If there are three things that I know how to appreciate, they are; Time Travel, Long Coats, and Mamaru Miyano. As such here I am with Steins;Gate, a show based within the same universe as Chaos;Head–NO WAIT, COME BACK!! Okay, don’t scare me like that. We all know that Chaos;Head, despite being the most annoyingly named show (Actually: “ChäoS;HEAd”, I know, what the fuck?) was also one of the most disappointing animes of 2008. Everyone saw the potential and unique premise that Chaos;Head promised, and we all got behind it and cheered it on, it gave us a character that we couldn’t really connect with and he was a pretty shitty dude but that was fine because we all figured that his bad-ass days were ahead of him.
We were then introduced to what we thought would be his harem, six beautiful lasses who were all drawn to his weirdness because of a phenomenon we can only describe as: Anime. But in the end the story was pallid, if not sometimes down right terrible and the characters that we were actually interested in were tossed aside in an attempt to wrangle whatever plot the studio thought the anime still had. Plot points were glazed over, characters were shunned, and the audience was brought to tears by the sight of all their hopes for a unique anime being trampled by poor execution. What Chaos;Head was, was an anime that didn’t even try to bring together what makes an anime, or any story, interesting. Instead it shunned what we would consider “ordinary” storytelling; estranging the different elements from one another as though they themselves were separated by that increasingly patronizing semi-colon that stared at you in the middle of the title. With this all being said I don’t expect you to jump into the boat head first, nor do I even expect you to get into the boat; I’m definitely not jumping in yet. Instead I want you to hold hands with me as we precariously take our first step into the great beyond, where there is nothing but semi-colons and cake.
Genres: Drama, Supernatural, Mystery, SeinenThemes: Time Travel, PhilosophyNumber of episodes: 12
I’ll mention this now before I dive into the show itself; I expect if you’re reading this that you’ve watched the episode. I don’t write summaries because I believe that they are a pointless excess, they take time to write, they make the post longer and more daunting to newcomers and most readers will just skip them anyway. Something that surprised me with this series was that I really liked the main character right from the get go. Okabe Rintarou, or Okarin, or Hououin Kyouma, or Akabei Soft2, is both intriguing and fun to watch. He is a pretty good example of how to have a socially awkward character that is both empathetic and likeable; Nishijō Takumi was neither empathetic nor likeable, here’s hoping that the author, Hayashi Naotaka, has learned from his previous mistakes in the other categories too. Going off this first episode I would have to say that he has. Shiina Mayuri is adorable and very likeable; perfect yandere material. Hashida Itaru is a lazy but realistic hacker; a perfect ‘straight man’ to Okarin’s ‘funny man’. And Makise Kurisu really surprised me; I had figured her for an archetypal tsundere but instead she turned out to be a curious being, she also turned out to be dead but more on that later.
Of course none of these characters could be interesting without the help of a good seiyuu, and I’m pleased to say that this anime has them in spades. My memory of Chaos;Head is that it had no-name seiyuus for just about all of it’s characters. An anime needs a strong protagonist otherwise it is doomed to be impenetrable. It’s great to know that the anime industry follows my idiom: “When in doubt, trans am.” Mamoru Miyano (apart from being one of three Japanese figures whose name I have to speak anglicized) is pretty much a sure thing in protagonists. Whether you love them or hate them, the fact that you can discuss his characters in depth is a testament to his talent. I think my favourite thing about Mamaru is that while you can always immediately recognize his voice, his main characters do not sound the same. Light does not sound like Setsuna, and Kida does not sound like Rintarou.
Another sure thing in this anime betting game is Hanazawa Kana; while I can’t make the same claim of her characters sounding especially different I can say that her voice has never annoyed me. She brings a warmth and adorability to her roles without effort, and she builds her characters from there. I have been known to say that she is the Japanese equivalent of our own Vivi, though Kana’s voice isn’t quite as good at making you go HNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!! Tomokazu Seki (the second of three figures whose names I speak anglicized) has one of the most varied voices is the business, and if you don’t believe me go and watch Fate/Stay Night, then try to tell me which character voiced the fat guy. With this kind of talent already available and with the promise of a trap voiced by Kobayashi Yuu, the future is bright for Steins;Gate-o.
I don’t have much to say about the animation at this point. I usually don’t notice drops in quality unless they are significant or I am SUPER paying attention to everything; like in the way that makes watching things unenjoyable. The animation seems fine so far. I do like the light bleeding effects that the anime uses though, it’s the difference between things looking warm and things looking hot. Something that I like to that effect is the design of Mayushi; the use of cold colours in her clothing is very striking against the harsh colours of the city and the blank colours of Okarin. Speaking of the character designs I have to say that I am really liking how everyone looks. It can be hard to import designs from visual novels to anime but I think the people at White Fox have done a good job in utilizing Huke’s striking visual style to the small screen. As a big fan of Huke I would have been very disappointed if they had failed to capture the warm coldness that I love about Huke. Something that they weren’t able to recreate, which is really too bad, is the way Huke’s art style flows while still looking very harsh with great contrasts and levels.
I enjoyed both the opening and the ending for the show. Though I have to admit I doubt I’ll sit through either of them again. I went back and listened to both again and like the opening more, but neither of them are impressive despite both of them having interesting tunes. I feel that the ending song has too much percussion trying to squeeze into it. I liked the visuals and the gothic feel to the opening song, but couldn’t shake the feeling that it was the result of a good version of an ALI PROJECT tune. Wait, who am I kidding, there is no such possibility of a ‘good’ version of ALI PROJECT.
The episode was titled: “The Prologue of the Beginning and the End”. This can lead us to some pretty interesting theories over what is to come. After the realization that Okarin’s text had been sent a week into the past it was fun to try to figure out how that happened. His cellphone connects to a microwave so were the texts sent then? Does “’120′ sharp” mean something other than the seconds of the microwave timer? Or that Mayushi’s instructions stated that the numbers should follow the number sign (if the translation is to be trusted)? We won’t know the answers to these questions yet, but if Steins;Gate plans to be better than it’s predecessor then it should plan to answer the important questions. While MAL lists the show as 24 episodes, earlier in the post I have it listed at 12; the reason for this is that ANN is a business where people are payed while MAL doesn’t even require sourcing your information, also it says Steins;Gate started on March 6th so…yeah.
Something that I hope you all noticed was that when Okarin went up to the roof, the satellite was comfortably sitting there very innocently with someone running around near it. Obviously it would later try to find this home again except this time it would take the Donnie Darko approach. I’d say Donnie Darko is a pretty apt comparison to Steins;Gate so far. Something I noticed about Rintarou that is quite strange is that he 1) Acts over-the-top in public, quite dramatically. 2) Likes wearing long coats. 3) Has a slight obsession with time travel. 4) Apparently only drinks Dr. Pepper deeming it the greatest drink in the world and being quoted as saying; “It’s the intellectual beverage made for the chosen.” I have this feeling that he reminds me of someone but I can’t think of who….
OP:「Hacking to the Gate」 ED:「Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku」