It’s, currently, my favorite anime series of all time. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE Steins;Gate and it was the inspiration for me to try my hand at writing my first-ever light novel Final Hope. I was very fortunate enough to play the Steins;Gate 0 visual novel to experience the continuation of the story and I was absolutely floored by it because it combines the two (and only two) aspects of science fiction that I am infatuated with: Time Travel and Advanced A.I. I didn’t think my perfect anime could get any more perfect and yet, here we are. It is 2018… and the world has bestowed upon us the anime adaptation of the visual novel. Does it do the series justice?
We were on quite the roll since January. Almost every anime I watched had an opening and an ending in episode one. Before, you would normally have to wait until episode two to hear and experience them which caused me to decide to hold off my First Reactions until the second week of a show. Steins;Gate 0 broke that streak of me being able to do first reactions after the first episode by delaying its opening and ending until its second episode which is why this reaction is a little bit later than the others I’ve done for this season.
Now that I’ve had time to soak in two full episodes, I will say answer the main question right off the bat. Does Steins;Gate 0 follow the visual novel?
The answer is yes and no. While it follows the story points, it rearranges some of them for television purposes. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of Suzuha’s mother right off the bat. This causes a little bit of a disconnect in the chronological flow of the visual novel, but honestly? It doesn’t really feel like a disservice. In fact, it didn’t even impact the flow of the story. With this show being 23 episodes, I’m sure that they will still cover Yuki’s tie-in to the story so while her introduction is a little early, it’s still a canon scene mixed before its time and it actually works.
Outside of this, there really isn’t anything deviating from the visual novel. All of the plot points were there. Okabe is still a college student who is trying to forget about leaping through time. He still meets Maho at the university and attends Dr. Leskinen’s presentation where he introduces the Amadeus A.I. In episode two, Okarin agrees to be a test subject to talk to Amadeus which is based on Kurisu’s memories, making it an emotional reunion on so many different levels.
Steins;Gate 0 is still presenting itself as an intelligent anime, but rather than exploring time travel, we’re exploring advanced A.I. in the beta world line from the first season. Rather than having you think about timelines, parallel worlds, and D-Mail, the show is making you think about the possibilities of storing human thoughts as electronic data. While it seems rather possible, you can’t take this at face value because this ties in directly to Kurisu’s research and serves as the building blocks for the time machine they built in the alpha world line and later here in the beta world line. While that may seem like spoilers, it’s really not because if you remember, this is the story of the Okarin that failed to save Kurisu.
From the first season, you’re already given the ending to this anime. This is the Okarin that builds the time machine and sends the message back to himself which gives him the answer he needs to save Kurisu. This is the journey of the Okarin that becomes obsessed with Kurisu and this will explain just how he became obsessed in the first place. Even though we know the outcome, it still feels like a missing piece to the entire puzzle. All of the unknown events that give rise to the ending we already know about is the hook that keeps us watching and yes, just like season one every episode that ends causes me to scream at my monitor because I realize that 23 minutes have passed before I even knew it and next week is a whole seven days away.
OP and ED Thoughts
I actually have heard the opening before Steins;Gate 0 aired. Kanako Itou released a live performance of the opening song “Fatima” and while I love the opening portion of the song, once the chorus hits, it just feels rather generic. I know “Hacking to the Gate” was an amazing song that felt unique and it is pretty hard to live up to the hype that came with it, but since “Fatima” was being done by the same artist, we had hope. Sadly, both “Fatima” and “Amadeus” (the opening from the visual novel) just didn’t carry the same cadence that came with “Hacking to the Gate”. It just felt like something was missing from it and it didn’t scream “This is Steins;Gate” at me. It’s still a good song, but it’s not over-the-top amazing like I would have hoped it to be. Maybe my expectations were set too high?
The ending, on the other hand, I haven’t heard before the anime aired and I got to experience it for the first time at the end of episode two. I will say this about “Last Game” by Zwei… every anime in 2018 is going to have to bust their ass to try and beat this song because, in my opinion, this is the best ending we will hear this year. I’m not saying that as a Steins;Gate fanboy, mind you. The dark tones of the song, the fact that it starts out in English and ends in Japanese, the electric guitar that hits at the right moment not only fits the mood of the anime perfectly, but it works extremely well as just a standalone song. Take Steins;Gate 0 away from this song and I’d still play the hell out of it. I cannot wait to hear the full version of this one and not many ending themes can make me say that!
WHY ARE YOU READING MY REACTION AND NOT WATCHING THIS SHOW RIGHT NOW!? – Steins;Gate has been at the #4 slot on MyAnimeList’s top anime of all time list for a LONG time and with good reason. This is one of the modern masterpieces of anime and if you haven’t seen the first season, the sequel movie and the sequel OVA, then you need to set aside a weekend and marathon the hell out of it because you would be doing yourself a grave disservice for not doing so. It is a slow-paced anime by design, it does take about nine episodes to get started, but when it hits… it hits and it will have you hooked. It’s an anime series that forces you to think, to not take things at face value and to question everything you see. It has highs, lows, drama and emotion pouring out of every pixel and, yes, it is required to watch it before Steins;Gate 0. However, if you’ve already seen Steins;Gate, then I can almost guarantee with certainty that you’re already on episode two of Steins;Gate 0. If not, then what the hell are you waiting for? A friggin’ D-Mail invitation? Go watch!
This first reaction may or may not have been just a little biased. In all seriousness though, Steins;Gate is a fantastic series, but I do know some people who do struggle to get into it. Any anime can be loved by many and hated by many and it’s all about what resonates with you. I just happen to love the hell out of this series, but don’t let me be the advocate that’s trying to force you to watch it. I’m just a man on a platform with an opinion. Nothing more.