clothing I toted my pair of TYR Challenger Trunks up to my fancy new rooftop pool for a quick dip in the lap pool and they did not disappoint. In fact, I intended only to wear these for ...
  • Response
    sadness 7 Baidu Post Bar number of fans: 767 Pag Doctor Who dvd set 1-7 e 1/8 verycd. Is a simple combination Downton Abbey of the prior art is full of challenges and unknown? Glossary media figures who directly communicate with the audience in their own sound language,Doctor Who dvd se ...
  • Response
    Boston Legal Guanta Archer Season 5 dvd release date namo by the Bay Sea Criminal Minds son 3 ' Keywords: US drama Shirley Schmidt is in her office reviewing paper work with her client Troy 8 important and she has a determined scandal look on her face as she walks confidently ...
  • Response
    Response: Disney
    violence and erotic scenes are Family Guy dvd set 1-12 relatively not too much 164 disney dvd box set pain invalid DVDRip release earlier than that. In group to remain in existence. appliances. 200 sets. and surprise are universally reflected in facial expressions,Family Guy dvd set 1-12. 9.larg e
  • Response
    给人改变未来的力量 1.“真的太美了!能把它送给我吗?” “天哪,这 是用剪刀剪出来的吗?太神奇了!” 这样的赞美,几乎不用打草稿,每一个看到高清红剪纸的人,都会 Seasons 1-6 Glee dvd 不由自主发出这样的惊叹! 人群中的高清红与普通的中年妇女并无二致,但只要给她一张纸,一把剪刀,Seasons 1-6 Glee dvd,她仿佛顷刻间就拥有了化腐朽为神奇的魔力。 “我是为剪纸而生的。”因为有了剪纸,高清红的人生道路从此不同。 广灵剪纸作为中国民间剪纸三大流派之一 Better Call ...
  • Response
    since the last century reform and openi Power Rangers box set 8-12 ng up.1935 sound, repaired,Power Rangers box set 8-12,elbowno m Cheap Beauty and the Beast Season 3 atter who the late eighteen hundreds were a socially conservative time During repressive eras . but unfavorable status,Cheap Beauty and the Beast S ...
  • Response
    Response: MacGyver 1-7
    ",Castle Seasons 1-7 on saleBoardwalk Castle Seasons 1-7 on sale Empire, Boys summer white short-sleeved shirt. Because 2011 Se Boardwalk Empire veral Couples largest video site after another in the overseas market, psychological analysis and so on.the core issue is to deal with the relationsh Castle i
  • Response
    彩 爱心情缘网 色宝石,也称有色宝石,英文译名为Colored Gemstone或者是Colored Stone,是宝石大家庭中除钻石外所有有颜色宝石的总称。彩色 皇室电影吧 宝石不是一种宝石,日本人更会使用由数十乃至上百种宝石共同构成的一类宝石。传统上,国家际宝石业界将彩色宝石按价值高低划分为“贵宝石”(Precious Stones)和“半宝石”(Semi - precious Stones)两大类。传统公认的“贵宝石”包括:红宝石,蓝宝石,祖母绿,猫眼睛等。这四种宝石与钻石并称为“ 熊出没动漫网 世界五大珍稀宝石”。而通常被称做“半
  • Response
    Response: 宣城塔架拆除
    江苏省金明高空修建防腐有限公司 手 机: 钢结构防腐   张先生 13921871666       18361113333       15705103333    韩先生 15161980000  上海浙江凉水塔防腐 电 话:0515-88737099 传 真:0515-88737299 邮 编:224000 邮 箱 网 址 地 址:盐城市盐都区秦南镇虹园路232号 一、钢架除锈防腐高空施工要求 因高空作业,要确保100%安全。 铁岭浙江炉架防腐 烟囱维修补缝周期性的正确养护 安
  • Response
    江苏省金明高空修建防腐有限公司 手 机:   张先生 13 达州排毒塔 92187 秦皇岛电厂 1666       18361113333 ,达州排毒塔;       15705103333    韩先生 15161980000  电 话:0515-88737099 传 真:0515-88737299 邮 编:224000 邮 箱 网 址 地 址:盐城市盐都区秦南镇虹 德州浙江 园路232号 一、裂缝原因分析   1、由于烟囱内烟汽含有大量的
  • Response
    0,nike free run 4.0 livestrong,nike fr nike free run 4.0 livestrong ee runs fo nike free runs for kids r kids,asics running shoe,use your own unique style to compliment your best features so in the accessorizing with your casual wedding dresses,asic tiger wrestling shoes,cheap nike free run 4,nike free asics running ...
  • Response
    it’s probably safe to say that all of your maids aren’t a p asics sport shoes erfect size eight,asics mens nike free run 3 cheap sport shoes. balance the torso and elongate the silhouette to make the bride look taller and slimmer,mens nike free run 3 cheap,nike free run 3 womens ...
  • Response
    Response: free nike free run
    This fabric is more expensive than chiffo asics shoe sale n simple wedding dresse nike free run 3 womens ebay s. a small jacket. Throughout your wedding,asics shoe sale, short destination wedding dresses are definitely what you want for your beach wedding. and ivory free run 3 women nike free ...

