Steins;Gate Review - Time's Gate Unbounded

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Synopsis:

Houin Kyoma (a.k.a. Rintaro Okabe) a self proclaimed mad scientists with his Future Gadget Laboratory pursued many scientific paths people would dare not go. The entire lab's lives all change when a body of a dead girl and a text message sends him on the path to discover time travel. Tampering with the past, leads to unintended, and fatal consequences as Okabe discovers. Okabe now must take the mantle to correct the wrongs of the time line, even it it means sacrificing it all.Synopsis:Houin Kyoma (a.k.a. Rintaro Okabe) a self proclaimed mad scientists with his Future Gadget Laboratory pursued many scientific paths people would dare not go. The entire lab's lives all change when a body of a dead girl and a text message sends him on the path to discover time travel. Tampering with the past, leads to unintended, and fatal consequences as Okabe discovers. Okabe now must take the mantle to correct the wrongs of the time line, even it it means sacrificing it all.

From the first few seconds of the series, Steins;Gate sets itself a part from many other anime series. The character designs (made by character designer Ryohei "Huke" Fuke of Metal Gear and Black Rock Shooter), the animation style of White Fox which brings smooth animation with an emphasis on lighter colors, the combination creates a unique atmosphere that attracts and ads to the overall development of Steins;Gate. The nice opener and closer, "Hacking to the Gate" by Kanako Ito and "The Twelve Time-Governing Covenants" by Yui Sakakibara respectively, set the tone of Steins;Gate for the audience as if giving a fair warning about what is to be expected.

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Hiroshi Hamasaki and Takuya Sato, the series' director as well as Jukki Hanada, the series' writer had certain goals to accomplish in Steins;Gate. As an adaption with a solid audience following they had much to cover as well as much to work with. With that said, they do not disappoint in this science fiction thriller.

Steins;Gate from the beginning comes out as very character centric. As each episode progresses, seeing Future Gadget Laboratory work towards the goal their goal, Hamasaki and Sato take advantage of the time for character development. All of the characters initially act as stereotypical anime counterparts. For instance Itaru "Daru" Hashida being the Otaku, Mayuri Shiina being the plucky innocence, even with Faris Nyannyan fulfilling the moe character. Daru's "leetisms" and internet slang can skew to annoying, likewise with Kurisu Makise's skepticism and critique of Okabe. Although endearing, Mayuri sometimes comes off as aloof. As the episodes progress, each character becomes more endearing as you understand their quirks and personalities. However, this means recognizing Steins;Gate as a slow burn but the build up pays off in the second half.

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That's what drives viewers to watch. The more Okabe descends into madness the more Okabe becomes human. His willingness to help his friends drives him to the breaking point. The actions he takes we would do as well, and when we see his success we cheer on too. These actions have weighted consequences because of the characters. Characters that seem secondary such as Ferys prove key their own storyline because they show the consequences previous actions while digging deeper into the connection them and Okabe have. The resolution of the arches makes each character integral and builds Steins;Gate to be an emotional train ride.

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Seeing character after character lose their happiness for arguably a selfish request by Okabe drive daggers. Seeing the failures only makes it worst. Moeka and 's entire arch, is, to be blunt, damning and depressing within its own right. Having Mayuri come out and wanting to stop Okabe from doing his catch 22 duty ices the cake with guilt. Questions start to arise if Okabe's methods are worth it or if other methods can stop it. For each win we are treated with, an equal lose grounds us. Kurisu especially becomes important as she becomes not only the rationalist, but the audience as well as Okabe's confidant. With Kurisu, she making sure that everyone knows everything will be alright, even with her usual quips. The way in which Hamasaki and Sato handles the reveals, burning questions and the character arches makes each episode carry weight and validates the patience of viewers.

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Although coming from the Japanese dub, the English dub will take time to adjust audio and script wise. Each performance from the actors made the characters believable and drove the script home to enjoy Steins;Gate at its maximum. However, the English cast takes some of the characters down voice pitch wise, which makes the characters pitch English adaptable. Some will also quibble about the script changes in Steins;Gate, (see pin search dialog) the substitutions still drove home the point. J. Michael Tatum brings out the best in Okabe personifying his quips as well as his mad scientist mentality. Both Jackie Ross (Mayuri) and Tyson Rinehart (Daru) create a unique experience for their respective character that makes them memorable in voice and in delivery. The major shock could be with Trina Nishimura's interpretation of Kurisu. While some may find it off putting, others may actually appreciate it for bringing a more honest sound to Kurisu. I fell into the latter camp. To tie it all up Colleen Clinkenbeard did an excellent job getting the best performances out of the crew to produce a superb dub.

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Steins;Gate is the sci-fi thriller that cannot be missed. If the triad of Hiroshi Hamasaki, Jukki Hanada, and Takuya Sato goal was to create an enthralling animation series, it worked. If Nitroplus and 5pb's goal was to create an anime to gain extra purchases of the visual novel, I'm sold. If Steins;Gate goal was to make us consider how to hold on to precession time with love and teach us of the consequences of time travel, well maybe we as the audience will heed its message.

This review was done using the Blu-Ray Funimation R1 copies legally purchased. Images are using the DVD version because of computer technical limiations.

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