First Look: Steins;Gate 0

Visual Novel Adaptation by White Fox
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

After failing to save Makise Kurisu, Okabe Rintarou hangs up the white labcoat and determines to live his life as a normal student. This has caused him to drift from almost all his former friends, but has given him the stability his foray into time travel robbed of him. However, new work in artificial intelligence will draw him back into the world of mad science.

Marlin’s verdict: Gotta Get Back

I am by far the blog’s biggest Steins;Gate fan, so I had a lot of cautious optimism in us returning to the world of cosplayers and conspiracies. Thankfully, they didn’t waste any time getting us into the life of Okabe in this broken timeline. I took this opportunity to watch the prequel episode, and it is interesting to see the inflection point: It’s how Mayuri responds to his dejection. Will she play a bigger role in this story? At the beginning we see clearly that she is the only one that keeps close ties to Okabe after his attempt to normalize into society. It’s also her effort that brings him back into contact with his past. I will readily admit that Daru’s creepiness and use of memes has gotten much more cringeworthy with time, but I almost wonder if that is the intent. We’ve grown up a bit since the last show, and with Okabe, we’re supposed to see the mannerisms of these characters now as somewhat strange.

I was also drawn in by the intrigue laid out by Suzuha. I had assumed that Feris was her mother, but the introduction of a new character in the form of her mother already sets in some fun ways to play off of these characters. I also appreciate that they take Okabe’s mental health seriously. I can’t say for sure if the show is going to keep this as a completely faithful representation, but at the very least Okabe is undergoing treatment for his trauma without it being treated as a stigma. Of course, this would hardly be a Steins;Gate show if we never got back to Crightonian pseudoscience, and the show is able to deliver on that front too. For some reason, the prequel episode actually reveals more than this first episode does, but you can somewhat piece it together from the implications: Just as Okabe’s brain-map could be transported between times, they have managed to transport Kurisu’s mind to a machine. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will affect Okabe’s trauma, as well as affecting the inevitable world war.

By the next prequel she’s just going to become Taokaka isn’t she?

Jel’s verdict: Time Traveling Back to 2010

I have been on record saying I don’t think an alternate timeline Steins;Gate anime needs to exist and yet as I was watching the first episode I couldn’t help but get sucked back in. I felt immediately transported back into this world as if we had never really left. Sure I have less tolerance for the otaku bait and references than I did in 2010, but I think those still work in context with the setting. On top of that, I think they’ve done a really good job depicting Okabe’s current state of mind after all the trauma he’s witnessed. If that’s going to be the center of this story, then what we got in episode 1 is encouraging.

That all said, I have to wonder once the nostalgia wears off, will I continue to care? It’s too early to say, but I was already zoning out as they introduced the big AI project thing at the end of the episode. If they can make a compelling enough story out of that without retreading all the ground we covered in the original series, maybe I’ll stick around. For now they have me hooked for at least one more episode, so they’re already doing better than I expected.

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