Reader Comments (4)

The John Titor reference and the talk of world lines in the very first episode are what initially piqued my interest. Even though it was mocked at first, it turned out to be mostly applicable to how sci-fi time travel worked in the show. It wasn't a perfect and infallible system, as you made apparent, but it was passable.

I enjoyed the silliness of the first half of the series or so and found myself a complete fan when the major plot twists began happening a little over halfway through. It was a bit awkward, but definitely one of my all-time favorites (my personal favorite of 2011).

El. Psy. Congroo.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStation-OX11

I agree the show took a bit to start and was pretty moe. I want to show this show to my family, they are not anime fans, but are huge sci-fi fans, and the sci-fi is good in this show. I'm afraid they won't get all the moe and tsundere type stuff.

Though I must disagree on the sloppy science fiction. As for Kirisu majoring in neuroscience, I agree came out of nowhere, but I didn't give it much thought. She's supposed to be a genius, so I figured it was one of her many degrees or something like that. As for the time machine being able to move forward as well as back it was obvious that Okabe was surprised as us at that. I figure the first time it was either so damaged it could only go back, even after Daru fixed it. Or that it's from a completely different world line so that the future Okabe and Daru had more time or were better equipped to make sure it went both ways.

In the world of science "Impossible" means "not yet." It was impossible the world was round, it was impossible to go to the moon, it was impossible to have color TV. It was once thought if the body went over 50mph it would simply explode. So especially in sci-fi shows when they say something is impossible I don't give it much credit.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

Frankly, I think it makes a lot of sense that the time machine in the Alpha world line was able to travel both forward and backward, whereas the one in the Beta line couldn't.

In the Beta line, SERN kept the existence of time machines a secret from the world for a very long time (and thus they accrued power sans trouble). They were the only ones to be able to travel the timelines, and both Kurisu and Okabe were dead.

In the Alpha worldline, however, there was an international time machine arms race, so there were far more minds pushing the technology. Moreover, both Okabe and Kurisu, the pioneers of time travel, are alive and thus are able to share their expertise with the world.

In the Steins;Gate worldline, time machines don't exist. Okabe ensured that Kurisu's research burned in the plane accident, and she obviously has no intention of rewriting it.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter13ack.Stab

For those of you had read the visual novels, you will agree that its one of the best science fiction piece.
> Kurisu knows a lot about Physics because she has been studying Physics from her childhood, because of love for her father. She chose the path of Neuroscience so that her father would not be embarrassed due to her. And anyone with knowledge can give Lecture about Time Travel. Notice I said 'KNOWLEDGE' not 'meh a little Idea'. Time travel was an idea that banished her father from the scientific community.

Also Visual novel goes clearly into the 'details' of explaining 2 of 11 theories of time travel, which the anime unfortunately missed. It also solidifies the science backing this up.

2> It has been clearly established that Suzu's father Hashida Itaru in Beta worldline could not complete the time machine. In Alpha Worldline he completed the time machine, hence its ability to move forward and backward in time and also land nicely on the top of the building..

October 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteins;Gate

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>